Singer Hemstitcher & Picot Edger

The Singer Hemstitcher and Picot Edger is often mooted as one of the rarer, ‘must have’ attachments but in truth my experiences with it were disappointing. It’s not that it doesn’t work; it does. The difficulty lies in obtaining easily a result which is both neat and evenly tensioned on both sides. Because only a single needle is in play, it is necessary to make two passes at the hemstitched row; the first one pierces the holes and zig zags a row of stitching which enters each hole and pulls back and secures it open on the right hand side. When the end of the row is reached, it is essential to stop with the piercer depressed through the fabric so that it acts as a pivot around which the fabric is swivelled through 180 degrees. The second pass is then sewn, again forming the same zig zag, with the needle now drawing back and securing the second side of the hemstitching. The piercer should reenter the same holes as it made on the previous pass.

That’s the theory. In practice it is difficult to get the zig zag to form an exact mirror image of the one made in the previous pass so the holes often appear a little skewed and there are often stray threads snaking diagonally across the corners of the holes formed (insomuch as a circle can have corners). The result is not as neat as the rows sewn on a proper, dedicated hemstitching machine, the majority of which use twin needles.

The attachment is not very adjustable; because of the necessity for the piercer to drop at a predetermined point in the zig zag’s passage it is not possible to adjust the stitch length. It is possible, however, to fine tune the zig zag width by adjusting the position of the piercer in relation to where the needle falls although the primary purpose of this adjustment is to allow the needle to fall exactly in the right place – to the right hand side of the pierced hole. The piercer can also be adjusted forwards/backwards to properly allow it to pass through the hole in the throat plate, which is a raised plate screwed in place over the feed dogs, replacing the usual feed dog plate.

When finding these attachments it is essential to make sure that you have the right throat plate for your machine. If, however you have a 99/66, a 201/15, a 127/8 and a 221/222 then you don’t need to worry because unless your 66 is a 66-1 whatever you get it’ll fit one of the above.

The attachment itself is part number 121387 and is the same for all the models listed below.
The extra long thumb screw is 51347A and is the same for all models listed below.

The throat plates vary and are numbered as follows:

Class 15 & 201: 121388

Class 66* & 99: 121389

Class 101: 121390

Class 127 & 128: 121391 (including screw 202J)

Class 221: 121392

* with the exception of the 66-1.

I tried this attachment on a double layer of stiff calico and a double layer of a cotton twill. Both gave less than perfect results, even after as many adjustments as I was able to make. I don’t doubt for a minute that the fabric might better behave if it were starched stiffly first but I cannot guarantee that the result would, after washing, be any better than had the fabric not been starched as the untidy result seemed firmly lodged in the ability to get the stitch rows catching the hole in the same position rather than the ability for the needle to catch and draw back the hole.

One more hint if you are still determined to buy and try one for yourself: the rubber sleeves which feed the fabric are often perished or at best shiny and not able to feed the fabric. These can be easily replaced by the same heat-shrink insulation tube used to improve the safety of old wiring.

Me? I’m going to stick with my Stoppax Hemstitching Fork.

New rubber soles for the feet. My husband shrunk on a double layer of heat-shrink insulation tube and this works very well.

Hemstitcher on the machine, showing the piercer correctly positioned in line with the hole in the throat plate.

Photo showing the correct position for the piercer in relation to the turned and pressed hem.

Photo (blurry, I'm afraid) showing the resultant hemstitched rows.

Copyright HA Lewington 2010

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sewplentiful
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 14:27:23

    ….And here I am from facebook to here, great reviews and….waiting for your updates on the hemstitcher and embroidery attachment postings….. 🙂

    Reply

  2. glenda420 (@glenda420)
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 22:58:33

    Thank you so much for your reply. You actually answered the questions I had. I’ve seen the packs of mixed sizes, and was wondering which size to use. It makes sense to use the closest size, and knowing the “shrink” is in width rather than length really helps. Can’t wait to give it a try! Your blog has so much information in it. I’m enjoying reading your posts. Thanks again.

    Reply

    • Offspring
      Oct 08, 2011 @ 08:18:18

      Thanks Glenda! I’m hoping to make a few more posts soon but ‘life’ has intervened at present…hopefully it’ll settle down a bit more after Christmas. 🙂

      Reply

  3. Offspring
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 08:21:41

    Hi Glenda, I’m not sure what diameter insulation he used as he has a pack of mixed sizes and isn’t here to ask at present but I’m certain he applied the layers one at a time and would choose the size closest to the size of the finger. I believe that the pieces will only shrink in width, not length but nevertheless it might be wise to cut all four pieces before you start. Good luck and enjoy your Hemstitcher! Personally I must admit that I prefer the Stoppax hemstitching fork or (for longer lengths) the Veining Foot, sometimes called the Imitation Hemstitcher so if you ever see these for sale, don’t pass them by. They’re much simpler to use and give a nicer and more reliable, consistent result…at least in my hands… 😉

    Reply

  4. glenda420 (@glenda420)
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 20:50:58

    I have enjoyed very much reading your reviews of vintage sewing machine attachments. I have a wonderful Singer Featherweight 221 and was longing for a hemstitching attachment. Finally lucked up on one with the right throatplate for the FW, but of course the rubber on the foot fingers is not in the best shape. Then I stumbled on your nice article and saw where your husband used a double layer of the heatshrink electrical tubing to replace the rubber. I am not at all handy, but would really like to give this a try. Would you share some details about how he did this? What width tubing did he use? Did he fit one layer on the finger and shrink it and then fit another layer over it (as opposed to maybe putting a double layer on right from the start)? I’m sure this is probably a dumb question, but I don’t have anyone to bounce this off of and would love for it to work right! Thank you very much.

    Reply

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