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Monday, October 28, 2013

All in the NEEDLE!

For those who have been wondering --remember I posted on Wednesday Evening about my Stitch-Skippy-Persnickety-Featherweight?

Let this be a lesson to you. 

If you take a machine anywhere for away-from-home sewing,  do NOT leave without a small maintenance kit including things like small screw drivers, machine oil, a spare rotary blade or two, some extra bobbins and NEEDLES OF DIFFERENT SIZES! My problem could have been easily solved if I had remembered to stick a couple of extra items into the featherweight case.

Quilters to the rescue!

I showed up for the morning Oklahoma Backroads workshop in Laurens, SC and some sweet soul who read my plight the night before here on the blog handed me a  multi pack of Singer needles that had been given out at a function as a freebie. LIFE SAVER!

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I had read on several sites while searching for what the problem might be that Featherweights do NOT like the more recent Schmetz needles that are being manufactured in China, where they used to be manufactured in Germany.

Singers should like Singer needles, right?  Made in BRAZIL!  Interesting!  Nice to see something that is NOT made in China when it comes to sewing machines.

I gave it a try the next morning before heading out to Columbia to meet up with Jason for lunch.

((There was no time between the workshop and the evening lecture and I was too toasted to try it when I got back to the hotel that night))

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It looks great from the top!

But the proof is on the paper side:

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Yippy! NO Skippy!

I knew it could not be a timing issue.  It sewed perfect with 2 layers of fabric ---nothing wrong there.  The problem only came when I tried to sew through the same two layers of fabric PLUS a layer of paper.  And the skipping was intermittent and not at even intervals, which is another indication that it could NOT be a timing issue.

Thread, re-thread, change the kind of thread were all things I was able to do, but it wasn’t until I had other needles on hand that I could really blame it on the needle.  In this case it was the needle that was the culprit.

What size did I put in?  Size 14.  Perfect stitch, no skipping with the addition of paper. Wonder of wonders, size 14 is the size I recommend in my books and here on the blog  for doing any kind of stitching through paper.  I honestly have no idea what brand or size of needle was in the machine to give me the problems it was giving.

When in doubt – NEEDLE OUT – and try another one!


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33 comments:

  1. At a class for my new, computerized sewing machine I was given the mnemonic TNT, for thread, needle and tension. The instructor said if the machine wasn't sewing correctly, try the TNT. In the eight years since I've learned that, trying one of those three, especially the thread and needle, have solved every problem. Your success fixing the bottom stitching with a new needle also fits the TNT solution. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. My Featherweight has been skipping stitches for a couple of years. I used to love using it when I traveled or took classes or went on retreat. Then it started skipping. I have been so frustrated, I put it in the closet and considered selling it on eBay at a loss. Several mechanics tinkered with its timing, but nothing helped. When I read your post today I realized a couple years ago I had changed out the Singer needles when I ran out of them and started using Schmetz. That is when the skipping began. I cannot wait to pop in a proper Singer needle and see if it fixes the issue. Thank you so much for posting on this!

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    1. please re-post to let us know if it works Nicole. I would love to know if it did. I am in the process of buying a FW so it would be good to know

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    2. Funny, I had the same problem with my FW over the weekend at a retreat. Changed the needle, problem solved.

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  3. I have had the same problem. Will have to change needles.

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  4. I think I'll dig my old singer out of the closet and try a new needle in it! It's made two trips to the sewing doctor and it was still skipping. I bought a new machine and haven't tried sewing on it in over a year. Thank you Bonnie!!

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  5. If the Walmart in your location has a sewing department they sell Singer needles. That is one of the few stores that carry them. I even use Singer needles with good results in my Pfaff that is 20 years old. Chris

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    1. UNFORTUNATELY, almost all the fabric departments in Walmarts were removed here in Canada. They now sell pre-cut FQs and half metre pieces only. I won't go there to buy anything for sewing anymore. Their prices are ridiculous.

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  6. ok Bonnie...on the pic of the needle package. Why do some of them have gold tops and some don't if they are the same size?

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    1. The gold ones have ball point, they are used to sew t-shirts.and others fabrics with elasticity.

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    2. Some of the gold topped needles are for double knit or stretch sewing. This was a giveaway pack and they had a variety of needles in it. I use to work for the Singer Co. in the 70's.

