Simanco 121094 Singer Darning Foot – the tiny one.

I recently acquired one of these in a box of attachments labelled for a Singer 66k so having located the presumed missing spring from within the folds of the box I put it back together and decided to try it.  To begin with, I had a LOT of trouble with it and was profoundly disappointed as I had harboured such high hopes for it but I’m extremely relieved to report that I got there in the end and as is so commonly the case with Singer items it was user error.

I prepared and hooped a sample of cotton fabric and tried the foot on the 201k.  No joy.  The ring at the bottom of the foot didn’t rest on the fabric but hovered about 4mm above it so there was no obvious purpose for the spring at all and the stitches were mainly skipped.  I checked the threading of the upper and lower…all fine.

I came over to my PC and did a little digging on the internet and found out that it was designed for use on a Featherweight.  No problem; I took out my 222k and set it up with the foot.  Same thing.  By now I was really scratching my head so headed back to the internet.  Finally, I thought that I had found a clue on the Needlebar website.  The foot was shown there with a note stating that it was produced for use on the Featherweight 221, initially to be used with feed dog cover 121309 and latterly with 108002.

This seemed to offer an explanation.  Both my 201k and my 222k have droppable feed dogs but the 221 uses a feed dog cover so perhaps it was this feed dog cover which raised the bed by those crucial millimetres.

I was still perplexed though especially as none of the online sales sources stressed the need for a feed plate and furthermore most of them stated that it could be used on any low-shank side clamping machine with equal success.

Taking the foot off the machine I noticed something unusual about the clamp.  Most feet slot straight on to the presser bar and don’t have any vertical play but this one was different.  It had a slot shaped like a capital ‘T’ which allowed the foot to be mounted higher or lower than the central point, presumably to allow the foot to rest lightly on fabrics of all different thicknesses.

By now it was late, so I decided to leave it and try again in the morning.  After breakfast I was careful to mount the foot as low on the presser bar as was possible.  The ring now lay lightly on the surface of the fabric as it ought to and the result was perfect!  The spring twitched almost imperceptibly and the stitch was gorgeous!  Once again I am in awe of a Singer attachment.

A close-up of the tiny darning foot.

See how, with the foot incorrectly fitted, there is a gap below it, even with the presser foot lever lowered. This results in skipped stitches.

With the foot correctly fitted, it lightly skims the fabric and the stitch and control is the best I have experienced with any darning foot.

Note the gap in the foot below the presser foot screw. This is the bottom of the shaped slot allowing for vertical adjustment which I mentioned in the text.

For comparison, this is the foot photographed next to the normal, straight stitch foot. Note how small it is and also the shaped slot allowing for vertical movement when securing the foot in place.

Singer Stocking Darner 35776 used with Simanco 171071 Darning Foot

One of the best parts about collecting Singer attachments is that with the odd exception (the Hemstitch & Picot Edger) they are all utterly practical.  So, in harmony with the resurgence of interest in make-do-and-mend necessitated by the ongoing financial squeeze my most recent acquisition is a Singer Stocking Darner.  Yes, I can do it by hand but unless I take tremendous time and effort (which is above the worth of the article being darned) the result is not as smooth and comfortable as a machine-made darn.  I have, up until now, used my Singer Featherweight 222k with its own darning hoop and foot (Simanco 171074 and 171071 respectively) or else a normal, wooden hand-embroidery hoop and foot 171071 on my 201k.

The trouble with a normal hoop is that it is almost impossible to keep the rest of the sock from contracting back over the area one is trying to sew so in addition to trying to lightly move the hoop around the darn area ones fingers must also splay apart and keep the offending fabric at bay…so my attention turned to a Stocking Darner.

What a joy!  It is effortless in use. 

Before you start, make sure that the bobbin thread is up through the needle plate and then take off the presser foot.  You might find it easier to get the hoop into position if you also take the needle out.  Drop or cover the feed dogs (although to be honest on my 201k I just turn the stitch length to 0 and leave them up).

Now take the spring off the external rim of the darner, turn all the hooks inwards and with your left hand inside your sock, hole over the palm, grasp the darner through the sock, centralize the hole to be darned and then attach the spring to hold the fabric taut.  Once this is done, turn the rest of the sock down off your hand and onto the darner and turn the hoops outwards over the rim so that they pull the rest of the sock upwards and outwards, beyond and well out of the way of the stitching area.  If it proves awkward getting the hoop under the needle you may find it easier to turn one or two of them back in again to avoid scratching your machine bed.

Once the hoop is in place on the machine, attach the darning foot and if you took the needle out earlier, put it back in again now.

Place both hands lightly on the darner and move it gently, darning just as you would with a normal hoop.  That’s really all there is to it.  When you’ve finished, cut the threads and you’re done.  You might need to remove the foot and the needle again before removing the hoop but the result is well worth the inconvenience.  The benefit over a hand worked one (by which I mean one which largely draws the edges together rather than the longer, weaving method) is that it is perfectly flat and this really is terribly important with socks.

Another triumph from Singer.

The sock, the darner and the darner spring.

The sock in place and ready to darn. This is the side which will be face down against the machine bed.

This is the uppermost side, the one which will be facing upwards when the item is being darned.

This is a close-up of the darning foot in place. It will have to be removed before the hoop is put in position as the hoop is too bulky to pass beneath it.

This is the darner in place, ready to sew. Note how the hooks on the darner are folded back on themselves, holding the rest of the sock clear of the sewing area.

A close-up of the area about to be darned, showing the bobbin thread drawn up through the foot ready to start sewing. This prevents the bobbin thread being oversewn underneath which can be unsightly.

The darn being sewn up on the machine.

The completed darn.