A cautionary tale

Last week I was altering school trousers for The Boy.  Even the smallest size were too large for his skinny self.  So I was just running a new side seam down each pair with the overlocker.


Until the needle hit a thick bit where there were layers of seams, and promptly pinged off at high speed, bouncing off my glasses in passing.  Never have I been so glad to be short sighted.  It could have been pretty nasty.

Since then the overlocker has been on strike.  Refusing to sew without making the most godawful noise.  Breaking threads every third stitch.  Not even the same thread every time. Nope…it has 4 to choose from and was making the most of it!

So I cleaned it out and checked to see if I could identify the problem.  I replaced the needle and figured out eventually the that noise was under the needle plate and would need a visit to the lovely guys at Bambers for some sort of serious, and no doubt, expensive repair.

Then, as I was turning the machine I noticed the above.

See the right hand needle (the one at the back in this picture).  See how it’s sitting in front of the left needle rather than side by side.  (Yep, that’s the bend in the needle, not a dodgy camera angle).

Turns out that when you ping off one needle its a really, really great idea to check the other needles to see if they’ve been damaged.  Or bent.  Because bent needles on your overlocker catch underneath the plate making one hell of a racket and snapping threads with glorious abandon.

And replacing a needle is considerably cheaper than driving 20 miles or so each way to the repair shop and paying them to tell you what a fool you are!

16 Responses to A cautionary tale

  1. Oh my you were lucky – bot with your specs and with the needle. All´s well that eventually ended well!

  2. Jane says:

    So glad it was a simple fix, and no lasting damage to you or machine

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      I was slapping my forehead when I worked it out. And thanking my lucky stars when the needle pinged off my glasses!

  3. Well spotted, I’ve just had a call from the service engineer about my overlocker …and I’m kicking myself. Oh yes a bent needle will cause problems every time! Mind you I needed the service engineer to fish out the tiny set screw that fell inside the machine when I changed one of the other needles so the trip wasn’t totally wasted and they will no doubt have removed a heap of fluff and dog hairs in the process. I can’t wait to get it back.

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Oh we don’t talk about the fluff! It was everywhere! I’m notorious for not cleaning my machines. It’s shocking. And amazing how reliant we become on these machines. First world problems! 😉

  4. Sandy says:

    Good cautionary tale! Thanks for the warning, I’ll be sure to check for bent serger needles.

    Also, whenever I break a sewing machine needle I always double check to make sure I have ALL the needle bits. Sometimes a piece will stay stuck in the fabric, or under the needle plate, or in the bobbin case… wherever it is, it will surely wreak havoc if not dug out.

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Absolutely. And I have a sharps jar (jam jar with a hole drilled in the lid) in which I keep all bent/broken pins and needles nice and safe ready for disposal.

  5. Andrea says:

    This is not the first time I hear of flying needles hitting eyeglasses – makes me wonder if I should be wearing protective eyewear when I sew (!). Good catch on that second needle before sending the overlocker to the shop for servicing.

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Sewing as a dangerous sport! You’re always aware of the danger of sewing through a finger, but this is less obvious.

  6. Vicki Kate says:

    Eek, that’s a little bit scary! Glad you’re OK though and saved yourself some pennies by a successful self diagnosis!

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      I have to say I was rather startled. Normally when you break a needle it’s held in place by the thread, but this came off with such force that it cut through the thread at speed. Not good!

  7. sosewlovely says:

    Glad you’re okay! I broke a microtext needle before luckily it didn’t fly off (just snapped when the needle was down through too many layers of fabric). good tips!

  8. Oh hells spells and I have been putting off getting my eyes checked. Not for the tip of a needle, mind you, but who knows if I delay much longer? Hope the serger is a happier, smoother running thing now that the needles are all fixed?

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      She’s running like a dream, thankfully. I got a little dressed all sewn up on her. Go get your eyes checked now! 😉

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