Friday, 26 May 2017

Which way does my needle go in? Which way do I thread it?

If you're something of a vintage sewing machine aficionado (hoarder) you may occasionally experience some confusion when you go to change the needle or just thread it.

Luckily there are two rules that are always true with sewing machines, but you have to look closely to check the first one.

Simple rule #1: The flat side is nearest the hook.

This one requires you to look at which side of the needle the hook is on. In Singer 66 and 99 the hook race is very large, and the hook actually passes the needle on the outside. That is, the hook is to the right of the needle. Following simple rule #1, that means we have the flat on the right.

Models 66 and 99, the hook is to the right,
so the flat is too.

Model 201, smaller race means the hook
is on the left, so the flat is too.

Simple rule #2: Thread also goes toward the hook

That means the thread always exits the needle on the hook side.

Vertical bobbin machines are a bit harder to see, but as soon as you see the hook, you know how to put in the needle and how to thread it. This will maybe save you a lot of time looking for manuals.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Peerless buttonholer

The Peerless company were (I believe) the first to come up with an attachment for straight stitch sewing machines which would enable the machine to make a buttonhole.  They did this in the 1880s, and I bought one of these first ones a couple of years ago. Today, I disassembled it, cleaned it, reassembled it and eventually got everything working. There was some rust, for which I can forgive the almost 130-year-old attachment.
Peerless "Singer V.S.." on late '50s 201K treadle
They're ingenious devices, and have adjustments for stitch width, stitch length and distance between the two lines of stitches.
After getting it to work I quickly got out the video camera and made a video. A tweak here and there would have been more sensible, as the resulting work was a bit sub-standard.
The video is here.
Afterwards, I set the machine up properly. The feed cover is essential even though the 201 can drop the feed dog. I removed it to see what would happen and it wasn't good.
Following are the pictures of a 'good' one, but still a bit lacking. The mechanism is a little loose, likely through wear, and this would make it just about impossible to get a perfectly straight line of stitching. Still, they're very rare and it works after all this time.

Top of buttonhole
Underneath of buttonhole