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An old machine with a New Life using a Felt-crafting Kit!

On Friday I acquired a very, very old singer sewing machine which was in perfectly good working order and which sits in its own table.   I can fold the machine down into the table out of view and place the cover down and you would never know there was a sewing machine in there.  Now this is an advantage when you have a small bungalow and very little space.  The table is only about 36″ square and can fit under a window or in a corner somewhere.

Bobbin casing is removed from the spindle.I am not going to use this newly purchased machine for what it was originally designed to do. Some time ago I sent away to the United States for a conversion kit which made it possible to change an old sewing machine into a felt-crafting machine.  If you are not familiar with felt-crafting: it is a method of embellishment where you use a fabric like wool and silk upon which you place small pieces of wool or silk of a different colour on top of a different colour or thickness and make a design which becomes incorporated into the fabric by the action of the burred needles moving up and down on the fabric whilst it is being moved underneath these burred needles.  Some may be familiar with felt-crafting by hand already.  I had heard that it was possible to felt-craft using some of the modern machines but was not prepared to continually put the bobbin mechanism in and out all the time in order to do this on a modern machine, plus the fact that I don’t think the action of felt-crafting on a new machine does it any good, so I decided to purchase and use this kit on an old machine  instead.

The Feltcraft Kit attached to the shank

The felt-crafting kit consists of a  special attachment upon which there are six thin burred needles attached.  I can change these needles if they break, using an alan key that is included with the package.  I also purchased some additional needles as I don’t know how many I may break and I would hate to have to wait for the order to arrive from the United States.

Once I had this machine home one of the first things I did was to ask my husband, of many skills, if he could possibly take the bobbin attachments and machine workings out of the bobbin area and just leave the casing and stitchplate in place.  This he did very efficiently, after having established that all the components of the machine were safe, but it did mean he had to do a bit of metal-work,  as the spindle which fitted onto the drive-belt was attached to the bobbin housing, so he had the choice of bashing out the spindle, which might have rendered it useless as it could have become bent, but he decided to use an angle grinder and totally demolished the bobbin case bit leaving a very straight spindle that could be replaced within the drive belt area.  It was fun watching how a workman decides upon next course of action.  I frequently  heard him mutter ‘worst case scenario’ now I have learned that this is the way you work out items of safety by trialling and tesing a piece in situ.  How would the item work and act if it is in that position or this position or another position.  Looking at things from every angle for reasons of safety.  I must say I was impressed!

Once he had asserted that the way I wanted the kit to be assembled was safe for use he proceeded to cut an extra wide hole in the stitchplate, as the new assembly would need a space of approx one inch square.  At this point the shank of the machine was stripped of all moveable objects and the burred needle attachment was attached by a screw and tested and all worked efficiently.  All we had to do was to ensure that the burred needles did not go down into the bobbin area more than a quarter of an inch, as that is enough for the needles to work the filaments of man-made fibres, wool or silk into the fabric cloth below.

The former bobbin casing area is now filled with a special foam into which the burred needles penetrate and this foam also keeps the host fabric straight whilst going through the process of being embellished.  There was just one other thing to do and that was to attach a safety guard to ensure busy fingers did not get injured in an over-enthusiastic attempt to get embellish!  That problem was soon overcome by using the screw that holds the housing for the top side of the machine case.  This screw was long enough to hold the sewing case in place as well as holding a piece of  maleable rounded metal that was fashioned into a guard.

That done!  All I have to do now is use it and produce some arty, farty embellishment on a suitable fabric.  I intend to do some of this today on a practise piece of Moreno wool, left over from a former embroidery project, which was a childs hand-embroidered heirloom blanket.  I intend to use the felt-crafting as a base for hand or machine embroidery.  I am sure I will find a lot of other uses for this machine.

One Response to “An old machine with a New Life using a Felt-crafting Kit!”

  • Yogi Bear:

    That sounds like a very good bit of re-engineering going on there. I can just imagine Hubby working on it and you saying you want it to do this and that and he is trying to work it out but in a logic safe way and you saying i just want a hole here and there and the needle must do this and that, your plans in your head trying to convey them to Hubby who thinks he is in a minefield. I wonder if he is rethinking about retiring and being out the house all day. ( jokes ). I am in no doubt that what ever alterations have been done to this machine they are safe and i know you will perform miracles on it.

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