Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A new video tutorial!

This is a cool little video on how to use a Willcox & Gibbs automatic tension chain stitch treadle sewing machine. You can also use this video to learn how to operate an Eldredge chain stitcher since it threads up the same way. If you are new to using a W&G or an Eldredge I think you will find the video very helpful.

I did not create this video, it is only a coincidence that the lady that did has a name similar to mine. So with much thanks to Becky for creating this video and allowing me to share it with you here on my blog, here is a direct link to it:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjKG9pdacv0&feature=g-upl .

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Another needle that is compatible with W&G chain stitch sewing machines

I scored big at a yard sale this past summer. I bought a small  green box of Singer
(Simanco) needles in size 25x3 without opening them until I got home because they were sealed in plastic. I didn't know which machine they would fit, but I always buy vintage  sewing machine needles if they are cheap enough and are in their original packaging.

Imagine my surprise when I got home, opened the box and I saw that they looked like Willcox & Gibbs needles! I tested one and it works perfectly. So if you see a box of Singer 25x3 needles somewhere, buy them! :o)

How to clean and polish vintage and/or antique metal items, with a focus on vintage and antique sewing machines.

Recently someone on the treadleon email list : (http://www.treadleon.net/subscribing/subscribing.html)  asked me for advice on polishing old metal sewing machines. I  originally wrote an article about this  for a different e-mail list many years ago, and it needed to be revised and updated . I have finished the revisions, and you can download the article here: 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Eldredge and Kruse & Murphy brands of chain stitch sewing machines

If you are looking for information on Eldredge or Kruse & Murphy  brands of chain stitch sewing machines I have some of my resources on webshots

If you are interested in viewing photos of my own sewing machine collection, many of my machines are  also on webshots: http://community.webshots.com/user/nycfms .  Warning! Webshots has commercials. Turn the volume on your computer speakers down or off before visiting that site.  :o(

Recently I was discussing the wheel brake feature of the "American style" Willcox & Gibbs hand crank sewing machine with someone on the Treadleon e-mail list. The person said her machine didn't have it, which made me realize that most people probably don't have them, and maybe I should write a tutorial on how to replace a missing or worn out one.

The wheel brake was made of a small piece of treadle belt leather, and in most cases it probably rotted away by now, as these sewing machines are usually well over a hundred years old. It rests in front of the small cog/gear wheel and is held in place by a small set screw which is recessed into a small hole that looks like it could be an oil hole (but it isn't).
Careful examination of a Willcox & Gibbs advertisement for this style of hand crank (which they call a "hand attachment") shows the leather strip in place, but you need to blow the picture up to see the detail.

I took pictures of both of my "American style" W&G hand crank sewing machines. One has the wheel brake installed, the other I haven't replaced yet. By looking at both photos you can see what it looks like with and without one. The first picture shows what your machine will look like if the brake is missing, the next picture shows the brake intact.

To make a new wheel brake:

1- Remove the set screw and remove any remaining leather scraps that might still exist. Use a dental pick to poke through the holes and clean them out of any remaining leather, grime, or gunk.

2-Hold a small piece of treadle belt leather up against the area it needs to go to gauge how long you should cut it. Use my photo as a guide line for the proper length.

3-Protect your work surface with a rotary cutting mat, cutting board, or even a piece of scrap lumber before you start cutting the leather.

4-Use either an x-acto knife, box cutter, or a straight edge razor blade to carefully cut the leather to the correct length. You could also use treadle belt pliers if you have them. It is better to cut it a little too long than too short. You can always cut more off. If you cut it too short you will need to start over with another scrap. I had to experiment and do mine a few times before I got it just right.

5- You may need to taper the end of the leather that goes through the holder for it to fit. This will depend on the diameter of the leather you are using. Again, you may not get it quite right the first time, so try again with another scrap of treadle belt leather if it comes out wrong.

6- Insert the leather in the hole, tighten the set screw, and then try to turn your hand crank the wrong way. The brake will prevent you from doing it. The brake helps prevent thread jams and thread breakage that occur when a user accidently cranks their machine in the wrong direction.

I hope this helps you in your restoration of your own "American style" Willcox & Gibbs hand crank sewing machine.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Embroidery tutorial corrections

Corrections! I just noticed that I did not list DMC 80 wt tatting thread as an option for use with size 12 needles. You can use this thread with size 12 or size 14 needles, at 12 stitches per inch.

Personally, I rarely use tatting thread for machine embroidery, but many of my students love the way the thicker threads look, they feel it looks more like "hand-made" stitches, so I do feature it in the tutorial.

Also, if you have an "industrial" Willcox & Gibbs chain stitch sewing machine you may be able to do even less than 12 stitches per inch, and experiment with thicker threads and bigger needles. If you do try thicker threads, you may need to also use thicker fabrics and/or heavy stabilizers.

If you choose to use a stabilizer, use either a water soluble, or a leave in stabilizer. Many people who have tried tear aways, have found that the tearing process sometimes pulls the stitches out.

How to do embroidery using a Willcox & Gibbs chain stitch sewing machine

After 2 long years, I have finally finished this project!
This is a complete tutorial with step by step photos on how to do embroidery using a chain stitch sewing machine.
All of the items in the tutorial were created on a automatic tension Willcox & Gibbs chain stitch treadle sewing machine, that is almost 100 years old!
You can also use these instructions with other chain stitch sewing machines, though no matter which brand or model of machine you use, I personally recommend using a treadle as it leaves both hands free to guide and control the fabric, and you can also go very slowly with a treadle which is important for accuracy with intricate designs. Electric machines tend to go too fast, and hand cranks leave only one hand free to guide the fabric. Both can cause frustration and/or inferior results.
You can view and download the instructions as an Adobe PDF from here: