Tag Archives: sewing machine

2

ZIPPERPALOOZA

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My friends Maria and Patrick of Adorn and Conquer are finally opening their own store in New Orleans! They are also carrying pieces by many artists and makers, including yours truly. The first merchandise order I shipped out was all zipper bags – 27 of them!

zipper bags, made by Julianne

They are almost entirely scrap fabrics, lovingly saved for years. Every bag is lined, most have a loop for attaching a clip or wearing around the wrist.

zipper bags, made by Julianne

You know I’m usually about getting as many different colors onto one piece as possible, but I totally love these all-green bags. They each have both of the above fabrics (one on each side) and even the lining and zippers are green. I hope at least one of them gets used for some stylish stoner’s smoking kit.

zipper bags, made by Julianne

zipper bags, made by Julianne

These embroidered fabrics were saved by my step-sister-in-law Ilaan (who also provided the fabric for my sofa, psychedelic bathrobe, and Miimii dress). They were such tiny scraps! These bags are backed with solid fabrics.

zipper bags, made by Julianne

You’re never too old for a fabulous pencil case! zipper bags, made by Julianne

I totally gasped when I found this amazing blacklight sequin fabric. It’s just too perfect! I look forward to making a few fabulous pieces from this. Any suggestions?

zipper bags, made by Julianne

I made them in so many different shapes and sizes, which was dictated by the individual remnants. They’re each the perfect size for something! I envisioned the smaller bags as the perfect wrapping for a jewelry gift.

zipper bags, made by Julianne

Y’all know how I’m a sucker for projects that use up those wonderful little scraps. On one hand, I try to resist hanging on to “someday could be” materials. Sure, someday it could be used for whatever project I have in mind, but it’s more likely that stuff will just clutter up my life until eventually I get so frustrated that I just want it gone. On the other hand, I love using up every bit of possibility, and some fabrics are too special to let go, not matter how small the pieces are.

I’ll also have turbans and a special new shirt design in the store, but that’s for a special post. Congratulations to Adorn and Conquer on this exciting milestone!

 

3

REPLACE Pfaff pedal

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Every once in a while I’d have an issue with my Pfaff 1222E. It usually happened when I was sewing curtains. Heavier fabric, long straight seams, pressing on the control pedal consistently for 10 foot hems. When I took my foot off the pedal the machine would keep sewing! Even more distressing, it would speed up like a little German devil. The only way to stop the madness was to hit the power button.

I’m not the only one who occasionally got a runaway sewing machine. It’s scary, and seemed like an expensive fix. The foot pedal and power outlet are on the same plug, and this part costs $80+ on Ebay! But my wiring was fine, it was just the pedal that was going nuts.

I tried to repair the pedal, but when I opened it up a tiny little resistor cracked and fell off. I confirmed with my electrical-genius friend that this was probably the problem, but we couldn’t really think of an easy way to fix this. The solution seemed to be replacement! (Another solution can be to clean lint out of the pedal, but that wasn’t my problem this time).

Inside the pedal

Inside the pedal

When you press on the pedal, this spring is what's moving.

When you press on the pedal, this spring is what’s moving.

There should be a tiny black bump on the left of the gold piece.

There should be a tiny black bump on the left of the gold piece…

I tried to find the same Pfaff pedal ($80+ online), or at least a white one, but in the end I bought a Singer from the 80s for $15 and just cut off the pedal. Stripped the wires on the Singer and Pfaff pedals, and spliced them together. It works great now! Brian has created a video documenting his process, but it really is as easy as that!

pfaff pedal

Next time we have the soldering iron out I’ll do a proper join of the wires with heat shrink, but for now the electrical tape is working super fine.

A perk of this is that I cut the Pfaff wire near the pedal, and the Singer wire near the plug, so the resulting spliced wire is really long! This means I can run both wires behind my table and still pull the pedal out as far as I want.

If you have any questions about this machine, check out the comments on my earlier post. You can read tips and feedback from people who have used this machine for decades, from people who know a lot more about it than I do, and people who have just acquired one of these machines. And it’s the #2 Google hit when you search the Pfaff 1222e – amazing!

6

THREADING THE PFAFF

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I’ve really loved getting comments from other owners of the Pfaff 1222E. There’s nothing quite like “I’ve had this machine for 30 years and it’s never let me down” to really make you appreciate a well-built tool. If you’re interested in learning more about this machine, check out my other posts on the Pfaff 1222e: my initial review, and an update on the machine with tips on finding feet and extensive comments!

If you’re having problems using industrial cone threads or home-sewing spools on your vintage sewing machine, I have a bit of advice on threading and tension techniques.

threading Pfaff 1222e, made by Julianne

When the machine was new-to-me and I was using spools on it, often the thread would get caught on the rod that the spool spun on. From a long-forgotten website I got the advice to set my spool on the right rod, and to create an additional thread guide by putting a cut straw on the left rod. I cut a groove to hold the thread and melted the edge with a lighter to lessen the friction.

