Tuesday, June 15, 2010

tension headache.

tension assembly

Miss Burton and I were getting along pretty well there for awhile. The tension assembly circus was a distant memory. I'd been hard at work drafting and fitting the 1920s apron pattern, sewing up many muslin versions of it, and Miss Burton was humming along nicely. This is the latest pieced-together apron muslin which I'm using as a pattern to sew up a "final" product. I think from now on it's best that I put " " around the word final.

1920s apron pattern

The fabric is 2 1/2 yards of cotton leftover from the dirndl skirt. The whole apron needs to be trimmed with bias tape. That's a lot of bias tape. I finally understand the continuous strip of bias tape instructions and I think the key is to use smaller pieces of fabric. Your line drawing tends to be more accurate if you don't have far to go from top to bottom or left to right. It's important that the lines are accurate because if they're off even a little bit, the intersections won't match up when you roll the fabric into a tube and sew it together and let's just say the whole thing goes to hell in a handbasket after that.

I was pretty sick of doing bias tape, so I decided to switch things up by starting a 1960s sleeveless dress, chosen from the stack of vintage patterns Anjie sent me from Oregon.

That's when the problems started. As soon as I started sewing the first of the dress seams, Miss Burton started acting up. I'm midway down the first long seam when the spool of Gutermann thread goes flying off the spool holder, wrapping the thread around it and tangling up in the 2 thread guides on top.

Not a problem. I'd read on a sewing machine forum somewhere that this is fairly common. Sometimes the spool label gets caught or you might need to switch the direction of the spool. Check and check. Back to sewing. A few stitches forward and the Gutermann goes flying again. Still not a problem, because I also remember someone saying that you can rig a straw over your spindle to extend it. Since the Gutermann spools are thinner & taller than other threads (ex: Dual Duty), I was sure this would fix the issue once and for all.

spool rig

It didn't and now I'm getting this--


This is birdnesting and you know what causes birdnesting?

Tension issues.


I just knew the tension assembly thing would come back to haunt me, although why Miss Burton wasn't throwing the thread off the machine or birdnesting when I was sewing up all that muslin is a mystery.

1 screwdriver, sewing machine oil, lint brush. A massive search effort to find the tiny washer that flew out of the tension assembly and landed either behind the cabinets, in one of the orchid pots, the shopping bag or under the chair over by the window (ding). Numerous tension assembly disassembles & reassembles. Fiddling with the tension dial & test sewing scrap fabric. Cleaned the feed dogs, the bobbin case & the shuttle race. Re-oiled all key areas. Changed the needle.

& we now have a situation that is a little improved. That means my stitch tension looks just fine and for the most part I can sew a long continuous seam, but Miss Burton is still occasionally throwing the Gutermann off the spindle & threatening to birdnest in the middle of a seam.