Somehow this Sewing blog has lost all the posts since sometime early in 2008. Now that is not a heck of a lot of posts as this blog is not very active, but I get a lot of comments on it.
The Internet Archives (The Wayback Machine) has 9 of the missing posts up until mid-2010, but nothing more recent. I think the only serious one since then was the one about my wanting to make my own Khakis as it is getting difficult to find them with a fit that I like, the rest were kind of place holder posts just to say the blog had not been abandoned.
So, I just have to figure out how to post them so that the comments and photos reattach to the proper post. Strange that the comments and photos are still there, isn’t it?
So, the answer is, I don’t know what happened to them, but am working on getting back what I can.
Wow, eight months…
What has happened is I decided to once make photography my central interest as it was for many many years. So that has been where my money has gone. Then the past couple of months the car gods have been demanding sacrifices. In the mean time the local Walmart has quit carrying fabric and a lot of other sewing supplies. While there are two or three quilting stores in town there now are no general sewing supply stores. That is kind of limiting. The nearest place is now a two hour round trip.
Of course having a sewing machine for mending is still nice.
Interestingly enough, there are a lot of things a semi-pro photographer uses that having a sewing machine and knowing how to use it will save him/her a lot of money. I say semi-pro because a full time photographer will find he makes a lot more money behind the camera than he saves running a sewing machine.
The other day I sewed rod pockets on a piece of gray fabic I found in the $1.50 section a Walmart. Presto, a 5×8 backdrop for under $5.00 including sales tax. Above you an see how it works in a test shot.
In this photo there is a piece of plastic pipe in the bottom pocket to hold it in place. The top pocket is not being used.
I finally got around to sorting out the Singer 750 Golden Touch & Sew that came with the table in the previous post. It turned out to be in pretty good shape. I had to replace the rubber feed dog as the rubber had turned to a blob over the years, otherwise it only needed a CLA (Cleaning, Lubrication, and Adjustment).
Someone, presumably a so-called technician, had adusted the upper tension setting so it sewed properly at about “1? on the dial. Singer spec’s “4? for most of their machines, but this one has a lot of special stitches that have to have very loose tension. The dial shows zig-zag from 1 to 4, and straight stitches from 6-9). I wound up setting it so it sews evenly with my standard needle and thread at about 6, and so far that seems to work well (I do not have a service manual for the machine). There is a web expert out there that says he always sets upper tension at 2; I think that leaves you SOL if you try to use a very heavy thread.
I have read a lot about the nylon gears in these machines and how bad they are. Only problem I do not see those nylon gears in there, although they may have made several versions of the 750 over the years. The drive gears are metal, the sub-gears are either anoized aluminum or something like Deldrin (a very high tech super durable plastic). The cam stack and related parts does seem to be nylon however.
Also the housing on this machine is alloy, not plastic as sometimes reported. It remains to be seen if the reported timing problems show up. I am beginning to suspect that most of the problems reported about these machices is a case of the service tech not being very knowledgable about them, as they are different in many ways than the earlier machines.
This machine that I only got because it came with the table I wanted, has now become my main machine. The Singer 337 is planned to go to a young lady I know who has lots of kids to sew for.
I am not so lucky all the time. I recently bought a Singer 301 at the local Goodwill store for not too much money.
It had a lot of mold on it as it had apparently been stored for decades in a damp basement or some such place. Unfortunately, the mold had eaten into the paint. OK, so I can not clean it up and sell it, but it did come with a complete set of feet that I can use on the 750, they are both Slant Needle machines. Or did it? Nope, unfortunately, those feet are for commercial high shank machines. I cleaned most of the mold off it, and plugged it in. It does run. I guess I can put it up on eBay for parts or something. It would cost more to restore it than you can buy a minty one for.
Shirts Still waiting on the motor drive belt. This past couple of weeks has been busy in a negative sort of way. Things that should be simple have taken a lot of time. So nothing has gotten done sewing wise despite having several projects I want to do. I want to make a better quality bag for the tape recorders, a english style saddle bag for the bike, and then try my hand at making a dress shirt. Dress shirts seem to be a place that is worthwhile from a price as well as a fit point of view. A decent man’s dress shirt costs $30-$50 or more . Unless you are an guy who had no problem with off the rack fit, few of us guys are so lucky, you either have to make your own shirts or buy custom shirts if you want proper fit. As best as I can tell with out actually having done it yet, it looks like there is about an hours labor in making a shirt once you know what you are doing. Of course that means there is four or five hours each involved before getting to that point –going by the old 20/80% rule. So once I am skilled at it, I should be able to make a custom fitted $100 shirt for an hour’s labor and about three yards of decent shirting fabric.
Thread Revisited The base tension on these old sewing machines is supposed to be set up with #50 cotton thread, as I mentioned in a previous post about tension, but I could not find any in my area. Well I finally found some. Unfortunately it was in a big spool that I can not use on my machines. However it did give me a chance to compare it to the Coats & Clark Dual Duty XL that I get at Walmart. The #50 mercerized cotton thread is quite a bit heavier than the Dual Duty XL cotton/polyester stuff. Probably the Dual Duty XL is about the equalent of #60 thread, maybe even a bit finer, which most likely explains why it matches the 11 and 12 needles so well. Therefore using the Dual Duty XL, #12 sharp needle, and medium weight fabric as I did looks to be about the closest setup I have available for setting up the tensions (Note: I am writing here about the initial setup, not the adjustments for particular fabric, thread, and needle).
