From Noisebridge
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Noisebridge | About | Visit | 272 | Manual | Contact | Guilds | Resources | Events | Projects | 5MoF | Meetings | Donate | (Edit)
Guilds | Meta | Code | Electronics | Fabrication | Games | Sewing | Music | AI | Neuro | Philosophy | Funding | Art | Security | Ham | Brew | (Edit)
Fabrication | Sewing | 3D Printing | Wood Shop | Metal Shop | SparkleForge | Laser Cutter | Vinyl Cutter | (Edit)
Sewing | Sewing Project Night | Training | Vinyl cutter | Embroidery Machine | Knitting Machine | Sewing Merit Badge | Button maker | (Edit)
You are in the Sewing Studio of Noisebridge upstairs.

You see sewing machines, fabric, a large cutting table, sewing tools, and knitting machines.

EXITS: Upstairs

> Blinkingcursor.gif

Noisebridge's sewing guild hosts sewing events and maintains three industrial sewing machines, a variety of domestic sewing machines, and knitting machines.

RECRUITING! Maintainer volunteers wanted, consider volunteering to become a maintainer. (Edit)

PHOTOGRAPHY WANTED: We need some updated photos of this. Does anyone have or want to take some photos they can Upload? | Category | Edit

The 2169 sewing station. The 272 version is upstairs.
Craft hacking

EVENTS[edit | edit source]

  • Sewing Project Night
  • Open Project Night, an unstructured event in which participants brought their own projects for repair and alterations help, advice on techniques, materials, and machines, starting a new project with materials at the space, and just having fun sewing with fellow makers
  • Sew With Knits, in which we went over how to operate the industrial serger, how to operate the domestic coverstitch, overview of domestic sewing machine stitch types appropriate for stretch knit material, and advice on participants' projects

Past Events[edit | edit source]

  • In early 2019, we had a “Sewing Machine Fix-a-Thon” in which we serviced some of our sewing machines and determined what parts needed to be ordered.


We have home machines and industrial machines, and the home machines are all, to varying degrees, much more breakable. They're consumer products, often designed and built with a modern “what is this ‘repair’ of which you speak?” mindset, not built to withstand abuse or rough handling.

To that end, here are some strong guidelines for how to Be Excellent and use the home sewing machines in ways that don't break them:

