From Machines & Equipment

Which is better, block or piece fusing?

fusing_blockVesta writes:

Now that I’m making markers for folks, I am cogitating deeply about block fusing. You said:
“Making a separate marker for block fusing and then to have to spread it as a separate operation seems more costly to me.”

But the alternative is to lay and cut a fusible marker, and that seems to balance out the separate lay and cut of a block fused marker. But then if you add in the extra work of matching and fusing each pattern piece, it seems like block fusing wins. Am I missing something?

I’m searching the blog for a whole post devoted to fusing. Not finding it. I’m shocked, Kathleen. Or I’m inept. One or the other. :-)

I've published many posts related to fusing -that link doesn't include the fusing map entries. But more to your point, I started a series on continuous fusing machines nearly 8 years ago but dropped the project as it didn't seem that anyone was interested. Not ready to give up so quickly, I wrote another post reviewing the equipment we saw at the SPESA show in 2007. Three years later, I wrote How to apply interfacing (in a commercial environment) which provided still more detail. But anyway, I'm glad to know there is more interest at this late date.

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How to organize needles

needles_by_machineThose who know me well, know that there are two subjects I refuse to discuss. And that would be needles and thread. Reason being, I've been stuck in too many social situations with needles and thread being the topic du jour. Want to know what a bunch of garmentos talk about when you get them into a room with whiskey and cigars? Needles and thread. Golf course? Needles and thread. Barbeque? Needles and thread. I've yet to meet anybody who has been in this business for 30 years or more, whose eyes didn't light up like a 5 year old's on Christmas morning at the prospect of a needle and thread coffee klatch. It could be said that I occasionally exaggerate or am given to hyperbole but I haven't in this case.

Thoroughly overdosed, a condition of sale for any machine I buy is that it must come with needles so I know what kind to buy for it. I'm fanatical about making sure needles Stay In Their Drawer. Comes such a day when that doesn't work well anymore because I need several types (ball points, diamond points) and of course, other people pull needles from drawer A and callously deposit them in drawer B. It's not as though the different types are labeled with Hey! I'm a ball point!; it's always a list of cryptic string of numbers and letters, and every brand (I have 6) does it differently. And then of course, how can you remember what size and type needle is in what machine? Well, I have that all figured out. Maybe my method will work for you too?

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Useful 3D printing -sewing machine jigs & fixtures

jig_or_fixture_smYes I have heard of the 3D printing technology but like many of you (c'mon, admit it) you rolled your eyes because in spite of repeated protests to the contrary, it wasn't a short term or cogent solution for the apparel industry. However, I did stumble upon a cool use for it -that of making sewing machine jigs. I know you're likely jumping up and down, clapping your hands with glee to hear the rest of this but quell your beating heart and listen up:

Oh wait, you're not sure what a jig is? A jig is -courtesy of Wikipedia:

...a type of custom-made tool used to control the location and/or motion of another tool. A jig's primary purpose is to provide repeatability, accuracy, and interchangeability in the manufacturing of products. A jig is often confused with a fixture; a fixture holds the work in a fixed location. A device that does both functions (holding the work and guiding a tool) is called a jig.

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Handy! Stand alone bobbin winder

overwound_bobbinAs you can surmise from the photo of the exuberantly wound bobbin at right, we'd been having minor annoyances* with respect to bobbin winding lately. I'd always to buy a dedicated stand alone bobbin winder to replace the ghetto winder I'd made out of parts cannibalized from an$11 hand mixer that has since disappeared but the units cost more than I'd wanted to spend. Specifically, the last time I'd checked some years ago, the cost was $400. Finalizing my decision to purchase one was somehow managing to knock my Adler out of timing when I was running it just to make a bobbin. So I poked around and found one for sale at Atlas Levy for the !SOLD! price of $79.

For those who don't know, industrial machines will wind a bobbin while you sew. Newer machines have the winder top side; older machines have the winder along side the belt. Even with a built in winder, you sometimes need a bobbin when starting a new workpiece so you have to run the machine just to get one. Anyway, having a dedicated winder such as the one I bought is useful if you have a variety of machines because you don't have to run the sewing machine just to make a bobbin.