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    3. Good question Marilyn! I was wondering that too. Thanks for the clarification Ivani

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    4. Marilyn, can I suggest Amazon.com - how silly this sounds? I get all of the rotary blades, cutters etc on Amazon.com - quilt books are from our LQS. Have to help keep them going too. - JulieinTN

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  7. I've never had a problem with Schmetz needles with my trusty featherweight (named Nellie Belle after my Grandma). Skipped stitches have resolved themselves with a NEW Schmetz needle. Usually when adding paper to the mix when paperpiecing, I slightly adjust the top tension and, voila! perfection in stitches.

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  8. I have never had problems with Schmetz needles either in my Featherweight. BUT... I will purchase some Singers just to have on hand in case.

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  9. I'm in Ontario Canada, and to tell you the truth I've never seen a Singer store! Can you buy "Singer" needles at places other than a Singer shop?

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  11. The problem could be with the Schmetz needles that are now made in India. I have Schmetz needles that were made in West Germany and my FW's love them, even for paper piecing. Needles made in China were an issue in the past, but a sewing machine repair guy near me said China had been trying to improve their quality in sewing machines and parts, so maybe there is hope? I throw out any needles I get in old sewing machines that are made in China..not worth the hassle :-)

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    1. I purchased 100 Schmetz needles about 6 years back (ib bulk) size 80 for only $34.00 and postage. USe them all of the time in all machines....so far so good. But I am going to track down Singers needles "just in case".
      Smilies
      JulieinTN

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  12. I'm happy you got a solution, and what a surprise the needles were made in Brazil.
    Hugs

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  13. There are slight differences between the two brands. I can't remember if it was that one was longer or if it had to do with the lengh of the scarf/indententation where the thread goes when making a stitch. I also know that if it is tension, bird's nests on the bottom mean something is wrong on the top - often coming out of one of the guides is the problem - especially the take-up lever. When there are problems on top, check the bobbin.

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  14. I was just gifted a 301a and case in perfect condition. I realized later that it may have been in perfect condition as the foot pedal and power cord were missing !! lol. is a 301a considered a FW?

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    1. No. A Featherweight is a 221, or if you have the free-arm version, a 222. And the 301 may be a "slant needle." I don't remember- I know the 401 is...

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    2. Yes, the 301 is a slant needle machine. Nicknamed the "big sister" of the featherweight, it's an awesome machine too!

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  15. Just cruised eBay....there are Singer Featherweight needles #14 for sale.

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  16. Glad you got it figured out, nothing is more frustrating that having your machine act up.

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  17. The size of the needle is actually written along the side of the needle. you might need a magnifying glass to see it, but it is there. also, Graham Fordsyke, the feaatherweight guru, interestingly does NOT reccommend Singer needles for the FW, says Schemtz are much better.

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  18. Not related to a featherweight (which I hope, someday, to have!) but to my top of the line serger.... I had problems twice that drove me nuts until I changed the needle (one time just a new needle; another time it took a different size needle). I was going crazy until I figured that out! Such a simple solution (once you figure it out!)!

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  19. I don't think we had anything but Singer needles readily available years ago. That's all I used on my Featherweight. I use the Bernina Universal needles that came with my Berninas for my Featherweights. Also, I use the old-timey Coats & Clark thread or Mettler for my Featherweights. Never had a problem with skipped stitches until I used Masterpiece thread--of course it was at a class!!!

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  20. I was hoping someone at the class read your post and would be able to help you! . Aren't quilters just the greatest, kindest, most helpful people? :)

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  21. Thanks for the information even brand new needles sometimes dont work it happens ever so often Just sayin' Debbie Kelly

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  22. Jacki, The 301a is a slant needle machine. It is an excellent straight stitch machine and has been called the "big sister to the featherweight". It uses the same bobbins and bobbin case. I purchased mine in1956 when I went to college and still use it often.

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  23. I learned the hard way about Singer's and Schmetz needles a dozen years ago. If you are going to remember TNT, add the corollary SDS--Singer's Don't Schmetz. It has something to do with the scarf of the needle being in a different place, not where the needle was made. I think the Joann's stores still carry Singer needles.

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