What happens when things happen?

“The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”  Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Anyone who has used a sewing machine knows that things can happen. But it's really important to keep calm and work out how to solve the problem.

It could be that the bobbin thread has run out when you were in the middle of the perfect swirl, maybe the thread has broken and half way through a key motif is not ideal, or perhaps the tension has suddenly started changing and you had no idea until you turned the quilt over and found some stitches look very flat and too tight.

Unpicking (otherwise known as reverse sewing) always takes such a long time compared to how long it took to sew it in the first place so we prefer not to reach for the seam ripper if we can help it.

We want you to LOVE your machines...like Carolyn and her Avante...

...so in our Facebook Live session on Saturday 27th February 2021 at 11am we will go through some of the things you need to consider when things don't quite go to plan.

It's a bit of a Zen thing..

"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" might seem to be a bit off topic when it comes to fixing thread breaks and shredding on your longarm but the principles of fixing issues is discussed at length in the book, along with philosophical discussions, travel and how to approach things in a Zen like way. 

I first read the book in 1987. It was recommended to me by my room mate who had travelled on a motorbike from London to Cape Town in his University summer holidays. I found the concept of being in a state able to fix problems and to start analysing the problem from scratch just the approach I needed in my job as an IBM Systems Engineer. I often used the techniques when fault-finding. Of course the book is about so much more than that.

“Is it hard?'
Not if you have the right attitudes. Its having the right attitudes that's hard.” 

Robert Pirsig - "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

One of the key things you need to know is that sometimes there are no short-cuts. Sometimes you have to start from first principles.

Zen example one.

When something goes wrong with the top thread on my domestic machine I visually check the top thread path and almost always rethread it even if I can't "see" the problem. I have saved a huge amount of time just by redoing that one step. I don't get emotional about it. I just do it.

Often you can't see where the problem is but by just accepting that you need to start from scratch you are setting yourself up to be able to reset whatever may have caused it.

Zen example two.

A fresh perspective nearly always helps. 

How many times have you had a problem with your machine and because it needs to be gifted in 2 hours, tomorrow or probably yesterday (thank goodness for the motorway delay which has held up your visitors - you might actually finish the binding...yes, I've been there too), you keep hammering away at solving the problem.

Step away from the machine.

Most times your fresh outlook will suddenly allow the problem to be revealed.

“You look at where you're going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you've been and a pattern seems to emerge.” Robert Pirsig

“It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top.”

We give customers some infographic sheets when we install or deliver their machine. We'll cover some of the topics raised on those sheets on the Facebook Live sessions.

So Dream Big and feel confident that with more knowledge, practice and a bit of planning it's possible to get the perfect result. It's a bit like Lindsay below who seamlessly managed to co-ordinate fabric, thread, hair, glasses, fingernails and outfit at one of our classes. These are the days when the gods have lined up all the good karma and it has worked out beautifully.

So, let's run through the Infographics and see you on Facebook Live for a review of thread shredding and breaking and what you can do to avoid it.

One final quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which seems quite apt for longarm quilters. 

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquillity it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.” Robert M Pirsig

“The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called yourself.”

You can watch our Facebook Live on 27th February 2021 on You Tube - 


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