getting to know you

For my new project, I quickly realised I was going to have to go on some serious dates with my machine. Sure we’ve been hanging out for a while but the conversations have been pretty superficial. I haven’t dared to broach the subject of tension or buttonholes – knowledge of which Victory’s Madeleine necessitates. So tempting though it is to slip into well worn grooves for an easy ride, I’ve been factoring in some quality time with the Jones, aided by a manual specific to my 881 model which I managed to source on-line.

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My first challenge was how to work with the large cone of denim topstitching thread, gifted by my work colleague Carol. With all the gear and frankly no idea – my first play date with denim was an uneasy dalliance. I tried to balance the cone in various places on and around the machine which resulted in an unhappy marriage of unpredictable stitch tension and jamming. I was almost ready to call time on the affair when I stumbled across this clever hack.

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Finally, I was able to produce a stitch tension approaching feature-quality and coupled with wisdoms gleaned from Twenty Top Tips for Topstitching, a reconciliation seemed possible. Hello jeans needle, increased stitch length, regular thread on the bobbin and goodbye backstitching. Now we’re talking and it’s a conversation worth having.

On sharing the breaking news of my overlocker acquisition, a fellow Lindy Hopper asked if I was going to overlock all my jumpers together …..  just because I could. And tempting though it was @KRMyles, I didn’t. However, despite it being slightly tricky to work with, I now have a yen to denim topstitch anything I can lay my hands on.

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Our quality time together has been in no way seamless and I’m still trying to fathom whether the problems I am encountering are user orientated, or due to the limitations of my vintage steed. I can only topstitch for so long without a bobbin jam and tension control is all or nothing – for anything  approaching fine tuning an intervention is called for.

However, every time I think of upgrading to a newer model something unexpected reigns me back in. The buttonhole function was declared defunct on a service years ago. So finally managing to produce a four-step buttonhole was a joyous moment and I decided to quit whilst ahead. This courtship dance is coming to an end and I’m starting to feel like we’ve turned a corner. It’s time to update my relationship status – me and the Jones – we’re going steady.

6 thoughts on “getting to know you

    1. Thank you! There’s some lumps and bumps up close but no one’s getting the magnifying glass out and mistakes are learning opportunities in my book and there have been plenty! Just got to construct the braces and get handy with the buttonholer 🙂 Waiting for you to join the blogosphere Sadie xx


  1. great top stitching and buttonholes. i was given a machine recently like yours (i have to get it serviced before i use it properly as it has been in an attic for years etc) and i am really looking forward to seeing it now i see yours!. I think you are always going to fare better with a metal machine. i dont know what the quality of your top stitch cone thread is like – but it could be worth trying the top stitching experiment with a gutternam thread to see if that gets you past the bobbin jam and tension control (i am showing 2 friends to sew at the moment and one was using cheap thread from lord knows where – and it broke so many times, however she can now rethread her machine much faster)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Eimear! Your feedback is much appreciated – I’ve just been having a look at your blog – some lovely stuff there. When I was given my machine I was doubtful it would be anything but an aesthetic beauty but when I got it serviced I was reassured it was worth it’s weight, so I won’t be changing up any time soon.Have been struggling with the top stitching though – the thread is from a work colleague who used to work in fashion design, so I reckon it’s good quality but probably very old. I wonder if thread degrades over time? It’s also very thick so maybe I need to use a larger needle size. Lots to experiment with and I’ll definitely try with some new Gutternam thread like you suggest. I’d love to see your machine once you have it up and running 🙂


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