Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What to do when your sewing machine craps out on you.

At the behest of my sister, I am writing a new blog post. The photo-taking hangs me up, and I've been pregnant since April and just haven't felt like it. At the best of times I have a hard time taking pics. Throw in a couple of months of morning sickness, a stupid-busy August and a broken machine...


For the last month my machine has been back and forth to the doctor 4 times, and it's still there now awaiting a part that I'm told will take forever to come in. What's wrong with it, you ask?
After 4 years, the Kenmore I treated myself to decided to stop working when I was only buttonholes away from finishing a shirt for B.

Damn you machine!! Damn you to hell! (fist shake)

The first guy I took it to had no idea what was wrong with it and gave it back to me after a week. Next, I took it in to another place for servicing where they gave it the once over and I had it back after another week. I used it for maybe a day and it was on the fritz again. Back it went (servicing is on warranty) where after another week, I was told it was a bent needle. Really? Hmmm.... This time it lasted as long as it took to finish B's shirt and then promptly started to form delightful thread nests on the underside of my fabric – same problem as before. 

So I took it back again—this time after watching many more videos online to try and self-diagnose. Turns out, the reason the Kenmore I bought has so many great features at such an affordable price is because Janome (the makers of the new Kenmore's) decided in their infinite wisdom to make the hook (part which holds the top loading bobbin assembly) out of plastic. A scratched hook=thread nest. And the part is difficult to get apparently. Balls. 
So... what did I do all those days of the week without my machine??

1. Finally make 4 tote bags for baby gifts that have been in the queue for at least a year.

2. Make 3 pairs of maternity work out shorts using up stash remnants

3. Buy more fabric! I splurged more than I ever splurged before (aided by the lovely and talented Taryn of on some fabric for some leggings in brown scuba and delicious brown stretch suede (accurately named "butter soft".... it feels like a puppy's head) using previously made McCalls 6404

4. Finish up crochet baby gift

5. Another crochet baby gift – blanket using up stash yarn.

6. Buy more fabric! Another knit top using a copy of an old top (see below)

7. Copy rtw jeans to make maternity jeans from stash fabric

8. Copy worn out tunic top and cut out fabric from stash

9. Cut out Zsalya top (cut a couple of inches longer for maternity)

I managed to complete a couple of other simple projects using my back up machine and the serger:
Ratty old shirt copied and altered for maternity.

Vintage maternity tunic in plaid flannel – cut on bias. I lowered the neckline and applied the neck facing to the right side. This pattern includes pockets, but I'll leave out if I make it again. They aren't really necessary.

Aside from sewing, I also got inspired by the pinterest gremlin to weave a rug for the baby room out of old t-shirts.

My husband (realist) thought I was nuts when I said I was going to do this. My mother (diy-enabler) bought me the materials – I get these compulsions honestly folks. The instructions I used are found here.

The left over t-shirt yarn will be made into a basket. Pattern here.
Mine will not look this nice as I'm using cut up t-shirts instead of yarn – and I wasn't very careful when cutting up the shirts.

I also bought some springy black poly crepe for culottes (pattern #McCalls 6169 – actually found in the skirts section on their website) with maternity panel. I hate wearing skirts so I'm excited to try this skirt-forgery.

View C with a possible length alteration

As I wait for my machine to get repaired, I've resurrected my old machine (formerly my grandmother's – it's like sewing with a jet engine and sounds like a SanFrancisco trolly car dinging away), borrowed my mom's machine and am serging when I can. In the meantime, I'm researching what to replace my plastic-hooked disappointment with. There's a Brother dealer in town that's been recommended to me. Any opinions?


  1. Looks as though you've done an amazing amount of work with all those projects, even without your Kenmore. Sucks about the very specific, hard to get part though.

    I love your plaid vintage top, so very pretty. And so delighted to hear that you've made a Zsalya -- my favourite pattern :)

  2. Yay!!! A new blog post!!! Even though I've already heard all about this via nightly phone calls😊

  3. WOW!! You've been busy, in more ways than one. ;-) Congratulations!!! And I'm sorry about the sewing machine, that's annoying. I've heard good things about Brother machines, but like anything, you get what you pay for--a super cheap one might be great or might be a constant pain in the butt. I've heard nothing but good about Jukis, and that's actually what I'm saving up for myself. I have a Pfaff that I don't love, but if you find an old mechanical, I'm told they're fantastic machines.

  4. Triple quadruple rats about the machine! :( I think Brothers are decent for the money but you may well be in the same position in a few more years as you are now with the Kenmore. Though I don't feel like I have enough experience with new machines to make a call---all my machines (except my serger, which is a Janome) are older than I am...

    I can't wait to see your suede leggings, though---those are gorgeous fabrics!

  5. You did an amazing job of the tops and the rug and the bag.

  6. The fit of this dress is amazing. Looks so comfy and cozy, one of those that you'll keep for years. Awesome patterns for sewing!