Instructables

See through sewing machine

Picture of see through sewing machine
 I have always wanted to see how the insides of a sewing machine worked.... In a box of old stuff headed for the land-fill was an old Singer, so this is what I did. All I have to say is, Ya' gotta' love plexi-glass.
 
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Step 1: What you need...

You will need a few things; All the stuff I used was just leftovers from other projects. If you have leftovers too then yippie for you!
 well, however you manage to get the stuff you will need...

A; sewing machine (check around you should be able to find an old one collecting dust some place for pretty cheap, or possibly for FREE!! or you might already have one that is worthy of a small hack.

B; Plexi-glass, if you don't already have it you can get it from any big hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot. (I like Lowes better myself). A big enough piece shouldn't be more than about 10 or 15 bux at most.

C; hot glue gun and glue sticks. ... you could use silicone glue or epoxy, but glue sticks set fast and are cheap.

D; paper of some sort (for stencils of the shapes you will cut out of the plexi-glass) ... I used a piece of contractor's paper, but printer paper or an old paper bag, whatever will work. Along with the paper you will need a writing utensil. I used a Sharpie. I like my Sharpie, it does NOT suck. 

E; a few flat-head screw drivers. (for opening the machine)

F; last but not least, the wonderful tool known as the Dremmel Tool. (and cutting disks)

oddstray4 years ago
"sewing machine (check around you should be able to find an old one collecting dust some place ... "

Owwwww!  Do you realize how searched-for are these good old "collecting dust someplace" sewing machines???  Todays "sewing machines" are toys by comparison and tremble at being asked to construct a pair of blue jeans!

But ... the plexiglass window.  OMG!  I so want to watch my old 60's era Kenmore* in action!

*yes, it is collecting dust this month since I'm not a tailor, but no, it's definitely not for sale!!!
zomfibame (author)  oddstray4 years ago
does the 60's era Kenmore have plastic on top, or cast metal? .... I'm not sure how old this Singer was. ...... heck, come to think of it I don't know much about sewing machines; I only learned to sew less than a year ago.
....You should put a plexi top on the Kenmore, do it!  then take pics to share.
My Kenmore has a cast metal top.  A repairman told me mine was one of the last all-metal sewing machines.  He wanted to buy it from me! (thus my comment that it's not for sale)

Since mine's a Kenmore, I subscribe to the yahoo group 'kenmore-sewing'.  Mine's even a bit old for that group!  There's another group 'sewingmachinerepair' that also talks about vintage sewing machines.

These early sewing machines are highly prized for their sturdiness.  You can sew stuff as demanding as blue jeans and even canvas sails on them.  Today's sewing machines (around $200 from Costco, for example) are made largely of plastic and will not do a good job on demanding materials.

If you see pictures of tailors in developing countries, they generally have machines even older than mine.  My mother had an entirely mechanical, treadle-driven Singer, upon which I learned to sew.  Those purely mechanical ones are the machines that survive and thrive in the developing countries.  I don't know where my mother's machine ended up ... I hope it's helping someone earn a living.

zomfibame (author)  oddstray4 years ago
do you have any pics of your kenmore? now I'm curious as to what it looks like.
 That's a cool idea. I'd like to see a picture closer up, or ideally, a video of it in action.
zomfibame (author)  Weissensteinburg4 years ago
yahh video would be cool; later if I get a camera that can handle that kinda' memory video would kick butt.
Phil B4 years ago
Thank you for your well executed Instructable.  I doubt a simple mask over the mouth and nose would keep toxic fumes away.  I would suggest a fan to blow them away, preferably in an open working area. 

I would also like to suggest replacing the metal plate over the bobbin with plexiglas, even if only temporarily.  Sewing machines malfunction when too much lint accumulates near the bobbin.  Also, the loop coming out of the bobbin is faulty when the tension on the thread is not right above the needle.  But, replacing that plate with plexiglas would require filing a precise beveled edge onto the plexiglas.
zomfibame (author)  Phil B4 years ago
ohhhh, I like the plexiglass bobbin cover idea!
I absolutely adore see-through bobbin plates.  They aren't as durable, but they can be a huge frustration saver.  You could even lightly engrave the seam allowance lines on it like some of the metal ones have.  Most plastic plates have the lines painted on, and after time, they wear off.  Great suggestion!
Thank you, Sarah.  I did not know see-through bobbin plates are available.  My wife is now using her 3rd Viking sewing machine (electronic), and also provides TLC for machines belonging to friends, which usually means a little cleaning around the bobbin or adjusting thread tension.  It would be easy to scratch some seam allowance lines in a plexiglas bobbin plate.
RadBear4 years ago
I bulit this www.instructables.com/id/DIY_Dust_Collection_System/ to contain dust when working w/ my Dremel and to keep those lovely chunks of hot plastic and disintigrating cutting wheels from blinding me.
zomfibame (author) 4 years ago
If you respond, and please by all means do, be kind, this is only my second instructable and my first one with pictures.