Saturday, October 11, 2008

Another Recycled Jeans Project

Trolling around the Internet last night, I happened upon a tutorial for a car litter bag. We normally keep a Wal-Mart bag on the floor of the back seat for that purpose, but that looks messy and is always in the way if we have more than one person in the back seat. The litter bag tutorial I found used brightly-patterned cotton fabric and had a pocket sewn on the front for tissues, or anything else you wanted to carry. I looked at my stash and saw an old pair of my wife's jeans, which I had already hacked up for another project, but they still had one leg, including the rear pocket intact. I figured using an already-made pocket would surely be easier than constructing a new pocket, so I decided to design my litter bag around that pocket. Here's what I did:

STEP 1: I pieced together enough jeans material to make a 12"x24" rectangle. Folded in half, that will make an 11"x11" bag. That may be smaller or larger than you want, but it seemed like a good size for us.
STEP 2: I salvaged about two feet of waistband from the front of the jeans, saving the button and the buttonhole. I just hacked them off, you may want to unsew the lower half, remove the excess fabric, and sew the waistband back together, this was a prototype, so I didn't take the time.
STEP 3: I folded the rectangle in half and sewed up the sides from the inside.
STEP 4: I hemmed around the opening.
STEP 5: I attached the two pieces of waistband to the backside of the bag to be used as hanging straps.
FINAL: The denim litter bag roughly matches the dark blue exterior of our car and keeps the trash off the floor. The pocket could be used to hold a small pack of tissues, a pen and note paper, MP3 player, Gameboy, or ???Because this was a prototype and I wanted to finish in a hurry, I didn't measure carefully or do any pressing. I'm sure you could produce a much better looking product.
To keep this on topic, I used my new Singer 603E for this entire project and it had no problems sewing through multiple layers of denim with a universal needle. I picked this beauty up in a local thrift shop last week. It came in a cabinet with drawers full of manual, attachments, cams, notions, and about a half-ton of buttons. The price - $30! Manufactured in 1963/1964, I consider the 600, 603 and 603E to be the last of the "good" Singers, after that, Singer began putting plastic gears in the innards and quality went quickly downhill.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

More on Needles

There are four vintage Singer sewing machines that use needles that are slightly different than the standard 15x1 needle used in 99.9% of all home sewing machines. The models are Singer's first domestic zig zag machine, the 206 and its successors, the 306, 319, and the rare free arm 320. The correct needles for these models is the 206x13. Here is a photo of a 206x13 needle (on the top) and a 15x1 needle (on the bottom):

The first thing to notice is that the two needles are the same length from top to the eye. This means that you could insert a 15x1 needle in a 206/306/319 and the machine will sew, because the hook-to-eye timing is identical. However, it is obvious that the point of the 206x13 is much shorter than the 15x1. What happens if you sew with a 15x1 needle in a 206/306/319 is this:

The point of the longer needle strikes the bobbin case and damages both the bobbin case and the needle. Surprisingly to me, you cannot hear the needle strike the bobbin case, so you don't even realize what is happening until you change the bobbin.

The other problem with using the wrong needle is that, because the point is longer, the needle could be still in the fabric when the feed dog begins to move the fabric. This can mean skipped stitches, puckering, and possibly a bent or broken needle. I can see no problem with using a 206x13 needle in a machine designed for a 15x1 needle, except that the 206x13s are considerably more expensive.

For those who like the 306 Class machines, I will try to keep a stock of 206x13 needles in my Etsy Shop, just click on the link below.

206x13 Needles