Saturday, May 20, 2017

Good Sewing Machine For a Serious Beginner

I was just asked about what sewing machine a serious beginner should buy, for less than $250.  It needs to be a good, durable sewing machine, that will grow with skill level.

To get a new machine that would be more durable, you’d need to spend at least $700.  There are a lot of new machines that have lots of bells and whistles, but they all have a plastic bobbin case, that can cause a lot of frustration.

You might want to look on, and see what used machines are available in your area.  For new sewists, I recommend an old Kenmore 10 stitch, or something similar.  I LOVE the old Kenmores!  And you can usually find one in a thrift store for less than $25.  Some only have straight and zig-zag stitches, with a door on top to add cams.  You don’t want that, you want one with built-in cams/stitches.  You also don’t want the old, top-loading Kenmores, as that bobbin/hook system is a nightmare.  You want a front-loading machine with all metal hook and bobbin case, and a few extra stitches built-in. 

If you've got your heart set on a "NEW" machine,  Try a Singer "Simple."  It has the metal oscillating hook and some nice stitches.

Most people only use a handful of stitches.  The ones most people need are straight stitch, zig-zag, blind hem and serpentine (or broken zig-zag).  If you’re a quilter, you need the blanket-stitch for applique.  And a nice decorative stitch or two is good.  If you’re sewing heavy fabrics, you need a front loading, metal hook and bobbin case.  The plastic bobbin cases jam when you sew heavy fabric, and the needle goes right through them.  Then you have to buy a new bobbin case.  If you’re doing light sewing, like piecing a quilt, a cheap plastic machine will work just fine.

The auto thread cutters (under the needle plate) seem like a good idea, but they haven’t been perfected yet, and can cause a lot of grief.

To check the quality of a machine, grab the needle bar and try to wiggle it forward and backward.  If it has forward/backward wiggle, the needle hook distance (a timing setting) is variable and you’re not likely to get as good stitch quality.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Singer Bobbin Winder

I had a question about how to put a Singer 4562 bobbin winder back together.  Here's a picture of a Singer 30920 bobbin winder.  I hope they're similar enough.

As you can see, the spring hooks onto the arm above it, and just "pokes" into the hole below it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Singer 15-99 / Removing the Hook

I was asked how to remove the hook from a Singer model 99, so you can get some thread out of there.  Here's a picture of my Singer 15-99.

Here's the hook, all assembled.

The first thing to do, is unscrew the big, black screw.  When you get the screw out,  The retainer will come off.  Then you can pull the race cover and hook out.

Now you can clean any lint out.  Pay particular attention to getting the lint out of the race (which is the ledge that the hook sits on).  Put a drop of oil on the race.

When you put it back together, the hook goes in first, then the race cover.  Make sure the pins go through the little holes on each side of the race cover, and that the beveled edges are facing outward. 

Last, put the retainer back on.  Make sure the bent "hands" grab each side of the race cover.  Tighten the screw.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

How To Get Into The Top Of A Bernina 930

There are two spring-loaded screws on the top of the machine.  One on the right (under the bobbin winder lid), and one on the left (built into the bobbin winder tensioner).  Push down, then turn a quarter of a turn.  You'll know you're in the right position if the screw pops up.

Once you get inside, you can clean and oil, and adjust the presser foot tension.  Here's where that adjustment is.

The copper colored cylinders are the basting mechanism.  Be sure to use this feature every-once-in-a-while, so it doesn't freeze-up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Singer Bobbin Winder Clutch (model 30920)

I've had a request to show how to repair a Singer (model 57825C) Bobbin Winder Clutch.  There were a few Singers with this rocker-type bobbin winder clutch.  There's not much to them, and they're a lot different than the typical handwheel-type clutch.

Let's take a look at the outside first.

When you're sewing, the clutch would look like this.

When you're winding a bobbin, push the clutch in on the indentation.

Here's the top shaft of the bobbin winder.

Here's what the bobbin winder looks like underneath.

Before you do anything else, check to make sure that the rubber O-ring (or tire) on the big round hub is in place, and is in good condition.  It should be supple, and have no cracks.  This can easily be replaced, and usually costs less than a dollar.

Also (as Ryan pointed out below), you'll want to make sure the spindle will turn easily.  If it's frozen, you can try two things.  First, I usually put some WD-40 in the cracks and work it until it's loose.  Always blow the WD-40 out with an air compressor or canned air.  Then re-oil.  If that fails, you can pop the c-clamp off, disassemble the bobbin winder, clean it, and put some oil on the shaft directly.  Then put it back together.

Next, we'll take a look at the inside of the clutch.  You can carefully pry off the rocker with a screwdriver.

Inside the handwheel, you'll see the center shaft, and the notches along the outer portion of the handwheel.

If the notches are damaged, the handwheel would need to be replaced.  If that's the case, you'd be better off putting your money into a new sewing machine.

This is what the underside of the rocker looks like.

If the metal clip or the plastic that holds the metal clip are broken, it would need to be replaced.  Once again, you may be better off putting your money into a new sewing machine.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Using WD-40 On Sewing Machines

There's a lot of controversy about using WD-40 on sewing machines.  Let's talk...

I use WD-40 on sewing machines, almost every day at work.  However, I don't use it as a lubricant, I use it as a solvent.  WD-40 breaks down the old, gummy oil very well.  If you're not equipped to remove the WD-40, it will continue to break down the oil.  At work, we use an air compressor and flannel rags to remove the WD-40 and the gunk it dissolves.  If you don't have an air compressor, you can use a can of air -- but it has to be a full can with some good pressure.

Don't use WD-40 on certain longarm quilting machines and industrial sewing machines.  Some of these have porous bearings that will hold onto the WD-40.

The procedure goes like this...
   1)  Blow out all the lint with an air compressor.
   2)  Generously spray the gummed-up area with WD-40.
   3)  Work the mechanisms until they are moving freely.
   4)  Blow out the WD-40 and gunk with an air compressor.  This takes a while.  You continue to blow until there are no more wet spots.  Turn the hand wheel to get all sides of the sprayed parts.
   5)  Wipe up the mess with flannel rags.
   6)  Go back and blow some more with the air compressor.
   7)  Apply new oil.  Only use clear "sewing machine oil," not 3-in-1 oil (or sewing machine grease except for very specific spots).

Some people will say that "someone" told them to NEVER use WD-40 on a sewing machine.  But I have to ask, who is "someone?"  And was "someone" talking about using it as a lubricant?  This "someone" LOVES to use WD-40 on sewing machines!  It works very well to remove the gummy stuff.

I've also seen where "someone" used WD-40, and it made matters worse.  I think they probably didn't use enough WD-40, and didn't get the gunk dissolved completely.  So, the gunk was still there. 
I've only had 5 years
(almost) of experience, but have never had a problem with WD-40 making things worse.

Some may say to just keep oiling the machine, and it will eventually break loose.  Nonsense!  The old, gummy oil is still there!  The old gummy oil needs to be removed, and WD-40 is the tool for the job.

OK, there's my very own, personal, private, take on the WD-40 controversy.  But then, I tend to figure things out and think for myself.   I know I'm not the only sewing machine mechanic who uses it! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Row By Row Experience Pattern Now Available

My 2014 Row By Row Experience pattern, Snowflake Collection,  is now available to purchase for just $3.95!  You can buy it at Craftsy or Etsy.  Here's a full picture, and a few of the individual snowflakes.  Print the third page on card stock for your foundation papers.