Industrial sewing machines are built to cope with very heavy sewing and generally go forever with very little maintanence. These machines are built this way as they need to cope with very intense work usually on a production line.
Industrial sewing machines generally only do one thing for instance a straight stitch or binding to bind the edge of fabric. Some machines will only do a zigzag stitch and some machines only do a keyhole button hole and they will do this day after day, month in month out without a problem.
The domestic sewing machine will cope with lots of different stitches and perform them very well. If you purchase a good sewing machine and have the add-ons like different feet, i am sure you will be able to achieve the projects that you are wanting to create.
Personally i like Bernina sewing machines as they provide a really good quality stitch and have a large sellection of add-on accessories and feet. If you are working with leather for instance then you will need to purchase a leather needle and a leather foot. The diversity that a domestic sewing machine can give far outways that of an industrial sewing machine. If you are able to purchase an industrial sewing machine, you will be restricted to the amount of different stitches that it can produce. There are however different feet available for the industrial sewing machine and will perform the best of the best in terms of stitch quality.
Both types of machines have pros and cons, the indusrtrial is very robust with a very high stitch quality and the domestic machine has the variety of different stitches and accessories available. Which ever you choose i wish you the best of luck in all of your sewing projects.
What i would suggest is to have a look at the pre conditioned machines (second hand) as you will get a better machine for your money. Make sure you get a good guarentee with the machine, you may also get a few extra feet or attachments as well.
Personally i think that this is the way to go as a new machine for $200 is not so much money, what you need is good sturdy reliable sewing machine, also test some machines out and always go for the one that you feel most comfortable with.
It sounds like the needle has ceased into the clamp as it has not been changed for a while, this can happen with lack of use and the machine oil build up.
What i would do is remove everything you can around the needle, like the foot, stitch plate (where the feed dogs are) etc. The needle is already blunt or broken so dont worry about breaking it any further as you are going to replace the needle anyway.
Undo the small screw that is holding the needle in place and Spray with WD40 or GT85 (a lubricant for cycle chains or general lubricating of moving parts) into where the needle is clamped. Wipe way any eccess lubricant with a cloth and pull the needle out with a pair of pliers. Dont worry because you cannot break anything around the needle as you will only be pulling the needle with the pliers.
That should remove your machine needle. Before you put your new needle in clean the clamp around the needle and generally around the feed dogs and bobbin race. When you are ready make sure you insert the new needle the correct way in, one side of the needle shaft (scarf) is flat and the other side is rounded, this should match the clamp when inserted. It should insert very easy, make sure the needle sits all the way in and then tighten the clamp.
An overlocker or Serger is a great machine to have as a compliment to the sewing machine but it will never replace the sewing machine.
An overlocker will only perform a stitch that prevents the fabric from fraying and some overlockers will even do a coverstitch which is very usefull when finishing off the sleeves or hems of t-shirts. If you are creating trousers, shirts or generally garments that do not have a lining or only a half lining, then the overlocker is an invaluable asset to have along side the sewing machine.
Nearly all sewing machines nowadays will come with the function to perform a variety of overlocking stitches but these are essentially a glorified zigzag stitch. The sewing machine can only produce the stitch with the 2 thread combination as it always does with the top thread and the thread in the bobbin. The overlocker on the other hand will perform this stitch in a combination of a 3, 4 and 5 thread chain, of which the sewing machine could never produce. The overlocker will trim your threads as it sews in one operation with the use of a top blade and a bottom blade, very much like a pair of scissors. And again the feature that a standard sewing machine does not have. There is however an add-on that Bernina produce called a cut and sew foot which acts very much like an overlocker but the machine is still restricted to the 2 thread combination.
So my advice would be, if you are doing a lot of sewing and you are wanting to produce clothes to a professional standard like a pair of trousers of which can only be done with the help of an overlocker machine, then go for it. The overlocker is an excellent machine to have and you will not be dissapointed.
When buying an overlocker start by having a look at the make that your sewing machine is as you are obviously happy with the sewing machine that you are using now and having the same make would compliment each other very well. If this is not so much of an issue with you then i would test out various overlocking machines and purchase the one that you feel most comfortable with.
Invisible zippers can be tricky but the key is to let the fabric lay where it wants to lay.
