How operate a sewing machine


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Old 07-30-22, 08:32 AM
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Question How operate a sewing machine

This post is directed mainly to Shadielady and her expertise in sewing and related items.

First, a bit of a prolog. I’m not a seamstress! All things related to clothing, cloth and sewing (either by hand or machine) is just short of magic to my mind. My mantra is, “If I can do it, then anybody can. But if I can’t do it then it’s magic.” That goes for almost everything that I work on.

My wife was an expert seamstress and sewing repair person. She made suits and jackets for the whole family while still keeping house for a family of 6 including the dog in that number.

She now has a touch of dementia (mainly from the cancer treatment chemicals) and can’t remember how the machine works. With a bit of practice she thinks she can do it again, but that’s not going to happen.

We have three sewing machines.

One old antique, foot peddle operated, one cabinet motor powered and one portable unit. I think their all Singers. All I want to do is quick and dirty simple repairs of minor holes or patches in various items. Looks don’t matter.

My questions…So what is the difference and when do I use a straight stitch vs. a zigzag?

I would like to repair a bed sheet that has a 3” gold decorative edge sewn to the sheet itself. That has now ripped off. An attempt using the portable has been a mess. At best the sheet is being dragged and jammed into the cavity where the bobbin sits. Or the thread all tangles and becomes one big ball sewn to the underside of sheet. A real pain to remove. Is it the material that is at fault or how the machine is set up? I know it’s a broad question and without being here may not be answerable. But any suggestions will be helpful.
Both the sheet and the edging are very silky like in texture. What the material is, I have no clue!


 
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Old 07-30-22, 10:11 AM
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btw, don't forget to pin it together before sewing, perpendicular to the direction you're sewing. I've actually started glue basting (fabric glue) by putting dots of glue in the seam line rather than pinning. Easier and holds the fabric together better. If you don't have fabric glue, then you'll need to pin.
 
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Old 07-30-22, 09:31 AM
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Could be a few reasons. There could be a thread jammed up somewhere in the bobbin area, so taking it out and checking won't hurt. Could be it's threaded wrong. If it's been a while since last used, maybe a little oil. Is it still threaded from when your wife last used it? I would also change the needle. A new needle for every new job and make sure it's the right size. #12 or #14 should work.
I would use a straight stitch to sew that together. I would put right sides together and sew about 1/2" from the edge. I like to use a longer stitch length so it doesn't pucker and I also hold each side taut as it's going thru the machine so that the two pieces stay together. There's several ways to finish it so it doesn't come apart again. A serger, pinking shears, using some fray check, sewing a wide, but short length zig zag or just do a double stitch next to it (probably easier than a zig zag.
Let me know if I can help some more.

So what is the difference and when do I use a straight stitch vs. a zigzag?
The straight stitch is for basic sewing and the zigzag is either to finish a seam or decorative use.
 
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Old 07-30-22, 10:02 AM
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Thank you so much. You have already opened my eyes as to what to look for and what I might try.
And to aswering the question, it's been exactly the way she last used several years ago.
 
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Old 07-30-22, 10:23 AM
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So that's why she so many pins all over the place.
 
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Old 07-30-22, 10:29 AM
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Ha ha!
oh and make sure you remove the pin right before you get to it, so you don’t hit it with the needle. Sorry, things I do automatically without thinking about it, I forgot to tell you.
 
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Old 10-07-22, 02:02 PM
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FWIW I've been trying to learn to sew on a new Singer Heavy Duty machine.
The whole thing's a mess.
You have to hold two separate threads in the back with one hand while you feed the fabric in with the other hand and then all the stuff bunches up in the hole below the needle.
After a lot of trial and error I'm realizing that you have to coordinate the speed of your foot with the speed of your feeding hand in order to get even professionally looking stitching.
Point being it's more art than science and, for me at least, I'm trying to just find someone who can sew and hire that person.
Here comes problem number two, people who tell you "just look on Youtube there's tons of sewing videos there" are a dime a dozen. People who can actually sew are scarce. Ask them to sew leather, can't find anyone.
I know this doesn't answer anyone's question but moreso posting in case someone stumbles upon this thread to give an overview of what can be expected.
 
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Old 10-07-22, 02:15 PM
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The toughest part about sewing with a machine is getting to know the machine.
My mom taught me by using her machine with scrap material and experimenting.
Hand's on is much better than videos.

I've sewn many things but I'd probably draw the line at leather.
 
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Old 10-07-22, 03:49 PM
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what makes leather, thin leather to be specific, so much more difficult if the machine is capable and you're using a leather needle?
Everybody seems to draw the line at leather ... but why?
 
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Old 10-07-22, 04:36 PM
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I think industrial machines are needed for leather. I have a straight stitch industrial and a walking foot industrial. Sewing leather on them is like sewing regular fabric. You also want good thread and a #16 or 18 (for thicker leather) needle.
You could try buying a walking foot presser foot for your machine. As long as the leather fits under the foot, that would help feed the leather along.
You shouldn't have to hold the thread behind and feed the fabric thru. Just need to guide it.
If the thread is bunching, something is wrong.
 