I was just kicked off a Yahoo sewing group because I was “disrespectful of our experts”. Now my disrespect, was in not agreeing with them, and doing many hours of research to find out if they or I were correct, and reporting the results which were inconclusive to the group.
Now they are totally correct, I am disrespectful of experts of that ilk. They are only self-styled. They are right and you are wrong if you do not agree with them. Facts have no meaning in their minds, only their unsupported opinions count.
I hope I never treat my readers that way, I try to pass on information that I think is correct. I am, like everyone else I ever met, not perfect I make mistakes. I admit that I like to argue sometimes. But I do not think that someone is wrong or bad because they disagree with me. I just think we do not agree.
I am rather upset by this. Any group or forum I join I try to participate and provide what info I have. I do not say things I do not think are true, but I can certainly be mistaken and probably often am. But I try to be a contributor, and not just someone that joins to get my question answered and leaves.
The actual result of this is that I have quit all Yahoo groups and I will no longer contribute anymore to sewing forums of any type other than this blog, where the editor (myself) hates but tolerates me (GRIN!). I tend to waste a lot of time on forums, so they probably did me a big favor.
Anyway if you have ever wondered why much you read on the ineternet in certain areas sounds like it is parroted by the same bird, I think this might explain some of it.
Just what I needed, another sewing machine. This one is a White Fair Lady from the 1960’s, model number 763. It is a straight stitch machine and quite different from the Singer, also seems to be in better condition. All it needed was cleaning, oiling, bobbins, a light bulb, and the bobbin tension adjusted a bit.
I picked it up an a Goodwill Store out of town they other day for $25. It seems to sew nicely and it is a bit more powerful than the Singer, so it may be better for things like this case,
I sewed up the other day on the Singer.
This could not be easier. You only need two accessories:
1. A straight stitch needle plate.
2. A straight stitch presser foot.
I found them on eBay for my machine, actually for a slightly later model, but they both use the same accessories. My machine is a 337 as I have mentioned before, the parts I got are for a 348.
It is only a matter of removing the zig-zag presser foot, pulling open the bobbin cover, and removing the zig-zag needle plate, then installing the straight stitch plate and foot in the opposite order. Of course if you need to use zig-zag stitches you have to change things back to the zig-zag configuration.
Does it make much difference? I found the stitches are straighter, lacking that slightly slanted look, and the material does not get pulled slightly into the needle hole. As a result the machine seems to sew more smoothly.
I have seen many articles telling you what your seams should look like at the proper tension, but all of them have been really vague about how to go about adjusting the tension to get that seam.
First you need some kind of starting point. Older Singer machines were factory set to sew medium weight fabric with number 50 mercerized cotton thread and a number 14 needle with the tension dial set at 3. Nowadays that needs some explanation. As far as I can determine by medium weight fabric they mean something like a man’s dress shirt is made from. For thread I am using Coats & Clark Duly Duty Plus Polyester. I think it is a bit heavier than #50 cotton size wise (I am not real sure of that as I can not find any cotton thread around here to compare it to), but Poly stretches a bit so you usually use a slightly lower tension, because of that it seems to be about right. I also picked up some #12 Schmitz Sharp needles. Anyway I set my machine up so the dial is at 3 with that combination, and it seems to give a good range of setting for other thread and needles.
A side note: I said in the article about Needles, Thread, Fabric and Tension that all of them make a difference. With a bit more experience I now think the most important thing is to match your needle to your fabric. I found that medium heavy Duck breaks #11, and bends number 14 needles, but works fine with #16 needles. At the moment I am using #12 and #16 sharp point needles for most everything.
Now to the matter at hand, how to go about setting your tension when you have no idea what is going to be correct. Start with the dial set at 3 or the center of the dial if you have no idea what the machine is set for. Run a bit of a seam on a piece of dress shirt weight fabric folded double, a couple of inches is enough. I suggest marking one side so you can easily tell which side is the top. Examine the seam.
If there are loops on top reduce your tension two dial marks.
If there are loops on the bottom increase the tension two dial marks
If there are no loops go to the next step
If it looks like sewing on the bottom, and just a straight thread on top, increase your tension one mark.
If it looks like sewing on top, and just a straight thread on bottom reduce your tension one mark.
If it looks like sewing on both sides go to the next step.
Look very carefully at the stitching,
If it looks loose on the bottom increase the tension ½ the amount you changed it the last time.
If it looks loose on the top reduce the tension ½ the amount you changed it the last time.
Repeat until you can not tell any difference in the two threads.
You programmer types will recognize that we and using a binary search to find the correct tension setting. For others what that means is we are moving the setting past what it needs to be and then back half way. We are reducing the error 50% or more each time we do that. Going from loopy to good enough only takes five steps; 2, 1, ½, ¼, 1/8. A couple of steps more and you are moving the dial only a hair and have it about as close at a really well set up machine will do because there is some slop in the train and it will wobble that much. You will also notice that correct tension is only about 1/8 a dial marking from incorrect.
Make notes of what is correct with each needle/thread combination you use, and you will be able to set the dial close next time you use that combination. From there it only takes one or two steps to get it just right.