Why does my simplicity sewing machine keep jamming and the needle keeps breaking

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My Grammy gave me her old Simplicity sewing machine and every time I go to use
it the Bobbin keeps Jamming and the Needle breaks! Am I doing something wrong?
Do I need to get it looked at? If so how much will that be?
Thanks so much!
J.L Cross.

Re: Why does my simplicity sewing machine keep jamming and the needle keeps breaking
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It probably needs a good cleaning, proper threading and the correct seam starting


Here are some common problems beginners who don't thread their sewing machines  
properly are likely to see: http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/22521551

Sewing machines should be threaded with the thread takeup lever and needle
at the highest position of travel, with the presser foot UP.  Follow the  
threading diagram in your sewing machine manual.  Make sure you've got the  
correct bobbin in the bobbin case (two of the most popular bobbins look
so much alike it's not funny) and it's in the correct orientation.  

When you're ready to start a seam, do it like this:
1. With the top and bobbin threaded, and about 3" of "thread tail" pulled  
out from the needle and bobbin case, pull the thread tails under and  
behind the presser foot.

2.  Place the seam under the needle.

3.  Using the handwheel or the needle up/down button, drop the needle into  
the fabric at the start of a seam (note: handwheels should always be turned
in the direction that causes the feed dogs to move fabric from the front of  
the machine to the back).

4.  Drop the presser foot.

5. Holding the thread tails behind the presser foot, take 2-3 stitches

6. Drop the thread tails and sew normally.

Not all machines require holding the thread tails, but enough do that you
might as well make it a habit.  Saves many bad words and thread tangles.

If this machine hasn't been professionally serviced in the last couple of years,
it's probably time to take it in.  Can't tell you what it would cost where
you are, but a typical COA (clean/oil/adjust) runs $50-100 in my part of the  
world, and when you get the machine back, it should run like new.
Here's the sort of thing that happens at the shop:  

The three most common causes of needles breaking that I see are:
1) Pushing or pulling the fabric under the needle.  Guide the fabric, don't  
haul on it.  Let the feed dogs do the work of transport.
2) Sewing onto or off of a thick area, like the thick spot on the side seam  
when you're hemming jeans.  Use a "hump jumper" or a fold of fabric to keep  
the presser foot level while you're making the transition between the two
3) Sewing machine starts to jam (usually a threading and seam starting fault)  
and you keep stitching till the needle bends and breaks.

Remember to match the size of the needle to the thickness of fabric being
sewn (in general, you want the smallest needle size that will let the stitch form) and make sure it's right way around in the machine and fully up in the needle
clamp.  Otherwise you'll get "skipped stitches": _ _______ _ __ _ ___ _
instead of _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  

Needle photos: http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/17206792

If you don't have the manual, try to get a copy.  It's one of your best  
sewing tools.  


Re: Why does my simplicity sewing machine keep jamming and the needle keeps breaking
Kay Lancaster wrote:
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<snip excellent advice>

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Amen to that!  It's funny how many people are given a perfectly good  
old machine, and think it should run right off the bat with no  
maintenance.  Unless the donor was scrupulous about cleaning and  
oiling it almost certainly needs a good servicing.   You wouldn't  
take off on a long trip with a new-to-you-used car without, at a  
minimum, checking the fluids.

<more snippage hath occurred>

I would add to all of Kay's good advice, make sure the needle is  
inserted in the *correct* way. A needle in backwards will cause  
problems. and it goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway), be  
sure you have the correct needle *for your machine*, in the proper  
size for the project.


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