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  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by IRONFISH45 View Post
    I think there was some residue left from the last injecting session, that gummed up the machine.
    Great observation and advice about the alcohol for cleaning.

    Some of the older coated (not silicone impregnated) fabrics I have here are a bit on the gummy side, so I'm pretty watchful if I use them - and usually I save that fabric for 'expendable' projects - not the important stuff.

    Sewing is like any other manual skill I've learned - it takes experience to know when the problem is with your tools (not adjusted, not sharp, not tuned up) or with your hands and technique. It's tough to learn on your own, particularly when your tools may not be tuned up properly.
    OT (from woodworking)- Once you are handed a really sharp plane or chisel to work with, you will know forevermore when your tools need sharpening. Same thing with a sewing machine - Ironfish knew from experience that he had a machine problem and found the solution.

  2. #12
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    Sewing problems

    These are some of the things that will cause puckering or "rat's nest" stitches. Some of them have already been posted.

    Improper needle tension (too loose usually)
    Machine threaded in wrong order or skipping steps (thread can jump off even if originally threaded correctly)
    Needle is too heavy for fabric
    Needle is dull
    Needle is sticky (gummed up from seam tape etc.)
    Stitch length too long for fabric
    Bobbin thread not feeding easily/smoothly (pull the tread to feel resistance)

    If your stitches are working with easy fabric (cotton), put a piece of paper under your silnylon and test them. If it works with the paper, you can try to tweak some of the things on the list above and sew directly on the silnylon. I check the needle thread and put a new bobbin in first.

    If you cannot get the stitch smooth without the paper you can sew strips of paper into your work and tear them out later.

    Sewer's Helper is a glycerin liquid that will help the needle pass through fabric. You can put some on the needle or a little on the thread. Put a very small amount on your fingers then rub it on the needle. Before you clean your fingers you can wipe a very slight amount on the thread.

    Goo gone can clean a sticky needle. The groove in the needle will hold adhesive from things like velcro or seam tape. I use black thread so the groove turns black when it is gummy. Of course if you do not feel like fooling with it, you can always just go with a new needle. That way you eliminate all of the needle oriented questions.

  3. #13
    Senior Member Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Using paper has some advantages but you need to remember the paper will dull a needle very rapidly. Even pattern tissue is very hard on the sharp points of needles. PU coating is notorious for gumming up needles. When using things like glycerin make sure you test the product on scraps. Oil and other substances can discolor fabrics. With synthetics that are petroleum based those stains can be virtually impossible to remove. When the directions call for a "small amount" they mean less than a drop. Application by finger residue is probably you best bet. But even then make sure your hands a clean before picking up your good fabric. I would not apply it to the thread as that will absorb and transfer the residue to the innards. In virtually all times when a needle related issue is suspected using a new needle is probably the most cost effective solution to try.

    Use high quality needles. Some of the them are specially shaped so the eye section is a little bigger than the rest of the shaft. That leaves extra room for the thread to go through without causing binding. The groove in the needle helps as well. Cheap generic needles will cause more problems than the high quality ones.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by IRONFISH45 View Post
    ...I grabbed some Alcohol...
    A bit of caution is needed here. While I completely agree with cleaning everything, those of you using older black Singer machines should stay away from alcohol as a cleaner or be very careful not to get it on the "painted" areas. It will quickly eat into the shellac clear coat and the black japanning under it.

  5. #15
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    Wow, thank you all for the tips! I have been out all day lounging in my hammock at my daughters softball tournament. I went and bought a few sharp 90/14 needles and am going to give that a shot. My current thread injector is an old used brother LS 30. I have checked to make sure the thread is routed correctly and it seems to be and I have cleaned out the feed dogs the best that I know how which was with a small brush and a can of air. I have not tried cleaning the presser foot. Didn't even think about that. The paper clip idea sounds like a great one! Do they hold the fabric better than pins? I have tried pinning every 2 inches or so and it still got bunched up.
    It seems that the presser foot and feed dogs are not keeping the same pace if that makes any sense. the bottom layer seems to not move as freely as the top. Like it is being pushed down into the machine from the needle.

    pat9381 - How do i adjust needle tension? I am only a few months into teaching myself to sew. Unfortunately I do not have anyone local to teach me hands on. Have watched a lot of youtube videos and read a lot on here. What needle would you recommend for sil?

    Again, thanks to all of you for taking the time to answer my questions! It is really pretty amazing how helpful people can be. I appreciate it!

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by gmcttr View Post
    A bit of caution is needed here. While I completely agree with cleaning everything, those of you using older black Singer machines should stay away from alcohol as a cleaner or be very careful not to get it on the "painted" areas. It will quickly eat into the shellac clear coat and the black japanning under it.
    Good point- don't spray stuff around!
    I always find it's easier to just remove the presser foot and clean it away from the machine, so I can look at the surface I'm cleaning.

    A roller foot is a useful addition to the 'toolbox':


  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by eviscerate3 View Post
    Wow, thank you all for the tips! I have been out all day lounging in my hammock at my daughters softball tournament. I went and bought a few sharp 90/14 needles and am going to give that a shot.
    Good idea. Decent needles are expensive but it pays to have a collection of new needles in a few sizes. How much is aggravation worth?


    Quote Originally Posted by eviscerate3 View Post
    My current thread injector is an old used brother LS 30.
    That machine is NEW compared to most of the machines people mention here!

    Quote Originally Posted by eviscerate3 View Post
    I have checked to make sure the thread is routed correctly and it seems to be and I have cleaned out the feed dogs the best that I know how which was with a small brush and a can of air.
    You can remove the needle plate on your machine to get access to the dogs. (Pg 55 in manual). If you have a lot of lint (unlikely) a vacuum is better than canned air.


