THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

November 4, 2008

Cool tools!

Filed under: Gigi,Machines,Tools,Vintage Sewing — Gigi @ 9:03 pm

I was so bummed out when I saw the super-fantastic Bernina invisible zipper foot #35 wasn’t made in a version to fit my Bernina 1530. 😦 I have a really nice, all-metal invisible zipper foot for my industrial machine and wanted something similar. Up until now, I have been using (and been perfectly satisfied with) the 3-groove pintuck foot to install invisible zips. Still, I was complaining to my friend Greg about how unfair it was that Bernina doesn’t support the older machines. Then he got that Aha! look on his face and wondered aloud if the only difference between the classic feet and the Artista/Activa feet was the shank. I immediately called my friend Sharon (who works at a Bernina dealership) and asked her to bring me the foot in question. We popped off the shank and replaced it with the shank from an old #0 foot I found laying around the shop and there you go – an invisible zipper foot for my 1530! I just love it when a plan comes together. 🙂


While rummaging through my friend’s shop lately I’ve found some really, really interesting things. Many, many buttonholers, for one. To be honest, I’ve never had any interest in buttonholers because my machine makes really nice ones. Then, I started playing around with them. Now I own three! This first one is a low-shank buttonholer for use on a straight stitch machine. It actually moves the fabric back and forth – so cool! And check out the awesome buttonholes I made on a scrap of rayon jersey! And, yes, you can adjust the distance between the beads.


I stitched the buttonhole on the left once and the one on the right twice. You can stitch around up to three times.


Then Greg thought I might prefer the Singer Professional (for zigzag machines) instead so I tried it and bought two: one low-shank (vertical needle if you are looking on Ebay) for my Singer Genie, Pfaff or my Bernina (using the low-shank adaptor) and a slant version for the Singer 600-series machine which I’m going to keep set up just to make buttonholes. The Singer Professional even has templates for bound buttonholes and a beautiful eyelet. Seriously, these are so inexpensive everyone should have one even if for nothing more than a good keyhole buttonhole!


Now I can’t wait to try the industrial buttonholer that Greg gave me for my Singer 20U!

Speaking of the Genie, I bought another one recently. I sold mine a few years ago and have always regretted it so I’m happy she’s back. Boy, this one sews like a dream and, at about 11 lbs., is the perfect little machine to toss in the car and much less precious than my Featherweight! This is model 354 (which has one more stitch than the original 353) from 1974.



Lastly, as I may have mentioned, I have been helping my friend sell some old inventory on Ebay. His father opened the shop in 1967 and I don’t think anyone has ever gotten rid of anything so the walls are closing in on us!

We found some really amazing vintage feet and attachments as we were going through boxes, one of which was this wonderful Singer one-thread embroidery attachment (#26538) from the 1920s. Specialty thread, cord or yarn is fed into the attachment and twisted around as the machine stitches the cord down. It’s really incredible. I did a little research and found that the last one sold on Ebay for $169 (!). He said that if I sold two of them for that much he’d gift me the third attachment. Well, he wasn’t joking because, despite my objections, this little gem is now tucked away in my sewing room. I’ll use it to embellish something as soon as I get a chance. How lucky am I?


There you go, I don’t post for months and then you can’t shut me up!


  1. Glad to hear your thumbs-up on the buttonholers. I bought the Singer Professional after getting fed up with my one-step computerized buttonholes that were never quite the same. I love mine! Does your picture show buttonhole thread or just regular thread?

    Comment by Dana — November 4, 2008 @ 10:07 pm

  2. Dana, I actually used cone thread! I am a convert, to be sure. Who knew?

    Comment by Gigi — November 4, 2008 @ 10:15 pm

  3. The fashion dept. I teach in has industrial machines, but everyone hates the industrial buttonhole machine, prefering a vintage button hole attachment like you show, fixed to a 10 year old Elna. It works much better than the built in buttonholes, and certainly takes a beating after being used by so many students.
    Now, can you hook me up with a button hole attachment that would work on an industrial single needle straight stitch machine? (Juki or Consew)–that would be awesome!

    Comment by Jen O — November 5, 2008 @ 1:44 am

  4. Hmmm, I never thought about the zig zig version of the buttonholer for my machine. I always just stick mine on a straight stitch and use the first attachment. I’ll have to try the zig zag. I like the thought of setting up a machine just to do buttonholes. These really make the best buttonholes. Especially with thicker fabrics.

    Comment by cidell — November 5, 2008 @ 7:27 am

  5. Ah, Gigi, I have an invisible zipper foot for my Bernina 1630 which should fit your 1530 as it isn’t a coded foot. It is far superior to the pin tuck feet. Works much better.
    How about posting a picture of the industrial buttonholer for your 20U. I could use one of those myself.