  1. First, always be gentle. Treat the machine like a puppy. It will bite you, die, or incur a huge bill if you damage it.
  2. Do not pull fabric through the machine. Let the feed dogs do the work, or drop them if you want to free-sew or embroider. Pulling work through the machine is a good way to bend or break the needle, damage the bobbin and/or bobbin case and/or shuttle, pull the shuttle out of phase, or otherwise damage something. You're lucky if it's the needle or bobbin; those are replaceable. Anything else takes the machine out of commission.
    • If fabric isn't feeding properly, you may need to adjust the presser foot pressure. See point #4.
  3. Always turn the handwheel the correct direction On most of our machines, this is towards you. If you can't remember, press lightly on the pedal and you'll be able to feel which way the handwheel wants to turn. Turning the handwheel the wrong way won't necessarily break the machine, but it can mess up your stitch, break your thread, or cause a snarl that can break the needle.
  4. Change the machine's configuration as you need, but put it back when you're done. Every machine should have a standard presser foot and a “universal” needle (size 90/14) loaded when not in use. It should be on the default settings for presser foot pressure and tension. Anyone who needs something different should make whatever changes they need, and change them back before they put the machine away/leave.
  5. Put the machine away when you're done/before leaving. The cutting table is not a machine storage rack.
  6. Keep the machine's parts with the machine. Some machines have a storage compartment on the front of the bed (the bottom portion of the machine where the bobbin is). The domestic machines have a kit for holding bobbins, feet, needles, spool caps, screwdrivers, and anything else necessary to using the machine. The pedal should be kept with the machine at all times, and should have a paper tag tied to it identifying which machine it belongs to. (Such tags are kept in a drawer in the sewing area.)
  7. Use the correct needle, and change the needle when needed. Always check which needle is loaded into the machine before you start sewing—make sure it's right for the type (woven vs. knit vs. solid) of fabric, the tightness of weave/knit, and the weight of the fabric.
    • Non-woven materials such as leather or vinyl require special “leather” needles, made to pierce solid objects. Knitted fabrics, including T-shirt fabric, require “ball point” needles, which are less likely to pierce/cut a yarn. Tight weaves such as microsuede may require “microtex” or “sharp” needles that can find their way between the yarns. Denim and heavy canvas may require “denim” (a.k.a. “jeans”) needles. Most normal woven fabrics will work with a “universal” needle.
    • If you're using the right kind of needle but it isn't going through/is skipping stitches or is stitching irregularly or with difficulty, try a heavier diameter or (if woven) a denim needle. Most likely the needle is not able to cleanly penetrate the fabric. Continuing to sew in this state is a good way to permanently bend (i.e., ruin) or break the needle.
    • Needles wear out! They are a consumable. If you're pretty sure you have the right kind and diameter of needle, change it out for another like one. If that works better, safely dispose of the worn needle—don't put it back for some other sucker to try.
  8. Avoid computerized machines unless you really need them. Computerized machines are much more delicate than mechanical machines. The best reason to use a computerized machine is it's the one with embroidery features and you need that. Otherwise, take a mechanical one such as the Kenmore 385 if it's available—they hold up better.
  9. Use the correct type of bobbin for the machine you're using. Bobbins come in a variety of types, including Class 15, Class 15J, Class 66, and numerous oddballs. This page lists the correct type of bobbin for each machine, and the same information should soon be stickered onto all of our machines. Any machine, otherwise working, may fail to sew correctly (skipped stitches, shuttle snarls, etc.) with the wrong kind of bobbin in it.
  10. Do not use a damaged or broken bobbin. If it's cracked, chipped, or bent, don't use it. Transfer the thread (if any) to a new bobbin of the same type (or of the type for the machine you're going to use), then chuck the busted bobbin in the trash.

RESOURCES[edit | edit source]

Sewing Machines[edit | edit source]

Industrial Sewing Machines[edit | edit source]

Domestic Sewing Machines[edit | edit source]

Other Amenities[edit | edit source]

  • Large table with cutting mat surface (50 inches x ? inches )
  • Irons and Ironing board
  • Sewing/craft/fashion library
  • Domestic knitting machines
  • Buttons, buckles, zipper, grommets, etc
  • 1 dress form
  • Full length mirror

Before donating a machine to Noisebridge[edit | edit source]

Please reach out to a maintainer. We're looking to simplify our fleet. At the very least, this will mean getting rid of home machines that don't meet certain criteria (Class 15 bobbins, drop-in bobbin case, works, etc.). We may go further than that and standardize on one model, but that's TBD.

The Community Thrift Store on Valencia would also probably love to have it.

Sewing Machine Usage Tips[edit | edit source]

  • 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.
  • Domestic and industrial machines use different needles, bobbins, and feet, so check to make sure you are using the right kind. The industrial machines each have a kit hanging on the pegboard behind them. Domestic machine supplies are either in a kit on the table, or are located in labeled drawers on the white cabinet (PLEASE KEEP IT ORGANIZED).
    • The closest place to get domestic machine parts and supplies is Fabric Outlet on Mission between 17th & 18th st. Industrial machine parts are only available by mail order (if you know anyone local please let us know)
    • Needles may differ between machines and come in sizes (10, 11, 12, 14, 16, etc.). The higher numbers are heavier gauge needles suitable for thicker fabrics.
    • Needles also come in different types, including (this is an abridged list; look to other sites for more complete lists):
      • Jersey: Has a ball point, for knitted fabrics (including T-shirt fabric).
      • “Universal”: Moderately sharp, for most woven fabrics. Denim needles are the same but more rigid, for tighter weaves of thick yarns (like denim or canvas).
      • Microtex needles are the sharpest, for tight weaves of thin yarns, like microsuede or nylon.
      • Leather needles have a tiny blade at the tip, for cutting holes in leather and vinyl. Don't use a leather needle for woven or knitted fabrics: The blade will cut the threads rather than squeezing between them, leaving holes that may start rips.
    • Needles for the industrial straight stitch and walking foot machines must be inserted with the scarf facing right. Please check the respective manuals.
  • If you've never operated a sewing machine before please attend a Sewing 101, which happens every 2nd friday, before you use our machines on your own. The class fills up and has a waitlist, so we ask that you only come if you've secured a spot on Meetup. Sewing machines are delicate creatures and we want to minimize the amount of breakage.
    • Read the manual! You'll probably learn something even if you've been sewing for a long time.
    • Printed manuals for each industrial machine are in the gray binder on the bookshelf. We don't have manuals printed for all the domestics, but a Google search should bring them up.
  • Use scraps for testing to determine thread tension and sewing speed.

