Been asked a lot of questions over a Bloggerati and thought this is as good as place as any to answer them all, as most don’t require a lengthy and boring answer, I’ve decided to do them all in one go as I don’t think there would be enough to make several blogs or hints n tips out of. Apologies if I’ve left any out that you may have asked, I’ll do my best to cover what I can on this one and do a follow up later.

Q: What are the things to check if thinking of buying a Vintage Machine?

A: Check any accessories needed are with the machine as they made be hard to source at a later date like bobbin and bobbin case especially if they are the long bobbin type.

Elna 1940s

Check the needle (if fitted) to see if it’s a usual flat sided one. If it’s a fine round top, be very careful, these particular needles haven’t been made for over 30 years and a flat sided needle will not fit. (It’s usually a long bobbin/shuttle machine)

Singer 12K 
Singer  15K80 

It goes without saying, check the wiring, make sure there’s no loose leads from/to the plug, no nicks in the lead exposing the wires. Check the foot control for the same, gentle shake to see if anything rattles!

Ensure the hand wheel can turn without effort, although you may well find it could be in need of a good service so could be difficult to turn through lack of lubricants.

If you can see the belt, look for any fraying. Belts are pretty easy to replace and aren’t costly, but again, depends if you want to buy it to use right away!

Q: What’s the purpose of a knee lift?

A: Short and sweet answer to this is basically to keep both hands free while you sew/turn your work

Q: Could we have a more detailed description of feet and their uses?

A: I’ll just do the differences between an invisible/concealed zip foot and a non invisible zip foot.

An invisible/concealed zip foot has grooves hollowed out so it can ride on top of the zip.

A general zip foot has a cut away left and right which can also be used for piping.

As there are several different feet along with their uses, I’d suggest maybe putting it on facebook and tagging me in it or ask on here for a more descriptive account that I may not have covered in my previous blog Best foot forward parts 1-4 https://ukqu.co.uk/best-foot-forward-part-1/

Here’s a great question asked: What’s the safest way to transport a sewing machine?

A: Assuming you don’t have a hard cover, use a larger bag bigger than the machine. The amount of customers we get in that have stuffed their machines into the smallest carrier bag they could find and then wonder why cotton pegs, tensions etc get moved and or broken when we try and take them out, we now refuse to take them out and ask them to do it. Also use bubble wrap or something equivalent to, give it as good as a chance you can to keep it from rattling about too much.

If you’re using a trolley, put the machine inside with the hand wheel facing downwards with some sort of padding at the bottom to protect it and again, around the sides so it doesn’t rattle about.

Hand Wheel Downwards 

If transporting via vehicle, you can always lay it on its back, this is probably the safest way of all. Mind you, if you have a lot of accessories in the lid like some machines do, might pay you to put a bit of tape on the flap during transit.

On its back
Never on the front 

Use some packing or bubble wrap around the edges if you can to stop it flying about. I tend to put mine in the front seat with the seat belt round it or in the foot well depending on the size of the machine.

Q: What’s the ideal tension for straight/satin stitches?

A: This really depends on the machine, thread, material used. Most manuals should contain a suggested tension. You could always mess about with a small sample of your material first to get the desired tension.

Schmetz do a fantastic microtex needle designed especially for difficult materials where others fail.

Q: Why is it important to have my machine serviced and how often?

A: As much as you can do a minor service on your own machine, like keeping the plate lint free, cleaning out the bobbin and bobbin case and surrounding area, light spray with wd40 as an example (caution with electronic machines so not advisable on them) regular needle change, don’t wait for it to break! Use one bobbin for one colour, not fill several different colours onto one bobbin will help the tension side of your machine. I’d still recommend a service by a qualified engineer at least once a year, 18 months max assuming you’re a heavy user. Ask what their service entails, your machine will likely be full with lint deep inside the machine that you can’t see or get to and gears/cogs need greasing, motor blown out, belt condition checked etc.

A machine well looked after, will last a lifetime.

Q: I’ve got an error message!

A: A lot of the time, an error message is caused by human error and some minor mistakes made by even the most accomplished machinists (and engineers!) most common error codes are caused by bobbin needing refilling, thread caught or snapped, maybe the foot control isn’t quite pushed in properly. Always look for the obvious before panic sets in, try the above suggestions, turn the machine off and unplug it, go make a cup of tea, come back, see if all ok, if you still have an error code, I’ve copied a link up for Janome/Elna machines.

http://www.janomeservicevideos.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Error-Codes.pdf

Most of the Brother codes can be found online too.

Q: What’s the point of a straight stitch needle plate?

A: Ideal for doing exactly as it’s intended, straight stitching only as it supports the fabric as you sew and you should end up with perfect straight lines!

Hope these Q and As have helped at least 1 person, then my job is done! Any queries, please let me know.

Happy Sewing!

Mandi

Responses

    1. Mandi Post author

      Correct to some extent, I’d steer clear of any market bought ones or low price outlet shops as well as needles! There are good copy ones available if sourced correctly. Obviously you won’t go wrong buying original though.

  1. Corinne Curtis

    Brilliant. Thanks Mandi. I was especially interested in your comments on how to transport machines, as I have had one machine that really didn’t behave well after a car trip. Might try lying it on its back next time and keeping a bit of big bubble wrap aside for it as extra protection.