    Quote Originally Posted by eviscerate3 View Post
    The paper clip idea sounds like a great one! Do they hold the fabric better than pins? I have tried pinning every 2 inches or so and it still got bunched up.
    Lack of pinning is not your problem. It's a machine setup (& perhaps technique) problem. Get out some scrap pieces and run some lines of stitching until you are happy with the result.
    Please post some pictures of your stitching on scrap for more advice.

    Nothing holds better than pins, but nobody ever stabbed themselves in the leg with a fabric clip or paper clip! Some folks fret about punching holes in coated fabric with pins, but if you use short, fine, sharp pins most of the holes will be close to the seam anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by eviscerate3 View Post
    It seems that the presser foot and feed dogs are not keeping the same pace if that makes any sense. the bottom layer seems to not move as freely as the top. Like it is being pushed down into the machine from the needle.
    This (fabric pushed down into hole in needle plate) can definitely happen, and is more of a problem on zig-zag machines because the needle 'hole' is a 'slot'. A dull or damaged needle will really cause a problem with this....
    Holding the fabric with both hands (front and back of the machine) and keeping gentle tension on the fabric can help prevent this.
    Quote Originally Posted by eviscerate3 View Post
    pat9381 - How do i adjust needle tension?
    'Needle tension' (pat9831) is what Brother calls 'Upper Thread Tension' (pg 21 in the manual I found...)
    http://www.brother-usa.com/support/M...R3ModelID=LS30

    I agree with RamblinRev that beginners should probably avoid adjusting the bobbin tension.


    Quote Originally Posted by eviscerate3 View Post
    What needle would you recommend for sil?
    Needle size is usually more related to the thread than the fabric IME- Using Gutterman Mara 70 polyester thread (a 'regular' vs heavy weight thread)...
    on my machine, I can sew 30D (1.1?) silnylon with anything from a #14 up to a #18 needle. I don't use needles smaller than #14 if I can avoid it -too hard to thread on machines without a needle threader built-in.

    With thinner fabrics, I find I have to adjust the tension carefully, running a bunch of practice stitch lines on (doubled or tripled) scrap.

  8. #18
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    While working on my Silnylon tarp I would have a mess every time I went back to working on it. I hauled out the air can and brush, took everything apart, cleaned it, put a bit of oil in appropriate places. Sewed on a piece of cotton, stitching just fine. Sew on the Silnylon, rats nest, skipped stitches frustration. I had decided one of my employees was sabotaging my machines.

    Finally after a long session of continuous sewing, my hands felt coated with silicone. The light finally came on, maybe my machine was getting the stuff coating the moving parts. The alcohol did the trick.

    I was not using cheap silnylon, it was very good quality, somehow it was shedding excess silicone that was a part of the fabric.

    On most Zig Zag thread injectors there is a throat plate or lever that changes the opening from a slot to a small hole. That way the fabric does not get jammed up in the injecting process.

    I have found using a brush along with the canned air works wonders for finding the lint and the tiny little thread that is jamming up the works.

    I learned early on to use the right tools for the job. I have this big collection of knives, the right knife makes cutting a joy. Same thing with the correct scissors. I do keep everything sharp and ready to go.

    Did someone point out about being sure the injector is threaded correctly and the bobbin looks nice and even, that the thread is not heavier on either the top or the bottom of the bobbin.

    I spent more time trying to fix my injectors on this project than I have sewing. I will think a bit harder before I take on another large project with silnylon. This has been a real challenge. More so than making a formal wedding dress!

    One last thing, I get coupons from the local fabric stores, some of them are 50% off my TOTAL Purchase. I stock up on needles or other items I use a lot of. Portland Mill End Store in Oregon sends out such coupons every 6 weeks or so. They do mail order. Fabric Depot, sends me 30% off coupons, but they are for only one item. They do from time to time have 40% off of Notions, I stock up on thread and needles then. They are Mail Order also.

  9. #19
    Senior Member Catavarie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VictoriaGuy View Post
    What machine are you using?

    Do you mean that the dogs couldn't lift the work off the floor (normal) or the dogs wouldn't feed fabric that was 'presented' to them by holding the fabric in front of the machine?

    I've never had a problem with the dogs not grabbing the fabric and feeding it to the needle, though I often have to hold/gently stretch the fabric to prevent puckering when the fabric is light (unless using the top feed dog in the Pfaff)

    A machine needs a lot of miles on it in order to have the teeth on the dogs get worn. I know some of you guys like antique machines, so perhaps that's an issue...
    It is a cheap Brother machine that my wife has had for about 20 years. She used it throughout High school and college making Costumes for Theater, so it has seen a fair amount of use. It seems to grab and move every other material just fine, but with sil the dogs move and the fabric just sits there. I have to actually commit a huge sewing crime (don't read the next part RamblinRev, I don't want to be responsible for giving you a heart attack) and physically pull the fabric through the machine by hand.
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  10. #20
    Senior Member Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catavarie View Post
    I have to actually commit a huge sewing crime (don't read the next part RamblinRev, I don't want to be responsible for giving you a heart attack) and physically pull the fabric through the machine by hand.
    That's called the "darning" process. It does have legitimate uses. You don't do any harm to the machine but the stitches are much harder to keep consistent and balanced. But thanks for the heads up. I was able to get my blood pressure meds down before I continued.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
    Mrs. Loftus to Huck Finn

    We Don't Sew... We Make Gear! video series

    Important thread injector guidelines especially for Newbies

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