Thursday, August 28, 2014

Presser Feet

About a week ago, a Necchi owner asked me to order her a set of high shank snap-on presser feet.  
  I ordered a set for her and thought that others might like the convenience of snap-on vs. screw-on presser feet so I ordered another set to try out with the intention of listing the sets on Etsy if they seemed of decent quality. 

While cruising Ebay today, looking to identify an orphan set of Necchi accessories, I ran across a couple folks selling the same set of snap-on presser feet (at $5-$10 above full retail).  In one description, the seller said that some buyers had asked if the feet came with instructions.  They don’t but the seller referred to a book in her shop telling how to use all sorts of presser feet.

That got me curious what the book might be, so I checked out her store and found no such book listed.  Then I Googled “Book how to use sewing machine attachments” and about the 5th line down was a link to the Singer website,  I clicked on it and I was taken to a page that has free, downloadable pdf instructions and video clips for all the major sewing machine feet.

You don't have to own a Singer to find these instructions useful, all sewing machines use basically the same attachments.  Most of the information is contained in the sewing machine instruction manual, but if you are missing your manual, here’s a place to find out how all those shiny doo-dads are supposed to work!


Friday, August 01, 2014

Kenmore 1400

A few days ago, a friend gifted (cursed?) me with a Kenmore 158.14000.  Her daughter had bought it at a yard sale for the cabinet and did not want the sewing head.

The preliminary inspection told me that the machine had been stored in a high humidity area

 but in spite of the rust on the foot control, there was relatively little rust inside the machine itself.

My guess is that the machine was stored in a basement or garage, the cabinet held the sewing head suspended while the foot control sat for a considerable time on the concrete floor.

The next thing I discovered was the lack of a thumbscrew needle clamp. You have to use a screwdriver to change the needle.

Presser feet are also not held on via a thumbscrew, there is a little lever on the rear of the presser bar that loosens and tightens a screw to hold the presser feet.

This means that most presser feet do not fit but a general purpose foot came with the machine and I did manage to scrounge up two other feet that work.

One feature I find really neat is this little insert that sits in a groove in the needle plate.  You turn it one way for zig zag sewing, then turn it around the opposite way for straight stitching.

Saves having to remove the screws and change out the needle plate.

When I first tried to sew, straight stitch was perfect but zig zag would only make a stitch on one side. The most common cause of this problem is incorrect needlebar height.  At some time, the sewist hit a button or zipper and drove the needlebar up so that now, the needle is too high for the hook to catch the thread.  Needlebar height is easy enough to adjust, just loosen the clamping bolt on the collar, slide the needlebar to the correct position and tighten the bolt back down.

In order to see the hook point passing the needle eye, I need to remove the feed dog and I didn't have the proper tools with me so I just loosened the needle and dropped it down about 1/8 inch.  The result is the same as lowering the needlebar and zig zag works properly.  Now that I have verified that needlebar height is the issue, I will remove the feed dog and adjust the needlebar so that when the the hook passes the needle, the point of the hook is just above the top of the needle's eye at all stitch widths.

This model has a good selection of decorative and utility stitches but up to now, I have been unable to use them.

At first, I thought it might be operator error and visited the Sears website to download an operator manual.  When I enter the model number of this 1400, the site returns a manual for a model 14 - a completely different machine.  I did find a manual for a 1430, which is close, but not identical. Turned out that it wasn't operator error after all, there is one lever inside the vertical pillar that locks the cam follower in place when a stitch is selected. The cam follower position nearest the operator (where it is in the photo) is zig zag.

 That lever is sticking so that when a decorative stitch is selected, the sticking lever allows the cam follower to move away from the operator, but does not allow the cam follower to return in the opposite direction.  To move the cam follower back to zig zag, I have to remove the lid and push the lever into position with a screwdriver.  I have used sewing machine oil and Liquid Wrench so far but neither had much effect.  I am contemplating installing a spring on the lever to "help" it into its proper position.  Until I figure out a remedy, the machne is permanently in zig zag.  Stitch width '0' gives me a straight stitch and that and zig zag is all I really need for the sewing I do.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Store