    Comment by Gemma — November 5, 2008 @ 9:36 am

  6. Nice . . . I’ll have to start looking for a buttonholer just to see how it works.

    Comment by Summerset — November 5, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

  7. I recently acquired a couple of older Singer machines that have buttonhole attachments like you describe. I use to use the straight stitch type up until the late 70’s when I bought a machine with a built in buttonholer. I guess I didn’t pay attention to how well the old ones worked. I will have to get one of my ‘new’ old ones set up and try it out. I haven’t been satisfied with my new machines buttonholes.

    It is just amazing what we learn on the website!

    Comment by Linda T — November 7, 2008 @ 3:00 am

  8. My mother has that professional buttonholer and when I asked her if I could buy it off of her (it is gathering dust at her place), she suddenly remembered the value of it and now uses it again! DRAT!

    I have a nice buttonhole on my new Babylock that I like, but I wonder if I can get the ancient metal geared Singer tuned up and find one of those myself! I have some tailored jackets in planning stages that could use nicer buttonholes …

    Comment by lorna — November 7, 2008 @ 4:51 pm

  9. That embroidery attachment is fascinating. I’d drop everything to play with that toy!
    Those buttonholes are beautiful. I have a machine set up all the time for just buttonholes. Only problem is I am literally wearing out the template.

    Comment by Bunny — November 8, 2008 @ 5:29 pm

  10. Gigi, thanks so much for posting this! I had been missing using the Singer buttonholer that I had for my slant-shank machines, and this made me realize I can just get a low-shank version to fit the Bernina. Hooray! Great find on adapting the new Bernie feet to the old shanks, too.

    Comment by kristi — November 14, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

  11. Thanks for the tip on retro-fitting the old Bernina feet. Now I know how to have a #35 foot for my beloved 1130!

    Comment by Doris W. — November 28, 2008 @ 1:55 pm

  12. I just got one of these for my “new” Singer 503 and feel like a whole realm of sewing just opened up for me. I’ve always only had 4-step buttonhole machines and now I just pick the template, screw on the attachment, and a minute later I’ve got a gorgeous buttonhole! And aren’t they so intriguing to watch? I love it!

    Comment by Alicia — December 23, 2008 @ 11:26 pm

  13. Another cool trick you can do with your Bernina is get a presser feet adaptor:
    Bernina Models 530-1630 Adaptor
    Bernina Models 100-190 Adaptor
    What that does is convert your bernina presser bar to accept a standard low shank foot and shank.
    Then just buy a low shank snap on kit to get your started
    Low Shank Snap On Presser Foot Kit
    Then you can get all the extra feet you want, without paying the bernina price!

    Comment by Jeremy — December 26, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

  14. Is the button whole foot number160506? I have this gadget and never even knew I could use it on a modern machine. Hmmmm I’m going to have to get the adaptor for my Bernina. Any other thing I need before I try it? thanks

    Comment by Adriienne — January 8, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

  15. Hello! I realize this is a pretty old post, but I am a long time reader and novice sewer, and need some help with how to deal with my sewing machine! I love it, it was my grandmothers, and then my mothers and now mine. It’s a Montgomery Ward machine model number UHT J1929. I’ve taken it to the sew and vac store a number of times for various problems that I don’t understand and I would love to learn a little about how to fix it myself.

    Could you point me to some manuals or good tutorials for fixing a sewing machine? My current problem is that my needle keeps jamming in the bobbin carriage.

    Thanks for your help!

    Comment by Kate — April 19, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

    • Hi Kate,
      It sounds like you are describing a timing problem. This means that the hook and needle are out of sync. Unfortunately, fixing it is a job for a professional. I tried to figure it out once, even with repair manuals, and it’s virtually impossible (plus there’s a distinct possibility of damaging the machine further). You might try and switch repair shops if you’re not getting good results, but also, some machines simply wear out and may not be worth the repair costs…Good luck.

      Comment by Jen — June 4, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

  16. This is extremely late, but it might help someone:
    according to what I read, some needles are shorter between the eye and the actual point,
    and if the machine requires the short tip needle, using the normal long-tip needle will
    cause the point to jam in the bobbin carriage.

    Comment by =Tamar — June 12, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

  17. Well I could just cry. I want one of those, but just can’t afford it at all feeding our 3 kids. I also want the faggoter ):

    Comment by Page — October 23, 2009 @ 10:11 pm

  18. Oh, I am looking for one of those old Singer embroidery attachments, a very lucky find there! I hope I find one took, and not too expensive 🙂

    Comment by silverarrow — January 1, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  19. I’m glad I’m not the only one with problems making buttonholes with an auto buttonmaker. I have a Brothers PC6000 and find that at the end of a pretty nicely turned out project, the buttonholer jams up and ruins the whole garment. It’s hit or miss, and I’ve tried stablizers, under in between and over, lessening tension, changing needles, thread, etc. I’ve always thought it must be me, but I see I’m not alone. What’s more I have not found a good source of information to correct the problem. Would appreciate any help from manufacturers or repairmen who know why the machines jam in the middle of a cycle.

    Comment by Pixxie — May 14, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

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