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1  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions / Re: Crooked stitches! Help on sewing straight on: July 11, 2008 06:37:59 AM
A farmer will tell you that when you plow a field, look at something on the other side and walk toward it.  As you walk, your row will remain straight.  It is the same idea with sewing.  As you sew, watch the guide, not the foot.  Most machines have the 5/8 and other "eight" marks to the right, sometimes the left of the needle.  Watch the mark you are using and line the edge of your fabric there.  The sewing will take care of itself. In time you'll recognize the rare times you might have a problem by the sound of your machine. 

There are different elevated guides which can be purchased to use as "helps".  In the long run you'll find that if you can skip that step and learn to use the guides on your machine you'll be miles ahead of the game. 

Also, many people tend to push or pull fabric through the presser foot.  The feed dog (that portion under the presser foot that sort of churns as you sew), does this for you.  If you'll learn to relax and let the machine sew the garment you'll have a better quality seam and you'll find sewing to be relaxing (not work).  Learn to do this early.  The habits you form as you learn to sew will be hard to break later.
2  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Re: Please Help!! Needle stuck in Janome New Home L372 on: July 09, 2008 08:06:23 PM
This doesn't sound like a good thing.  I think it is time to take it in and ask a Janome tech what he thinks.  You may have a bent needle bar or at the very least a timing problem.  The thing is that bad timing can bend the needle bar.  There is no time to waste as 7 days is not that long to decide...so get that baby by a tech. 

You might try to open the bobbin area (sounds like you already have) and see if you can see anything that is locking the needle...but this doesn't sound good at all.
3  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Re: Need to make a decision - New Machine? on: July 09, 2008 01:44:43 PM
I paid a little over 2900 plus tax for my Bernina in 1992.  I can still get from 1000-1200 for it.  THey are a good investment.  It is quite possible that you could recoup your money if you later decided to sell this one.

THe Dressmakers?  You often see these so they were probably a major brand from a department store like Penney's who discontinued their machines in the mid-70's or Wards who discontinued their machines in the early 90's (I think...at least they were still selling in 1992).  I think that the Wards' machines only said Montgomery Ward on the front, or at least the ones from the 50's and 60's did...I don't recall the later machines that well..the last ones that I remember were probably made by Necci...but they were usually made on a multi year contract which changed from time to time.  At one time the Kenmores were made by a company now known as Jaquar and now they are made by Janome (since the early 80s/later 70s.  If they were a department store brand, they might have been made by just about anyone as most of these are done by contract.  I'm fairly certain that a Dressmaker would be a fully mechanical machine.  The problem might be if you ever needed a part beyond a belt or something like that.  I just don't know.
4  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Re: Overlocker advice needed - Janome 644D and coverlocking? on: July 09, 2008 07:00:58 AM
It's called a cover stitch.  THe stitches of a serger can stretch...so this is the beauty of a coverstitch.  If you look at the finished edges of sweatshirt, t-'s, stretch sports pants, etc, you'll often find a folded edge with two rows of finished stitching...looks like it was done with a double needle.  If you look at the back, you'll see that it is finished (looped) like a serger.  That is a coverstitch.  If you stretch the garment when you put it on, the stitches do not pop (unlike regular sewing machine stitches).  The knives are disengaged and the needles, if you have a regular serger are usually moved further toward the outside of the machine to allow the hem to pass under the presser foot.  My machine even has an attachment that will fold the fabric for me to a pre-set amount so that I don't have to trim the hem or estimate where the hem will fall. 

There are machines that just coverstitch.  Many of these have preset needle widths and you simply get a two thread coverstitch.  They are nice, not too expensive and you can leave them set up.   There are machines that convert to coverstitch and have secondary threading for the coverstitch.  Many of these will all 2-3 thread coverstitch on top and the width of the coverstitch may be adjustable.  These are nice machines but can take a bit to set up for coverstitch operation.  Also, many of the machines which do this will also do a 4 thread serge with a chainstitch, like you often see in purchased garments. 