Recommended reading[edit | edit source]

About sewing machine needles

Understanding thread tension

Sew heavy material

What is a thread wiper?

Difference between clutch and servo motors

Winding a Bobbin[edit | edit source]

Juki DDL-227 & Juki LU-563[edit | edit source]

  • 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.

Most home sewing machines[edit | edit source]

The bobbin winder is usually on the top of the machine near the right corner (right being the side with the handwheel). It should look like a short spindle that can't be removed and sticks up about half an inch (the thickness of a bobbin) from a flat round surface.

Place a bobbin on the spindle, then:

  • On some machines, the handwheel can be pulled out to switch from sewing to bobbin-winding. (Push it back in when you're done winding bobbins.)
  • On the big Singer machine, the handwheel has a part that flips up to engage the bobbin-winder.
  • On the Brother machines, the bobbin spindle can be slid between the left (sewing) and right (winding). In the latter position, a brake slightly intersects the bobbin and will stop it from getting over-wound.

Once the machine is in winding mode and is powered on, press the pedal slightly and make sure thread is going onto the bobbin properly. Once it's winding properly, floor the pedal until the bobbin is fully wound (some machines will stop the bobbin automatically; others may require you to pay attention).

Remember to switch the machine back to sewing mode when you're done winding bobbins!!!

Repairing a Sewing Machine[edit | edit source]

Before declaring a machine broken, try the steps on Sewing/Troubleshooting first.

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[edit | edit source]

130-Stitch Computerized Sewing and Quilting (Brother XR1355)[edit | edit source]

Works as of 2021-12-28

This machine is on the home sewing machine table (Table 3).

Overview[edit | edit source]

  • This machine does 130 different stitches including lots of cool decorative flowers and patterns.
  • Bobbin: Clear plastic, class 15 (Brother SA156). Please use bobbins in Table 3 toolbox.

Manual for Brother XR1355[edit | edit source]

Singer Simple 3229 sewing machine[edit | edit source]

Works as of 7-17-2021

  • Manual: pdf
  • Bobbin: Class 15. Use bobbins in the toolbox on Table 3.

Specialty Machines[edit | edit source]

Brother Coverstitch Serger[edit | edit source]

Works as of 2022-02-15 This machine is on Table 4. This machine is useful to alter and finish clothes (hems).

Overview[edit | edit source]

  • intro ([1])
  • narrow cover stitches (no tri-cover stitch as the third needle was broken in the head of the machine.
  • should work for a variety of fabrics

Manual[edit | edit source]


Leather Stitching Machine[edit | edit source]

Knitting Machine[edit | edit source]

We have a Raynen CHJX-1-52 52-inch flat knitting machine.

Manual Snap Setting Tools[edit | edit source]

We have hand presses but no dies for them.

There are a few misc. hand-setting tools in the grommets box

Scissors[edit | edit source]

The sewing station includes a variety of scissors, including straight scissors/shears, a pair of pinking shears, and a couple other specialty scissors.

DO NOT USE FABRIC SCISSORS FOR ANYTHING THAT ISN'T FABRIC. Paper and other non-fabric things will rapidly dull blades to the point where we need to sharpen them again to use them on fabric.

There are some “paper only” (i.e., pre-ruined) scissors on the tools wall since we know people will look in the sewing section for scissors. There are also some “fabric only” (i.e., not yet ruined) scissors that should only ever be used for fabric.

