Truth be told, this may be a project where I have bitten off more I can chew. I’m making a total of 20 pair assembly-line style, which means a lot of repetitive work, and each step takes a long time. Plus, it’s been several months ssince I began this project, and my enthusiasm has defintely evaporated since the project began. But, I don’t like UFO projects and so finish this I will.
I decided recently I wanted to make another batch of boxer briefs, as I had done before. Making underwear is a great way to use up the scraps of knit fabric lying around in your fabric stash, and get a result that fits great and is comfortable. In my case, I had also bought yardage specifically for the project, and I got some knit fabric at swap meets that would be perfect for the project.
But, the project has turned out to be a bit of an albatross. It’s become something of a UFO (un-finished project): I started it this past winter, put it aside because other projects and teaching commitments became a priority, and now I’m not feeling the enthusisam to finish. But, finish it I will because I firmly oppose UFOs.
I had originally intended this article to be about the batch of face masks I stitched up to get acquainted with my new sewing machine. But, I couldn’t resist getting nerdy over the feed dog adjustments on an industrial sewing machine.
Industrial Feed Dogs
An industrial sewing machine is meant to do one specific task, and to do it over and over again. If you are working in a factory and sewing a batch of 5000 dresses, it’s worthwhile to configure the machine to work well for just that job, down the point of swapping out parts as necessary.
As I mentioned in my last article, industrial machines have replaceable feed dogs. There are several varieties, each aimed at a different type of material. Generally, feed dogs intended for light-weight fabrics have many teeth of finer weight; those for heavy fabrics have larger, coarser teeth.
Given the kind of sewing I plan to do most often, I decided to swap in lightweight feed dogs for the ones that came with the machine. At some point when I get into jeans-making, I’ll have to repeat the process to install heavy-weight feed dogs. But it does mean I have to plan out the projects I want to make if I want to avoid continuously futzing with the machine.
That was my first thought after I had written out the check to Tammy Gustin at Sips n Sews studio to purchase one of their industrial sewing machines, and had time to reflect on it.
Industrial sewing machines are not portable. They are bulky and difficult to transport; you may need to call a tech on-site if you can’t repair or adjust it yourself. They need to be oiled everywhere, and I mean everywhere (more on that in a bit). They are designed for practicality, not convenience; many adjustments on an industrial require screwdrivers and setscrews rather than dials. In short, they are higher maintenance than a domestic machine and a higher commitment to own.
I really had no need for an industrial sewing machine at home when I had access to the studio. But with the demise of the studio, I could definitely see situations ahead where I would want to have one at home. And I also wanted a piece of the studio as a remembrance.
Moving the machine
The first problem was how to transport it from the studio to my home. I set up an appointment on Lugg. Early the next afternoon a large pickup truck showed up at the studio, along with Kyle and Julio, my Luggers for the job.
Industrial sewing machines operate at very high speeds, so all parts must be constantly lubricated to prevent heat and wear due to friction. Many industrial machines have an oil bath beneath the machine, mine is one of them. The oil must be emptied before the machine can be transported, to avoid spilling it all over the place.
I brought a funnel and a container to the studio; Tammy scooped the oil from the pan with a teacup and we funneled it into the container for me to refill the machine at home.
The machine must be transported standing up, so Kyle and Julio set it in the truck bed and locked it down with straps. They did a great job moving it into my garage.
The integrated sewing table has a built-in worklamp. The first thing I discovered is the light didn’t work; the switch was broken. More on this in a bit.
It has been a while, hasn’t it? Quite a lot has happened in my life since the last blog post. My readers are completely forgiven for thinking I have vanished off the face of the Earth.
An Update on Me
For one, I finished my classes in the Fashion Department at City College of San Francisco. I earned two certificates of completion, one in Garment Construction and the other in Patternmaking. I have earned most of the credits necessary to complete a third certificate, Advanced Garment Construction, lacking only a class in Couture Sewing Techniques to qualify.