A Treadle Serger

I’ve always liked stitching on treadle stitching machines. electric machines just don’t have the speed control, power at low speeds, as well as built-in foot massage you get while stitching with a treadle stitching machine. except for my serger as well as cover stitch machines, I almost always utilize treadle stitching machines.

I’ve believed it would be great to have a treadle serger, too. Not only so I might utilize it when the power was out, however likewise to have the slower speed as well as much better speed manage for tricky curves, which I can never handle to sew completely on a high speed electric serger. as well as you know, just for fun. all of us requirement more fun these days.

I did try eliminating the motor belt from my old serger, as well as I ran a treadle belt over the hand wheel. It kind of worked, however the belt slipped a lot, so I provided up on that idea.

I was excited when I stumbled across a infant Lock BL3-407 vintage three-thread overlock machine from the 1970’s. It has a removable belt cover that can be taken off to subject the belt groove on the hand wheel. The groove sticks out past the edge of the body of the machine so you can quickly power it with a treadle belt.

I made a wooden platform to go over the hole in my treadle table, eliminated the rubber feet on the serger, as well as screwed the machine directly to the platform with the screws from the feet. I made the platform tall sufficient that I might utilize the exact same belt I utilize with my stitching machine without eliminating or adjusting the belt.

In situation you are wondering about the remove belt, it’s aquarium tubing. I’ve discovered I prefer it to the leather belts. It’s grippy as well as just a bit stretchy, which enables the exact same belt to be utilized with several machines that are not precisely the exact same height. It’s perfect for my MUTT (multi utilize treadle top).

I provided my treadle serger a great test by utilizing it to make two pairs of jeans. aside from the truth that the knife doesn’t lift extremely high as well as I had to hammer as well as pre-trim the seam allowance on the bulky seam intersections as well as pocket areas of the side seams, it worked great. The pre-trimming isn’t a huge deal, since I seem to keep in mind I had to do that with my other sergers as well when stitching denim out of heavier weight denim.

I may be utilizing this machine on a routine basis, as well as not just when the power is out. It was quite fun to treadle.

It makes nice stitches:

I can’t stand flimsy plastic contemporary stitching machines, however I’d never desired a vintage serger before since they don’t have differential feed. I do like exactly how sturdy as well as mainly metal this vintage serger is. I figured perhaps I would utilize the vintage infant Lock serger just for wovens, as well as leave my contemporary Juki MO-654DE set up with sphere point needles for knits.

A bit side note: When I experimented with utilizing the vintage serger on knits, I discovered that reducing the presser foot tension to a extremely light setting let me sew knits without stretching out the material as well much. I realized that I (and I suspect most other sewers, too, since I haven’t come across this advice anywhere) have been overusing differential feed on knits.

When you turn up the differential feed, it has the impact of increasing the needle thread tension, making your stitches more likely to break when you stretch your seam. Not what you want on stretchy knit fabrics! So reduce the presser foot pressure first, as well as then you won’t requirement to turn up the differential feed as far, which will provide you a stretchier, stronger seam.

When I got my vintage serger, it didn’t have a manual, as well as I couldn’t discover one online. It was making a truly narrow stitch, which I wasn’t sure exactly how to adjust, so I hunted some more as well as ultimately discovered a scanned copy of the BL3-407 handbook (search on that page for “dropbox” to discover the link down in the comments).

After reading the manual, I realized my machine only had the rolled hem throat plate, not the routine one

So, since replacement throat plates are no longer sold, well, the only thing to do was buy one more serger. as well as there just occurred to be one more one on eBay . . . So yeah. now I have two machines. It’s always great to have a spare vintage machine for parts anyway, right?

That’s the rolled hem plate on the machine on the left, as well as the routine throat plate on the machine on the right:

Speaking of working on this machine. There is this truly great line in the manual: “This machine is basically designed to need no difficult, expert adjustments.” rather a contrast to contemporary machines that try to keep you out of the insides as well as make you take it to the dealership for any type of servicing.

With a vintage serger, the very first thing you will want to do is open it up aswell as clean as well as oil it. To get to the insides of this machine, you take off the bottom cover as well as front cover. The front cover is eliminated by taking out the five screws on the corners. then you have to turn the hand wheel just right so the needle thread take-up lever is in the right spot, as well as jiggle the front cover up until it comes off.

Clean out all of that lint as well as put a decrease of oil anywhere two moving parts touch, oil the felt at the top that links to these weird wicks that dangle down, as well as put it back together. Not as well bad. Oh, yeah. except before you do all that, eliminate the needle as well as flip the upper cutting knife up so you don’t accidentally ruin your knives if the lower knife slips out of location while cleaning or adjusting . . . ahem. Well, at least my knives needed replacing anyway as well as you can still buy them. I likewise discovered out you can still buy replacement parts for that bit remove plastic bit on the presser foot, however super glue works truly well on it as well (another casualty of the knife slipping out of place).

So aside from my incident with the knives, cleaning as well as oiling wasn’t as well hard, however here’s where it gets a bit bothersome. now I understand why sergers have such a poor reputation for being challenging to use. It must have started with these early machines.

The handbook states the BL3-407 has “adjustable stitch width,” as well as I didn’t want 3.5 mm wide stitches. The handbook states 3.5 mm is the common width. Yeah, perhaps for doll clothes.

To change the stitch width, you have to flip the upper knife up out of the way, loosen two little set screws, one of which is difficult to get to, change the setting of the lower knife, making sure it is level with the top of the throat plate, tighten the set screws truly tight, then loosen a screw on the throat plate to change the stitch finger width. I had to fiddle with the stitch finger width a bit to get the stitches to type consistently.

Adjusting the stitch width is not something you are going to want to do more than once, not only since it is uncomfortable as well as time consuming, however likewise since you want to prevent turning those set screws as well many times. ultimately you’ll strip them out, even with the appropriate size hollow ground screw driver, since you have to get the screws extremely tight to keep the knife from slipping out of place. It truly makes me appreciate that stitch width knob on my contemporary serger.

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