Also related: There is a sharpening stone on the tools wall in the sewing station.

Thread snips[edit | edit source]

Thread snips are the small scissor-like tools used for cutting the thread sticking out of a work so you can remove the work from the machine.

Thread snips shouldn't be used to cut fabric—use the fabric shears (scissors) or rotary cutters for that. Neither should they be used on non-fabric things like paper or tape.

There are three pairs of thread snips hanging from the tools wall in the sewing section.

Rotary cutters[edit | edit source]

These look similar to pizza cutters but are NOT FOR FOOD USE (both because it trashes the blade and because the blades are not food-safe: new blades are coated in machine oil).

All of our rotary cutters are 45mm, except for one, which is 60mm but has no blade. It's unclear whether we'll keep that one, since we would need to keep 60mm blades in stock and that would mean figuring out where to keep them and what to use them for.

How to use[edit | edit source]

Each rotary cutter has a cutting (blade extended) position and a safe (blade retracted) position. The Olfa ergonomic cutters will also spring back to retracted automatically, and can't be extended unless the safety button is pushed to the unlocked side.

Rotary cutters should be used on a cutting mat such as the one on the main sewing station table. Usually you want a straight cut, so you should use an acrylic ruler to guide the blade.

Rotary cutters are EXTREMELY sharp, so be careful. Please keep the cutter blade-side-up so it's less likely to come into accidental contact with the table or anything on it—if you can see the blade, you can avoid contact with it.

Safety tips[edit | edit source]

  • Follow an acrylic ruler.
  • Keep your body (including fingers) out of the path of the blade.
  • Only use a sharp blade. Don't use a rotary cutter with a dull or trashed blade. Change out the blade if you have to.
  • Don't force it to cut if it's not cutting.

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

Rotary cutters are mostly pretty foolproof. As long as you don't cut yourself, your ruler, wood, another rotary cutter, a 1973 Oldsmobile, or anything else that isn't fabric, the blade should enjoy a good, long life.

But, every blade wears down eventually. Blade sharpeners exist, but we don't currently have one, and a sharpener can't save a chipped or bent blade.

If a blade can't be sharpened, there are new 45mm blades in the storage drawers along the wall.

Changing the blade[edit | edit source]

Different rotary cutters have different parts, but they all have these four, in this order:

  • Hub/screw
  • Rotary cutter body
  • Blade
  • Nut

You should try to keep all of the parts (including those not listed—some cutters do have some bonus parts) in the correct order. If you get the order wrong, the blade might not spin freely or it might be too far from the cutter body. If that's the case, no biggie, just disassemble and try again.

No tools are needed.

  1. Remove the nut by hand, keeping your thumb on the hub/screw on the other side.
  2. Gently turn the cutter over and let the blade fall out onto your fingers, and any other parts onto the table.
  3. Sharpen or replace the blade.
  4. Put the blade onto the screw.
  5. Put the screw (with blade) into the cutter, and put all of the other parts, ending with the nut, onto the other side.

Parts Needed[edit | edit source]

Some of the parts (especially pedals and/or cords) for the sewing machines have, shall we say, installed a walking foot. Here's what we're currently missing:

HISTORY[edit | edit source]

  • 2008: Noisebridge began having sewing machines at 83c.
  • 2009: Rachel purchased industrial sewing machines from the sewing shop that formerly occupied Noisebridge's 2169 space with member donations and held its first Sewing Workshop at 2169.
  • 2015: Grand reopening event of the rebooted Sewing Station.
  • 2019: Sewing station moved over near the fire escape. Also, we did a Sewing Machine Fix-a-Thon and started holding training classes.

Grand Reopening Poster[edit | edit source]


Machines not currently available (location unknown or else)[edit | edit source]

Brother XR1355[edit | edit source]

Status: Location unknown as of 2023-04-20 130-Stitch Computerized Sewing and Quilting (Brother XR1355) Works as of 2021-12-28 This machine is on the home sewing machine table (Table 3). Overview This machine does 130 different stitches including lots of cool decorative flowers and patterns. Bobbin: Clear plastic, class 15 (Brother SA156). Please use bobbins in Table 3 toolbox.

