Breathing New Life into an Older Machine

Head Singer 107W12 You can breathe new life into older machines with just a few upgrades. Here’s a breakdown on the recent remodeling job I did on my Singer 107 W12. She was made in 1932 -84 years ago! She still runs like a top. small E Stitching sample

It does a very unique stitch (right). It is similar to a blanket stitch only it forms the stitch within the interior of the fabric; it doesn’t have to be along an edge like a true blanket stitch. It also doesn’t require modern embroidery machines ($$$). The stitch could also be described as a traditional applique stitch, what you’d do when sewing by hand. And no, I have no fixed idea as to what I’ll do with it but I couldn’t pass it up.

I do four main fixes:
New table frame -with locking casters
New servo motor
New thread stand
New light

Singer 107W12

The table frame with casters gives you a lot of flexibility because you can easily move machines around. For example, we keep machines that we don’t use frequently, in the back building and move them to the main sewing line as needed. New legs with casters Even within the sewing line, we can create small sewing cells by adjusting three machines into a “[” or “C” shape. It takes only a minute. I’d never go back to stationary table frames. The only downside is that these are somewhat difficult to find. I had to become a dealer to get them. Yes you can buy them from me, $100 per frame plus shipping. And unfortunately, you have to order in multiples of 2. Contact me via my About page if interested in purchasing these frames.

A new servo motor is a pleasure and for two reasons. servo_motor

The first is that they’re very quiet and second, they use very little energy. A third reason is that you can control the speed at which the machine runs so if you’re not accustomed to a fast machine, this can be a boon. Now, if you have an older machine like this 84 year old machine of mine, and you wonder if your machine could be converted, I’d be shocked if it couldn’t. The only thing the motor does is drive the pulley. That’s it, so there’s no reason you couldn’t put one on. And it’s not difficult to do. The nice thing is that the motor mounts of these were designed specifically to fit machines that had been using traditional clutch motors so you don’t even have to worry about drilling out new holes.

You might not need a new thread stand (photo at top, framed in orange) but I’ve upgraded all of mine so that the power cord feeds up through the mast to connect with the feed rail. The old style of thread stand don’t have a hollow core so you can’t do that. I was heartbroken at having to replace the pretty blue thread stand of my Merrow Active Seam machine, with a generic white one. Merrow should think about creating a new thread stand that facilitates feed rail. And sure, you can just feed the cord up but then it dangles and can get caught on things. The masted style thread stand is safer. While I’m on the subject, I intensely dislike the foam that comes on thread stands. It degrades and makes a mess. We used to use felt. I can’t find any felt ones so I’ve resigned myself to having to buy felt and cut them myself.

Last but not least, a new light. Again, it is mostly the older machines that need new lights as the switches have gone bad or the button has worn out. We use the new energy saving florescent bulbs in those for additional savings.

All in all, if you’re spoiled with the whistles and bells of new equipment (like me), you can invest a little money into the machine’s underpinnings and upgrade older machines to make them easier to use, and without a lot of hassle. Total cost for these upgrades are:

Table: $100 plus shipping

Servo: $125+ (I bought the basic unit but there are fancier ones)

Thread stand: $12

Light: $8 -I didn’t need one for this machine but I bought 6 of them for the others.

One last thing you’re likely to need is a belt. I am not clever enough to figure out what size I need until the motor is installed. I picked up some nice ones on Ebay for less than $4 each.

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  1. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    I’ve been dredging through 1920s and 1930s fashion magazines, and that stitch was popular for making a faux applique. A seamed-in panel (judging from the pattern pieces) would be “appliqued” by running this machine along the seam lines. The fashion mags had the reader doing the stitch by hand to imitate the commercial pieces.

    And something similar was used for blouses and lingerie: blanket-stitched edges with the same stitch in decorative bands in the body of the piece. You can make a fake feather stitch, or teensy boxes by offsetting the lines of stitching.

  2. Jaime Sue says:

    On one of your older articles (one that led me to come across your site) you mentioned someone named Gigi who was available for consulting on finding an industrial machine. That email is no longer valid and I was wondering if you had suggestions on finding help finding that perfect machine?

  3. Generally, we do this in the forum (you’re welcome to join us) and for a couple of reasons. First, one can post photos and documentation illustrating desired effects and features. We can also point you to good dealers and which you’re better off avoiding. To start tho, we’d need to know what kind of sewing you want to do, on what materials, your budget and the constraints of your work space (power etc).

    I know this doesn’t help you much but I don’t know of a publicly accessible place with consistently valid assistance for you. To be sure, there are places where you can get help and you could get lucky in that a response from someone who gives solid advice, will not be drowned out by personalities and brand lobbying.

    You could always post here or one of the beginner industrial machine posts on this site to see if we could help. Good luck, you’ll enjoy owning your industrial!

    • coco asper says:

      Dear Kathleen,

      I have worked on industrial Juki’s for over 15 years. I’m a designer and make my own final samples, but I don’t do production. I sew anything from leather jackets to silk corsets and lace or chiffon dresses. Most of these 15 years I have moved quite a bit from place to place, and am finally fed up with the lack of mobility of industrial machines. I need something that doesn’t require two strong men to move around. My new studio is on the second floor and our elevator isn’t working. I have been doing some research and am tempted to buy a portable Juki TL-2010Q. Do you think I would be able to transition well onto something like that after having dealt with the reliability and strength of industrial machines? It is not a cheap machine, in fact I always bought my industrial machines used, so they were cheaper than this one. I am very hesitant to buy it, will I be disappointed with the quality of the stitch? Do you or anyone you know have any experience with this? I read some reviews and watched you tube videos but I am not convinced it will perform well on thicker fabrics or that I will be able to work on delicate fabrics like silk or lace. Any thoughts at all are welcome. Thank you for your time.

