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Sewing Machines?
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Dave Flanagan
(cbtrekker) - F

Locale: Gunnison Valley
Sewing Machines? on 09/28/2007 18:34:56 MDT Print View

Thinking of purchasing a sewing machine and want to find out if one brand or style of machine would be better for working on my gear. Any info would be great thankx.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Sewing Machines? on 09/28/2007 20:06:02 MDT Print View

Better much can you afford? New or used make any difference to you?

Basically all you need for outdoor gear is a machine that sews straight and zigzag. Good needles, proper tension and quality thread will get you far! :-)

Honestly, I started on a $100 Singer and I still have that Singer 15 or more years later. Yes, I have a Pfaff now, but.....for personal sewing, a Singer from Walmart will work just fine.

Daniel Goldenberg
(DanG) - M
Re: Re: Sewing Machines? on 09/28/2007 21:46:51 MDT Print View

Hi Sarah,

I'm curious what model Pfaff you have and how do you like it, especially for silnylon? Does it have a vertical bobin with adjustable tension?

My Wife has a cheap Sears Kenmore which I've attempted to do some sewing on and my efforts with silnylon have been an absolute disaster! It has a drop in horizontal bobin where you can't adjust the lower tension and I think that's part of the problem.

I'm thinking about getting my wife a new sewing machine, (HA HA), and looked at some basic Pfaff machines, I think from their hobby line, and noticed many have the drop in non adjustable bobbins. Just wondering if your's is like this and how it works, especially with Silnylon.


Sam .
(samurai) - F

Locale: NEPA
Re: Sewing Machines? on 09/28/2007 21:54:54 MDT Print View

I'd second the recommendation for the Pfaff if you can swing it. They are fine machines. Mine has a walking foot, so it's pretty much designed for this type of sewing. I bought it for kite making about ten years ago. I love it!

I remember I had to take a class to activate my warranty ;-) So here I was, big lug of a guy, showing the ladies what a French double felled seam was. It was great fun! The purpose of the class was teaching you to clean and maintain the machine. Makes sense.

Edited because I went and got the book out of the machine. Mine's a Varimatic 6091 and sews light nylons very well. And, the walking foot is actually called Pfaff Dual Feed.

Edited by samurai on 09/28/2007 22:08:10 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Ok, I love my Pfaff on 09/29/2007 07:51:55 MDT Print View

I won't lie, it is a darn good machine. I bought this Pfaff about 3 months ago or so. And yes, the model I have has IDT, Integrated Dual Feed, which helps the fabric go smoothly and works very well. My model is the Classic Style Fashion 2023. It is considered a somewhat entry level machine for other words, it has everything one needs in a quality machine and nothing more. The higher priced ones were for those who quilt (offering more doo-hickies) and I didn't need that.

The bobins on all Pfaff's are front loaders (so the real way, not a drop in under the needle).

They actually recommended the model I got for light production work. I went to Jo Ann's and for $4 or so picked up an adapter for using cone thread. It works great! I have a serger so had tons of cones lying around. I go through a ton of thread weekly.

I'll say this: if you are going to sew only a couple items, a cheapie Singer with a velvet roller foot will work...but, if you want to do tarps, packs, etc....spend the money if you can. You can get trade ins at many shops on the cheap.

Also, watch sales! I got my Pfaff for half price! It was the Xmas in July sale they have. On top of that, they threw in free needles, bobbins and there was also a gas card deal going on. In the end I did drop nearly $1K at the shop on stuff, but I got a great deal (and the business paid for it!).

So yes, Pfaff's are worth every penny if you can justify it, and get one with IDT. Your wives, if they sew, would love the Clasic Style Fashion 2023!

Edited by sarbar on 09/29/2007 07:54:00 MDT.

J Her
(sailfast3r) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Sewing Machine on 09/29/2007 13:17:54 MDT Print View

Craigslist is your friend. I just picked up a used Singer Genie that is from the 70's for $20 with bobbins, needles, carry case, manual, etc... everything I need to get into making my own gear. I also procured some wal-mart bargin bin sil-nylon to jump feet first in to making my own gear.

You do not need to spend $$$$ on a fancy machine. One that can straight stitch, zig/zag, and maybe a button hole feature (mine does not have) would be nice. It doesn't have to be expensive to get started in making your own gear. This little wonder will be just perfect for what I intend to make.

