Showing posts with label Tension. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tension. Show all posts

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Another apron with a gathered ruffle

This ruffled apron is separated from the first by about eighteen months of time.  The first was such a hit with the ladies of the family that a second was needed to prevent a charge of favouritism on my part.  I was able to take more detailed pictures of the second apron before I gave it away to my Mam.

This apron is made of printed cotton poplin and lined with some plain white poly-cotton so that the raw edge of the ruffle is fully enclosed and the apron has a nice amount of heft, or body, or whatever you want to call it.

 The curved patch pocket is edge-stitched in place.  The side seams are angled slightly toward the top so that the pocket forms an open bag.

This being apron mkII I knew that I wanted to make sure to match the bobbin thread to the white lining fabric rather than to the green pocket.  Sewing with two different colours of thread is a dead giveaway for uneven tensions so full marks to the Singer 15K80 I sewed this with!

The ruffle is gathered at a ratio of 2:1.  When I first used this pattern I sewed the running stitch for the gathering by hand.  This time I was bold, I was brave, I was fearless and used a vintage Singer ruffler attachment.  I had to mess about with scraps a bit to get the fullness of the gathers as I wanted them.  I wasn't quite brave enough to use the ruffler to gather and sew the ruffle onto the apron in one operation as the old manuals suggest is possible - one step at a time!  I probably didn't save much time but using the ruffler was a lot of fun and the results are a pleasing firm even gather.

The instructions on finishing the ties are pretty nifty too.  The square ends are folded in on themselves at 45 degrees to produce neat points that are pressed and edge-stitched in place.

And one last close up of the hemmed edge of the ruffle in case any one is any doubt over how tasty the stitches produced by a 56 year old machine really are!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Bonding with Singer 15K80

One day early last autumn I got out the Singer 15K80 to do a quick job sewing some furnishing weight chintz.  The cotton thread I used was pretty old, it came from a wooden spool that arrived with the machine, and thicker than the usual polyester I buy.  I really struggled to get the '15' to produce anything like the kind of stitched vintage Singers usually make.  The stitches were loose at the beginning of the seams then would improve - a bit.  The best I could do was to back the top tension right off to get the top and bottom threads balanced but then the overall impression that the stitches gave was somehow sloppy.  It was hard to distinguish neat individual stitches making up the line.  Hard to explain and I didn't take any pictures at the time.

The poor quality of these stitches in spite of many rethreadings and much adjustment of the top tension were rapidly making me fall out of love with this machine.  I have often thought of the 15 as a bit of an odd ball in the Singer stable with its odd man out bobbin and bobbin case.  Three of my machines take class 66 bobbins so why did I even need the hassle of yet another type of bobbin?  For a few minutes I even considered throwing in my lot with the 15k80 and selling it.

Instead I did some thinking and research and came to the conclusion that my problems were, more than likely, related to bottom tension.

It took me quite some time before I could find some really useful practical advice on how to set up from scratch a class 15 bobbin case.  One method I watched on You Tube relied on buying a new bobbin case set up at the factory and then pulling yards and yards of thread through the tension until you develop a 'feel' for what should be the right tension - er there must be a more scientific way than that…!

And of course there is.  A big thank you to Charles Day who submitted these instructions to helping people like me (and you?) to improve the performance of their vintage Singers.

Step 1: weigh out just under one and a half ounces of sugar

Step 2:  put the sugar inside a tiny ziplock back.  The one I used came with spare buttons for one of The Much Beloved's shirts and was just the right size.

Step 3:  Tie the bobbin thread to the bag of sugar.  My bag happened to have a small hole punched in it for just that job.

Step 4:  Load the bobbin into the bobbin case.  The first time I did this I discovered that the tension on this bobbin case was so light that the bag of sugar quickly dropped to the floor sending the bobbin spinning in its case.  Ah-Ha!  So there's the cause of my sloppy stitches and inconsistent tension.

Step 5:  Using the small screwdriver; little by little I tweaked up the tension until it was sufficient to just hold the bag swinging in mid air.  A sharp upward motion should allow one to two inches of thread to be pulled off the bobbin before it comes to rest in mid air again.

Step 6:  Load the bobbin and case into the machine; check the thread path of the top thread;  adjust top tension to balance the top and bottom threads; admire the beautiful even straight stitches produced by class 15 Singers.  I think I may have just found a new favourite.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Preparing the Singer 401G for Straight Line Quilting

Here is the needle of the Singer 401G set up with the general purposes presser foot and throat plate.  This is how the machine was when it arrived and how it normally lives.  There are easy changes I can make to the machine to improve its quilting performance.

The changes revolve around this little lot.
  • No1 a walking foot
  • No2 a straight stitch throat plate
The general purposes throat plate is pictured on the left for comparison.  Apparently the smaller needle hole helps stitch formation by offering more support to the fabric.  The benefit of the walking foot is that it helps reduce "shift".  

This robust looking lever is the means by which the throat plate can be lifted to carry out darning (notice the symbol that looks like a darn), embroidery and free motion work.  Move the lever to the far left to remove the throat plate either for cleaning (notice the cute brush symbol) or to swap the plates.

Here is the machine with the plate swapped, the walking foot fitted and the stitch length adjusted to ten stitches per inch (just like the books told me to do).

Next I made a trial sandwich using off cuts of the batting, backing and quilt top.  No point using materials that aren't similar to those in the finished project.  I played around sewing lines of quilting.  I found that the bobbin thread was only slightly visible first time so I reduced the upper tension half a number and tried again.  It took a few goes until the bobbin thread vanished somewhere inside the work.  That should do it.

Now I like quilting on the 401G with all this kit but remember - my first quilting project was pieced and quilted on a diminutive 1899 Singer 25K hand crank.  What is more that quilt, although it may never win first place and the Minnesota State Fair, actually looks ok and has been keeping me warm at nights since November 2012.  My point?  Don't let the gadgets put you off.  Think carefully, take your time, have a go!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Scintillating Stitches

The 15k80 was clean and lubed so the time had come to see how it sews.

I mentioned yesterday that I am new to the 15 class but with the help of various down loads I have now educated myself as to how these machines should be threaded top and bottom.

Three bobbins came with the machine.  I used my smallest screwdriver to adjust the sloppy bobbin case.

I had disturbed the top tension earlier because I had taken the tension unit apart to check the face of the tension discs for lint, dirt and rust before threading and somehow the tension on the bobbin case seemed a bit "free" to me.  With these things in mind I was not expecting great stitches from this machine.

In my first attempt the top tension was too great and the bottom tension too little.  Result: little bumps of bobbin thread on the top of the goods and a wonky line of stitches.   I wasn't keen to muck about with the bobbin case at this stage so I backed off the tension for a few turns until the bumps nearly vanished.  I got to the stage where I couldn't feasibly back the top tension off any further so threw caution to the wind and tightened the screw on bobbin case a quarter turn.  A little more playing and these are the most recent results.

This is a piece of old shirt cuff left over from a quilting project.  So the machine is sewing through two layers of fine cotton and a layer of interfacing.  It may not be very easy to see but the stitches (approx 15 per 1 inch) are locking in the middle of the fabric sandwich and the row feels smooth to the touch on both sides.  By George I think we've got it!