Friday, August 3, 2018

Another Fun Gadget, the Underbraider

This is a gadget that I believe came standard in the attachment set of the older machines - I'm talking about the OLD black Singers from the early 20th century.  At that time, it was probably common to adorn garments with braid, thus the underbraider which attached it from the bobbin-facing side of the fabric, as the name implies.

For this attachment, it doesn't matter which shank type you have, but you do have to have a machine which has the holes in the bed and the throat plate that match up with the slot to screw it on, and the little clamp that holds it in place.  The majority of old Singers have this configuration - this is on my Singer 237.

So what you do is insert braid, or whatever 1/8" embellishment you're using, into the slot:

Another thing you must have is the short, open-toed quilting foot.  A regular straight stitch presser foot won't work because the toes are too long and too close together to allow for the slot that feeds the braid/ribbon.


Here's a good thing to know: if you don't have that type of quilting foot available, then you can use your button foot!  That is what I'm using here.  It is almost exactly the same and works perfectly well.

So naturally you match your bobbin thread to the embellishment you are sewing on which is going onto the right side of the fabric which is face down.  If you are following some kind of outline or design, you can sketch that on the back of the fabric which is face up.  Now sew!

Let me take a moment and point out how quietly and smoothly this machine sews.  I like it better each time I use it.   Excellent machine!

And here is the right side  (this fabric sample is an old press cloth so please excuse the scorch marks!)

What I think will be even more useful for me is sewing on tiny rick-rack.  If you are so lucky as to have some vintage baby rick-rack, this is the perfect gadget for sewing it on.  (Modern baby rick-rack isn't as tiny as the older kind, and may not fit.)

I collect vintage rick-rack.  I love this stuff!

So if you are making a hem, for example, and want rick-rack along the hemline, you can do it in one operation from the wrong side.

You can't tell, but this is very tiny rick-rack, just 1/8" wide

The top thread popped through a bit here, so I could have adjusted the tensions.  But you can still get the idea.

This gadget won't necessarily rock your world, but if you happen to find one in an old box of attachments like I did, now you'll know what to do with it.


  1. That's amazing! I'm going to have to try that one.

  2. Interesting! Fun learning about all of the attachments--thanks!

  3. Thanks for that instructional demo. I need to learn more about the various gizmos that I’ve accumulated with old machines. Neither my wife nor I use attachments much except for the Singer Professional Buttonholer. Just thinking to myself...I wonder if a satin stitch foot would be adequate for using the Underbraider that you show?

    On another note: Have you given any more thought to converting that Singer 237 to treadle operation? (I hope, I hope, I hope.....)

    CD in Oklahoma

    1. Treadling it is definitely an option - at some point I want to try it. I have a 15-90 in my treadle stand now, but it might be fun to treadle a zigzag machine. The 237 sews so nicely, I'm sure it will do great....keep you posted!

  4. It would be interesting to find out when this model of Underbraider was introduced, and what models of Singer machines were prevalent at the time and intended to accept the attachment. It would also be interesting which subsequent Singer models would accept the attachment, which ones wouldn’t, and why. I see that the swingarm 200, 300, 400-series machines don’t have the hole in the needle plate, nor do the later 200-series Fashion Mate models.

    CD in Oklahoma

  5. I didn't even know that baby rick-rack was getting more and more difficult to find.

    I found--but didn't mark--a blog where the gal was using an underbraider from the 1880s. Some attachments have been around a lot longer than we may imagine.