E-bay prices are crazy high (shipping is a pain too beacuse of weight) but check out your local Craigslist or pawn shops. I saw a couple at pawn shops, but they would not let me sew on it before I bought and they were less likely to negotiate for a better price.

Good luck and post write-ups about what you make. My first projects are a few stuff sacks, then a tarp and maybe a backpack. I need to pratice lots and relearn the art of sewing first.

Edited by sailfast3r on 09/29/2007 13:24:51 MDT.

J Her
(sailfast3r) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
machines on 09/29/2007 13:23:48 MDT Print View

Some good brands of sewing machines

Singer (from basic to crazy)
Brother (good simple basic starter machines to really heavy duty machines too)
Kenmore (most are pretty decent)
Viking/Husqvarna (expensive and excellent machines)

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Sewing Machines? on 09/29/2007 17:28:24 MDT Print View


I caught the bug about a year ago, but was afraid to invest too much because I have no prior experience and didn't know if I would keep it up or get discouraged on my first stuff sack.

I went to Walmart and bought the cheapest Brother they had, about $80. It's a Brother LS-2125i

My first project was a double quilt with a 3-D footbox using Climashield XP and momentum 0.9 oz nylon. It came out fantastic and I haven't quit sewing since!

It doesn't do fancy things, just straight, zig-zag and a couple of fancier stitches. It does button holes. The bobbin loads from the front (not horizontal) and you can adjust both upper and lower tensions. It doesn't give me any problems (except when I occasionally forget to put the foot down before sewing, oops).

I am really satisfied with this level of machine. In other words, for camping equipment, I don't long for something that this machine cannot do. The one thing that would give you trouble is multiple layers of extremely thick fabrics but, being lightweighters, we wouldn't go there anyway! :-)

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Sewing Machines? on 09/29/2007 18:43:55 MDT Print View

Pfaff, 1950's.
All metal, no plastic gears to break like modern cheapies.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Sewing Machines? on 09/30/2007 01:09:13 MDT Print View

I have a Swiss Elna - a bit more fancy that need or use, and maybe 20 years old. It's good for the lighter fabrics with a #60 needle, including silk and silnylon, but struggles with canvas.

I also have an *ancient* black Singer - straight stitch only. It will sew from silk to canvas and feed sacks, all equally well. Unreal, really! I use it for canvas for gaiters and packs with a #100 needle.

Funny story. Many years ago I went to the local Singer warehouse here in Sydney. They were actually still making some machines there - including the antique treadle-driven models. I was amazed that they were still making this obsolete design, and said so to the manager there. He astounded me by saying that Singer still make the treadle model in huge volumes - more than ever, for the African market! Huge export volume!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Those old machines.. on 09/30/2007 08:27:18 MDT Print View

I had an old treadle machine when I was a kid. Really wish my mom hadn't tossed it (it was a beauty!) at a garage sale.

When I was in college I followed the Grateful Dead. A number of ull time "vendors" had Singer treadle machines installed in the back of their VW buses. (Cabinet and all, bolted down). They could sew wherever the day took them. If they wanted, they could drive to the beach and throw open the doors and windows.

I really, really hated them...... :-D

In all honesty, the old Singer treadle machine is still a good machine. No power needed, simple design and it can handle anything. About one of the best things a person could use!

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
sewing machines on 09/30/2007 08:36:41 MDT Print View

The older Bernina 730, 830 and 930 Record models have more power, speed and clearance under foot than most of the home type machines. Check ebay- but they can go for a lot.

Joe Federici
(need2boat) - F

Locale: North East
BERNINA are great on 10/03/2007 11:59:02 MDT Print View

I would agree with Ron and add that the newer 153 is also a great unit. It has adjustable foot pressure that's the older units do not. This is great for thinner fabrics. If you look at some of the other units like the 800's or 900's realize that parts are very had to come by for those units. Bernina had a fire years ago and lost a lot of it's parts.

Rather then ebay I would go to the Bernina website and see if you have any deals in your area. Most take trade ins and sell them for sell then ebay. I bought a 153 a few months back for 600.00 and ebay sells them for over 1,200. also craigslist.

above all, don't kid yourself you get what you pay for.Many people will tell you to buy a K-mart 50.00 singer and you can't compaire it to even the oldest of Bernina's

good luck