It’s definitely, probably, a sewing machine attachment, but what does it do? It sort of looks like it would fit on your sewing machine at home, but you’re not totally sure. And it looks like it might do something fancy and cool, but what? And does it do something that you would even use? Because you do NOT need more useless junk around (you’re channeling me here, I know, but just go with it).
The world needs a readable, well-illustrated, comprehensive encyclopedia of sewing machine attachments, past and present, and what they’re used for and what machines they belong to, and although The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook, by Charlene Phillips, isn’t exactly this definitive book that the world needs, it is pretty good, and it will help. Here’s what you need to know:
The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook is divided into several parts, some useful and some less so. For instance, “A Brief History of Attachments,” doesn’t offer that definitive identification guide that you users of antique sewing machines have been craving, but it is comprehensive enough to teach you how to identify, in general, what might work with your older machine. My vintage attachment in the photo above, for instance? That’s a Greist attachment, and The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook taught me that.
Other sections, such as “What to Look for in a Sewing Machine,” and “How to Set Up Your Sewing Machine,” are chapters best left to books that actually teach a person how to sew, but sections like “Determining Your Shank Type” are invaluable. With information like that, you can take a glance at any random attachment in any thrift store in the world and do a pretty good job determining whether or not it will fit your sewing machine.
There’s some more information in the book that is really useful for owners of antique machines, but the real meat of the book, and its real utility, comes in the long, long section on contemporary attachments. Phillips discusses around 30 sewing machine attachments, and for each one, she includes really good close-up photos, a description of exactly what the attachment does, and step-by-step instructions, also with photos, that show exactly how to use the attachment.
It’s brilliant, but also a little dangerous, because if you sew, I guarantee that you will find some fancy attachment in this book that does something better that you struggle to do by hand, and you will want to buy it. I sew quilts like crazy, and I now madly desire the Adjustable Tape-Stitching Presser Foot to perfectly stitch my binding. I’m also pretty darn sure that I need a Ruffler to help sew my daughter’s tutus, a hemmer set for skirts, an edge stitcher for finishing…
You get the idea. Dangerous, indeed.