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Old 10-07-22, 05:29 PM
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"You could try buying a walking foot presser foot for your machine. As long as the leather fits under the foot, that would help feed the leather along."

I'll have to look up a video to visualize that add-on

Let's say I invest and at some point am able to do basic runs on leather. My ultimate goal is a boxing glove.

But

My research has shown that in woodworking:

Level 1: Carpentry
Level 2: Furniture
Level 3: Musical Instruments
Level 4: Violin

and in sewing:
Level 1: Textiles
Level 2: Leather
Level 3: Shoes
Level 4: Boxing gloves

Look at how much skill is required even for the "cheap" ones:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNqjMnPVV5Q

And the expensive ones mainly use better materials but the process is similar:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmhT9eMXNxs

Is this something that is attainable for a novice (within a reasonable time frame)?
I've contacted all kinds of leather workers and finding someone who can do this is likely impossible
 
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Old 10-07-22, 07:25 PM
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A shoemaker could probably make them or an upholsterer, but may not want to. It seems more of a specialty thing. You could probably make them after practicing on mock ones, but you need a special sewing machine and probably a few tools. Not really sure what that machine is called. Don't know anything about making boxing gloves.
Are you looking to do this as a business or just to make a pair for yourself? As a business, it might pay to buy the machine, but to buy everything needed to make a pair, may not be worth it. I think buying a pair would be cheaper.
 
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Old 10-08-22, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Norm201

One old antique, foot peddle operated, one cabinet motor powered and one portable unit. I think their all Singers. All I want to do is quick and dirty simple repairs of minor holes or patches in various items. Looks don’t matter.

My questions…So what is the difference and when do I use a straight stitch vs. a zigzag?
FIRST
That seems like a question to post on a local Facebook sewing forum- which might be much easier and more relateable.
SECOND
You'll also find tons of YouTube videos on sewing if you search, and IIRC, some of them mention the sewing machine make & model.
THIRD
Look around for cheap or free online sewing courses- a couple years ago I found an online sewing course as a gift for my wife who was getting back to dressmaking- IIRC, courses went from basic stitches, sewing machine basics; to intermediate & using mannequins; to advanced with historical stays, reinforcements, frills & lace.
FINALLY
I believe there are scanned in manuals for sewing machine brands, and models, check google-books and others. FWIW, there is "Philadelphia University" which used to be "Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science" established near the Civil War cloth mills of Manayunk, they might have an archivist who knows about stitching and sewing.
 
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Old 10-08-22, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelChang
​​​​​what makes leather, thin leather to be specific, so much more difficult if the machine is capable and you're using a leather needle?
Everybody seems to draw the line at leather ... but why?
Almost all cloth is woven with a 2-dimensional grid of fibers (warp & weft) so a sewing-needle exerts force at a point and easily goes through the fabric by slightly pushing the threads to wither side. Sort of like bending a guitar string in the middle, there is plenty of 'play' and the fibers are only slightly deflected.
Leather is a multi-layered composite material derived from hide, which is designed to resist a point force (thorns, claws, mosquitoes) and is more like modern Kevlar - the material is designed to CATCH a point force and wrap around it, bind it, and stop it from penetrating.
 
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Old 10-08-22, 09:06 AM
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That seems like a question to post on a local Facebook sewing forum- which might be much easier and more relateable.
There certainly are FB sewing forums, but they'd give the same answer as me. Why would going there be easier and more relatable than asking me?
Look around for cheap or free online sewing courses-
He's going to have to look awful hard. If there are any cheap or free, I doubt they'd be very good. He could also find a Joann's Fabric store and get lessons up close.

I can help find manuals if needed. They're not that easy to find.

FWIW, there is "Philadelphia University" which used to be "Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science" established near the Civil War cloth mills of Manayunk, they might have an archivist who knows about stitching and sewing.
That's near me and it's just like any other college now. There's no 'archivist' there. So what's he supposed to do if there was, sign up for classes and come down from NY to take them? What a useless suggestion. BTW, it's not near Manayunk. Different neighborhood altogether.
 
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Old 10-08-22, 09:09 AM
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Leather is a multi-layered composite material derived from hide, which is designed to resist a point force (thorns, claws, mosquitoes) and is more like modern Kevlar - the material is designed to CATCH a point force and wrap around it, bind it, and stop it from penetrating.
False. If that were true, no one would have leather seats and leather coats. My industrial goes right thru it.
 
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Old 10-08-22, 10:23 AM
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I would be looking to do this as a business, selling small high-end quantities, since the design is new and proprietary I couldn't just buy a pair
 
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Old 10-08-22, 12:20 PM
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Okay, so you're willing to sew them yourself or pay someone to sew them for you. It's definitely doable, but to sew them yourself, you really need to learn basic sewing first. Either taking a class or buying a video. One you purchase will be much better than finding stuff on YouTube. Then a bit of practice on your part. Then you'd definitely need a special sewing machine, like the one shown in the videos you posted. If you notice, it's got a very high foot rise so you can get a lot of bulk under it. Your Singer isn't going to cut it.
I suppose it's possible to find someone to sew them for you, but I don't know who you'd ask. Or at least, buy the proper equipment you need and find someone that can sew and is willing to learn how to make boxing gloves.
 
 

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