Imitation Hemstitcher Attachment

My curiosity into the different methods of producing a hemstitch continues with the Singer Imitation Hemstitcher, Simanco Part Number 120687.

This is a large presser foot which attaches in the normal, low-shank manner to the left hand side of the presser bar, with the bulk of the attachment seated to the right; that is within the harp of the sewing machine.  It features a small needle hole through which the needle passes and immediately in front of this a raised metal cushion over which the top layer of fabric is fed and it is the fact that the two layers are then held some 5mm apart from one another when the stitch is formed that forms the ladder stitch.

The first thing which caught my attention was that as the fabric must be fed into place within and around the foot before stitching commences it is not easy to start the hemstitching from the very edge of the fabric and although I may be able to figure this out later it is not immediately obvious how this may be easily accomplished.  The Hemstitch Fork by Stoppax is much simpler in this respect.

Stitching with the foot in place was very easy.  As is usual with hemstitching I loosened the upper tension right off as the ladder stitch looks much neater without the lockstitch happening half way across the ladder ‘rungs’.  It was simple and quick to stitch a long length of hemstitching (simpler than with the Stoppax fork which needs to be moved along periodically) but because it is not so simple to keep the fabric evenly taut as one stitches, I felt that the overall stitch quality was nowhere near as consistent and well-tensioned as that obtained by the hemstitch fork.  With the fork, it (the fork) is kept held up taut against the fold in the fabric which makes it very easy to guide the fabric whilst maintaining an even tension but because the imitation hemstitcher parts two layers of fabric the edge of which is open on the right hand side, it is difficult to maintain as even a stitch.

Easy, but I still prefer a hemstitching fork.

The Imitation Hemstitcher attached to the Singer 201k

See how the metal ‘cushion’ at the front of the attachment parts the fabric layers ahead of the needle. Note also the small gap (just seen at the back of the photo) before the hemstitch seam commences.

The finished hemstitching, top stitched on either side to keep the seam open.

Copyright of the blog owner 2010

Kate’s Pinafore

I have finally finished the little pinafore ensemble I have been working on as a present for my friend’s daughter who will shortly celebrate her first birthday.

The Finished Outfit

Just to recap, the fabric I chose was a cotton velvet in a cool green shade and some matching glazed cotton to line it.

I did, in fact, make the garment reversible so all of the construction stitches are hidden by bagging out the lining and main fabrics and joining the two at the waist seam which is then concealed by braid or ribbon.

The Pinafore skirts are formed from four identical, rectangular panels pleated and set into the bodice.  First of all, I prepare the skirt sections by sewing the fabrics right sides together along the side and bottom seams, leaving the waist seam open.  I do the same with the bodice sections, sewing up the side seams, the shoulder seams (fronts and backs are later slip-stitched together invisibly and covered in braid/ribbon) and down the neckline and centre front.

You will, at this point, have four identical bodice sections and four identical skirt ones.  Trim the seam allowances close to the sewing line, turn the pieces right side out and press.

Now, set the pleats.  I do this mainly be eye, with a tape measure to help me get them exact.  When I’m happy with the way they are sitting I pin them in place, trim off any excess which sticks up above the top edge and sew along close to the sewing line to fix their position.  I then set this top edge of the skirt section up in to the bodice section, turning the bodice seam allowance up into the inside and pinning it in place.  I then sew the two together and repeat these same steps for the other three sections.

The pleats set out ready for stitching

Skirt section pinned into bodice ready to sew

That’s just about it for the pinafore.  The rest is just decoration.  I chose a dusky pink velvet ribbon which I sewed around the neckline, the shoulder seams and along the waist seam.  I hand stitched a whipped running stitch in vintage DMC Perle cotton to add a seaside-rock pink accent and stitched some hand embroidered flowers and foliage along the ribbon at the waist.  The sections are caught together where the ribbon meets and the front and back are embellished with a hand made button whipped with the same DMC threads as are used in the embroidery.

The matching bloomers and optional skirt frill are worked in the same glazed cotton as was used for lining the pinafore and are trimmed with the same velvet ribbon.


Optional skirt frill

Close-up of embroidery

Front detail

Splayed out to show sectional construction

Close-up of bodice

The finished outfit

Copyright of the blog owner 2010

Calibrating the Tension Assembly on a Vintage Singer 201k or 222k

If you find that your machine is not producing a perfectly tensioned lockstitch on a double layer of medium-weight cotton fabric and a tension of around 4.5, then you need to calibrate the tension assembly so that it does.

This process is both simple and quick and requires no tools apart from a fingernail.  It is not necessary to take the whole thing apart, just nudge part of the assembly around a little.  The following photos show the procedure conducted on a Singer 222k although I have also recently made exactly the same adjustment on my main machine, the 201k.

Push back against the numbered ring on the tension assembly and you will find that it is springy.  Push it back hard, away from the front thumb-screw part of the assembly and you will see – look carefully because this part of the assembly is black – that there are a number of holes drilled into the front of the dial plate.  In front of this is a small, bright metal pin which, when slotted into one of these holes, allows the numbered dial to rotate as one with the thumb screw.

Because it is possible to slot this pin into any of the holes in the dial rim the tension can read just about anything so what we need to aim for is to get one full rotation of the dial within the maximum (tightest) and minimum (loosest) setting of the thumb screw.  In other words, when the thumb screw is screwed down tight it should read close to 9 and when it is screwed out as loose as it will go it should read close to 0 but don’t worry if it isn’t exact – as long as you can fully tighten and loosen the screw this is fine.

Just keep nudging the numbered dial back with your thumbnail and moving the pin around one hole at a time until you’re happy.

Tension Dial, pushed back to show calibration holes.

Thumb screw showing the pin which slots in to the calibration holes.

Use your thumb to nudge the numbered dial around so that the pin engages with the next hole along from the present one.

Dial fully loosened (see how the end of the tension pin is flush with the end of the thumb screw)

Dial fully tightened (see how the end of the tension pin is below the end of the thumb screw)

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