All Machines All The Time!!! (Part 1)

Are you bored yet?

All shined up

Sorry to witter on (I LOVE that word, it’s not part of my native vocabularly but I am totally stealing it) about my new/old machines. I’ll get back to the actual, y’know, making stuff pretty soon.

With its very own bobbin case!

I swung by Sewing World a day or two after I brought the White home, and they did indeed have the kind of bobbin case I needed. For the low, low price of $14. Yup, half again what I paid for the bloody machine, and two to three times the online prices (although those would’ve had shipping added on. Thanks to everyone who made suggestions!). But it was in my paws instantly (as opposed to some random time in the next month) and supports my local sewing stores, yadda yadda. The manual is available for a download for another $10, which I may get around to shelling out at some point.

Anyway, with bobbin in hand I sat down to give her a basic clean. I’m no JillyBe with the full sewing-machine spa, although I wish I was. I just pulled the machine off her base, took toothbrush and kleenex and cleaned out the dust, broken needle bits, pins, and chunk of waistband elastic that were inhabiting it. Then I set to de-fuzzing all the bits of machinery I could easily reach. There was a moderate amount of lint, but not terrifyingly so (I’m sure my Janome was worse off when I took her in for her tune-up last summer). I oiled the moving bits—the previous owner(s) seems to have been fairly heavy on the oil, so there’s a fair bit of sticky residue, but that’s probably better than the alternative, right? More fuzz came out when I swapped the needle-plates to try out the straight-stitch, so I now feel like I have a pretty well-cleaned, well-oiled machine. That and a bit of judicious adjustment of the bobbin tension, and the stitches have improved to the point where the straight and plain zig-zags are almost as good as my Janome’s, although the straight stitch still has a bit of zig or twist to it or something, even using the straight-stitch plate. This is why people love their straight-stitch machines, folks.

Stitches and zigzags and buttonholes, oh my!

While playing with the various fancy stitches and figuring out how to do a 4-step buttonhole (not so hard as I’d feared, especially on plain cotton ;) ), I determined that the main issue she has is that the reverse stitches aren’t the same length as the forward stitches. The reverse (left) leg of the buttonhole is a long, loose zig-zag if I let the feed dogs do as they will, while the forward leg makes a perfect satin-stitch. (My Janome has a similar issue, although not this extreme) In a buttonhole you can compensate for that by man-handling your fabric, but it also affects the neatness of the fancy stitches. I’m not sure if this is something a tune-up would fix (I’m not super keen to give my $10 machine a $100 tune-up…) or if it’s just something I have to live with. Further sleuthing around the sewing-machine-repair sites/groups may be in order.

The feet that came with her are fairly basic—straight stitch, narrow hemmer, standard zig-zagger, wide-toed zig-zagger. There is this adjustable zipper foot with quilting guide (I’m as confused as you)

zipper foot with quilting guide

And this teensy little guy. I thought it was some kind of quilting foot, but the plastic bit on the bottom is textured and makes it really hard for fabric to move underneath it, so I’m kinda at a loss about how it should work.

Weird little foot

bottom of weird little foot

So that’s where she stands, folks. I’m going to be trying my hand at (ulp) applique again fairly shortly here, and I think I’ll use this machine as the zig-zags seem a little nicer than my Janome’s.

I'm scared. Are you?

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “All Machines All The Time!!! (Part 1)

  1. I know what that weird little foot is. I just came across it last night in my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing! It’s a button foot, for machine sewing on your buttons! It’s grippy so that your buttons won’t slide around. :D

    Sorry I haven’t been commenting much. Work has kept me busy. Been enjoying your sewing machine addiction, though. lol!

  2. That’s a button sewing foot. You use it to attach buttons by dropping the feed dog and adjusting the zig zag length depending on the holes in the button and voila no more hand sewing buttons on ur clothes

  3. Ooo, also, I know what that little groove is for at the bottom of the foot. Here’s the excerpt from RDCGtS:

    “Button foot is used for sewing on buttons. Usually has a groove into which toothpick or needle is inserted, permitting the stitches also to be the basis of a thread shank.”

    Awkwardly worded, but informative. Seriously, this book is my go-to for all sewing woes and confusion. :D

  4. Hmm, I was also going to suggest that the weird little foot might be a button foot, but it seems the others beat me to it ;)
    Which suggests it almost HAS to be a button foot…

    In fact, your and other bloggers’ adventures which vintage sewing machines are starting to have their effect on me. I am actually starting to consider searching my local e-bay alternative for a nice old machine and/or actually using the old hand-cranked beauty my grandmother gave me…..

    • Well, these ones have kind of thrown themselves in my path… (even the Featherweight, which threw itself in my Mom’s path, as it were)

      I grew up sewing on a 60s machine. While I love my modern Janome, I have to say there’s something nice about the solidity and power of the old machines.

  5. Yeah, you have smart readers! I have this foot – it is indeed a button foot – and I LOVE IT!! My machine (a 1965 Singer 603) manual has instructions for using it, which I’d be happy to scan for you if you’d like. Shoot me an email.

  6. Lou

    Yep, button foot. My original sewing machine has one. It also has the zipper foot (which I just used). I bought myself a new zipper foot (one of those skinny ones) but wasn’t happy with how the needle thread pulled the bobbin thread up so much as it wasn’t anchored down by a nice wide foot – in the end I put the original zipper foot back on (sans quilting guide). I have used the quilting guide when I’ve wanted to follow a line that wasn’t the edge of the fabric – not for quilting.

  7. Such pretty little children you’re adding to your brood! Welcome to the SMAD Society! };-) OK, so they might not be as pretty as your flesh & blood brood, but still….may you get years of useful pleasure from your babies! (& thank you for the link love!)

  8. Thanks, everyone! Button foot, indeed. (Hmm, will have to test that out, I HATE sewing on buttons by hand…)

    Obviously I could’ve read MY copy of RD Complete Guide to Sewing, but what fun would that have been?

  9. Lovely machine, she looks reeeal purty all cleaned up.

  10. Amy

    My mom’s 60s Singer (the machine on which I learned to sew) had one of those button feet. It was genius! I had to learn backwards after getting a newer and plasticky machine in college. The only thing I remember is that it tended to sew the button on really, really tight.

  11. Doncha just love those mechanical machines? Should you desire a major distraction in your life, join the yahoo group We Fix It. It’s frequented by OSMGs (old sewing machine guys) who are incredibly generous and helpful with small adjustments like your machine probably needs.

  12. P.S. Maybe that liitle groove on the bottom of the button foot is so you can put a toothpick underneath so the button is not sewn on so tightly?

  13. I’ll bet that Ann Boyce’s friends have embellished sweatshirt envy!

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