OK, so I’m a little behind the times… I wanted to put off crowing about my Christmas presents from Mr. Bug until I had time for a test drive, which I finally got to today. So! Merry Christmas to me! I got TWO awesome things from santa, but only one was sewing related, so we’ll start with that. Everyone, may I introduce my new friend, Singer Fashion Mate 237??
I have to admit to a bit of sewing machine apathy. My regular machine (a midrange Singer) works fine, makes clothes. I like that it has a thingie to help me thread the needle, because I’m going blind. And I like that it ends with the needle in the up position, because I’m lazy, but other than that, my favorite thing about my machine is that it makes clothes! But I am completely stoked about my new machine, complete with its 60’s era all-metal nature!
The machine was a COMPLETE surprise! Dan gave me a few pieces of wool as ‘clues’ in my wrapped packages (he got them at the same thrift shop where he found the machine!) and I totally couldn’t figure out the clues! He’d snuck the machine (it came in a cabinet, even!) into the sewing room! The cabinet is dinged up, but nice to have (I probably won’t be able to resist painting it white. Is that bad?) I like the turned legs.
The machine was very, very clean – no fuzz! The belt seems in good working order and I love how solid and humming the machine is! There is one part missing, though – the spindle. I fashioned one out of a #2 double pointed knitting needle and some rubber bands. I added a bit of masking tape after I took the photo to make it a bit more solid. It’s not great, but it’ll work ‘till I find a real spindle.
This model (Singer Fashion Mate 237) is from the late 60’s, all metal (except for part of the case) and has a straight stitch and zig zag stitch. It also has adjustable pressure on the presser foot, which is cool. I had a hard time figuring out how to adjust the stitch length – the little lever loosens with a bolt/screw cap that you move to slide down to the longer stitch lengths.
The foot pedal is very cool-looking and difficult for me to use! I ended up sitting it sideways, and just using my toes. I think the backwards method might work well – you know, where you rest your toes on the ground and press down with your heel?
OK, as much as I’m loving the machine, I’m having a problem with tension and would welcome any advice! I noticed when I did some test stitches that the bobbin thread loops were showing on the top of the fabric. Here’s a photo of what I’m talking about – it’s super magnified, so you can really see what I’m talking about – the top thread is black, bobbin thread is bright green.
I adjusted the tension on the top AND bottom. This is the closest I could get it to looking decent – here’s a shot from the back.
And here’s a larger stitching sample… I was still experimenting, so you can see a particularly bad tension issue with the zig zag stitch that’s six lines in from the right – see all that green thread!!??
OK. So I started out by messing with the upper tension, and even when I loosened it all the way to 0/lightest tension, the bobbin thread was still getting pulled to the top. I re-set the upper tension to 5, where it should be, and started tightening the bobbin tension one quarter turn at a time. The stitches that looked the best were actually with the upper tension around 3 and many quarter turns on the lower. Grrrr… I’m sort of thinking of just bringing it in, but will probably start again tomorrow!
On an interesting side note, halfway through my putzing with tension, I sewed a test seam on my regular machine, and it really wasn’t that much better than my testing stitches! I’d really like to get the new Singer working really well, because the stitches look nicer than what I’ve been doing and I’d love to have a good topstitching machine!
Such a pretty machine!
Another funny side note. The new machine is sort of pushed up against the wall over one of our heat registers. While I was playing today, Lucy the hound was in heaven. She was able to sit under a cozy table, in front of a toasty warm vent between my feet with her head resting on a chair rung. It was ridiculous. Here’s a quick picture taken in the dirty mirror…
Oh! And I mentioned two presents! Guess what the other one was? You’ll never guess! I’ll give you a hint. I never learned how to ride a bike. Lots of people have tried to teach me, but Mr. Bug took a different approach – a bike with three wheels! And a giant basket! Here’s a picture of the bike (trike!) he got for me that I shamelessly stole from Amazon, as mine is currently lurking in the basement, dreaming of warmer weather and more inflated tires… perhaps this will make my year of the dress plot make tons of sense? Does this bike NOT call out for a lovely series of summer dresses with full skirts? And we’re going to train Lucy to ride in the basket.