Monday, January 11, 2010

Book Review: The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook by Charlene Phillips

Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook

ISBN: 9780896899230, Retail $16.99 USD
Details from Amazon here
Paperback, 144 pages, published May 29, 2009

Book Chapter Headings:
1. A Brief History of Attachments (this section is interesting to read)
  • Griest/Greist Manufacturing Company
  • Western Electric and Graybar Manufacturing Company
  • Wilcox and Gibbs
  • Singer Sewing Machine Company
2. Types of Sewing Machines (very basic information here)
  • Mechanical
  • Electronic
  • Computerized
  • Sergers
3. What to Look for in a Sewing Machine (too generalized to be helpful)
  • Assess: your sewing projects, durability, size & location, and cost
  • Research sewing machines
  • What features do you need?
  • Shopping tips
  • Determining if a machine is mechanically sound
  • Basic troubleshooting
4.  Setting Up Your Machine (surprisingly few pictures here, all the information here can be found in your sewing machine manual)
  • Stitch length regulator
  • Pressure regulator
  • Tension control
  • Solving some common problems (skipped stitches, fabric puckers, etc.)
5. Determining Your Shank Type (the pictures of all the shank types is helpful for a beginner but I've never found measuring necessary to determine shank type)

6. Clamping Attachments Onto Your Machine (surprised that feet that slide & snap-on aren't included here)
  • Side clamp
  • Back clamp
  • Top clamp
  • Bed clamp
7. Using Your Attachments (instructions and pictures for each attachment, as well as ideas for how to use them, various historical tidbits interspersed throughout)
  • Attachment Foot--attaches hemmers onto foot (Would've liked to see a line about interchanging feet here. When you shop for presser feet, "compatible with" on the packaging and in sewing machine manuals make it seem like you can't interchange feet. I have a Singer 1732 that came with a low shank attachment with lever and another Singer CG-590 that is a true snap-on. I can swap the feet between machines if I unscrew the snap-on attachment and use the low shank attachment with lever.)
  • Cloth Guide, aka Seam Guide--for straight seams (All the guides pictured are for older machines where they can be screwed on. A magnetic seam guide is mentioned but not pictured.)
  • Bias Cutting Gauge--to attach to your scissors for cutting bias strips, instructions for piecing a bias strip (Strictly a vintage piece. Neat idea and would be a nice addition to a vintage sewing accessories collection but a rotary cutter and mat with bias markings would be more accurate.)
  • Binder Attachment--automatically folds and places bias strips over the edge of your fabric as you sew, includes instructions for french folds, making a lattice design with binding, binding a ruffled edge, etc.
  • Bias-Tape Maker and Fusible Tape Maker (nice tutorials)
  • Adjustable Tape-Stitching Presser Foot--edges your fabric with various widths of binding tape, the tape must already be prepared
  • Tucker--makes pintucks and is adjustable for tuck size and spacing
  • Ruffler--makes ruffles and pleats
  • Foot Hemmer--hemming the edge of fabric, looks like the "rolled hem" foot for my Singer, can also use for felled seams
  • Hemmer Set--allows you to hem up to 7/8-inch without measuring, creasing and pinning
  • Adjustable Hemmer--allows you to vary the hem width with one attachment instead of a set
  • Edge Stitcher--keeps seams straight while you attach lace, ruffles, piping, etc.
  • Gathering Foot--gathers for a slight fullness, instructions for puffing or shirring fabric, shirring elastic, and smocking
  • Double Shirring Foot--gather or shir fabric while attaching gather to your garment, this is what Singer calls a "gathering foot", includes instructions for twin-needle sewing with this foot
  • Adjustable Zipper/Cording Foot--rides close to the bulk without piercing the zipper or cord
  • Welting Foot--covers cotton filler cord, like the adjustable cording foot above, but this has a groove underneath to keep the cord in place
  • Felling Foot--for creating felled seams in 1 step
  • Darning/Embroidery/Free-Motion Quilting Foot--the foot barely touches your fabric and you control the fabric (not the feed dogs) to create the stitch design
  • Quilting Foot--for maintaining even spacing when stitching blocks, diamonds, etc. You can remove the guide bar for more flowing patterns
  • Walking Foot--aka "Even Feed Foot", used for keeping fabric layers from creeping (matching plaids, sewing slippery fabrics)
  • Sequin Foot--has a slot on it that handles trim widths up to 3/8-inch wide
  • Buttonholer--aka "automatic buttonhole attachment"
  • Braiding Presser Foot--has a slot for attaching trims up to 3/16-inch wide
  • Underbraider--apply narrow trims from underneath the fabric (this foot confuses me a bit and I think I would need to see it in action to understand)
  • Stitch-in-the-ditch Foot--stitch in the ditch (seam) or for very close edgestitching
  • Stocking Darner--vintage piece used for darning stockings
  • Zigzagger--adapts the straight-stitch machine for some decorative stitching
8. Resources (this section is not helpful. Anyone with a basic understanding of internet searches has already found the few resources listed here for machine manuals, attachments and machine collecting.  This section could use some real beefing up.)

Additional information:
This book has fabulous photographs. 

Would I recommend this book as a MUST HAVE?
Maybe.  I would recommend this book if you can borrow it from someone or check it out of a library.  I think those that collect vintage sewing machines and accessores would love this book more.  It was a quick read, wonderful sewing history and I used it to determine which presser feet to invest a little money in.  Now I'm done with the book and don't know what to do with it. I'll probably keep it because it is fun to look at.   Once you have your presser feet, the book you really need is "Encyclopedia of Sewing Machine Techniques" by Nancy Bednar & JoAnn Pugh-gannon (ISBN: 9781402742934).  If you are a collector, this is a nice book to own.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Just my opinion....

This policy is valid from 11 December 2009
This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog does not accept any form of advertising, sponsorship, or paid insertions. We write for our own purposes. However, we may be influenced by our background, occupation, religion, political affiliation or experience.
The owner(s) of this blog will never receive compensation in any way from this blog.
The owner(s) of this blog is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owners. If we claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.
This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
To get your own policy, go to