Sewing Machine Drama

My sewing machine has not been cooperative of late. In fact, the darn thing has been downright obstinate and temperamental. Its behavior has meant that it has done hard time both in the repair shop and in the closet while I actively ignore it whenever my friends come over for craft night. Nor am I alone in my technology woes. Every kind of technology inspires people to rage beyond every kind of reason as evidenced by the universal love for the scene in Office Space where the much maligned office printer is beaten to death to the gangsta tune of die, motherfu…, die. Now, I’m not quite ready to drive my sewing machine out to a remote field in Kansas and beat it with a baseball bat a la Office Space, but my machine definitely could start toeing the line a little more obediently or we may very well take that drive.


I have a Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist, which was a much appreciated gift from my mother. (As my mom is a reader of my blog, I’ll throw out a thanks, mom, I promise not to commit machinicide in the first degree, but please visit me in jail if I do!) I’ve used the machine for several quilting and sewing projects, including curtains for the entire house. I like sewing and have been looking forward to finishing the winter rosettes quilt. I’ve been procrastinating tackling the quilting part of the project due to fear of botching it after working so diligently on the top piece.

Well, ladies and gents, I’ve botched it, but I place the blame squarely on the fickleness of my Singer. Most of it, anyway. As I quilted my test runs on my practice quilt sandwiches, I struggled again and again. The underside of the sandwich looked like a hot mess of alternately loose or tight stitches. I took apart my machine and had well-meaning (though equally clueless) friends stare at its dismantled parts in bewilderment with me. What was going wrong? We ultimately suspected it had something to do with this part of the machine. Forgive my technologically illiterate descriptions. As you sew with the machine, the thread goes from resting in the grove to sandwiched between it. At this juncture, the thread becomes tight, and you have to pull with some force to unthread the machine. This seems wrong somehow. So, I dutifully dropped it off at a repair shop to have it looked at.


The technician who worked on my machine never once called me to ask what I was struggling with and just cleaned the machine out. Admittedly, my Singer was probably overdue for a cleaning and tune-up, but I expected a phone call. So, when my machine was pronounced ready, I just as dutifully picked it up and assumed everything was copasetic. It wasn’t. I did another test run with a practice quilt sandwich, and it looked better. The underside wasn’t a gnarled mess anyway. So, I ironed out my pinned quilt sandwich and had at it. Before I had even quilted from the center to the edge, my needle broke, and I had to pull the thread from the machine again. I suspect what has been happening is that the thread becomes tight, which pulls on the needle and weakens it, causing the repeated breakage.

So, I called the store and spoke with the technician. Later, I dropped the machine back off at the repair store, and the technician called me this time. The conversation was beyond frustrating because he declared he’d been sewing for 20 minutes without a problem (which I doubted). After I tried to explain the problem, he went on a mini-tirade about how Singers are no longer quality machines and that I can’t expect a 300-dollar sewing machine to do the work of a thousand dollar one. I might have taken him more seriously if he hadn’t attempted to start in on that same tirade by asking me how much my machine had cost on the first phone call and railing about people buying 70-dollar machines from Walmart. He then proceeded to tell me that I needed to be a more careful and attentive sewer. To end the conversation, he told me he’d sew a little longer to see if he could duplicate my problem while also asserting that my machine would be ready for pick-up at the end of the day. I doubt he sewed another stitch.

“20 Minutes of Sewing”

So, here I am now, with a sewing machine that is still temperamental and defiant. I’m not sure what to do with it, and I don’t want to spend another $90 to have someone examine my sewing machine. If any of y’all have ideas, I’m all ears! I’m frustrated, and I haven’t been sewing or finishing old sewing projects. Instead, I’ve been spinning away the time on my wheel, turning my roving into something I’ll knit with. After spinning the pound of lovely roving my husband bought me for Chanukah, I decided that I needed more roving to knit something I’d want to wear. It’s lovely yarn, and I want to wear it! Or, if I can get over my frustration with my sewing machine and it can get over its weird obstinacy, maybe I’ll spend some time finishing my winter rosettes quilt. I always seem to be finishing projects just in time for the wrong season. Oh well. A finished project in the wrong season is arguably better than one that hibernates…


10 thoughts on “Sewing Machine Drama

  1. Hi, your technician is obviously incompetent – ditch him. Your machine should be salvageable though. That disk sandwich in the photo, is a tension assembly and is meant indeed to take the thread between the disks and tension it. It seems that it is too tight, though. Admittedly, I’m venturing into computerised machines while I normally do mechanical (because they are so much easier to fix), but I can recognise a tension assembly when I see one. There seems to be a nut at the end of the spring, may be it is making the spring too tight? See if you can loosen it (turn counter-clockwise). I would need more photos if I am to help, email me via the contact page on my blog, if you like.


    1. Yep – never going back to him again. I did think that it was something to do with tension, but I’m way outside my expertise. I’ll toy with it later and dig into my manual some more to read up on tension. Thank you!


      1. Yes, exactly! I was just thinking that there may be a solution to your problem there – look under “tension too high”. Looking at your photos again, I think that spring is being pushed in automatically, so somehow your machine thinks you need more tension… I’m sure you’ve got enough of it already, though. 😉


  2. Agree the tech is an idiot. Also agree you have a tension problem. There may be lint or thread stuck in there. Be aware that in most machines, the tension disk is a one-way street. That is, thread is only meant to go through it in one direction. If you pull thread out backwards – that is, back toward the spool instead of out toward the needle – you may foul up the tension disk. Can you try pulling thread through it the right way, kind of like flossing the disc?


    1. Thank you! I didn’t know that about the one-way street! I have on many an occasion had to pull it back toward the spool because the thread snapped or became so tight I couldn’t really pull it forward through the machine. I’ll give the flossing a shot too later tonight to see if that helps.


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