Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Singer 128 - How to use the vintage buttonholer (it makes button holes so you don't have to)

I don't know if this might help or interest anyone out there, but I'm putting together a series of Getting to Know my Antique/Vintage Singer Sewing Machine. Today I learnt about The buttonhole attachment.

I would like to ask any sewing machine experts to please point out anything I'm doing wrong. I'm a self taught sewer and am learning about the machine by working my way through the manual.

This is a Singer 128 hand crank sewing machine.

It's a nice little portable machine and takes the same bobbins and shuttle as my Singer 127.

I need to make some button holes, and just in case you didn't know yet, these vintage machines don't do a zig-zag stitch.  Gasp!  Whatever will I do?

Never fear, I have an attachment for that!

Vintage Sewing Machine Buttonholer attachment

The buttonholer, or button hole attachment is a marvellous thing.  It works on almost any of the old straight stitch vintage machines with a low shaft foot.  I think you can get a high shaft one, but I have yet to see it.

Very First thing to do is to check your thread tension.

The first second thing you need to do in order to use the buttonholer is to cover the feed dogs.  They are the teeth that move the fabric along while you sew.  The instructions are to use this little plate that comes with the buttonholer to cover the feed dogs.  It just floats over top of them so that they don't get damaged.

Vintage Buttonholer feed dog cover

If you don't have a plate like this, another option would be to remove the feed dogs temporarily while you use the attachment.  You need a screwdriver and to get underneath the machine.  I haven't tried this yet, but I'm told it's fairly easy as feed dogs often need to be replaced over the years.

Next you set up the buttonholer with the right size cam.  There are a bunch of different size templates that can go inside the buttonholer to make different size button holes.

Vintage buttonholer attachment cams

upside-down buttonholer
Now for the real tricky part, attaching the buttonholer to the machine.  There is an arm that needs to go over the screw that holds the needle in place.

And a bar that attaches to the pressure foot vertical-up-down-thing-I-can't-remember-what-it's-called-right-now.

Insert the fabric between the feed dog cover plate and the buttonholer.  Lower pressure foot.  Sew as usual.  In theory the buttonholer will hold the fabric for you and move it as needed, so all you need to do is make certain the thread does not tangle, the machine moves at an even pace and the weight of the fabric does not pull at the sewing.

Not so sure about this 'add caption' option, what do you think, is it helping?

buttonholer in action
 The thing I don't like about this attachment is that if you want to change the size of the button hole, you have to take the entire thing off the machine, change the cam, put it back on again.  The manual suggests that you make a test strip of all the different sizes.  I might just do that when I get a chance.

Buttons are happy, the hole fits!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ha,ha - I thought the buttonhole was going to be the size of the oval hole in the black base bit! Seriously, thank you for posting this - I'm trying to get to grips with the attachments on my Featherweight, so it's really useful.