Tag Archives: Sewing Machines

How much is that bobbin case in the window?

Reckless seamstress behaviour

Hello. My name is Tanit-Isis, and I have a problem with sewing. It’s been 15 minutes since I last sewed a stitch…

So, I just did a slightly reckless and potentially self-destructive thing.

I was at the thrift store tonight (killing time during Syo’s dance class). The supply of fun vintage notions that kept me entertained over most of last winter seems to have dried up (I hypothesize that it was all part of one big stash) and I’m trying to be good on the fabric front, and the patterns have been abysmal since they purged a bunch before Hallowe’en. But as I wandered in a half-hearted manner through the electronics section (and there are few things sadder than a thrift store electronics section, I have to say) I realized that there were, not one, but two sewing machines.

Ah, you see where this is going.

The first machine, a middle-aged Kenmore, didn’t thrill me. I was unenthused by a Kenmore as a child (yes, I was a Pfaff snob at the age of nine). But the other caught my eye.

First, there was the blue. A splash of colour on a vintage machine always warms the heart. The price, $10, didn’t hurt. The visual depiction of 24 stitches across the top showed a nice array including plenty of pretty decorative ones that my almost painfully basic Janome doesn’t have, as well as proclaiming her a “White Super Deluxe Sewing Machine.”

There were the two mysterious boxes tucked under the harp arm—accessories! Now I was really getting excited.

I am not a complete rube. I have been around the vintage-sewing-machine block before (possibly even twice). I ducked around the shelves until I located a plug-in and plugged the machine in. Hesitantly, I gave the pedal a squeeze.

Whirr! Motor purrs (and doesn’t sound bad, actually). Needle goes up and down!

Sold. I slapped the carrying-cover back on and sauntered off to the checkout.

Machine footies!

Ensconced with my prize in the car (but still killing time), I dove eagerly into the accessories. A modest but nice array of feet, including several kinds I don’t have. They are low-shank feet, the same as my other two machines, which is nice. Most niftily, there’s a separate straight-stitch throat plate. (Also, the feed dogs drop! This is my first machine with drop-able feed-dogs. They have three settings, down, low, and high.)

Cams

The second accessories case turned out to house the cams for all those fancy stitches. Good thing they’re there! I would’ve been seriously choked to discover the machine could only do straight-stitch because the cams were gone.

No manual. Ah, well. I’m sure I can find one online if I need it. ¬†And no spare bobbins.

It occurred to me to wonder what kind of bobbins the machine might use. After a bit of fiddling, I figured out how to slide back the metal panel that covers the bobbin area.

And discovered just why the machine was probably at the thrift store in the first place.

Bobbin housing---empty

No bobbin.

No bobin case, either.

Um.

So it looks like I’m going to be hunting for the bobbin case for a White 967. Presumably they can be found. I’m guessing eBay*, though I’ll check if my local sewing-machine/repair/expensive scissors crack-store deals in Whites.

So here’s the thing. Looking at the bobbin housing (y’know, the part where the bobbin case fits into), I thought it looked pretty much exactly like my Janome’s. So, being an experimental kind of girl, I pulled out the bobbin case from my Janome and popped it in the White.

It fits. I don’t know if it fits perfectly, but it works.

Stitches!

So I got to test out my new machine after all. I will still need another bobbin case, since having to switch it back and forth between machines pretty much defeats the purpose of having two machines, but in any case. Stitches are formed. Fabric moves around (once I remembered to raise the feed dogs). I won’t say they’re the best stitches I’ve ever seen, and I still have hardly pushed the envelope on how the cams work (though I did figure out how to switch them in and out properly.) Not to mention I haven’t done any of the basics like cleaning out the lint and oiling. But at least she sews.

So if three makes a collection, I now officially have a collection of sewing machines. Oops. I can’t help feeling like I’ve crossed some invisible threshold… that now my sewing machines will begin multiplying, until my sewing-room is overrun with archaic, half-functional machines and my husband leaves me because he can’t stand their looming presence spilling out into the basement…

Ahem. I got a new machine!

*After I wrote this, about 30 seconds on eBay determined that “Kenmore White” bobbin cases that at least look right can be had for under $10. Should be doable.

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An introduction, and more fun with drafting!

My machines

I would like you all to meet my long-neglected serger, Janomelock JL-603A, to be precise.

She is no beauty. She has neither the range of features of a new serger (4-thread setup, differential feed, easy to thread) nor the charm of a truly vintage machine (though as sergers go, I guess she’s pretty vintage). I’m guessing she dates to the late 80s or early nineties, when my mother-in-law used her to create figure-skating costumes for my sister-in-law . I wrangled her out of my mother-in-law five or six years ago (possibly to my sister-in-law’s disappointment, although she got the regular machine and doesn’t use it as far as I can tell). Whatever manual she came with has long since been lost, and my efforts at finding one online have come up completely bust, so I really have only the sketchiest idea of how to use her. In her favour, she serged just fine for me for the first three or four years I had her, even though I didn’t even know how to thread her properly for most of that time.

Then, about two years ago, I tried serging without the blade. I can’t even remember why, except that I knew the blade could flip up and I wanted to see how it would work. It worked fine, although there’s not a lot of room to the right of the needle/blade to maneuver fabric, so it’s really not much use. Then I went to put the blade back down and serge something normally.

The blade is stiff and kind of fiddly. I somehow put it down halfway.

Everything locked up in a terrifying grinding machine-screech.

I freaked out, ran around the room, eventually figured out the problem and got the blade in place properly, but the damage had been done. Everything sewed just fine—but the loops didn’t form. One of the loopers was hopelessly out of position.

And there she sat for about two years. Intermittently I’d take her out, vainly hoping that by re-threading yet again she’d magically recover. It didn’t, of course, work. Finally, a few weeks ago, I bundled her up and trotted her down to the sewing-machine repair shop. And there, for the low, low price of $100, they not only revived her, they threw in a package of needles.

This would be a bit more thrilling if I hadn’t seen a nearly-new, barely-used serger on Kijiji a little while ago for only $150. But anyway—

I can has serger! Now I have no excuse not to finish my seams. My knit tees can be

Syo's shirt

that much closer to the holy grail of “Ready To Wear”. And, I have the perfect project to try her our on:

Syo wants a shirt like my Frankenpattern shirt. I was not super-keen on the off-the-shoulders look for a seven-year-old (ok, largely because she wouldn’t be able to wear it to school), so with some back-and-forth, we settled on the design on the right, which is off the shoulders but with wide straps. She requested the short sleeves, as she always gets too hot with long sleeves (weird child).

I hunted through my rather limited stash of children’s patterns and found an early 90s-cum-50s ensemble that includes a fairly basic shirt to use as the block. Drafting the “cowl” wasn’t too tough (just a bunch of measuring off the block), assuming it ends up looking vaguely like the picture. The fabric will be this crazy print (to the left in the picture) that Syo picked out from the bargain section a while ago.

Syo's cowl pattern

In sick-baby news, Syo is much recovered, Tyo is sick and moping but not actually vomiting, my stomach is unsettled but that might just be from sympathy. So aside from cramping my style, all is well.

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