Category Archives: Sewing Machines

Industrial Feed Dog adjustments, and Face Masks

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.

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“What Have I Done”?

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.

Flip back the machine head and you will find a large pan filled with about a liter of machine oil.

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.

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A New Beginning

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.

The culmination of two and a half years of work.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

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Getting Acquainted with the New Machine

Before we get going, I just wanted to thank everyone for the discussion in my previous article, Three Tailoring Classes at Craftsy. The comments were hugely beneficial for me and touched on some deep issues such as how and when to turn an avocation into a vocation. Thank you for reading and contributing to the blog.

I haven’t had enough time to really get acquainted with my new Juki machine – that’s likely to take months. But a few things I’ve noticed: Continue reading