Category Archives: hardware

Brother Sewing Machine Woes

Remember a while back my main sewing machine (a Brother Embroidery machine) had some problems? Well, I have a quick update – and maybe polling for some more suggestions here. The machine got worse and worse – a larger percentage of the time when I turn it on – it would not go forward normally. So I took the machine to a brother certified sewing machine repair place.

The owner Dave is a nice guy who seems to know his stuff. He said it was because of calibration issues with the feeddog – which makes a lot of sense. He fixed  (I guess – re-calibrated) it – things seems to work great in store when I tried it out. But when I took it home it stopped working well again. It does sew forward about 50% of the time when I turn it on, but it would not sew patterns that require feeddog to go back and forth at all – which is a problem for sewing knit materials. I took it back to Dave – but a funny thing happened – the issue would not reproduce in store. But I took it home and after a few days it went back to its old ways 😦

Does anyone have any suggestions? I think the Dave guy at the store would probably take it back and take a look – but I havent had time to bring the machine back (its kinda far) and I’d like to see if there are anything I can do myself.

Random story there – I actually took both my Brother Embroidery machine and my Grasshopper for them to take a look . Dave said the Grasshopper probably just need some cleaning to get the gunk inside out for it to run smoothly again – which is great. Then he mentioned that he knows a guy who would probably be interested in buying the grasshopper if I want to get rid of it. He mentioned the name and it was so familiar. After some querying it turned out to be the same dude who sold me the hand crank sewing machine!  I am a little tickled by the convergence of vintage sewing machine hobbyists 🙂

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HEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP! Feeddog problem with my sewing machine

Dear readers – my sewing machine is broken!! Before I fork out a large chunk of money to send it in for repair, i was wondering if I can get some tips and suggestions from any of you and do it myself.
I dont think I ever gushed about my brother embroidery sewing machine HE240. Its a nice machine and I’ve been using it almost every week for the past 4 years or so. Recently she started choking. Specifically, i think its feeddog isnt working so well. Sometimes when I turn the machine on, instead of pulling fabric to the back to allow me to sew forward, the feeddog would feed the fabric in the wrong direction. However, all I needed to do is to power the machine off and on again, and try that until it gets in a state where feeddog is feeding in the right direction. I didnt feel like taking it to the shop because sometimes I cannot reproduce the issue – feeddog runs in the right direction after powering on. Also I couldnt find the time to actually go to the repair shop.
Well, recently I started sewing with knits a lot more, and I have to use one of those fancier stitches that needs the feeddog to go back and forth. well, it is broken to the point of no longer to be able to do that! I would make a stitch and i can see that feed dog would only go in one direction, and my fancy stitch looks… not so fancy. The worst thing is, because its a fancy stitch, I cant use my vintage sewing machines in the meanwhile – they can only do straight stitch or very simple stitches.
What could be wrong? Any tips you could give me that would allow me to fix this myself? Unfortunately this is no longer covered under their warrantee. It almost feels like an electronic issue than mechanical, though i cant imagine the electronics breaking down before the machinary. HELP! I havent gotten my sewing on for the past week and I am experience some withdrawal issue.

Juebejue’s Dad Buys A Vintage Sewing Machine!

Oh my goodness you gals/guys, I have the most awesome dad a seamstress can ask for. One day at 9:30am I got a call from my dad. “Hey, I see this old sewing machine for sale for $20 bucks, it looks pretty good and still works, its a P-F-A-F-F 362, do you want me to buy it for you?” Just a week ago I was cleaning up my sewing room and told myself to get off the habit of collecting old sewing machines, since I rarely touch them after working on them. But this seems like just too good of a deal to pass up!

That night I went to check out the new machine, and wow, I am floored by how silent and smooth it runs. It even come with the original manual and a case! The most awesome part – my dad’s as geeked out as I am about this machine 🙂 He googled about it a bunch, and found out what its really worth (lets just say, a lot more than $20!).

pfaff

 

So this machine is not sitting in my collection yet. It doesnt require any fixing (and even if it does, my dad is more capable than me at that sort of stuff), and the Singer I gave/loaned to him does not run nearly as perfect/silent/smell-free as this one. He still needs a machine for utility sewing these days since I broke the very old brother we had (also from flea market, but it was a more present-day machine) when I first started sewing. So he’s going to use this one until… maybe until he runs into another great vintage machine 😀 😀


Sewing Table Mini-Makeover

During the last few days of pregnancy, I tried to get Kaylee out by being more active — cleaning the house, going on walks, etc. One of the things I did was to do a mini sewing table make over. I have one of those art benches with just a slap of fake wood on top, and it is pretty scratched up. I also have a very crappy ironing table, that threatens to topple over every time I used it. So I wrapped up the top part of the table in paddings and then in canvas, then nailed them tight on the back with upholstery nails. Now I have a new sewing table that serves many functions:

  • It is prettier.
  • I can iron large pieces of fabric on there easily
  • I can poke my pins into the table and it wont fall off onto the ground

The only function it failed to serve was to get Kaylee out earlier. Can you imagine a full-term pregnant woman turning a large slab of table over, then went at it with hammers and nails?


Cozy Sweater Dress and Knitting Machine!

 

Yeap! My new toy is a knitting machine!  I had been looking for one on craigslist for forever, one of those nice brother ones for less than a hundred. But I havent been able to find one in months. So I gave up and used a 50% off coupon and bought the ultimate sweater machine for 100 at the local Michaels. You can get one for 150 on amazon that comes with more stuff, but the reviews are not great, and I didnt want to deal with return shipping in case it didnt work for me. There was quite a learning curve, but since I am stuck on the couch feeding Kaylee a lot, I was able to watch its how to video over a few times, and I think I have mastered the machine!

