| || Early Singer Buttonholer |
Sewing machine attachments, especially the really old ones, can be pretty strange looking.Bernina Darning Attachment
Some look like instruments of torture while others look like dental appliances.
(Come to think of it, aren't dental appliances and instruments of torture the same thing?)
For example, the early Singer buttonholer...have you ever really looked at it?
I've had nightmares about getting my hair caught in that thing...
Then there's the darning hoop. Bernina made one that looks like a really painful retainer. Singer's version is pretty scary too.
One of the strangest looking contraptions is the zigzagger. It looks like the product of a lab experiment involving spiders and robots.
Zigzagger with 221 Featherweight
Either way, it's a strange looking device but a brilliant invention.
And it's a "must-have" for a Featherweight or 15-91 straight-stitch machine.
So how does it work?
On a zigzag sewing machine the needle moves side-to-side to produce the zigzag stitch. Obviously a straight stitch machine can't do that, so that's where the zigzagger attachment comes in.
The zigzagger moves the fabric side to side to produce the offset stitches. Early zigzaggers produced a simple zigzag stitch, but later evolved into the Automatic Zigzagger which used interchangeable cams to produce a wide array of decorative stitch patterns. (Visit our Singer Accessories Gallery for more photos.)
The Automatic Zigzagger attaches to the presser foot bar and needle bar similar to a buttonholer. The cams are top-loading, which allows you to change stitches without removing it from the machine.
Sewing with a zigzagger can be a little tricky because the fabric has to move side to side, which makes sewing in a straight line difficult. A little practice (or a lot) goes a long way. It does get easier!
By the late 1950's zigzag machines were sounding the death-knell for the straight-stitch sewing machine, but Singer continued manufacturing straight-stitch machines and zigzag attachments well into the 1960's.
So are you ready to zigzag on your straight stitch machine?
Zigzaggers still show up in thrift stores from time to time but may need a good cleaning and lubricating. They're also readily available on eBay but can get pricey. They come in vertical-needle and slant-needle variations, so be sure to get the right one for your machine.
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OldSewinGear is the collaborative effort of retired repairman Gary and daughter Barbara. We love old sewing gear and enjoy sharing what we've learned in our vintage sewing machine adventures. We are located in Roseburg, Oregon.