Using A Vintage Sewing Machine: The Pinking Attachment
Probably the oddest looking attachment I have--the Singer Pinking Attachment.
I couldn't find any information about this attachment anywhere. I searched Ebay for a few days to see if any came up for sale. A few showed up but the prices people wanted was outrageously high. The more common pinking attachment from Singer was the one that clamped to the side of a table and had a handle to turn. This particular one I have hooks to the sewing machine itself. I believe it was my grandmother's and, therefore, would have been with her 15-91 from the 1930's. Also the copyright dates on the tiny manual are 1933-1935.
Someone had definitely used my attachment in the past. I had to clean old lint out from around the cutting wheel. A lot of it seemed to be red velvet.
The manual says to oil it but doesn't show the oiling points. Basically, if it moves, oil it. Just a drop. (The following picture is not an oiling diagram, but it is a good clear view of some of the moving parts.)
The gears are on one side. The movement of the needle bar and clamp move these which will move the blade on the other side.
On the front of the attachment is an adjustable guide for lining the edge of your fabric up against.
The Pinking Attachment can be use on any lockstitch sewing machine except the Singer 66-1 and 66-3.
First remove the thread and bobbin thread from the machine since it's not needed. You can take the needle out or leave it --your choice. I left mine. To put the Pinking Attachment on the machine take the presser foot and thumb screw off the machine.
Make sure the presser bar is at its highest point and hook the fork arm onto the needle clamp. Hold the attachment so that the end of the presser bar touches down onto the bottom of the slot for it. While still holding it put the regular thumb screw into the presser bar and tighten. (I made a mistake here--I wasn't supposed to use the regular thumb screw but one that came with the attachment. It has a spring on it and is shown as C in the above diagram). It will be on the opposite side from normal. I had to angle the camera to try and show this.
Lower the presser bar and the Pinking Attachment is ready.
To use it, guide the fabric into it while pushing on the foot controller as if for sewing. The attachment does all the work. It both feeds the fabric in and cuts it.
The pinked fabric coming out:
I don't generally rave about pinked fabric but look at this next shot. Perfectly pinked! With minimual effort.
The only problem I encountered was that the screw on the presser bar wasn't enough to hold the attachment securely. I simply put my finger down on the attachment with my right hand and held it as it worked. Not a problem anymore.
The cutter wheel doesn't need sharpening (this one still worked). But if it wears down over time it can be adjusted to still cut. The manual says to do this loosen "the clamp screw (G in the diagram) and turn the eccentric spindle (H --and, Yes, it is called that!) to the right or left to bring the ball bearing roller in closer contact with the cutter. The pressure between the roller and cutter should not be heavier than necessary to make a clean cut. When the pressure is obtained, securely tighten the clamp screw."
The cutting wheel can be removed though. In fact, a straight cut blade was also sold that could go into this attachment. With it you could adjust the cutting guide and run straight or bias cut fabric through it to be cut into strips. Imagine how easy this would be if you had a lot of strips to cut! My attachment didn't come with this extra blade but I'm wondering if a rotary cutter blade might work in it --I plan on trying it.
Also if anyone who knows this attachment might have noticed, there is a wire piece that is not on my attachment in the photos. It's not important except when changing the blade. I happened to see it in one of the diagrams and remembered it was one of the miscellaneous things I have in a little box with my attachments --screws and things that I haven't identified. Once I saw the picture I got the wire and put it back in the attachment. It pays to hang on to the odds and ends; you eventually find out where they go.
I confess I always considered this an outdated attachment. It's been sitting on my shelf for over a year and I never used it until this week. I was completely wrong! I love this thing. I used to have trouble with my wrist to the point that I sometimes couldn't use a rotary cutter. And my pinking shears have become nearly impossible to open even after oiling. With the Pinking Attachment I sat back and let the machine do all the work. I wish this attachment were more available so everyone with an old machine could use one! It's so simple and yet there's nothing like it with today's sewing machines. Another reason why I love my old sewing machine.
Oops! I made a mistake in this tutorial. I checked this morning to see if it posted and noticed the thumb screw in the diagram is not the one I used to hook the attachment to the machine. I used the regular one but it needs the one with a spring in it. I have this one (again, in my miscellaneous parts box). I got it out and tried it with the attachment and it works even better! It's good to have all the right parts.
Note: I tried to find a rotary cutting blade to fit this and never did. They're either too big or too small.