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April 24, 2020



The thread under the fabric being a terrible, tangled mess almost always means your top-side tension is too loose (or, uh, that your tension regulator on the top side has just been broken by a small lump in the thread; see also "thunk"; this happened to me).

It is probably not worth it, *but* if you want to try it *and* if this is what has happened to your machine, you can manually increase top-side tension by running the thread through/around more things (add friction, basically, like the tension "pinch" adjuster does when it is not broken - pinch it in the sewing machine handle if you have it, or rig up something with clothespins, or whatever - you're looking to slow the thread down *slightly* in a controllable way so that you can adjust it until the stitching works). If you can run the sewing machine one-handed, you can test whether this is indeed the problem by wearing gloves and then pinching the top thread where it comes off the reel more tightly or more loosely and running the machine very slowly; if there's a point at which you don't get bobbin-side-of-fabric-tangles, then you can use the Rube Goldberg Build Your Own Tension trick to make the sewing machine work. (wear gloves so you don't get the thread equivalent of rope-burn. If you have tough skin, gloves may not be necessary, but... eh, better safe than sorry)

I kept my sewing machine chugging along for literally a decade that way, but then the timing also died, and I now have a new machine and I don't have to manually alter tension in ridiculous ways and it is a beautiful thing!

Separately, the virus itself is larger than many odor molecules, and the last I read the WHO FAQs on the topic, they said that the virus was not a natively-airborne one [unlike measles] but in general tagged along on water droplets, which are even larger. (in "aerosol-generating" procedures, the water droplets are way smaller, but I assume Gary is not around during that type of medical procedure) I do not know if Gary's mask is filtering enough to keep out all non-medically-generated coronavirus-plus-water units or not, but the smell of oatmeal getting through is non-indicative and I don't know of any really solid at-home mask-testing options. He may find this "you know, actually, kind of a lot of things knocked even the tiniest particles down by a chunk!" study reassuring, or he may find it non-reassuring [because nothing filtered 100%]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7108646/


KC - I would have done that in my younger days, but given that I have neglected this machine for decades I think It deserves a tune up. I applaud your resourcefulness, though.


Well, it also depends what machine it is - if it's something from a manufacturer where you can *get* replacement parts, as opposed to manufacturer who has gone out of business, that makes a difference! :-)

But yes, you can afford to give it a Sewing Machine Spa Day. :-)

(also: I feel better that you would also have done the macguyver thing in your younger days! I was realizing that a not-inconsiderable number of comments I leave on blog posts describe how to use things not-as-intended and... well, I do do that a *lot* but I *can* follow Best Practices as well? Sometimes?)


KC - it’s a Bernese, 9r baby Bernina. It was quite nice in the day.


OOOH! Yes, if you've got a Bernina, then treat it well!

Also, machines that were quite nice in the day are usually more reliable than new machines; I'm not sure exactly when which manufacturers started treating sewing machines as disposable small appliances rather than lifetime-use things, but... it's not a great trend. From what I've heard, Bernina and Janome and... another brand I can't presently remember, but that was also somewhat out of my price range... have kept quality levels higher than many manufacturers, but still: almost all metal parts, *made* to be tuned up instead of made to break and be replaced: it's a good thing. :-)


KC - I was quite surprised to get the baby Bernina as that gift. I am definitely gong to give it some TLC.

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