I really like the coverstitch and if you are doing a lot of knits, it is invaluable.  I also use a 2-thread rolled hem a lot for finishing fine edges.  If you invest in a machine, whether it has coverstitch or not, you might want to look for this feature. 
5  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Re: Need to make a decision - New Machine? on: July 08, 2008 11:29:33 AM
That Bernina is a very nice machine.  It is made by Bernina (unlike the 100 series machines) and it had the good hook system.  It is 5MM wide (stitch width).  It is a 3/4 machine which means that it is about 3/4 the width of the full size Bernina.  Many quilters LOVE these machines because the size also reduces the weight.  They handle heavy projects (including denim) well and many quilters use them for their class or guild machines.  It has a cast iron frame and most of the parts are metal.  Bernina is known to keep all their parts in stock for any given machine for a period of 20 years past the time they discontinue the machine.  This one has been in the line about 2 years (or slightly more) and will probably stay there for a few years longer.  I believe that unlike the 210, 220 machines this machine may have one-piece (not plastic snap on feet).  Either way, it will accept all non-computerized presser feet that are sold for any of the other current models  (the computerized "eye) feet fit only their 9mm machines).  That makes it nice if, in the next few years you decide that you would like to trade up because any feet you have can be used on all the other current machines, even the top of the line.  Bernina has a terriffic line of presser feet and you can view videos of those at the WWW.berninausa.com website under accessories.  You can also view a sales brochure of this machine at the same site.
6  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions / Re: Rotary cutting mat on: July 08, 2008 11:20:53 AM
Rotary cutting mats come in all sizes.  I have one that is 42 inches wide and 74 inches long.  It just depends on where you shop and what you are willing to pay.
7  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Re: Question: Walking foot? on: July 05, 2008 07:48:00 PM
Some machines even have built in IDT feet which are basically walking feet.  They basically feed the top fabric through much like your feed dogs feed the bottom fabric through.  Using these usually give a nice even feed, esp to fabrics that tend to stretch or pucker as you sew.
8  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Re: white thread turning black?!?!?!? on: July 05, 2008 07:46:15 PM
Probably not, it is rather common with a machine that has been recently serviced. Often a tech will leave a little square of fabric in the needle of the machine with the needle down to help wick out the extra oil that may be in the mechanism. This should stop pretty quick with a little sewing time on a scrap.  If it continues for any length of time or it reoccurs...get that baby back to the shop while your warranty is fresh.  It would be highly unusual. 
9  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Re: Mystery Presser Feet. on: July 05, 2008 07:42:45 PM
The right foot looks like a jeans foot.  THey are boxy like that and have a single hole to give more control to difficult fabric.  This is not a run and fell foot which would be off-set on the bottom sp that half the bottom would be cut out to allow the seam to feed evenly...this is strictly for jeans seams/hems.  The narrowed point is to help with narrow seams.

The second is a rolled hem, just as everyone has said.  If, when you use it you find that it makes a shell hem, it would be a roll shell hemmer.  I can never tell by just looking which hemmer it is without trying it out (sorry.)
10  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Re: Help Quick! Are there sewing machines with no pedal???? on: July 05, 2008 07:38:08 PM
There are older machines which are hand crank and there are the older ones which are treddle, even new mechanical machines can be converted to treddle.

There are machines (obviously) with foot pedals and sometimes the foot pedal and the plug-in are in the same cord with a box connection at the machine.

It used to be that when you ordered a machine it always came in a cabinet and had a leg pedal.  WHen I was young, this and the treddle machines were the only ones I ever really saw. 

There are also mechanisms that can be added to the machines for a pedal-less operation.  I don't exactly know how these attach.  I think that often they are just a box with controls that are operated with the hand.  I don't know if you can lock it on and then stop it with the control or if you have to operate it by holding the control in place.  These are often added to machines as options.  For instance, I think they can be added to nearly any Bernina machine.  They are used for people who are disabled and do not have full use or control of their feet (even short people who can't necessarily reach the pedal comfortably).  I would think that nearly any major company might have this option in some form which could be added to their machines.

I would assume that there might be some machines which could be ordered with the handless operation, I don't know. 

I would be hesitant to order a machine from a second owner who couldn't (for sure) tell me what was going on with that machine though. 
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