      • I can’t answer this question for so many reasons. First, I’m not moving around anymore. The next time I move is when I sell the factory and retire. But I did discuss this with Mr. Fashion Incubator -even when I retire (one foot from the grave, surely), I plan to have 2 industrial machines in my house. A single needle and an overlock. If that means not having a dining room, so be it. In sum, I would regret the purchase you’re considering. It reminds me that have two home machines in storage that I really should find homes for.

        PS. I did look up the reviews for this machine and people seemed to be happy with it. I’ve been pleased with my Jukis.

    • Cinderella says:

      Hi Coco,

      Im new here but have faced the same dilemna so maybe my solutions may help answer ur questions. I own a Juki DDL-8500 industrial & it IS a real pain to move up/down steps if u do any mobile traveling to shows, events, etc. I was also could not move it without help, a pickup truck, and I paid men to help me move it each time I had a sewing event. At my wits end, I almost gave the machine up to sell. I then looked at the Juki 2010Qi and its variations & tested one out. More on that outcome in a moment.

      I value being independant & able to move my Juki machine myself. I wanted to make it work smarter & easier. My thinking: “U need the right tools/equipment to do the job right.” So, the way I resolved moving it are these practical steps:

      1) I researched & bought a used industrial furniture dolly that professional movers use that can easily support 600+ lbs. It has a sturdy steel frame, is convertible & extendable into different formats as needed. Has a longer “platform” than other dollies (which do NOT work bec their platform is too narrow in width to support the total weight of the machine standing vertically on the dolly.) Has 4 swivel wheels heavy duty (not cheapo inflatable tires that deflate & are a pain to replace) & 1-2 wheels are lockable as needed.

      2) Bought a set of heavy duty ratcheting straps that are also graded by the weight they can safely hold. I got my set at Harbor Freight & Tool, 4-6 in a set for $10-20.

      3) I drain the oil out of my Juki & wipe the inner pan to prep for moving. Remove the thread holder, needle, bobbin, drawer, etc. Mine is removable from its K-leg base table which has wheels, but I do not remove the machine bec too much moving on/off may dent/warp the hinges, the table, or both. And its just to heavy to remove. I use 2 ratchet straps to strap the machine itself right to its table. It isnt budging at that point.

      4) Next, I fold a moving blanket to line the dolly & act as padding to protect my machine from scraping the frame. Line up dolly with the end of table where the machine sits (called the heavy end.) U should be able to tilt the table/machine from the light end onto the upright dolly platform slowly but easily.

      5) Slide & rock the table a few inches back to snug it up against the blanket/frame securely.

      6) Use 2-3 more ratchet straps to strap it to the dolly itself. U can protect table edges with a blanket or folded bubble wrap or foam noodles sliced to fit.

      7) Now its secure & ready to roll down stairs. Its ideal if ur machine is on a first floor. But if not thats ok. This method works just as well for moving it up/down ALL steps. The key is to move it one step at a time & counterbalance its pull/weight against ur own. Dont rush and u will get down stairsteps of all kinds safely. Go slow.

      8) Once I have it outdoors, I load it into my SUV or Van using ramps. I bought articulating loading ramps normally used for wheelchairs, band equipment, etc. U can buy 1 wider ramp, but I bought 2 slimmer ones. I line them up w my dolly wheels & roll it right on into the vehicle & lay it down horizontally. No pickup truck needed. I “foldup” the ramps & store them in a duffel bag in my vehicle so I have a convenient bag to store ratchet straps & blankets in when I unload until im ready to reload & leave the event.

      I hope these tips help. They made all the difference for me. They cost a bit more cash outlay, but far outweigh the previous frustration, hassles & $$ I spent. Ppl cdnt reliably lift the machine & sometimes scraped the belt housing which I had to get my repair guy to fix. It was well worth it to me to regain independent transportability up/ down steps & in/out my vehicle.

      My apologies to all for my post being long, but bear with me. Ill make this brief.

      Regarding the Juki 2010Q/Qi w the pin feed: There are comparable Brother & Janome models to research & evaluate. I tried out the Juki w quilt extension table. I sew leathers & heavy thick items so I need a machine w metal parts & torque, not plastic parts as home machines often have.

      I tested the drop feed/free motion for my needs w a darning foot (the foot w a circle shape.) This way I can see precisely where my stitches land without a thick presser foot blocking my view. It performed well thru various thicknesses & I liked the freedom the drop feed dogs afforded me to place stitches precisely onto contoured, curvy patches I sewed onto biker club vests.

      It is not as heavy duty as an industrial, and its only straight stitch, but it handled my tests well. I love the pin feedability since I need controlled stitches more than speed. 1 model has a push button pin feed that works in concert w its Servo-motor (step motor). Other models may not have this included. It was nice to have auto threader & autocut features. The light was not strong enuf for me tho it was LED. I would add a stronger pinpoint light.

      Overall I liked it, but did NOT buy 1 yet bec at that time I came up with the solutions to transport that I share above.

      I dunno what items ur sewing, but it may be worth trying out if u have a good return/refund policy when u buy it if u change ur mind. Otherwise, investing a few dollars more into ur Juki is still cheaper than buying another machine that yunno can handle the work already. I hope this helps! :)

  4. julio says:

    Sou mecânico, gosto de reformar maquinas antigas, mas gosto de pintar em estilos mais coloridos dando alma diferentes a cada uma delas, assim a costureira sente exclusiva e unica com suas maquinas

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