Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Singer Hemstitcher

The Singer Hemstitcher is a fairly complicated little gadget that I never had much luck using in the past.  However, after some recent online chatter on the subject,  I decided to take it out and give it another shot.

I am using the attachment on my 15-91.  It only comes in a low shank, I guess they had abandoned the whole idea of it once the slant shanks came along.

The important thing to know is that this takes a very specific feed cover plate (NOT a normal feed cover plate.)  This one has to accommodate the piercer.  There are several different plates for the different Singer models.  The one for the 15-91/201 seems to be the one most commonly found.  The one for the Featherweight is almost impossible to find and cost upwards of $100 or more - just for the throat plate itself!

In case you want to know which is which, these are the part numbers (stamped on the back) for the throat plates for each of the machines. 

So, like I said, I decided to give it another shot and I got pretty good results this time.
This is the front side of the work.  I used contrasting thread for clarity, but classic hemstitching is usually white on white.  (You can just clip the occasional fabric threads that get caught in the holes.)

This is the back side.  I used regular iron on interfacing since this was just a sample.  I'd use tear away stabilizer for the real thing.

So this didn't turn out too badly.  But there are a few tricks to it:

1.  Fabric preparation.  You need to use a woven fabric with a medium weave.  Too loose or too close of a weave and you won't get the nice, defined holes you're after.  Originally tarlatan was used as a backing, but nowadays we have an array of stabilizers.  If the hemstitching will be done on a double thickness of fabric, you're good.  Just insert a lightweight interfacing in between.  If it is done on a single thickness and both sides will show, you'll want to use a stabilizer you can remove.  A tear-away or wash-away should work for this.

2.  You have to be able to sew slowly.  The way this works, you sew the first line, in which the piercer makes a hole while the needle makes a zigzag stitch next to it. You can stitch fairly fast here if you want.  But the tricky part is when you turn the work around and make a second pass.  Now the piercer goes back into the same holes while the needle makes a zigzag stitch on the other side.

Remember, to make this zigzag stitch the attachment moves the fabric back and forth.  You have to keep all this perfectly lined up while the fabric is moving.  This is the tricky part AND the key to pulling it off.  It takes practice, I won't lie!  

Here's my video showing how it's done.  I apologize in advance, I don't do great videos, but it is enough to give the general idea.

This might not inspire anyone to go out and spend $50 on a hemstitcher, but they often come with old Singer machines you might buy, so now you know what to do with one if you happen to get it.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

FAQs on Vintage Singers with Helpful Links


How do I  identify the model of my old Singer?

Go to this link and you will see a pictorial flow chart to help you identify what model you have:  Sandman Collectibles

How do I find out the age of my machine?

One of the best resources available is ISMACS.  To date your machine with the serial number go here: ISMACS serial number data base

Where can I find a manual for my old Singer?

Again, ISMACS has many free manual downloads.  (If you want an original manual, check eBay.)
ISMACS free sewing machine manual downloads.

Where can I get parts for my vintage machine?

There are lots of resources, but here are three I've used frequently.  They are all reputable dealers and carry most parts you will need to fix up your machine.  However, for parts like missing slide plates or face plates or any other ORIGINAL parts you need, go to eBay.  People part out machines all the time, and that is where you will find an original replacement (rather than a reproduction.)

Sew-Classic sewing machine parts.

T and T Repair - vintage Singer machines.

Sewing Parts Online.

What are these attachments, and how do I use them?

I have a post about most of the attachments in the LITTLE GREEN BOX.  Also, all the old manuals will illustrate and explain each one.  If you don't have a manual, there are free downloads available (see above.)

How do you use the Singer Automatic Buttonholer and which one is right for my machine?

I have a post about the SINGER BUTTONHOLER which explains slant shank versions versus low shank versions.  These are easy to find on eBay, and not too expensive.  If you have a vintage Singer, you really must get one of these!

What is the Automatic Zigzagger and how does it work? 

Check out my post on the SINGER ZIGZAGGER.  This is a gadget that will make zigzag stitches on your straight stitch machines and comes in both low shank and slant shank versions - they are available on eBay.

I'm looking for a vintage Singer, which is the best one for me?

I have a post covering some of the popular mid-century Singer models (15, 201, 221, 301, 400s/500s)  Of course there are many more, these are just some of the common ones you are likely to find.   A GUIDE TO SOME POPULAR VINTAGE SINGERS

What is My Machine Worth?
The one question I can't/won't answer is "how much is this machine worth?"  That is too subjective to give an answer, and it changes frequently according to popularity, supply and demand at any given time.  Look at eBay to see completed listings to get an idea.  Look at other sites like Craiglist to see what they're asking, but if the price seems very high, it probably is - asking price doesn't mean selling price! Whatever the machine is worth to you, that is the value of it. (Keep in mind, though, that your sentimental attachment to a machine doesn't add a monetary value to anybody else. It might be "worth" more to you because your grandma made your wedding dress on it, but that doesn't mean anything to a prospective buyer.)

More Questions?  Please let me know any other questions that I should cover here if you are a new vintage Singer owner.  And I may come back and add more as needed.