Troubleshooting Tips 

Nesting underneath the fabric

We've all been here.

Take a deep breath. Don't turn your tension dial. Don't jump.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will share troubleshooting tips that will help you diagnose a true problem, or user error, at home. So you can spend more time sewing and less time schlepping your machine to my store. I know you love seeing me and all, but I think we all know there isn't enough sewing time to begin with!

Contrary to what common sense tells us, naughtiness underneath your fabric does not usually mean there is something wrong with your bobbin, which is physically located underneath your fabric. It's actually the opposite - issues underneath your fabric point to the top of your machine being the culprit. Generally speaking, if you're getting looping/nesting/terrible stitches, but the machine is in fact stitching, the issue is the upper tension.


Your problem is most likely that the thread isn't in the tension device. So, messing around with the dial will not only make no difference whatsoever, it'll just mess iup your tension setting for when you do eventually get the thread into the device correctly.

Your tension device is comprised of two silver metal discs. When your presser foot is up, these discs are open and ready to receive thread. When your presser foot is down, the discs close and apply the correct tension to your thread. Many are taught to put their presser foot down when threading their machine, because it makes threading the needle easier. This is a bad habit, because threading the machine with your presser foot down reduces your chances of getting your upper thread correctly into the tension device because it is closed.

Pro tip: Begin threading your machine with your presser foot in the up position. Once you have gone through the tension device and the take up lever, stop and put your presser foot down. Pull the thread. Is it harder to pull? Good, that means it's correctly in the device. Does it feel the same as when you were threading it with your presser foot up? Start over, your thread is not in there right.. Once you know for certain the upper thread is nice and cozy in the tension device, proceed as normal. If that means putting the presser foot down so you can thread the needle, go ahead!

There are two very annoying things that happen when you thread the top of your machine wrong. The first one is the above mentioned looping/snarling/nesting/whateveryoucallit. The second is jamming. The machine stitches in more or less one place, a pile of snarling thread accumulates under your fabric. It jams. It gets stuck. You basically have to take the entire machine apart to get the fabric out. It's the worst. It's also the take up lever.

In my experience, when the machine just stops and jams, it's because I either missed the take-up lever during threading, or the thread fell out of it. (This is my way of making myself feel better about missing the take up lever. Obviously, it fell out.) I'm sure many of you are asking: what is a take up lever?

It's this fellow here, that swings up and down while you're sewing:

Take Up Lever Selfie!

When in doubt, if your machine is acting crazy, just re-thread it. Top and bottom. Still acting crazy? Leave a message for me in the comments, call me at the store, or shoot me an e-mail. I'll help you troubleshoot as best as I can!

Posted by DaleyByTheYard Admin Wednesday, September 09, 2015 11:15:00 AM Categories: Tutorial

8 Signs that You're a Crafter for Life 



Posted by DaleyByTheYard Admin Thursday, September 03, 2015 11:17:00 AM

Working with Knits 

let's get down to the knitty gritty

We've been receiving gorgeous knits to the shop this month, along with some great patterns to use with them. These Robert Kauffman knits feel even better than they look!


Vanessa Christenson was here on Saturday, and I've been racking my brain trying to come up with something cute to make to wear to the workshop. Obviously, I wanted to feature V & Co. fabric. Of course, I didn't come up with a bright idea until the last minute. The Penelope Top, made by Sew Liberated! I used some creamy Robert Kaufman Laguna Jersy Knit, and for the woven fabric background - Vanessa' grey ombre chevron. It's absolutely perfect.

All of this has inspired us to share some tips about working with knits. They can be intimidating to work with if you don't have the right tools and experience. Nothing is worse than a tee shirt that looks homemade. The knit can buckle and wave, and it's just not pretty. However, use some of these simple tips and you'll end up with professional results!

First of all - sergers. You will have the easiest experience working with knits if you have a serger. Sergers cut and sew at the same time, which yield the beautiful finished seams in the top you are wearing currently. With a serger, you have to ability to change the feed, which makes working with stretchy materials a snap. If you don't have a serger, you can still work with knits. It will be more tricky - but it is possible. There is a fabulous book put out by Colette with all the know how you need to get through a knit fabric project.

  • Use ballpoint needles, which are made to work with knit fabrics. Always, always, always use the appropriate needle style and size to match your fabric.
  • Turn down your presser foot pressure to reduce the amount of push the presser foot puts down on the fabric. The last thing you want to do is stretch the fabric as you're sewing it - that will result in puckering.
  • If you don't have a coverhem machine, a twin needle works really well!
  • For Bernina lovers, use the #2/#2A overlock foot with the vari-overlock stitch (stitch #3 on most of the machines in my shop!) for seaming.
  • Avoid using a standard straight stitch, it doesn't stretch with your fabric. Instead, try a zigzag, a stretch stitch, or the vari-overlock.
  • Use a walking foot, or dual feed if you machine has it!
  • Slow and steady! Take your time, sew slowly. If you have FHS on your machine, take advantage of it to reposition your fabric (make sure your needle is anchored in it!).
  • Always do a test before you jump into your project. Make sure all of these elements are working together correctly, you don't want to find out you need to make an adjustment when you're halfway down your seam!
  • Knit fabrics don't fray, and I know we've all see unfinished knit at Anthropologie - if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.
Posted by DaleyByTheYard Admin Thursday, June 11, 2015 12:11:00 PM Categories: Tutorial
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