View Full Version : Singer sewing machine

Two Speed
2005-08-11, 20:28
Just got my mother's old Singer sewing machine. :elefant: I've got the worst itch to order some silnylon and get started on some stuff sacks or something and it occurred to me that I don't know beans about sewing; therefore a couple of questions:

1) This is a circa 1965 "Universal" Singer made in Japan. Anyone used this kind of machine on silnylon and did you get good results?
2) Any tips or tricks that I really ought to know about silnylon?
3) Any websites or books that I should look at?

I am planning on dropping it off at the local Singer sewing center to get it adjusted and lubed, but other than that it looks to be in great shape.

2005-08-11, 21:32
Having a lot of experience with general sewing, you need to make sure that you use the right size and type of needle to do the sewing. Ray Jardine recommends #70 for lightweight fabrics, but consult the supplier of your fabric for more info. Usually, they will be able to make good recommendations.

2005-08-11, 21:48
Get ready for lots of fun... :biggrin: :biggrin:

Consider getting a walking foot...


Two Speed
2005-08-11, 22:01
Consulting the supplier about the thread and needle sounds like good common sense (which means I wouldn't have had a prayer of thinking of it until I screwed a few projects up :damnmate: ).

Next, what's a walking foot, why do I need one and where in creation would I find one for a machine that old? :hmmmm:

BTW, just to prove I don't know anything about sewing, my neighbor just pointed out that it is a Universal machine, not a Singer. Would appear that I can't read too well either.

2005-08-11, 22:54
It's some kind of attachment to the sewing (up-and-down) thingy that lifts up and down to smash the material before the needle pierces the fabric stack. I think I have one for my machine but I don't know how to use it.
I made a primaloft or hi-loft quilt without using it that I'm happy (to 40 degrees f) with. Skeered myself with my fingers so close to the moving needle, but the end product seems to be working for me.
My quilt will win no beauty contests, but it works as good as last years closed cell pad, is more comfortable and packs much smaller so it's functional. I'm no seamstress, so this was my first make-from-scratch sewing project in about 10 years.

2005-08-11, 23:16
Next, what's a walking foot, why do I need one and where in creation would I find one for a machine that old? :hmmmm:

Look at the part directly under the foot and you will note that it moves when you turn the knob on the side of the machine. This is the feed dog, and it is what causes the fabric to move through the machine. Because of this action, it also scrunches the bottom layer of fabric a little more than the top, effectively shortening it, and causes the seam to not be truly flat when you press it flat. This isn't a problem in clothing manufacture, because you actually want that effect in certain seams--it allows the clothing to hang and drape as it should.

However, for tents and items that need to be flat and retain their symmetry, there is something called a walking foot, that scrunches the top layer as much as the bottom. The seam, when pressed open, is flat and symmetrical. For the manufacture of tents and items that require nice flat seams, it is an excellent investment.

You might want to invest in the Readers Digest home sewing book. I don't have the exact title, but it is a huge compendium of sewing knowledge that will make your brain explode. It explains a lot of little things about sewing that would take hundreds of posts here to even touch on.

2005-08-12, 09:07
Kea's description of a walking foot is good....

if you can't find one for your older model...try plan B

Plan B...remove the foot attachment, should be a screw or thumb screw on the right of the foot attachment....the rod hanging down will probably be round with a flat side on the left....if all these are true and there is a screw sleave for or on the right... go to a sewing store and look at walking feet, study how they attach, measure for fit, try if close....check refund policy, alternately take your machine to the store...most are helpful....normally they are $19-29 range...

No luck...try plan C...

Plan C... learn to sew with a leading and trailing hands tensioning material evenly and feeding at the machine rate ( remember this will be variable with your foot control and the setting of each different stitch length)....This is real fun...You can do it...Plan to practice awhile... :)

Too much time and trouble ... try plan D

Plan D... sell the machine...use proceedes of the sale along with estimated cost of material for practice and for the desired project...then buy what you want... should work out about the same...

PS...if you go plan B or C and have difficulty and/or the machine has not been used for a long time consider taking it to a shop for tune up and adjustment...there really are critical base settings...To test/determine if this may be necessary, check your manual, on how to adjust upper and lower thread balance...if you can't get them right before starting all this you probably need the shop visit...on second thought, check this point before you invest any time/$.

Good luck.


2005-08-12, 13:13
if you're lucky enough to have a military base nearby, it should be no problem. there are lots of sewing shops around them. explain that you need custom sewing done. work with them, give long deadlines so they can use your job to fill their downtime. pay well. i'm lucky to have found one who puts up with me. none of my requests are ever even close to anything she's done before, and i always give a few $$ more than she asks, ensuring my future welcome. i figure about $15/hour for her time. and when i wince at the price of 'unskilled' labor, i remember that it once took my 6 hours to sew my own snakeskin (singular. took 2 more hours for the other one) from silnylon... i never did get the hang of it... she zips stuff out like magic.

2005-08-12, 14:04

Those deceptively simple snake skins in silnyl sure can be fun... Congrats on your success with the second one...


Two Speed
2005-08-12, 19:04
Looks like I'm getting lots of good advice. :)

Peter Pan, I appreciate the set of options, but Plan D is a non-starter. Way too many memories of Mom working away at that thing for hours and hours when I was a kid.

I was planning on getting it adjusted and lubed. Mom had loaned it out to a friend and there just isn't any telling who's been fooling with it. I think what I'll do is when I take it to the Singer sewing center I'll ask for a little help with the walking foot. I ought to be able to get a simple thing like that worked out but I prefer to let folks that know what they're doing help me out.

I'm pretty sure my first project's going to be a couple of stuff sacks. Not too much material invested and looks pretty simple. If that's a poor assumption, someone please let me know.

As soon as I get something done I'll post photos. Given my schedule, getting the machine to the center and back, etc, etc, it'll probably be a couple of weeks before I get going.

Peter Pan, Seeker and Kea, my thanks for your time and help. :adore:

2005-08-12, 22:54

Those deceptively simple snake skins in silnyl sure can be fun... Congrats on your success with the second one...


you ain't kiddin'... i've seldom been so frustrated in all my life... i'm pretty handy with tools... how hard could it be? 'uneducated women in 3rd world countries' can do this... why couldn't i? well, it was an eye opener...:adore: gave me a new respect for my mom, anyone else who can run a sewing machine, and made me realize that paying for the service was money well spent, in my case anyway...

but thanks. it did sort of make me feel better to do that 2nd one 4X faster... but i won't forget the lesson.

2005-09-03, 19:00
I've got a true antique singer which my grandmother gave to my mother. I was able to tune it up myself okay, and thanks to the contributions of many of my friends who work in or own their own clothing companies, was able to get the hang of it. Mostly done bags and modifications to my own gear, such as modding my ruck with compression straps, etc. Looking at making my own tarp system soon.

My favorite trick: If you have cheap thrift store nearby and want GREAT stuff sacks, buy a few pairs of old cargo pants. $1 a pair by my house, and if you get fatty pants, you can probably fit a sleeping bag into half a pants leg.