When I decided to start a ‘sewing’ blog, I wanted it to be really honest.
Since I started sewing and in particular dressmaking, I’ve found other people’s blogs and videos invaluable in getting over some of the bumps and hurdles and moments of “WHAT?! I do WHAT?!”
However, every writer / maker came across (probably for good reason) as knowledgeable and experienced so I wondered if it might be helpful for anyone else like me, or even just cathartic, to see it from a more trial and error point of view!? This could end up just making me look like a maniac but I’ll see how I go!
I will start compiling a list of blogs and videos which I have found helpful, if anyone has any they would like to add or recommend then please do let me know.
Meet Mr Singer
In September last year my friend Carol said that her mother had a sewing machine sitting in her garage I was welcome to have should I want it. WANT IT?! The only thing I wanted more was to hear Nicolas Cage say my name!
It’s a Singer 507 and the receipt tucked away in the handbook tells me it was purchased new on the 24th of September 1976, we celebrated its 35th birthday only days after it arrived.
Before I got this machine I knew very little about them and how they work. My experience so far had been making a pinny in Home Economics and two classes run by Vonnie and taught by JenWHY; one was Tote Bags and the other making a Rag Doll.
I assumed that it would need some maintenance having been sitting in a garage for so long so I consulted the manual and Google to find out what it might need and cleaned the bobbin case and feed dogs as best I could. After a lot of head scratching I managed to thread it and ‘make it go’.
Then it didn’t go
The fabric stopped moving through and it was just sewing on the spot. I tried the handbook and some forums etc but quickly realised that it probably needed to be looked at by a professional. I found a website for a local business which services and repairs sewing machines and he was great if a little hard to pin down initially. For anyone who’s interested it was http://sewmac.co.uk/. James came and collected the machine and brought it back which was really helpful considering I didn’t have a car and the machine is heavy. I also had no idea at that point that it could be detached from its table!
It turned out that the feed gear was stripped which is a very common problem. The repair including service, collection and delivery was £55 which I felt was very reasonable indeed. I had it back a week later. Pembertons of Stirling also collect and return machines for repair weekly from Mandors.
The only other ‘hurdle’ Mr Singer has confronted me with so far is with regard to needles. Because I’m slapdash and careless in style I snapped the only needle the machine came with on a pin. Initially I wasn’t too worried about this because I knew that I had a pack of Universal needles in my sewing box although I had no idea where I got them, possibly Lidl actually! I tried them and they didn’t fit. Ah well, I’d just get a pack from Mandors which said suitable for Singer.
Mandors stock Hemline Universal Needles which say on the back compatible with Singer. Awesome thought I! Alas, although they fitted into the machine, the top and bottom threads would not connect when I tried to sew no matter what I did to adjust the tension etc. Lucky for me, I knew just the gal to ask!
From the moment I started working in Mandors I took a huge liking to pattern bar queen and mechanical wizard Magie. When I posed the dilemma regarding my ‘Not Sewing’ Machine, she asked me whether the original needle was longer or shorter than the hemline ones. I had no idea but she seemed convinced it would be one or the other and that due to the age of my machine I should try it with a genuine Singer needle.
Mandors don’t stock these but John Lewis do and I wandered down there with my manual which says
For regular sewing, this machine uses SINGER needles Catalogue 2020 (15 x 1 ), available in sizes 9, 11, 14, 16 and 18.
I bought a pack and presto! we’re sewing again! Oh and for the record, they’re longer than the Universal / Multi Brand ones by a fraction which seems to make a difference! Saying that, no one else in Mandors, customer or staff, has ever told me that they’ve had this problem.
These are the needles I bought:
The 130/705 H part refers to the ‘Needle System’ 130 is the length of the shank and 705 to the flat part. The 2020 part or 15×1 also refers to the flattened shank at the top which I believe all household machines use. H stands for Hohlkehle,” which is a German word meaning “with scarf.” The scarf is the groove on the back of the needle, there’s a good diagram of this here.
Then the numbers (in this case 100/16) refer to the size of needle (diameter). 100 is the European Size and 16 the American. You need a smaller number for lighter fabrics and larger number for a heavy fabric.
There’s a really great info sheet available by Charlene Phillips of The Sew Box on sewing machine needles here’s the link.
And that’s all I have to say about this for the time being. If anyone has anything they’d like to add, particular with regard to the accuracy of my needle info then please feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment!