Sewing Machine Alignment

In an attempt to wean both my toddler and I off his buggy (I like to load it with shopping and make him walk!) we are starting to use his little tricycle more. It’s one of those with a proper seat and harness and a big handle at the back for me to push and steer with. We can turn the peddle power on and off, so I have the speed control… but sadly on the model we bought you can’t turn off his steering.

Today he was in a particularly high-spirited mood so he enjoyed swerving the tricycle at every opportunity – into walls, hedges, cars and people. I was not, as you can imagine, in the least bit stressed by all this!!!

All the time I was thinking that it was fairly odd to be at the controls of a machine and find that it seemed to move all of its own power. To have an in-built turn, as it were. 

It reminded me of my first sewing machine. I got her for my birthday when I was 12. A second hand Singer 317 that had two controls – forwards and backwards at various lengths, and straight or zig-zag at various widths. I remember the day I got it. I set it at maximum length and maximum width and pressed the pedal to full power. I kid you not, the whole house shook and mum let out a ‘oh no, what have I done’ kind of scream. 

I thrashed that machine for many years until the pedal finally blew up last year. But I still have it, with it’s original bag and instruction manual, safely stored under the stairs. And no, it’s not for sale, never, it’s my first. We’ve done many miles together.

The point I am rambling towards is that this sewing machine had a bit of an in-built-turn not unlike my son’s tricycle. Every seam, every stitch, I knew that the fabric might be lined up perfectly, go through the foot and needle exactly, and then, whoosh, it would seem to come out from under the foot at 45 degrees, pulling all the fabric as yet unsewn out of line behind it. To keep the fabric and seams straight you had to be constantly pulling with an exact force to compensate for the turn.

After several years, I got so used to the turn, that I used to sub-consciously compensate by feeding the fabric in at the correct angle that meant the turn put the seam straight. 

I expect you could get this fixed quite simply by getting the machine serviced, but hey, I was a kid and it added to my machine’s special uniqueness.

To any novice sewists out there, I would offer this advice…

1 – New machine or old machine – keep them serviced. 

2- If it has a manual – read it and keep it for future reference.

3 – Always practice a few times with your machine before doing a ‘real’ project to get a feel for it. Play with the settings, make the house shake, try and keep in a straight line.

4 – Have fun. This is meant to be a hobby.

5 – Check out your local sewing machine expert, shop, etc, person and become a machine ‘nerd’. 

I’d love to hear about your first sewing machine and it’s own particular quirks. Please comment below.

Bye for now



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