A Sewing Lesson

I learned a sewing lesson and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Do not sew through the iron-on patches.
That is it. So, you can just file that away and stop reading if you would like.

In our house there are some good old jeans that seem too precious to part with, but when they actually spring a hole in them, they are no longer deemed acceptable to wear out of the house. (By the inspector general. That is me.)

whole jean picture
I set about to make them passable again. First, I ironed on some strips of patch fabric. Then I put them “under the needle” to make some reinforcing rows of stitches and my machine got fouled up. I re-threaded my machine and started over. But the same thing happened.
IMG_4360
The needle kept getting gummed up. So I changed the needle to a thicker, denim needle thinking that maybe there was a burr catching the fabric. But the new needle had the same issue.
Here is what the bobbin was doing:
IMG_4366
Freaking out. As if the tension was set to zero, but it wasn’t. The thread was getting stripped, but staying in the needle. The needle moved up and down like normal, but no new thread was feeding in, so essentially, it was behaving as if the tension WAS set at 0.
I tried turning the pants over, and putting the patch down to face the bobbin. I thought that maybe the stringy nature of the rip was allowing the threads that were hanging down to get caught in the bobbin, and confusing the machine.
IMG_4365
But even putting the smooth side down and running the needle over the fringy denim didn’t work.
It finally came to me that the gum on the back of these patches was actually building up on the needle and forming that ball. I waited for a while, thinking that after the patch had cooled, the adhesive would be more “set” and the needle would travel through without picking so much of it up. Four hours later, the issue persisted.
We are back to the lesson: do not sew reinforcing stitches through iron-on patches. They are just meant to be knee patches. The gum adhesive never solidifies. It leaves a coating on the needle and grabs the thread. The plies of the thread split, a ball builds up on the needle and the whole operation comes to a halt.

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6 months ago by in Needlecraft , Sewing | You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
9 Comments to A Sewing Lesson
    • L in NL
    • I have found that if you simply pin in a piece of backing fabric (thin muslin weight) and then sew back and forth in the direction of the grain with matching thread, the hole/rip/tear is fixed and barely noticeable from the outside.

    • Marlene
    • It is like sewing on sticky Velcro, because now you want it stitched. Rubbing
      alcohol cleaning needle as you sew. Goo Be Gone works too. Using a a generous
      rectangle of cotton or denim as close to repair jean color. Baste down on inside. Flip to outside. Draw bobbin thread to top of patch. Drop freed dogs
      and remove pressure foot. Lower Pressure Foot and Free Motion darning the hole.
      It’s like darning a sock and takes time to anchor it down. Would look great as
      a purse tote for the summer.

      • Susi
      • Ahhhh! Thank you! That makes sense. Cleaning often would help. And this would make it work on things that cannot use “L”‘s secret tip.

    • NameBarb
    • My “children” are all in their 50′s so it’s been awhile since I sewed patches on but, I always used to iron them on first & then sew over them to make sure they stayed on & I never had the problem you’ve encountered. They must be using something “new & improved” on the modern patches. Or, maybe it’s the sewing machines that are “new & improved”. My two machines are older – one is 50 yrs. old – one day I used my daughter’s machine & I also used my sister’s machine when we were making a quilt & I couldn’t believe how poorly made they were and these were NOT cheap machines.

      • Susi
      • Barb, you bring up a good point. my first machine out of college was a 30 year old used singer. That machine was a HORSE. It was SOLID. When it finally gave up, I bought an expensive machine, and it was not necessarily “better”. Regarding the patches, I think you are right everything is “new and improved”. Ha Ha. Thank you so much for stopping by! – Susi

    • Pam
    • When I need patches, I make my own using fusible web and a piece of denim from other old jeans. Then I stitch over it for good measure. I never have a gummed up needle this way.
      If the repair is not a good candidate for a patch, I iron heavy duty fusible interfacing on the inside then machine mend the area. This holds up really well.
      Also, I sure agree with Barb about older machines being better made. My 50 year old machine I converted to a treadle is still my favorite and gets the most use! It will probably still be going strong when I’m too old to treadle!

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