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Sewing machine recommendation
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Madeline T
(madscot13) - F
Sewing machine recommendation on 02/28/2013 18:25:31 MST Print View

I have been trying to make a pack for some time. I am using thicker materials (400d fabric, webbing, WP zipper). I come to a problem with nests despite my meek trouble shooting. It is time for a new machine anyways and return this embroidery machine to its proper owner. I am not looking for trouble shooting help but sewing machine recommendations.

I have a lot of projects in mind using silnylon, neoprene, and other fabrics besides these tougher fabrics.

Does anyone have any sewing machine recommendations? I'd like to keep it around a few hundred. Help!

James Reilly
(zippymorocco) - M

Locale: Montana
Machine on 02/28/2013 18:37:32 MST Print View

I'm using a Pfaff 130 and love it. They are definetly in your price range. A lot folks here swear by the cheap china machines like Brother. I think if you do go the vintage route you need to make sure that it is all set up properly or be prepared to take it in for adjustment. I bought mine from a local shop and it has had zero problems and is incredibly fun to work on. The thing is a tank too.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
pfaff 130 on 02/28/2013 19:08:57 MST Print View

James, I just picked up a pfaff 130 ( i took a risk and found a decent deal on ebay) specifically for pack building with the understanding that I will probably spend another 50-80 getting it serviced.

Madeline, everything I've read and heard about the pfaff 130 says that it is one mean workhorse and one of the few affordable home machines with enough power to do heavy material sewing. It's a favorite among sailers for sail and boat upholstery repair. The general consensus is if it fit's under the pfaff 130's presser foot, it will sew through it.

Other people will know better than me (and there are far more experienced sewers on this board, I'd wait for them to chime in), but I don't really think you can get a home machine that will do both heavy duty work and wispy material work very well. If anything, it'll be mediocre at both. But I'm pretty sure silnylon is thicke enough to be fine w/ the pfaff.

For very wispy materials (7d, 10d) I love my singer 503a. The 500a and 503a are the best home machines singer ever built (their own words), and are the descendants of the equally good 401 and 403. For these wispy fabrics, If you get the right needles, thread, (e.g., Schmetz Microtex Needles 8/60 and mettler metrosene plus) and get a straight stitch needle throat plate (instead of the typical zig-zag plate with the larger opening), you should be all set.

My first machine was a cheap newer Brother machine I picked up new from amazon. It does okay, but even when new, it always sounded like it was going to implode any minute. It also could barely go through webbing. I'm looking to get rid of it, but it's the only free arm machine I have right now.

Edited by Konrad1013 on 02/28/2013 19:15:22 MST.

Madeline T
(madscot13) - F
appreciated on 02/28/2013 19:53:25 MST Print View

I will have to look around town for a pfaff 130 at one of the sewing machine shops. I am hesitant to just pick one up on ebay with only my basic knowledge of sewing machines. I'm afraid I will be hosed in the deal.

thanks for letting me know that I can't really find a do all machine. That is a bummer.

I have a brothers sewing/embroidery machine now. I can do silnylon sort of ok with it.

James Reilly
(zippymorocco) - M

Locale: Montana
Oldpfaffforum on 02/28/2013 20:00:55 MST Print View

Another resource when looking for an old pfaff is the yahoo old pfaff forum. I have found it to be a very useful group to be involved in. They might have some lwads or suggestions if asked.

Edited by zippymorocco on 02/28/2013 20:01:35 MST.

David Miles
(davidmiles) - F

Locale: Eastern Sierra
Re: Sewing machine recommendation on 03/02/2013 00:04:18 MST Print View

I have a PFAFF 1151 and it has been a rockstar at everything from silnylon to many layers of cordura and heavy webbing.
After helping others tune their tension for different fabrics, I appreciated how great my machine is.

Madeline T
(madscot13) - F
sew many machines on 03/04/2013 21:20:04 MST Print View

I appreciate the responses do much. I am looking into vintage pfaffs and singers. I though the Sailrite's looked fantastic but beyond my means and therefore beyond my needs. I am not sure which to choose on the Pfaffs and the Singers but I can find well working singers easily. the Pfaff on the other hand is more difficult.

I also like the Janome HD 3000. Knowing that I would like to stitch through some tough as well as easier materials this might be a good compromise. Has anyone tried this machine? I do like the idea of a machine that I know runs well without much fuss.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: sew many machines on 03/05/2013 08:00:43 MST Print View

I have a Janome Excel 4014 - I assume no longer made - I can do spreadsheets on it too (if you're allowed to do puns...)

It runs well without much fuss. I've made probably 8 tents, 6 packs, sveral insulated vests, 4 jackets,...

Jordo _99
(jordo_99) - MLife

Locale: Nebraska
Confirmation on the Singer 400 and 500 series machines on 03/05/2013 09:15:23 MST Print View

Konrad's got a lot of good information there but I just figured I'd pitch in and verify some of it:

Coincidentally, I'm using the exact same setup as Konrad for my lighter stuff (10D Nobul1 and 30D ripstop) via a Singer 403a (nearly identical to the 401, and 500 series) with the Schmetz Microtex Needles and Metrosene+ thread.

I also used the same machine for my tent, made from 30D Silnylon but for the reinforcements I used Guterman Mara thread and 200D oxford as it's stronger...both are still relatively lightweight compared to pack making.

Lastly, I've also made a couple sets of tree straps out of 2" wide, 1/4" thick polyester webbing. Sewing through 2 layers of that stuff really puts it to the test. It handled it relatively well, while only giving me problems twice, but I wouldn't use it exclusively for that.

I guess the point I'm getting at is that the 400 and 500 series of Singer machines can do just about everything reasonably well.

Madeline T
(madscot13) - F
I did it...bought a Pfaff130 on 03/05/2013 19:18:42 MST Print View

I have been looking for Pfaff's for some time. I could only find them online for about five hundred or so or locally for far more. I don't know if James or Konrad are lucky are something but after you guys posted again about the Pfaff130 a craigslist add popped up for $100. I ran over made sure it put down stitches and bought it. It looked like it was in great condition and had a Pfaff metal tin full of accessories.

I understand it is going to require some work to get it spinning one hundred percent but at least I know it runs and has it's necessary parts.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Re: I did it...bought a Pfaff130 on 03/06/2013 02:41:09 MST Print View

Nice! I tried for the past couple of months scouring craiglist daily to no avail. All the good deals ($120-$150) required me to drive 3+ hours each way and given gas prices, it didn't make sense. I ended up with off ebay for $110 shipped, but from what I can see, it needs about $30 of replacement parts before I can start using it. Looks like you got a great deal considering that you're ready to rock and roll for the most part.

Let us know how your sewing goes!