Monday, 30 January 2012

The manual never tells you everything...

This week I found out some things about my Brother XR6600 sewing machine that weren't even mentioned in the instruction manual, all about measurements. Alright, I wouldn't expect some of them to be mentioned because they were just happen-stance, but the first ones on the list, I think, ought to have been mentioned.


Needle Plate and Bobbin Cover Markings


You see on the bobbin cover those three lines? Well, I thought they were there just for aesthetic purposes, but it turns out that they are measurements. The smallest one is 1/2" away from the needle; the middle one is 5/8" (16mm) away; and the longest one is 3/4" (20mm) away. The end of grid on the needle plate is 3/8" (about 10mm) away. This information should help in turning corners. I used to just gauge it.


Also, the white bevelled edges at the ends of the needle plate (as indicated in the above photo) are both 5.5cm (about 2 3/16") away from the needle when it's in it's original position. Obviously, moving the needle to the right is going to reduce the width-wise measurement. But that can be used to your advantage - if you move your needle 5mm to the right you have a 2" (5cm) gauge.

Presser Feet Measurements
The next set of measurements are to do with the presser feet, specifically the Blind-hem foot (R) and the Overcasting foot (G).

This one is the Blind-hem foot which you may recall from the series I did on its many uses. I mention it here because when the needle is farthest to the left you have a 3mm (about 1/8") margin. This is good for edge-stitching.
This one is the Overcasting foot (G). When the needle is farthest to the left, you get a 6mm (about 1/4") seam allowance, so I guess you could use this foot instead of a Quarter-Inch foot!

I Think I Found Out Why the Stitch Shortens When I Use the Adjustable Zipper Foot

Apparently it's to do with the presser foot width and the feed dogs. The wider your machine can make stitches the farther apart the feed dogs are so you need a wider foot to hold the fabric in place on top of them. Imagine pushing fabric like a sewing machine does, but with your hands. You would have both hands matching; you wouldn't have one hand widthways and the other lengthways. I guess that's how sewing machines are.

Because my sewing machine has 7mm stitches it needs a wider foot or else the stitch shortens. I wonder if the Brother Adjustable Zipper foot would be better? It kind of looks wider in the photos. 

I wonder if the same is true of a Genuine Brother Ruffler? Mine is a no-name one I chose off eBay from America. The product name said Brother Heavy-Duty Ruffler, but lower down on the page under "Brand" it said "For Brother". Very sneaky and not far off false advertising.

An Update on Mum's Singer 533
I tried to fix it but I think I just made it worse, except for getting loads of fluff out (enough to fill a coffee cup) so I'm going to book it in for a service. It's never had one, and we know a man who started out by servicing Singers. Now he has a Janome shop.

It turns out that the machine's upper thread tension should disengage when I lift the presser foot. It doesn't, so something must need fixing. And it was like that when Sarah brought it, so it's not my fault.

I think I'll ask the repairman (Mr Hall) if he can get replacement presser feet because we have only the universal foot and according to the instruction book, it was supposed to come with a zipper foot, a special stitch foot (i.e. a satin stitch foot), and a blind-hem guide (which fits onto the presser foot bar) as well. As it turns out, the presser feet do clip on and off, but it takes quite a bit of effort to get them back on again, not like our modern ones!

Mum's machine is FAST. On the side of the machine it says "Not to exceed 1400 spm". Do you know what you would have to pay to get a machine that fast nowadays? No wonder is was so expensive in 1976! A fast sewing machine actually makes sewing more enjoyable. Mum didn't tell me before, but she always thought my machine was annoyingly slow.

A Bit of Hemstitching with an Ordinary Needle

On of the features of the Brother XR6600 is that you can do hem-stitching with it, which is good if you like heirloom sewing. I had a go at this (only briefly) on a scrap of fabric. You can see the results  in the gold stitching to the right. (Actually the thread is fawn colour, but often ends up looking golden.) 

The hemstitching in black is what I did by hand. I think that is the wrong side of the hand-hemstitching, but it still looks nice to me. I have to say that I prefer my hand-hemstitching, but then I have practised that a bit before, and this was the first time a tried it by machine.

Wouldn't the hemstitching look nice around a short sleeve on a Summer blouse?

P.S. Please ignore the stitching at the top of the fabric - it's WS up so it doesn't look very good.

Have You Tried the Dress-making Courses on Craftsy?
Around Christmastime they had a special offer: two-for-one. So I bought Gertie's Sew Retro Bombshell dress course. (Gertie of Blog for Better Sewing). It's very good. When I bought it I got an e-coupon for my free course, which I saved. 

Then last week or so I got the newsletter advertising the Couture Dress course by Susan Khalje, R.R.P. about $80 with a free Vogue pattern, so I bought it. It's very interesting.

I'm looking forward to Gertie's Starlett Jacket course as well, which I plan to get when it's on special offer because I want a smart jacket.

Benefits of the Craftsy Courses:
  • These courses certainly take the fear out of fitting. It's not as hard as you might think. : ) 
  • They also make me appreciate that you can make many different garments from one pattern, instead of having to buy a new pattern every time you want a new garment. It's more affordable this way, and saves on fitting sessions. 
  • Something else you come to appreciate is that you don't need a bells-and-whistles sewing machine to make wonderful clothes. The machine Gertie uses is a simple entry-level Janome, and Susan Khalje only uses straight stitches on her machine in the video. 
By the way, Craftsy are not paying me to write this; they don't even know I am writing this.

I wish we could put the videos on disc or something so that I don't have to be on the PC to watch them. I'm kind of allergic to computers and hand-held video games. I think it's something to do with the screen. They just numb my mind. I go quite blank. I'm almost zombie-fied - just on autopilot! Once I almost gave away more change than the customer had given me! That doesn't happen if I avoid computers. Now you see why I only blog once a week. : )

Well, that's about it this week.
Until next time, Happy Sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery