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Suggestions for a Sewing Machine?
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Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Locale: www.jolly-green-giant.blogspot.com
Suggestions for a Sewing Machine? on 01/21/2009 12:15:36 MST Print View

Against my better judgment and principally due to the fact that I'm tired of things not fitting me, I'm considering the purchase of a sewing machine to make my own gear.

My mother in-law is a home economics teacher and suggested the Singer brand because I likely only need basic stuff and commercial grade would be overkill.

When I contacted Singer and told them of my plans and what I wanted to make, they literally listed all but two of their machines as capable. Let's just say I wasn't dazzled with their customer service.

So, I turn to you BPL community, which inexpensive but reliable sewing machine should I buy which is capable of sewing packs, tarps, sleeping bags, and clothing which a complete novice won't screw up?

Thanks.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Machine on 01/21/2009 12:25:35 MST Print View

I had an old sewing machine repairman sell me an old but well-kept Pfaff 130. Cast iron, and weighs a ton. I think it is the greatest machine of all time, and it cost me $75. I've sewed up to 7 layers of Sunbrella canvas with it, pool covers, packs, and sleeping bags. Take your time, you'll be able to find a deal.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Suggestions for a Sewing Machine? on 01/21/2009 13:41:09 MST Print View

I have an old old Singer 201. Straight stitch only. It sews, and sews, and sews.

I have an old mechanical Elna. It sews and sews. It can do some basic zigzags etc.

My daughter has a modern electronic Elna. It stopped working. The electronic timing/sensing part had thrown a wobbly. I managed to fix it, with some alfoil and sticky tape. We live in hope it keeps working.

So if you can find an old machine at a low price with only basic functions, but still with good bearings on the needle shaft, I say buy it.

Certainly, you do NOT need any of the modern fancy electronic things. I an willing to bet >95% of modern machines spend >95% of their time doing straight stitch and basic zigzag. The rest is creeping featuritis.

Cheers

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Which of Roger's 2 sewing machines does he prefer to recommend? on 01/21/2009 14:55:46 MST Print View

Roger what do you recommend of the two, your Singer 201 or the mechanical Elna? What is the model of your Elna?

Thanks!

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Suggestions for a Sewing Machine? on 01/21/2009 15:04:24 MST Print View

Ditto what Roger says.

Most folks can get way with a
just a straight stitch model as long as it has a reverse.
Zigzag is nice, but is one more thing to go out of adjustment.

The sturdier machines have metal gears and such inside, hence
the old timers will hold up better than many of the new ones which use a lot of plastic.

Look inside and see what things are made of.


Try and find a roller foot for it too.

Edited by oware on 01/21/2009 15:06:43 MST.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Locale: www.jolly-green-giant.blogspot.com
Re: Re: Suggestions for a Sewing Machine? on 01/21/2009 15:16:34 MST Print View

Should I be looking for a particular manufactured date range (i.e. nothing earlier than 1970 and nothing plastic, etc.). I've seen a lot of metal machines around, some are what I would consider pretty old and I'm not sure if there is a benefit to finding a metal one within a particular date range.

Tim Marshall
(MarshLaw303) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Re: Re: Suggestions for a Sewing Machine? on 01/21/2009 16:27:10 MST Print View

I use a Husqvarna Viking Emerald 116. I have used this model on all the projects i've done for BPL members, and for the pack i made you. It's in the $300 price range. I love it compared to previous machines i've used and owned. It is in no way a commercial machine. It is made for hobbyists and for all my needs it is perfect. I like the power of the motor vs. any other home machine i've used. It is low end of the Viking line but has worked great for me.

-Tim

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Re: Re: Re: Suggestions for a Sewing Machine? on 01/21/2009 16:37:18 MST Print View

Tim, would you say this review of your sewing machine is "spot on"? Any comments to add?

http://www.qwowi.com/2008/06/lead-story/the-emerald-116-sewing-machine-by-husqvarna-viking

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Which of Roger's 2 sewing machines does he prefer to recommend? on 01/21/2009 17:36:25 MST Print View

Hi Roleigh

I am not going to recommend one or the other, because I use them for different things. I sew most of my packs on the Singer because it has the guts to handle several layers of webbing and pack-cloth with ease; the Elna cannot do this.

To be fair to the Elna, I don't think it was designed to handle heavy sewing, but the Singer was. Sewing burlap was in its specs. So I sew my silnylon tents with the Elna.

The Elna is a TSP, but that is just because it is what was being sold in the late 70s when I bought it. Prior to that I had a cheap no-name Asian machine. It may have been cheap, but the engineering was excellent! The main shaft just floated gently. Probably Taiwanese: they can engineer.

My own quite biased opinion is that the vendors of the modern sewing machines have resorted to rampaging featuritus in order to try to persuade the customer to pay ever more $$ for something they really do not need (and probably cannot use either). But that has made the modern machines way too complex, with too many failure possibilities. (And this from an advanced techno-freak!)

I agree with the OP who mentioned simple engineering with solid metal gears and a metal body.

When I had a 58 VW Beetle I could rebuild the gearbox and the ignition systems myself. And did. Can you do this with a modern car? Mumble!

Cheers

Tim Marshall
(MarshLaw303) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Suggestions for a Sewing Machine? on 01/21/2009 18:45:42 MST Print View

Roleigh,

i would agree with her review. I don't use the thread cutter either! No big deal as i always trim close to the seam so scissors are my weapon of choice.

-Tim

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Machine on 01/21/2009 19:13:17 MST Print View

Mine was built in 1952. I wouldn't worry about the year.

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Used Sewing Machines on 01/21/2009 19:30:28 MST Print View

Just a suggestion...call a local sewing machine repair shop. The shops around here usually sell used machines and can steer you to a good choice, especially since you're not looking for the latest/greatest electronic wizardry in a machine.

Edited by Beep on 01/21/2009 19:31:18 MST.