Fortunately we had the same idea! We've already lined up a few upholstery side jobs that will come close to recouping the cost of the machine (my relationship with the upholstery shop that recommended the supplier has helped with this).
I should have mentioned the fact that we had upholstery jobs in mind when purchasing the machine. Add that to friends and a family of sewers/upholsterers/cutters/'transitional' ultralighters around me, the machine will be getting plenty of use with the heavier materials. Again, (I keep using the word transitional) transitional backpacks are what I'm intending on moving forward with. The requests I'm getting are not for sub 1 lb. packs, but packs that aid in the difficult to manage balance between going lighter/farther/faster and remaining comfortable.
I did sit down with the technician and run through many combinations. Obviously it had no problem with multiple layers of foam, xpac, and webbing all at once, whatever you could shove under there. Oh man, nothing like a good power tool. The thinnest material we tested was the ripstop nylon from JoannFabrics I had been trying to just get rid of. With minor adjustment, and minor tension on the material, the machine was not tooo over powering, but not ideal in any respect. Understandably, this fabric is no silnylon, but I had to ask. . . So I'll stay away from the thin stuff with this baby.
@John Nausieda I will certainly get an opinion over on Ray Jardine's site. Good idea.
"But I've never bought the machine that would cause me to use it every single day to justify the cost."
Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, and you're experience is your own, but I'd say that's a bit of an exaggeration. Personally owning two welders and a grizzly cabinet saw each well over the 1K range, by no means did it take everyday use to recoup those costs, not even close.
What type of woodworking do you do? Just curious. I was a scenic carpenter/welder for years, and now do mount-work for museums, galleries, primarily the Smithsonian galleries in DC, seismic isolators, the whole she-bang. If you're at all interested, here is some of my most recent work (a current exhibit with my work): http://tinyurl.com/buddhistcaves . They will be touring the country, stopping in San Diego, so they had to be built earthquake proof. Haha...right; the mount-making industry does its best, but mother nature knows no bounds. (Pretty proud of the work in case you couldn't tell haha).
Anyways, All of that has surprisingly made the transition into sewing easier. This is a concept that I have tried to explain to many people with a befuddled look on their face. So much of the two disciplines (welding/sewing) consists of more preparation time than working time (80/20 usually I find). All of the work is performed at a very defined fine point of the machines. Depending on the materials you are joining/the materials you are using to join those materials (thread/filler metals), the machines have to be adjusted, often finely. But on a most basic level, both machines put raw material together in a way that finds the balance between structural integrity and aesthetics.
Maybe that should have been a new thread...
I will say that treating myself to this sewing machine has put some pressure on me to make the best of it.
This place also keeps multiple densities and thicknesses of closed cell foam/every webbing you could imagine in stock.
So what have I learned:
1) This machine, with proper care will last.
2) Stay away from silnylon, stick with the heavier stuff
3) I can handle the price I've paid
4) No question, pickup a proper tape binder
5) Ladies love upholstery projects
5) Personal note: Stay on topic!
Thank you all for your input. I'll be sure to post photos of what I produce.