Singer Ultralock 14U64A serger[edit | edit source]

Status: Broken as of 2023/02. Ready for discard Type: Domestic serger Year: probably 1990s Notes:dropped when being carried by handle. On/off switch broken, possible replacement part found, just needs to be wired on. side plastic casing broken, could possibly be repaired with plastic molding material. Part not necessary to functioning, but nice to have to protect machine from dust This is a four-thread overlock machine. It's evidently meant for knitted fabrics, as a silkscreened note on the upper-left of the front of the machine notes that it requires a Singer 2045 needle, which is a ball point. The thread guides above the machine are on a pole that telescopes out. Make sure to raise it before using the machine; it works better that way.

Brother Exedra E-40[edit | edit source]

We've gotten rid of this machine (when we moved the sewing station over to the fire escape) but we still have the digitized manual:

Kenmore Overlock 3/4D[edit | edit source]

Manual: In Manuals Collection, also

Brother SE400 Embroidery Machine[edit | edit source]

currently missing as of 2021-07-14 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.

Pfaff Creative 1471 sewing machine[edit | edit source]

Location unknown as of 2021-7-14 This machine has a bobbin case, so it requires a little bit more knowledge to change out the bobbin than newer machines that have a top drop-in bobbin.

Singer CG-590-C[edit | edit source]

Manual: In Manuals Collection

White YM-43-8[edit | edit source]

Manual: Unknown

Singer 621-B[edit | edit source]

Manual: Unknown

Singer Heavy Duty 4423 sewing machine[edit | edit source]

Broken as of 2019-11-04: Shuttle pops up out of bobbin race, resulting in failure to make stitches and internal pressure upon the bobbin race door. Has a top drop-in bobbin. Likely to become our workhorse, as the Heavy Duty is a sturdy mechanical machine. Has a one-step buttonhole feature with a plastic buttonhole foot. Tricky to use but handy if you know how. A knob on the top of the machine, near the slot where the take-up lever pops up, enables adjusting the presser foot pressure. Like top thread tension, this should generally not be messed with and should be put back after a job that does require adjusting it, but changing the presser foot pressure makes sense in certain circumstances:

  • For thick works such as three or more layers of denim (e.g., when hemming denim garments), reduce the presser foot pressure in order to be able to drive over the inseam and outseam.
  • For light works made of thin or sheer fabrics, or slippery fabrics, you may need to increase the pressure to ensure the feed dogs can properly feed (all layers of) the work.

Always put the presser foot pressure back how it was when you're done!!! Setting up future machine-users for difficulty/failure is un-excellent.

Singer 57817[edit | edit source]

Works as of 2020-01-06. Missing the reverse button, though. This machine can only do straight and zigzag stitches. No overcast or anything else.

Brother XL-2300i[edit | edit source]

Currently on the top of one of the sewing area shelves. Overview

Manual + quick set-up guide

Automatic Snap Setting Machines[edit | edit source]

In November 2020 we received a generous donation of two Automatic Snap Machines worth over $4000 from Craig Spring !

One pair (one female, one male) of fully automatic, electric powered, 20 line, snap setting machines. These are older model machines manufactured by the Ho Hung Ming company in Taiwan (

They have a US location at: Ho Hung Ming USA Enterprise, 13525 Alma Ave, Gardena, CA 90249, Phone: 3103274847.

One of the advantages of these older machines is that they are simple mechanical machines built to last. Like an old car, they are easier to repair than newer ones. In 22 years, he never needed to repair these machines. They still run like a beast.

As there exists no manual for these machines, Craig and DK gave a servicing and use demonstration on Nov 15, 2020 via Jitsi and X uploaded it to

Photos are at

Noisebridge | About | Visit | 272 | Manual | Contact | Guilds | Resources | Events | Projects | 5MoF | Meetings | Donate | (Edit)
Guilds | Meta | Code | Electronics | Fabrication | Games | Sewing | Music | AI | Neuro | Philosophy | Funding | Art | Security | Ham | Brew | (Edit)