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Sewing Machine for Prototyping recommendation

Postby KenoLeon » August 30th, 2015, 2:45 pm

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I am in need of a sewing machine (probably industrial walking foot ) to prototype a couple of softwood products I am working on, I would also like to learn by doing as much as possible, so I'd rather not hand the designs to a shop just yet.

I am starting my research here, but some threads are a bit dated

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=18064&p=118572&hilit=sewing+machine#p118572
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=14952&p=90776&hilit=sewing+machine#p90776

Maybe you can recommend a good cheap type/model I could get on ebay/craigslist or tell me what did you tried and how did it go ?
My budget is around $300.

Thanks
Keno
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Re: Sewing Machine for Prototyping recommendation

Postby choto » August 30th, 2015, 5:17 pm

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At $300 it's going to be very challenging to get a solid industrial walking foot, but not impossible if you're willing to put in time waiting for the right deal. I would get the craigslist app if you don't have it already and set up as many alerts for all relevant keywords: Consew, Pfaff, Juki, Singer, Brother, Sailrite, Seiko, walking foot, Industrial Sewing etc.

At that budget range you might be waiting for a while and if you do find something be sure to bring lots of heavy duty test material and run the machine for significant time to make sure it's not a lemon. Bring a bottle of high quality sewing machine oil since many industrial machines often sit idle for years and can seize up when not regularly used. I have a Consew 206RB-2 walking foot and it was in serious need of oil when I got it.

A lot of industrial machines are often sold as just the "head" unit, so it's possible to buy the head, then get an industrial sewing table to mount it (maybe $50 if you get a really great deal on CL) then mount a 1/3 or 1/2 HP clutch motor (crappy no name ones can be found for $100 but don't expect much and they are challenging to control depending on how you gear them). That would leave about ~$150 budget for the head unit which would be an amazing deal for walking foot.

Are you sure you need a walking foot? What's the heaviest material package you're looking to run through the machine? For $300 to $400 you could probably pick up a decent industrial (non walking foot machine).

One last thought, pretty much every major city has at least a couple industrial sewing machine service places/retailers. Go sniff around there, befriend the owner and let them know you're interested in getting your hands dirty but are on a tight budget. I've found the 3-4 I've befriended were always pretty open to cutting me a deal once they knew I was genuinely interested in the machines and not just trying to be cheap.

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Thanks Matthew:

Are you sure you need a walking foot?What's the heaviest material package you're looking to run through the machine?


'10 - 20 oz' Cotton Duck most likely, I think that's qualified as heavy fabric, hence the walking foot.

Thanks for your advice, seems you have a great setup. I need to research more and maybe re-budget in the meantime.

-K
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Re: Sewing Machine for Prototyping recommendation

Postby choto » August 30th, 2015, 8:43 pm

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If the majority use is 10-20 oz duck canvasthen a walking foot is probably overkill. If you think you'll be quickly moving up to heavier stuff like full grain leather, stitching through foam padding, etc. then it's worth it in the long run.

Honestly for that weight of fabric you could get by with a decent home machine, the big thing is you have to use an appropriate heavy duty needle and upgrade your thread to a bonded nylon or something similar that can take the extra tension and won't fray as it's passing through multiple layers.

I was using a Singer 4423 Heavy Duty home machine for a while and was able to run 4 layers of duck canvas, or two layers of full grain leather pretty easily with the appropriate needle, thread and tension settings. http://www.amazon.com/4423-Extra-High-M ... B003VWXZQ0

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Ahhh, I think that's what I was looking for, more my budget and I'll probably forgo the walking foot for now.

Thanks a bunch.

-K
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Re: Sewing Machine for Prototyping recommendation

Postby nxakt » August 31st, 2015, 3:14 am

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I bought one of these in Shanghai for about $70, new. Had it for four years now and has done numerous prototypes. Rough but does the job. They list on ebay for $200. They will sew through four-five layers of leather without flinching. Very manual machine, great for webbing prototyping, five-six layers of seatbelt webbing, no problem.

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Very manual machine


I stumbled into those last night and love the manual aspect of them,so I am considering one ( plus getting the singer 4423) even though they look super rough, I also found about the singers 29k which they apparently were inspired by and are awesome, but have a pretty steep price, I wish there was an intermediate quality/price one, here is the one that caught my eye, but at $1,250 on ebay it's way too expensive.

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Re: Sewing Machine for Prototyping recommendation

Postby KenoLeon » September 24th, 2015, 3:01 pm

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I got my first sewing machine ! Here's my experience so far:

The machine is a Singer 66 converted to hand crank and bought on ebay, it was built in 1912, that's right, my new machine is 103 Years old !
Price wise it cost $180, so under my original budget of $300 , the recommended Singers (The 4411,4423,4432) in comparison retail for around $140.

So far I am thrilled, as an Industrial Designer it feels more like a lesson in early manufacturing and how things were made to last ( Originally though it was expensive, like 6 months worth of savings expensive, or about $1,100 in todays dollars), it is also highly recommended for sewing canvas/leather, it is easy to repair ( I partially disassembled it already and fixed some minor issues), has a high resale value (even if rusted/a lemon) but do try getting one serviced from a pro , as a plus it is whisper quiet and I like looking at it, the not so nice is that it lacks features like auto backstitching, precies stitch length and other modern conveniences, it also looks it's age in some parts, but for starting out I think it is a decent choice.

I also considered the following : Singer 12k , Singer 99 ( sort of the same deal) Singer 201k mk2 ( manual and motor versions) supposed to be amazing, but hard to get. Singer 306W, killer industrial design, maybe my next. Sailrite, expensive but awesome, maybe one day.

All in all a great experience so far, but will update if I change my mind or go for a different type/model.

-K

Singer66.jpg
Her name is Gaby : )
Singer66.jpg (50.12 KiB) Viewed 3576 times


Singer66stitchsamples.jpg
First stitches on canvas duck (12oz) with heavy duty nylon thread
Singer66stitchsamples.jpg (72.83 KiB) Viewed 3576 times
Eugenio (Keno) Leon
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Congrats on your purchase Keno, Gaby looks pretty!


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