You can also cut the Zipper down a bit so that it is a bit shorter, if you are going to cut it then i would do that from the bottom as the top needs the small extra part of fabric just before the coil starts to allow this to fit into the top neatly.
When i insert invisible zippers i use a combination of the standard zipper foot and the invisible zipper foot.
To insert the zipper: 1. Fuse 2 small strips of very lightweight interfacing onto the inside of the fabric where your zipper is going to go. Make sure that the strips are slightly longer than the zipper and about 2cm in width. 2. Pin your zipper in place and make sure there is no bulging. 3. Once this is sorted you can stitch the zipper in place with the standard zipper foot with a long stitch or for even more control stitch in by hand, do not back tack to lock the stiches where the end of the zipper is as you will take out these stitches when the zipper is properly secured with the second set of stitching with the invisible zipper foot. 4. Again make sure there is no bulging, if there is take out and start again. 5. Now that the zipper is in place, Attach the invisible zipper foot and attach the zipper in properly. Try to go down to the end of the coil or as far as the foot allows (the slider will block at the bottom of the coil when the zipper is in the open position, which is the end) Back tack to secure each coil. 6. Now unpick the first set of stitches to allow the bottom of the zipper to hang freely, i take out the stitches to about half way up the zipper, you can take them out completely if you like. 7. You will have a gap between the end of the zipper and the centre back seam, this is normal. 8. Now attach the standard zipper foot and bridge the small gap on the centre back seam and the zipper by stitching as close to the zipper stitching as you can. You will see this stitching as a guide, i always hold the bottom of the zipper (the part of the bottom of the zipper that hangs freely) away with one hand as to allow the foot to get in as close to the stitching that is holding the zipper in place, when you reach the stitching keep going a small amount and back tack to secure. 9. Snip your threads and close the zipper, press with your iron.
You should now have an invisible zipper in place with no bulging, it does take practice but keep at it and you will win in the end.
Computers are becoming more and more popular in our every day lives and are rapidly becoming the norm. As flash is becoming a very big part on the internet it is now possible to watch video on our computers very much like a tv, especially if we set the flash player to full screen.
There is a very large source of sewing videos available on youtube so this is where the computer and the sewing machine work in perfect harmony. If you place your computer screen behind your sewing machine or in a good place to view the computer screen while you sew you can learn a huge amount of techniques. This is possible because most videos can be paused or played many times over so ideal when you are wanting to learn a special technique. Its like being at sewing school but right there in your sewing room.
Most computerised sewing machines will hook up with a computer and some like the new Bernina 830 will act like a computer on its own. Some really exciting stuff.
Just think where we could be in 10 years from now.
It sounds a bit like the pedal is not conducting properly with the machine, i had the same thing happen with my machine a bit ago.
What i did was take the pedal appart, once appart there was a kind of plastic strip with small black lines on it which was covered with lint and oil build up, a bit like a thick black marker pen had been used on it. Once i had cleaned off this black lint stuff, i put the pedal back and it worked like new.
I really hope that this is the same problem that you have as it is really easy to claen and the pedal will work like new.
Sewing leather can be achieved by any domestic sewing machine as long as you purchase the correct add-ons and that your machine has got enough power to go through tougher fabrics such as denim or cotton drill etc.
If your machine can cope with the more tougher fabrics, then you are going to be ok. What you need is a walking foot which will feed the leather through with no problems at all. You can also get any feet that have a teflon sole such as a zipper foot, a zigzag foot, a straight stitch or a manual button hole foot because the teflon will allow the leather to slide under the foot easily and you can still achieve the different techniques that the feet are intended for, but on leather.
What you also need are the special leather sewing machine needles which will pierce the leather with ease. These needles are different to a standard needle in that they act very much like a mini knife which helps the needle penetrate through the leather with ease.
The machine thread needs to be a bit thicker than standard thread such as Gutermann top stitching thread as this gives your garment a bit more strength when you attach the panels together. If your bobbin case does not like the thicker thread you can combine the standard thread with the top stitching thread by putting the top stitching thread through the needle only and keeping the standard thread in the bobbin, a little bit of trail and error might be a must here but you will be able to reach a happy medium with a bit of practice of what works best.
And thats it really, once you have these things you are ready to go, so good luck. If you are wanting to buy a new sewing machine then i would recomend Bernina because of there stitch quality and the range of feet and accessories they have in there range.