I use this technique with every single spool. and it definitely helps the thread flow through the machine.

threading Pfaff 1222e, made by Julianne

For those unfamiliar, cone threads hold 1,500+ yards of thread, whereas spools hold 250-500 yd. Since sergers use so much thread, it is much cheaper to use cones on that machine, and it’s simpler for me to have mostly cones instead of matching spools. In LA it’s easy to find inexpensive cone thread. You can even get factory overstock: for $1 you’re getting at least 500 yd and sometimes even 3000. The selection is a grab-bag, but I always check to see if any of my most common colors are in the bins (all but 4 of the above cones were purchased for $1 or less).

I prefer to use cone threads for my home sewing machine, but they present a challenge with threading. Where does the cone go so that the thread doesn’t get snagged? There are stands for cone threads available, and they work fine, but I already have enough stuff on my sewing table.

threading Pfaff 1222e, made by Julianne

threading Pfaff 1222e, made by Julianne

I have a handy shelf above my table, and all I did was screw a hook into the underside. The cone sits on my table (and gets knocked around sometimes, but it doesn’t matter). The thread feeds up into the hook, and then into my machine at the same angle as a smaller spool would.

threading Pfaff 1222e, made by Julianne

threading Pfaff 1222e, made by Julianne

Because the cone doesn’t spin, the top thread often doesn’t have the same tension as if I were using a smaller spool. Instead of dialing my tension knob up to 10, I just loop the thread around the bobbin guide and I’m good to go!

threading Pfaff 1222e, made by Julianne

At a recent sewing meet-up, Sandra adjusted the tension of my bobbin. She says that you should be able to hold the thread tail and hang the bobbin without it rolling out.

Different threads have different tension requirements, and your fabric and needle type can also effect the quality of your stitches. All these variables can be overwhelming when you’re learning to sew, but over time they become second-nature. Happy sewing!

137

PFAFF UPDATE

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Pfaff 1222e

For more information about the Pfaff 1222E, check out my initial review as well as my tips on threading with industrial cones. Also you can replace the pedal if you have a “runaway” vintage sewing machine.

As many of you know, especially if you follow me on Facebook, I love my Pfaff. Since I’ve been getting a fair amount of site visitors looking for information on the machine, I’ve decided to do an update, now that I’ve been using the machine for about 6 weeks. To recap (and get those search results, cha ching) it’s a 1982 Pfaff 1222E.

This post will probably not be too interesting to most readers, but hopefully I can share some insight with people thinking about getting one of these machines. From what I can tell, the normal price range is $300-400, depending on the machine’s condition and accessories.

My machine came with a CD manual, which I’ve taken the instructional images from.

Pfaff 1222e

This is my first intentionally vintage machine. I learned to sew on a Singer that was probably made at the same time, but it didn’t seem vintage at the time. There have been plenty of older people (mostly women, although plenty of men have asked about that new sewing machine I constantly talk about on Facebook) who laugh at me when I tell them my vintage machine is from 1982, basically thinking I’m so young and naive to consider the early 80s vintage. If I were using a 30-year-old nail clipper, a tool that hasn’t really evolved much over its lifetime, I wouldn’t call it vintage. But a sewing machine that’s older than I am, in an industry that has seen lots of development and digital revolution, for which parts are no longer manufactured, in a throw-away culture? Yes, I consider that vintage, and if you think I’m naive for that then I think you’re outdated and delusional. So there.

Pfaff 1222e free arm

I honestly haven’t used the table extension a single time. I do mostly apparel sewing, and the free arm actually works best for me. It’s smaller than on my last machine, and the perfect size for sleeves or legging hems, coming in at just over 9″. So while I’m definitely glad to have it, I’m glad I didn’t pay $50 for an acrylic table.

Pfaff 1222e stitch dial I’ve grown pretty fond of the setting dials. They are simple but very efficient! The outer ring adjusts stitch width and length, which makes sense if you look at the diagrams on it. The inner knob is for the needle position, which is essential in some of the decorative stitches, which are set through buttons on the top of the machine.

It took me a little while to figure out my favorite stitch settings, which I’ve marked with rhinestones. They’re removable if I ever change my preferences, and also delightful.

This dial also has a knob to adjust the needle position from left to right, which is essential for some of the decorative stitches.

Because you manually set the stitch settings (with dials), the machine doesn’t reset when you turn it off or move to a different stitch. This may be obvious, but it’s an extra step for those who are used to modern digitized machines.

One feature of the machine that may be worth noting is the automatic needle position: there is none. Whereas my last Singer would automatically pull the needle up to its highest position when I took my foot off the presser pedal (making it easy to pull the fabric out from the machine), and the industrial Juki I use at work puts the needle at its lowest position (so that I can pivot the fabric without losing my place), the Pfaff leaves the needle wherever in the stitch it is when I remove my foot. Despite the power and speed of the machine though, it’s pretty easy to take my foot off exactly where in the stitch I want the Pfaff to stop. I can stop the needle at its highest point to remove the fabric, or have it all the way down to hold the fabric in place. Of course I could always turn the wheel the reposition the needle, but who would want to do that?

