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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sharing Tips While Waiting for Warmth

As the shop is still closed, I decided I would use this post to offer some reminders that are answers I've suggested to questions that arise in lessons.

Threads and Thread Spools
  • Thread comes in many different styles today, and so do thread spools. An easy way to remember which spool for which spool holder is this: 
  • Vertical Spool Pins (standing upright) take thread spools that look like those you have known all your life. The thread is wound on them vertically, and so comes off the spool best on a vertical spool pin. All old sewing machines have Vertical Spool Pins and have a piece of felt, or a lovely little crocheted doily, underneath the spool of thread - which protects both the machine's surface and the thread spool itself.
  • Horizontal Spool Pins (which look like they are laying on their side) seem to have arrived when machines began being made of plastic, and they are best used with spools that are 'cross wound' (like Mettler, Aurifil and others) The spool of thread remains stationary on the horizontal spool, and an 'end cap' is placed at the end of the pin to keep the spool from being pulled off.
  • Cones are like cross wound spools, and they must have their threads pulled over the top of the cone ... a thread spool stand is often recommended, but I find a teacup behind your machine works just as well.
  • Bob, at Superior Threads, has a great video that explains these different types of spools and spool pins (and advertises his company's thread spool holder which accommodates all types of spools.) It is well worth watching ~ forgive him, for he does confuse the words horizontal and vertical at one point in the video ... but he does know what he is talking about.

Old Sewing Machines
  • Vintage and antique machines require oiling, and manuals are helpful in showing you exactly where to oil the machines. For Featherweights, there are some ports that require oil every eight hours of use, and others that only require semi-annual attention. Whatever machine you have, a manual can be found online, and is essential for good maintenance. You can maintain these machines yourself as well or better than any sewing machine shop. 
  • Cleaning the surface of a vintage or antique, black, heavy sewing machine requires only sewing machine oil, a soft cloth, and elbow grease. Water based products (household detergents) will damage or possibly remove the decals on a machine.
  • Some of these machines  (including those dated 1930s and later) have electric motors that will also need attention and care. Worn electrical wires can be replaced simply with a trip to the big box hardware stores. Motors require Lubrication, not Oiling. Any place that requires Oiling (see your manual) does NOT take Lubrication. Make sure you have the right product:
  • Oil = sewing machine oil. Light weight, clear or white in color. When it yellows, throw it out.   Apply only ONE DROP where indicated in manual.
  • Lube = grease ... like vaseline, or sewing machine lubricant, Usually in a squeeze tube, clear or white in color, applied to gears or into the ports of a motor. See your manual for clear directions and frequency.
  • P B Blaster = a penetrating spray that will lubricate hard-to- turn or remove SCREWS ... not meant for lubricating a motor.
  • Evaporust = a solution that is reusable, biodegradable, harmless but does a terrific job in just a few hours of soaking to remove rust from chrome faceplates, throat plates, screws and other shiny metal parts. 
Modern Machines
  • Machines between the decades of nineteen fifties through early seventies may also need scheduled oiling, according to their manuals. But machines from the eighties and later have been manufactured NOT to need oiling ... they are constructed with a different type of lubricant that is more or less permanent in its viscosity. Check your machine, and if it does not ask you to oil it, don't. But check carefully so that you won't miss it if it does need oil.
I am happy to help anyone with a question about their machine ... while I am not an expert at modern machines that have circuit boards, computer connections, visual screens etc., I can help you maintain your own machine and trouble shoot tension problems if it is an older model... and you have a manual (or I can find one online for you.) Most problems are related to tension setting or timing, and on the old Singer's I'm very familiar with solutions to those problems. One very simple suggestion is to make sure you have the same weight thread in both the top feed and in the bobbin, as a difference will affect your tension. 

I still have several functioning sewing machines in the shop that are for sale; treadles, hand cranks, electrics ... dating from 1920's through 1970's.  Sadly, Rick is no longer here to make new wooden bases for them, but there are people online who do the same type of work and do ship their products from here in the United States. I can help you find them. 

You can stop into the shop to see me, or send me an email to arrange help with your sewing machine. 
  • Email -  (Yes, PENS ... I sew and I write.)
  • Shop phone - 978-352-2676  please leave your name and number first, then a brief message and I'll get back to you. (I don't have caller ID so need that info.)
Happy Sewing - see you in April!
Shop Hours: Thursday noon to 5pm, Friday noon to 5pm, Saturday noon to 3pm

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