[Andrew] is bringing his old mechanical sewing machine into the 21st century by adding an Arduino control module. Originally, his Alfa sewing machine could only do a straight stitch or a zig-zag of varying widths. Since this was an old sewing machine, all of the controls were knobs and levers. RC car servos were installed in the sewing machine and now are solely responsible for controlling, in real time, the horizontal movement of the needle and the amount of stroke of the feed dogs (the metal components responsible for advancing the fabric through the sewing machine). There is also a switch on the needle bar that feeds back to the Arduino when the needle is in the full-up position.
With full control of the stitch width and fabric advance, it is possible to come up with some awesome stitch patterns that were not possible on this machine before. Each of the stitch patterns are pre-programmed in the Arduino. Right now it is possible to control the sewing machine over the Arduino’s serial USB connection but the workflow for such an operation is in its infancy. [Andrew] plans on making this sewing machine fully automatic so that he can embroider letters and numbers.
Although the project is still a work in progress, [Andrew] has made his preliminary Arduino code available for folks who want to further his accomplishments. To continue reading about hacked sewing machines, check out this one converted to an embroidering machine.