Pfaff 1222e needle threader

I have never been able to use an automatic threader on any machine I’ve ever used. I simply can’t understand them, and I have no problem threading a needle the old-fashioned way. Vintage all the way baby!

pfaff 1222e matchmaker Pfaff 1222e walking foot

One neat little feature is this lever that can hook onto the presser foot. This takes the pressure off the foot, allowing you to match stripes and plaids easier. The Pfaff has a built-in walking foot! It’s called the Matchmaker foot. Occasionally fabric gets caught on the plastic piece, but it’s not really an issue. My biggest caution about the lever is to not leave it engaged all the time: because it reduces the pressure from the foot, the feed dogs don’t get a proper grip on the fabric, so stitches might come out wonky.

Pfaff 1222e industrial feet Pfaff 1222e standard foot shank v. industrial foot shank Pfaff 1222e industrial foot

Which brings me to my biggest breakthrough: the Pfaff 1222E can use standard high-shank industrial feet. I absolutely hated the right-hole zipper foot that came with machine, and Pfaff-specific feet can get pretty pricey even without the widest selection. Meanwhile industrial feet are all over the place, and cost about $5-10 each. And they’re made for industrial use, so no worries about quality. The shape of the shank is a little different between the Pfaff and industrial feet, but the industrial shank fit on my machine perfectly (the third photo has a Pfaff foot on top and an industrial foot below; the important thing is that the knob fits into the same place). No other Pfaff site I saw had this insight, but I think the machine’s compatibility with less-expensive industrial feet is a huge bonus!

There is an adapter that lets you use snap-on feet on the Pfaff, but $70 for a foot?! That’s just nuts.

Pfaff 1222e collecting tray

The slightly rounded plate under the free arm collects stray pins and loose threads from rolling around on my desk. I love this little tray!

If any of y’all have any questions about my Pfaff, let me know and I’ll try to answer.

For more information about the Pfaff 1222E, check out my initial review as well as my tips on threading with industrial cones. You can download the stitch pattern chart PDF here.

23

THE NEW OLD SCHOOL

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I gots a Pfaff! For more information about the Pfaff 1222E, check out my follow-up review as well as my tips on threading with industrial cones. Also you can replace the pedal if you have a “runaway” vintage sewing machine.

Pfaff 1222 e Pfaff 1222 e

Jason got me this fantastic 1982 Pfaff 1222E, and it’s better than any engagement ring out there (engagement bobbin?). It came with a bunch of feet, the carrying case (which, oops, I already broke the bracket off, but I don’t think I would ever use the case), and an extension table.

We got it from a friend’s dad who restores machines, so I don’t have any qualms about the quality of this 30 year old German beauty. And let me tell you, it sews beautifully. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now, sewing knits and wovens. This machine demands having the right settings for each stitch, but the results are worth the slight learning curve.

I find that I get better stitches with a high tension setting (5-7 rather than the recommended 3.5) and 100% poly thread on a spool, which necessitated replacing my random collection of blended serger cone threads with simple Coats & Clarks. For my old machine I would wind the cone threads onto bobbins, but the bobbins didn’t seem to have the right resistance on the Pfaff. Luckily Joann was having a thread sale last week, so I stocked up.

Pfaff 1222 e stitch selector Pfaff 1222 e

Pfaff 1222 e stitch settings Pfaff 1222 e

Also another large plastic piece, that seems to be broken or missing another component. I’m not too concerned about this, because it would get in the way of my free arm. In the interest of simplicity I’m tempted to chuck the strange piece into the recycling bin, but what if I need it in 30 years?! Suggestions?

Pfaff 1222 e Pfaff 1222 e

Conveniently, the 1222E paves the way for the Pfaff Coverlock 4.0 (don’t tell my precious Juki, but yes, I still want the $1700 serger). The 10-year wedding anniversary is traditionally a serger, right?

Pfaff 1222 electronic

We knew we made the right decision when we saw the lithium sign on the machine. A week earlier Jason gave me a necklace with the same symbol, and it’s also on Jason’s jumpsuit.

Meanwhile, I paid $50 to have a brand new motor put in the Singer 7444. This puts me in the luxurious position of having a back-up sewing machine. Maybe I will sew coiled bowls only on the refurbed Singer.

Juggling between three machines on my tiny desk inspired me to rethink how I store my notions. Before, I kept everything in my gorgeous gold sewing box perched on a shelf, but I had to stand up to get notions drawer anything out. So I put an extra tray from another vintage sewing box in my side drawer, and I feel a little dumb for not doing this years ago. The gold box is still in use, but my everyday tidbits are now below eye level.

From there I was inspired to clean out the hall closet, but I have to draw the line on bloggable activities somewhere.

Thank you to Peri, Lark, and of course Jason for helping make this happen!

For more information about the Pfaff 1222E, check out my follow-up review as well as my tips on threading with industrial cones.