Monday, April 21, 2014

Lower Tension Adjusting

My Necchi Lelia was giving me some loose stitches yesterday.  Adjusting the upper tension and presser foot pressure had no effect, so I pulled out the bobbin case and checked the tension on it. I have a spring tool that supposedly tells the proper upper and lower tensions 

but I have used it before and am not happy with the results. 
Tension always seems way too tight after adjusting to the tool's marks. 

I read somewhere on the internet that proper Class 15 bobbin case tension could be found by filling a bag with just under 1 1/2 ounces of sugar and hanging that bag of sugar from the bobbin thread.  Not wanting to keep a bag of sugar around to invite ants, I opted for a bag of metal washers instead.

I broke out my cheap-o balance scale 

and measured out 1 1/2 ounces of washers and put them in a zip-lock bag.

Adjust the tension screw on the bobbin case until the bag of sugar slowly drops. If the bag stays suspended, tension is too tight; if the bag drops like a rock, tension is too loose.  

When you have the adjustment just right, re-insert the bobbin case in the machine and adjust upper tension to achieve a balanced stitch. 

I adjusted the Lelia's bobbin tension until the bag dropped slowly and put the bobbin case back in the machine. Stitches were ALMOST perfect, maybe just a tiny bit tight - I had to increase upper tension to '5' to balance the stitches but it gives me a starting point. I will remove washers from the bag one-by-one until I have a measuring device that gives me the result I want.

My next thought is to use some of that left-over spring wire to make a homemade tension scale.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spool Holders

If you have a vintage Singer Touch & Sew, you probably have noticed that the spool holders have lost the foam pads that hold the thread spool from spinning and rattling.

Replacement pads are available,

but I am always looking for ways to re-use something around the house, rather than buy new.  When we got our new family room furniture, I went to Wal-Mart and picked up a package of 1 1/2 inch felt pads to protect the hardwood floors from scratches. 

There are still about 10 felt pads remaining in the package and they looked about the size of the spool holder pads, so I decided to give it a try.

Using my 50-year-old high school geometry knowledge, I got out a compass and marked the center of the felt pad. 

Then, using the largest adapter on my leather punch,

I punched a hole exactly in the center of the felt pad.

I cleaned the remaining sponge from the spool holder

and mounted the peel-and-stick pad to the spool holder.

And here it is, all ready to go. 

Now I have to look through my stash of felt pads to see if there is one the correct size to renew the small spool holder.


Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Foot Control

Kathie and I took a day trip to Fredericksburg, Virginia today.  As usual, we hit all the fabric stores and quilt shops for Kathie and thrift shops for me.  In one Goodwill, I spotted a like-new foot control for $2.99.

 Because I'm too lazy to fix up the tub of foot controls in the shop, I am always happy to pick up a working model.  I looked at the power cord and saw that it was a three prong grounded type.  That's good.

Then I looked at the cord that hooks to the sewing machine to see if I knew what machine it came from and saw that it has a three prong socket at the end of that cord.

  It is not a sewing machine foot control at all, it is a speed control for any motorized piece of equipment.  Well, a sewing machine is a piece of motorized equipment, isn't it?  I now have a "shop foot control" to test any machine having the motor & light block type of hookup.

 Just plug the MOTOR connector into the plug from the "shop foot control" and step on the pedal.  I wish I had invented this myself.  To add more flexibility, I could put a male wall plug on the end of some common power cords and be able to test machines that do not use the motor & light block.  And it gives me a way to get rid of some of those old foot controls if I should ever get around to fixing them up - I will just wire in a 2- or 3-pin socket and turn them into speed controls.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Store

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Big Shirt

About a year ago, Kathie saw a Northcott Fabric Rep wearing a “Big Shirt” and immediately fell in love.  She bought the book and the fabric for one of her own, but there was one problem – although she is an experienced quilter, she doesn’t sew clothes!  Since I have made a few Hawaiian shirts and this looks like a Hawaiian shirt in cotton, I volunteered to do the sewing.  It's basically an oversized man's shirt with buttons on the opposite side.

  But this vintage sewing machine blog isn't about shirt-making. It also isn't about the Singer 603 I used to sew the shirt 

or the rescued-from-a-storage-shed Babylock serger that I used to finish the seams;

 It is about the buttonholes 

and the Singer buttonholer that accomplished that task.

There are several types of Singer buttonholers, some for straight stitch machines, some for vertical needle zig zag machines, and some for slant needle zig zag machines.  Since the 603 is a slant needle machine, the slant needle buttonholer was the logical choice. 

  I prefer the buttonholers for zig zag machines because the machine zig zag stitch does the work of forming the satin stitch around the buttonhole while the buttonholer only has to move the fabric in the shape of the desired buttonhole.  

Buttonholers for straight stitch machines move the fabric left and right to form the satin stitch and move the fabric in the shape of the desired buttonhole. I have never made buttonholes of the same quality using a straight stitch buttonholer.  At last count, I had about 17 straight stitch buttonholers but when I want a buttonhole, I use a zig zag buttonholer.

One thing to remember when using a buttonholer – ALWAYS START WITH A FULL BOBBIN!  2/3 of the way through my first buttonhole on this shirt, the bobbin ran out and I had to rip out 2/3 of a buttonhole and start over.  On most machines, that would be a problem but on a Touch & Sew with wind-in-place bobbin, it’s twice the trouble.

Anyway, here’s the finished product. 

Now that I have one under my belt, I might make another for myself (but with matching fabric).