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Cool presser foot (turret)

So maybe you already knew about these cool presser foot changer-outers -aka turrets (thank you Stu) but they were new to me. I had seen them in the sewing line of a customer's factory but even then, I didn't know where to buy one because I didn't the name of it -much less a part number. My customer couldn't help because being new to the industry, they didn't realize these parts (that came pre-installed on the used machines they bought), were unusual. Long story short, I finally got around to looking for the part, ordering it and having it installed.

Oh, I guess I need to explain what this turret does and why you may need one. This turret holds three different presser feet. When you want to change feet, you swivel the round thingie to the mounted foot of your choosing. This is much easier and faster than getting a screw driver to completely remove one foot to replace it with another. This means you can go from sewing straight seams to installing a zipper or switching to a compensating foot or whatever. You only need to have the thread cut, you don't need to rethread the machine or anything else in switching out the feet. Click on these links if you want to see more photos.

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Nifty and cheap work organization tool

It seems silly to mention such a small thing but I've been inordinately pleased with how well a recent experiment is working out. Specifically, my purchase of IV poles. Initially I bought the poles to solve a problem in digitizing patterns but I've stated to use them for organizing WIP (work in process). I don't claim IV poles are a solution for every operation but I'll explain how I use them so you can see if they're a fit for you.

History: The room I use for digitizing becomes too cramped if I use a Z-rack to hang patterns along side the digitizing table. I also don't have a wall to mount a nail to hang patterns on either. This means the dress forms were being used to hang patterns from the neck bobs. Which is okay as these things go until you need to use a form because you have to move all those patterns (where?) or you need to find a pattern underneath however many hanging from the form. I realized I was moving the same patterns over and over and still misplacing the mock ups we'd made or that the customer had sent. To keep all the work pieces of a particular style meant having to move the work from room to room. Repeatedly. So perhaps you can see that with no space for a Z-rack, IV poles seemed a tidy solution.

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Magnets won’t break a computerized sewing machine

I’m not sure where this concern about magnets is coming from, but perhaps a little perspective is in order.

Seriously, for a magnet to damage a computerized sewing machine, we’re talking about something that Wile E. Coyote would have to order from ACME. You wouldn’t have to put it on the machine; the machine — as well as your stove, washing machine, iron, refrigerator, and other appliances — would inexorably move toward it¹. It would affect fluorescent lights and old tube monitors. You would need to post warning signs for people with pacemakers. It, not the sewing machine, would be the most expensive piece of metal you own. If it is a permanent magnet, Chinese rare-earth miners would send New Years gifts to you for supporting their families. If it is a current-driven electromagnet, the board of your local power utility sends you Christmas cards.

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Learning to use a button hole machine

So I've been playing with the button hole (and previously) machine I bought and not making as much progress as I would have liked. I was having a heckuva time figuring out how to line up the goods to get button hole placement where I wanted it. There is no depth guide to bump up against when you're feeding the goods. This didn't make sense; machines are usually engineered to facilitate this sort of thing so I was obviously doing something wrong.

Perhaps I should back up a bit. If you've only used a home machine to make buttonholes, an industrial is a bit odd by comparison. Succinctly put, what you would normally think of as the front is the side and the side (the left side) is the front you sit at to operate it (a photo of the side is top right, follow the link to see the front). I hope this isn't confusing but when you make a button hole on a home machine, it is sewn vertically relative to your seated position. It is also true of this machine that button holes are sewn vertically relative to your position but if you were looking at the side of the machine, the buttonholes would be made horizontally.

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Yay! My button hole machine arrived!

Yay! After two years of talking about it, I finally took delivery of my new Siruba BH790 button hole machine!

I had to go pick it up at the freight terminal because I don't have a dock. What can I say? The rent is cheap. The lady at the shipping place was kind of funny. She asked, "oh, do you sew?" not knowing that was not the sort of question she should be asking me. I was good though and didn't mention anything about designing bras for Heidi. I'm not sure she understood why somebody would want a 250LB sewing machine that only sewed one thing -buttonholes. She looked at me sideways and wanted my ID so she could photocopy it, mumbling something about National Security all the while. For reals.

The thing is so heavy with the crate and all, they load you with a forklift. Before leaving to get it, I was so careful to make sure I had all the stuff to stabilize it, gloves, crowbar if needed and all that but when I got there, I discovered my come-alongs weren't working so I had to settle for a natty sisal rope we keep stowed in the bed. Of the pick up! The bed of the pick up! I just realized that could sound a bit awkward.

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