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We have five mostly functional sewing machines:

Industrial style machines:

  • Single Needle Lock Stitch (Juki DDL 227)
  • Straight Stitch Walking Foot (Juki LU-563)
  • Five-thread Overlock Serger (Juki MO-2416)

Home-style machines:

  • Brother SE400 Combination Computerized Sewing and 4x4 Embroidery Machine
  • 130-Stitch Computerized Sewing and Quilting (Brother XR1355)

We also have these sewing amenities:

  • Giant ass table with cutting mat surface (50 inches x ? inches )
  • Irons and Ironing board
  • Big donation bins of extra thread and fabric you can use for projects
  • lots of odds and ends
  • 2 dress forms

- Full length mirror


  • Please DO NOT unthread the sewing machines unless you must. (e.g. to remove a spool of thread, simply cut it close to the spool so that the next person can simply tie a knot with the next thread and pull it all the way through to the needle). This is most important for the serger.
  • Needles, bobbins, and other parts are located in labeled drawers underneath the pegboard (PLEASE KEEP IT ORGANIZED). Also check the drawers attached to each sewing machine table.
    • The closest place to get parts is at Apparel City, on Howard between 11th & 12th.
    • Needles may differ between machines and come in sizes (10, 12, 14, 16, etc.). The higher numbers are heavier gauge needles suitable for thicker fabrics. Leather needles have a tiny blade at the tip. Don't use a leather needle for other fabrics, though, it will cut the threads rather than squeezing between them, leaving holes that may start rips.
    • Needles for the straight stitch machines must be inserted with the scarf facing right. Please check the respective manuals.
  • If you've never operated a sewing machine before, ask some people at Noisebridge (Kyle or Ely). Sewing machines are not self-explanatory and this page does assume a certain amount of prior general knowledge.
    • Read the manual and do some research online.
    • Printed manuals for the two Juki Machines and the Thompson are located in a grey binder on the bookshelf
  • Use scraps for testing to determine thread tension and sewing speed.
  • Recommended reading:

About sewing machine needles

Understanding thread tension

Sew heavy material

What is a thread wiper?

Difference between clutch and servo motors

Winding a Bobbin

  • Juki DDL-227 & Juki LU-563
    • To wind a bobbin, place the empty bobbin on the horizontal spindle to the right of the machine body (near the hand wheel). Run a second thread through the upper holder, down to the tensioner at the back of the right side of the machine, in line with the spindle. Thread the end through one of the holes in the bobbin side, from the inside to the outside. Press the lever to push the spindle down in contact with the sewing machine belt. While holding the thread end so it doesn't just whip out of the bobbin, press the pedal to run a couple of inches (if there were fabric in the machine). Soon enough you can let go of the thread end as it will have been caught by windings on top of it. If you are doing a lot of sewing, you can start a new bobbin before the current one is empty, and let it wind up as you sew. When the bobbin is full, the lever will automatically snap out away from the belt and stop winding thread.

Repairing a Sewing Machine

  • If a sewing machine is actually broken and non functional, as opposed to just you can't figure out how to make it work, please call Billy from Apparel City at 415-816-8645 (mobile) and schedule an appointment for him to come fix it.
    • He usually charges around $80 per hour, plus parts.
    • Email the list and people will chip in to cover this. If you can't manage this process, email the sewing list and find someone else who can. Also, please put a note on the machine so people know what is going on with it.

Sewing Machines

High Speed Lock stitch (Juki DDL 227)

These were originally written for our old DDL-5550-6 machine but the 227 is very similar.


  • General fabrics, light-weight materials and medium weight materials.
    • Not for leather or book binding. Please use the right tool for the job.
  • Clutch motor (fast!)
  • Recommended thread size of Tex-40 in the DDL

Manual for Juki DDL-227


Straight Stitch Walking Foot (Juki LU-563)

  • This is a high tension machine. You must press the knee lifter to pull thread through. This will release the tension.
    • Conversely, DO NOT run into the knee lifter at all while sewing. This will release the tension and your stitches will be too loose.
  • Pressing back or letting go of the pedal will engage the brake. Slightly depress the pedal to release the brake. You must do this to use the hand wheel


  • Medium weight and heavy weight materials, leather and vinyl
    • Not for light-weight materials!
  • Clutch Motor
    • This machine is VERY fast
  • Horizontal Bobbin
  • Recommended thread size Tex-70 in the walking foot

Manual for Juki LU-563


Five-thread Overlock Serger (Juki MO-2416)

  • Pulling fabric out of the machine may cause thread breaks. It is best to feed thread with the pedal when removing your workpiece.
  • DO NOT UNTHREAD THE SERGER. It takes about 30 minutes and a lot of patience to thread this machine. However, if you are an experience user of industrial sergers you will be able to thread this machine quickly. Using tweezers helps. Also, using the correct thread for the correct machine is essential. Good Luck and happy sewing.


This machine is not made for knits. It is made for wovens. It is a five spool. It has a clutch motor and this is the reason that it goes so very rapidly. The overlock sews to prevent fray. However, the machine make a chain stitch at the same time. For example, if you were to look inside of your jeans, you can observe these methods. A chain stitch and overlock. This type of machines is used for medium weight fabric.

  • This machine has a knife placed to cut the fabric as you sew, and it *is possible* to cut your finger badly on this knife if you are not careful. BE CAREFUL. This machine also can go extremely, sometimes startlingly, fast.

Manual for Juki MO-2416

Brother SE400 Embroidery Machine

This machine is awesome, and can do many different stitches as well as CNC embroidery. It's usually stored on the wall of the sewing area. It looks like a home sewing machine but is as expensive as an industrial one and is many people's favorite machine. Embroidery Machine

130-Stitch Computerized Sewing and Quilting (Brother XR1355)

  • This machine is stored away in one of the sewing area cubbies.


  • This machine does 130 different stitches including lots of cool decorative flowers and patterns. It is also the only machine that can do a zig-zag stitch.

Manual for Brother XR1355

Grand Reopening Poster