Calculating Stitch Length on a Vintage Machine

Jim finished lubing the gears on the underside of my Singer 401 and put it back in the cabinet for me. This morning, I decided to get it set up for piecing… I still want to see how accurate my piecing is on it compared to my Bernina 740.

The first thing I did was to calculate my stitch length. I piece with a 1.60mm stitch length. To convert that to stitches per inch, (YES! I’m doing math!), there is 25.4mm in one linear inch, and you simply divide 25.4 by 1.60 to get a stitch length of 15.875, so I set my Singer 401 to a smidge about the 15 stitch per inch mark.

Next step was to duplicate everything. Aurifil 50wt thread on top, and Superior Threads Bottom Line in the bobbin, my standard piecing combination, and to swap out the stitch plate for a single hole stitch plate.

I don’t know how some quilters piece without a single hole stitch plate, I just can’t do it!

I have a quarter inch foot for my 401, several in fact, but none of them match the perfect seam allowance I get on my Bernina 740, so I resorted to a straight stitch foot and a seam guide.

I already know this is going to make my sewing less stable, with a narrower foot for control, but it’s the best solution I have to match my existing seam allowance, which I calculated simply by placing a patch I’d sewn on my Bernina under the needle and aligning the seam guide, then testing it.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten with it. Yesterday, I stitched up all the sashing blocks I’d cut fabric for, and then cut some more which I plan to work on today.

Block five for the Moda Blockheads 2020 came out today! It’s a paper-pieced block of the letters L-O-V-E. I’m a bit wishy washy on this weeks block again, but will probably go ahead and make it.

CJ Tinkle

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Gwynette in NW Arkansas

    I’m waiting until Friday to see the alternative blocks offered. I’m so glad you make most of your quilts red….love the red eye candy! I’m using my stash of French General for Blockheads. I’m thinking my quilting daughter would hope I’d forget that I have it. 😂

    1. tinksquared

      I thought alternative blocks were only being offered for the appliqué blocks? I love French General, my favorite designer!

  2. Gwynette in NW Arkansas

    A Quilting Life blog mentioned today alternative blocks on Friday, so I guess there are different block options on Friday. I’ll see if they offer something. There were several options last week for the appliqué, so maybe another one of those.

    1. tinksquared

      You’re right Gwynette, Figtree Quilts just posted a pieced alternative. I’ve also decided to hold off on the LOVE block. Not sure it looks right with my others.

Your feedback is always welcome! If you have a question, I will respond to it here.