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Topic: Considering industrial or heavy-duty machine - some questions  (Read 1687 times)
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« on: July 18, 2011 09:34:00 PM »

I have some things I'd like to do that would probably require a heavy-duty or industrial sewing machine, like work with leather, vinyl, heavy fabrics, attempt to make purses, that sort of thing. If I could find an inexpensive used one that worked, I'd consider it. Here are some questions I have:

1. Would a "heavy-duty" machine be as good as an "industrial" machine for the above types of sewing by a novice, and less expensive?

2. I tried out an industrial machine as part of a job application at a manufacturing place, and the thing scared me, it ran so fast I was afraid it'd chew up my fingers (I didn't get the job, obviously  Roll Eyes ). Are there some that have variable speeds to give a scaredy-cat more control?

3. What other advice would you give, in light of what I've already mentioned but may not have thought to ask?


And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -- Colossians 3:17
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2011 01:10:28 PM »

Hello CraftyBunnygal.

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.

Best regards and happy sewing.

Michael Coates.

Michael Coates - Professional English Tailor
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2011 06:07:25 AM »

You say you're looking for a machine that will sew heavier fabrics and leather.  In what sort of context are we talking about? 
Like Michael said, an industrial machine for heavy fabrics would be designed to sew them day in, day out, and perfectly.  Usually machines for sewing heavy fabrics are walking foot machines (not the same as a walking foot attachment) and the newer ones usually have needle feed too.  That, with a servo motor for speed control, would be the ideal setup.  Speed reducers for clutch motors are also available. 

But if you're just looking for something that will sew through heavy materials, you can use most vintage machines.  They're not designed to be doing it constantly, and whenever you're using a machine not specifically designed for thick fabrics, you do have the limitation of what will fit under the presser foot, but just sewing through heavy fabrics isn't usually much of  a problem.  There can be problems with shifting layers, which is why machines specifically designed for heavy fabrics use compound feed systems. 

I find walking foot attachments (which, like I said, aren't the same as having a walking foot machine) to be a PITA.  There are also teflon and roller feet that help minimize shifting too, though. 
Use the correct needles, too.  I love those microtex sharp needles.  And of course if you're sewing leather, use a leather needle. 
If you use a high-shank machine, you can use most standard industrial feet-- which are about three zillion times less expensive than domestic machine feet. 

I've been on the prowl for an industrial compound feed machine for awhile.. maybe I'm hoping for an unrealistic deal, but it's not like I need one urgently, so I figure I can be patient and see what pops up.  But my main reason for wanting one is to stop corset layers from shifting as I'm sewing them. 
I used to use an older-but-newish heavy-duty Taiwanese Necchi as my main machine (oddly, "Heavy Duty" is the only model information on it,) but ever since I got my BU Mira (older Italian Necchi) that's morphed into my main machine.  I don't really sew leather, so I haven't tested out the Mira on leather, but out of curiosity I did test how my "Heavy Duty" machine felt about sewing leather.  It went right through six layers.  (not sure just how the thickness of the leather I used compares to other leathers.  it was from a bag of assorted craft leather I got from a FabricMart mix-up.)  The "heavy duty" machine didn't like topstitching thread, though-- Mira handles it perfectly. 

It sounds like you're talking about getting an industrial machine before even testing what a domestic would be able to do.  If you're just looking at making some pairs of jeans and purses and such for yourself, I wouldn't call an industrial machine necessary.  My best suggestion is to start on a solid old domestic, and then start thinking about industrial machines based on any complaints you end up having about the performance of the domestic.  Unless you come across a too-good-to-pass-up deal on Craigslist, of course. 

« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2011 10:57:39 PM »

There are 3 types of straight lock stitch sewing machines : The light one which you can use for light fabrics. The other is the standard  one  ( for any kind of fabrics which are not heavy) and the last one is the heavy machine. With this one you can sew purses, bags, suitcases, backpacks....but also you would need an overlock that has to be a heavy one. So when you go to buy an industrial one, you should say to the seller that you want a heavy sewing machine because he could give you one that you dont want like the light one or the standard one. I hope this is helpfull for you.
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2011 09:53:42 PM »

I purchased a new juki 1541 this spring and love it. It took
awhile to get used to the speed though. You need to use special needles and heavy duty nylon thread in these which are not available in fabric stores. The results look very professional especially with vinyl. I can also make purses much faster now. I still use my home machine for sewing lighter fabrics and doing special stitches.

« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2011 10:11:08 AM »

Most good, mid to upper end of the line sewing machines will handle the types of applications you want to do with your next machine.  You will not find these machines at one of the big box stores, but at a local sewing machine dealer who will let you sit and try out their machines before you buy. 

When selecting a machine, take fabrics you intend to work with.  They will let you use them and not just their heavily stabilized sample fabrics.  If they do not let you test their machines on your fabrics, find another dealer. 

A great alternative is, as another poster suggested, a vintage machine.  The workhorse of the 60's and 70's is the Kenmore line that start with the model number 158.  If you keep an eye out, you can find them easily at thrift stores and yard sales.  Check it out thoroughly to make sure the motor works, that cords are not freyed, that the accessories come with it (bobbin assemblies, accessory feet, cams if the machine accepts cams, button holer attachment, etc).  Depending on the condition of the machine and your negotiating abilities, you may be able to pick it up for $10-15 dollars, well worth the risk and the cost of professional servicing.  These machines do not wear out and, even if it does not come with the accessories, you can find them regularly on Ebay and shopgoodwill.com.  The feet are standard feet that can be easily replaced through Clotildes or even Sears. 

Good luck
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