Look familiar? Nine times out of ten this happens because you forgot to put the presser foot down when you started to sew. Yes, really! Make a little sign and tie it to your machine so you never forget again. Those other times, however, may be happening for a variety of other reasons.
Oh bobbin problems, do you exist solely to make us all go mad? You are the bane of our existence and can cause us to write overtly dramatic sentences like this one when we are frustrated by you. If your machine won't sew the first thing to do is simply rethread your machine and bobbin and see it that helps. If the problem remains, you should check to see if there is any thread caught in the bobbin or in the feed dogs. DO NOT tug or pull or yank on anything. Be gentle -- you don't want to cause a bigger problem, now do you? Remember, in times of frustration, your machine is your friend!
If you are anything like me and tend to jump to conclusions, perhaps you have taken the shuttle assembly apart (this is what the bobbin case fits into) in a frustrated effort to see what is wrong. When you put it back together, take the time to dust it out with a small sewing machine brush or toothbrush. Make sure you set the bobbin back in the case in right direction (clockwise, counter clockwise -- check your instruction book or online for instructions). It is possible that it needs oil, but don't just jump to that conclusion (we will cover when and where to oil your machine on Wednesday this week). If you have several sewing machines it is possible that you have the wrong bobbin for the machine (not all bobbins are universal). The bobbin may not have been wound properly to begin with. Don't waste the thread though! Wind it back onto a new bobbin.
And don't forget about that old adage Murphy's Law. This is the law of the universe which governs the bobbin thread to run out two inches before your seam ends, in the middle of a long gathering stitch, or at the crucial point of a set-in sleeve you neglected to baste. Newer computerized machines will alert you that your bobbin thread is running low, but older mechanical and most electric machines will not. There is often no way to know when your bobbin will run out, so wind a few at a time for your project and it will save you that quarter for the curse jar.
Time for a confession. I took that "broken" Bernette in for diagnostics and guess what was wrong with it? The bobbin winder was engaged. Seriously! The guys at the shop got a good laugh over that one, but they were kind to me and told me some worse 'duh' stories with the intention of making me feel better. It worked.
While I was there, I thought I'd take some time to ask a few other questions which were on my mind (a friend is looking for a recommendation for a machine to applique projects with) and they were happy to show off some tricks the high end Berninas could do. It is too bad I need to fix a rather expensive problem with our master bathroom and that I may chose to go on a family vacation this summer, or I may have been able to justify the $150 month payments for one...