For anyone out there who is considering this machine, here’s my review and some debugging tips.

This machine is very simple to operate once you’ve learnt the how to. Once it is setup and I’ve gotten the keys to move smoothly(knitting a test piece), I knitting a sweater out of it between feedings and diaper changes in 2 weeks. I think if I had an entire block of time dedicated to working on it, I really could make a simple sweater in two nights!

The machine by default makes stocking stitches, and with a little work you can make ribbings and cables. However, you will not be able to do stitches like garter stitch or moss stitches, at least that would be much slower than hand knitting. To get an idea of how it works, watch their howto videos on youtube, that is the best way to find out!

The machine also doesnt do well with chunky weight yard — it tends to split the yarn. Good thing that chunky weights are faster to knit by hand!

Another downside is that you have to secure the machine to a table using clamps they provided. So if you dont have a sewing space, it could be messy having it on your dining table as you finish your project.

A lot of people on amazon said the machine didnt work or dropped stitches. I can understand why they were frustrated by the machine. When I first got it, some of the keys had this grey foam stuck on it and comes out when it is moved, causing the key to not much forward smoothly. That caused dropped stitches. All I had to do was to knit a large test piece, and pick out the grey stuff as it comes out. I also discovered that I tend to press the top of the machine too hard when pushing it across the keys, which cause it to lower and catch some keys on the edge.

Thats it! I think I am going to keep the machine, even though it has much limitations. I cant bring myself to hand knit anything that is less than chunky, and this can make quite a few things without breaking my bank! Here’s the sweater dress I made. This time I used simply soft, a polyester blend. I really like it, as it is soft and light, and not scratchy like wool.

I had been looking for a loose sweater dress like this for a while, but I havent been able to find a flattering one. I used the pattern that came with my machine, but made the body longer, sleeves shorter, and the neckline wider (so I can pull it down for breastfeeding).

The knitting is very neat, there are occasional rows where its a little too tight, but it was due to my cat pulling on my thread, thus messing with the tension.

I am looking forward to making lots of basic sweaters on here! 🙂

Am I going to finish up the sweater in the last post? Definitely not by hand. I think it can be converted to use the machine for the bodice and sleeve part, but  I am still on the fence for that as well. I might just finish up the cable chest part as a head turban!


Striped Sweater Dress & snap button presser

Its been a while! I havent been sewing much the past few weeks — the husband is back to work and I have less time to tinker in my sewing room. Besides, I got myself another secret machine that I am playing with, anyone want to guess what it is? (Hint, its not a sewing machine.)

The only project I finished sewing was from a few weeks ago. I wanted some sweater dresses for winter — I havent gotten back in shape enough to be comfortable in my old jeans, but I dont have much sweaters that are long enough to be decent with leggings. Also, I need something that can be opened up easily for breast feeding. So I made this dress/cardigan.

It was made using wool sweater knit, so it is very warm. I made it using only the serger, so it didnt take long. There are snap button closures along the front and the belt (I hate the little yarn that retailers use to hold the belt in place). When its buttoned up, I can wear it with leggings as a dress. When unbuttoned, it looks good as a layering cardigan.

Talking about snap buttons, I forgot to mention that my dad got me a cool snap button installing presser from china, along with tons of snap buttons. He meant for me to make pajamas (the ones that can be unbuttons all the way to the feet) for Kaylee, but given that I can get nice clothing for her from good wills for less than 2 bucks, I am hogging those buttons for my own sewing projects for now 😛  I love not having to hammer the snap buttons in the garage!


Another Sewing Machine — Singer 750

There’s a saying in Chinese — if the old doesnt go, the new doesnt come. For me it is the other way around! A few weeks ago I shipped one of my newer machines to a really good friend of mine who is interested in learning how to sew.

Guess what? A few weeks later Karma rewarded me with a vintage sewing machine! My other really good friend’s mother  in law was cleaning out her rooms and had no need for a side table, and it turned out there’s a sewing machine inside! My friend grabbed the machine for me, knowing that I love old sewing machines and I can always let people use them during my sewing parties.

This Singer 750 is in almost perfect condition — there’s very little amount of dust and gunk that I needed to clean off and lubricate. Otherwise, no scratch on the beautiful cabinet, or the machine itself. She even has the original manual and accessories! I dont have a photo of the machine itself since I already took it apart, but it looks like this:

The machine is a little more modern than my usual collection (probably from the early 70s), but I love the curve on this one and had always coveted my less-evil-twin-sister’s vintage sewing machine. They look very very similar from the back!

The sewing machine stitched out a really great, tight straight stitch, despite its bad review. However, the motor makes a funny noise even when I disconnected the motor from the rest of the gears. I took a video of it to post on a yahoo group, and got some really great suggestions, so I am going to try disassembling the motor from the machine itself, take it apart, and see what is making that noise. This is probably the most ambitious fixing Ive ever attempted yet!

Hope I get this one working! If you are wondering why there’s no post of my fancy hand crank sewing machine yet — I am too intimidated to mess with it. I havent threaded a shuttle bobbin ever, and there’s no information online about this particular machine, so I am a little too scared to take out the bobbin in fear that I dont know how to put it back again. Its funny that I have no problem taking apart the screws and metals of a sewing machine, but I get scared about threading of a machine! Don’t worry, I am positive that one day my curiosity would overcome my fear and drive me open it!

For now, I will fix this awesome Singer 750!