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  1. #21
    mrcheviot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by esmith View Post
    Ok, you guys and gals have given me good advise.

    First, it occured to me that I have no idea what half or more of what you tell me means..... so spending money at this point would be risky.

    I managed to track down an old machine as suggested here and I ended up with a Piedmont Model 108. This think is HEAVY. All metal. I have no idea what it can or cannot do but I do have an instruction book and a free weekend! The belt is broken but I spoke to a local Sewing Machine Shop and they said they could fit me a belt without problems so I am bringing it to them tomorrow.

    I'm really excited to run something through it. I have no idea what I might eventually make but I'm sure it will be satisifying to do it!

    I really want to thank all of you who offered advice, it was all very valuable to me.
    I was only able to find a video on Youtube, but it's a dead ringer for a New Home 532 so that may help in your search for into. Nice machine, I just donated one to a women's shelter 2 months ago. Have fun!
    It is a very alert, active sheep, with a stylish, lively carriage.

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  2. #22
    esmith's Avatar
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    So, I got the belt and the machine works! I have oiled it up and it runs like a sewing machine...... I've named it Myrtle.

    I got some thread and some new needles as well as a few spare bobbins and I have been running old cloth through it trying to get some consistancy in my stitches.

    I've been having some issues with the top thread breaking. I am trying diferent qualities of thread as well as varying the needle size while I figure out what works best. Also, the wider I zig-zag the stitch, the more missed stitches I get. I am attributing this to user error and will continue to practice until I am able to consistantly lay out a proper stitch.

    That said, what are some simple projects I can consider? I figure a ridgeline organizer is a good beginner project, as well as stuff sacks but I am hoping that maybe some patternes exist to start with.

    Anyone have a good starter project to suggest?

  3. #23
    mrcheviot's Avatar
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    The breaking top thread is a concern, enough that I wouldn't proceed with any projects yet. What thread and needle combination are you using?

    Here's an incomplete check list to go over:

    • Verify thread path from spool to needle; make sure the thread is not caught up in the top guide (with the slide-in eyelet). Make sure that eyelet is smooth at entry and exit point.
    • Disassemble and clean the upper tension knob assembly. Take the side cover off, remove the set screw and it should come out. Unscrew the dial, either until it comes off, or until you need to hold the number plate against the spring until the catch washer disengages (search around on google until you find instructions that match your tension dial). Make sure the thread-facing sides of the tension discs are smooth, and once back together make sure the thread isn't being pulled as far down as the assembly screw.
    • Verify that there is proper clearance between needle and needle hole, and that the thread isn't rubbing on anything.
    • Inspect the hook for any burrs, scratches, knicks, etc.
    • Bobbin tension - there'll be a screw on case you can loosen or tighten, and it's possible that it's been way overtightened. There is a "hold thread and use a light yo-yo motion so it drops 2-3 inches" way to check bobbin tension, but as every machine is a little different that's more of a ballpark place to start. And it only takes the bobbin falling out two or three times before you start to gauge tension with your fingers.


    Skipped stitches can occur when a machine is mistimed, and if you experience more skipped stitches using zig-zag that's a tell tale sign it's not correct. While the needle is moving up, the hook should align with needle the needle has risen by ~ 2.35 - 2.4mm from bottom-most position (thus forming a small loop for the hook to grab), but really it's whatever works best in all needle positions. If you can floor the foot control and go back and forth between left and right positions and SS to ZZ and back many times without a skipped stitch, you're all set. The lateral distance between the needle and the hook can also be off, although this is less common than bad timing (a symptom of this is more skipped stitches when using thinner needles). Both of these issues are easy to address with a flathead screwdriver and some patience (at first).

    Generally, these little problems won't magically work themselves out on a machine, they'll persist and become a source of frustration for you. Working through them is a great way to get acquainted with a new machine, and it'll help you diagnose future problems when they arise. My advice then is to work on resolving them with some old kitchen towels or similar before moving onto thinner synthetic fabrics and any projects.

    When the time arrives, I think stuff sacks and RL organizers make a great first projects. You'll learn a lot from making a simple 1/5 scale hammock with hemmed sides and channels as well.

    Good luck!
    It is a very alert, active sheep, with a stylish, lively carriage.

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    I use a Juki & Pfaffs w/ assorted attachments, and have serviced lots of vintage machines. Any questions?

  4. #24
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    Stitches basically should never skip. I'd fix that before moving onto any real project. They'll happen but it should be a once in a very great while if ever kind of event unless you are really pushing the machine out of spec. Just glance at the stitching on your shirt. There are hundreds and hundreds of stitches but I bet you cant find a stitch that got missed. Stitch length is even and consistent.

    When threading make sure the foot is up so that the tension disks will allow the thread to slip in. Also make sure the thread is actually between the tension disks and not behind. It's easy to think you hit the disks and actually have missed. I know I've done it. Makes the stitches go wonky in short order.

  5. #25
    jellyfish's Avatar
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    This is a really good walk-through on timing

    https://youtu.be/ZsebAKZxmU0
    I sew things on youtube.
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  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by jellyfish View Post
    This is a really good walk-through on timing

    https://youtu.be/ZsebAKZxmU0
    Thanks for the link. I'm going to check his other videos out tonight.

  7. #27
    jellyfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrope View Post
    Thanks for the link. I'm going to check his other videos out tonight.
    He has the best content online for maintenance. Good luck! Keep us updated.
    I sew things on youtube.
    My interview on HYOH Podcast.
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  8. #28
    esmith's Avatar
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    Well, I again had to go off and digest the wealth of information the last run of posts here has provided me. Thank you all, I am learning from all of it.

    So, I think I have it figured out. Or at least the top thread isn't breaking like it was.

    Mrcheviot thanks for that checklist. I am pretty sure each of your points has bitten me once or twice. The explination of the hook and needle adjustment was not something I was aware of or had considered at all. Fortunately I don't think I have this issue but I am better off for the knowledge.

    MouldyFrog, I took your suggestions to heart and won't be starting any projects until I am getting more consistancy. The "Foot Up" tip was helpfull, I had mine down and the thread of course was too tight so I was keeping my upper thread tension at 0. I have since switched it to 3 and it is working far better.

    Jellyfish, I loved the video, in one small part he points out which direction the spindle inside the bobbin should rotate (clockwise). I had been inserting mine backwards. It's small details like this that will determine my success or failure in DIY. Thanks for the share, I really got something useful out of it. In one video he demonstrates how to use two different coloured threads to determine the tensions for both the top and bottom threads. I'm going to try that soon.

    So, I didn't break a thread since I've made the adjustments. My wide zigzag is not missing any stiches and I am generally much happer about the whole thing.

    My next concern is foot tension where fabric type is concerned. If I go from a heavier fabric like webbing to a thin fabric like silnylon, do I want more or less tension on the foot?

    Thanks again all of you!
    Last edited by esmith; 02-14-2018 at 12:32.

  9. #29
    mrcheviot's Avatar
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    Lighter fabric = less tension on presser foot and top thread. If you see puckering (fabric bunches up between stitches) then incrementally decrease both tensions. Too much presser foot tension causes puckering by advancing more fabric than needed in between stitches. Too much thread tension will pull the fabric between stitches together. It takes some trial and error, and the thread tension also needs to be considered vis-a-vis bobbin tension.

    Using two different colored threads is super helpful, but know that on thin materials (i.e. ripstop) you won't get the lockstitch formed in the material, you'll see it on both sides. Setting tension is easier w/ max stitch length.

    With something like a kitchen towel you'll be able to more easily dial in the thread tension so the lockstitch happens in the material. When tension is correct, you won't see the top thread color from the bottom, and you won't see the bobbin thread on the top. I would recommend using a towel or cloth to initially set your bobbin and thread tension as it's easier and will get you in the right ballpark.

    On ripstop, since it's so thin you'll generally always see your opposite side thread. In conjunction with setting tension to avoid puckers, you can also slide your fingers down your stitches; the side with more bumps is the higher tension side. I try to get it so the top and bottom sides of the stitch feel the same. In addition to focusing on the location of the lock stitch, if both sides feel the same and are noticeably bumpy, both tensions are slightly too high (i.e. on the verge of puckering). If you can push a stitch on either side with your finger, tension is too loose.

    IMO erring on the side of too loose tension is preferable to too tight. A too tight stitch is more likely to experience thread breakage under load (such as getting in and out of your hammock), and when you're learning to sew and will be using your seam ripper more often, tight stitches are harder to remove.

    For the machines I use most, I have two bobbin cases in service. The first is set with lower tension for use with thin fabrics & netting etc. The second is set with higher tension, primarily for webbing and multiple layers of grosgrain. Bobbin cases are easy to find for most machines, esp. those using class 15 bobbins.

    Sounds like you're making progress, good luck!
    It is a very alert, active sheep, with a stylish, lively carriage.

    Flickr
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    I use a Juki & Pfaffs w/ assorted attachments, and have serviced lots of vintage machines. Any questions?

  10. #30
    jellyfish's Avatar
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    This is great progress. You will probably want to run rows of stitches at different tensions on the foot & needle to see what works best for your machine on the different types of fabrics.
    I sew things on youtube.
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