Mar 31, 2011
Readers, believe me when I tell you that yesterday at this time I had never heard of a loop guard, let alone a loop guard screw. But life is about learning, friends, and if we're open to it, knowledge will come our way, no matter how arcane and (arguably) trivial.
Today's post will have primarily wonk appeal so, apologies. I should state immediately that the screw pictured above is not Singer Featherweight part #200145, the aforementioned loop guard screw (I'm sure some of you knew that already). But I couldn't find a good picture of #200145. Sometimes you need Troy Donahue but you have to settle for Tab Hunter -- or is it the other way around?
Long story short: I worked a bit on my Featherweight yesterday. Quick recap: I bought this machine on eBay and paid what I would consider a low-end price, though sadly not bargain basement. I've seen them at the flea market for somewhat less and considerably more. It didn't come with the accessory box but I did get an intact case, the original manual, and a nice vintage buttonholer with seven templates.
My last piece for BurdaStyle was all about how to buy a vintage sewing machine and I didn't follow my own advice. The eBay seller wrote "the light works and the machine sews." Well the light does work and the machine does sew -- sort of. I could have asked for a stitch sample but it was clear that the seller knew very little about the machine and I hoped the vagueness of the description would depress the bidding, which it did. It's a crap shoot as they say and I gave the seller positive feedback regardless. (BTW, the seller thought the machine was from 1934; it's from 1951 based on the serial number and indeed -- I just noticed this five minutes ago -- it has the Singer Centennial badge!)
The motor sounds great, and after significant oiling everything now runs smoothly and powerfully, but after a few stitches the thread jams. So yesterday I read online about Featherweight thread jams -- and read and read and read. The amount of information out there about this little machine is astounding!
Remember I mentioned needing to buy a small screwdriver to tighten the hook gib screw with? Well I did, and though I tightened it, the thread still jammed (I'd already checked the needle, thread, etc.).
One site suggested I remove and clean under the bobbin case base, pictured below, which I then did. (This is the piece that the bobbin case fits into.) It's all part of the larger hook assembly. Am I losing you?
With bobbin case base removed:
I then noticed that there was what looked like a screw hole visible as well as a loose plate beneath it on the same shaft. This loose plate I eventually identified as the loop guard. And wouldn't you know: the loop guard is supposed to be screwed on to the hook assembly. Can you see where it looks like there's a screw missing on the right? That's because there is a screw missing. (It's the smaller of the two holes.)
Here's the side view:
Wrapped around the shaft between the loop guard and the rest of the hook assembly were layers and layers of thread -- old, old thread, my friends.
First I pulled out a few strands of filament as fine as doll hair (which it could be for all I know).
Half an hour later I had removed all this:
Anyway, miracle or miracles, many websites sell this loop guard screw for just a few dollars and I ordered one. It should arrive next week sometime and then we'll take it from there!
As I was figuring all this out yesterday I kept sending emails to Rain with headings like "My Featherweight issue," "Last email, promise" and "REALLY the last email!" Obviously a man of few words, his (sole) response was "Sounds like you solved the problem, yeah?" Friends, is that what you think I wanted to hear? He's the sewing machine repair specialist! This is the problem with the internet, I think. With a little effort you can solve just about any technical problem yourself; I hate that.
Here's a bonus pic of the entire hook assembly for you Featherweight fetishists. Pretty hot, huh?
Lest you think I spent the entire day marinating in sewing machine oil, I actually got some sewing done, though not as much as I'd hoped to.
I started on the jacket and readers, it's going to be so cute, though obviously not something you'd wear over a tee shirt.
I also finished the kimono sleeves on the bodice with bias I cut myself.
Such a nice finish. I'll slip stitch those down later on.
Friends, we're nearly out of time. Thank you for all your wonderful Featherweight-related tips yesterday. The stinky, sneeze-inducing carrying case is on the balcony and I'm not entirely sure what to do with it. In a city apartment there's really no place to store moldy things and I already have all that old luggage smelling up the bedroom. I will probably never even use that case and I don't really see myself stripping it down, fumigating it, potpourri-ing it or anything of that ilk. Then again, yesterday I'd never heard of a loop guard screw.
If I had to do over I'd pay less for a machine without a case (most of the old ones have the stink issue, apparently) and get one of those nice new tote bags for it. Live and learn!
Have a great day, everybody!
P.S. - You can read my latest BurdaStyle piece here; comments are always welcome!