Author Topic: Sewing Machine Advise  (Read 1138 times)

Hendrick

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Re: Sewing Machine Advise
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2020, 05:48:06 AM »
Both machines will sew anything you can cramp under the presser foot, but especially the 15k is good at heavy stuff like denim and the occasional bit of leather and ducking. I suppose the quilting and darning feet that came with these were as frequently used as the straight stitch foot…
But again; don't use a 15k for speed sewing; it'll walz right off the table!  I own two 15 k's; one built in the very late 30's that sews really nice and was offered to me by a tailor who told me it cost him three months' wages. Another, really late one that has the retractable feed dogs (for embroidery  and stuff I never use), that has a little more "clicketyclack" than the older one. Someone offered it to me; must have thought it was time to replace the old one. Then, last year, the retired tailor asked me to pick up his little 99 Singer; he was moving out of his house and wanted to get rid of it. So I gave him 50 Euro as a gesture and took it home. It is a cute "3/4" size machine that I would actually recommend anyone who sews fine and light fabrics; the needle opening in the stitch plate is the smallest I have seen to date. My 201 is from the early 50s, the latest batch of the cast iron black beauties and a dream to sew on, my absolute favourite. Like you, I use computerised machines (Bother) to do buttonholes, bar-tacks and things but I have never sewn a straight seam with them; the buttons and needle-up and controls drive me batshit-crazy...

Schneiderfrei

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Re: Sewing Machine Advise
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2020, 09:54:45 AM »
That is interesting to hear you say the newer one has more Clickety Clack than the older one. I have noticed the same with my Pfaff 138s.

I thought it was due to the older one haveing less time at commercial use, but maybe the construction is different?

Schneiderfrei

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Re: Sewing Machine Advise
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2020, 10:00:19 AM »
Thank you Hendrick, I will try that out.

Tom Bennet, I rejected writing many comments about one man bands. Somehow none of them could be construed as polite. :D

G

Hendrick

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Re: Sewing Machine Advise
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2020, 12:26:58 AM »

Schneiderfrei, for a Pfaff class 138 I would try to get my hand on lightweight aluminium bobbins. You are right; later 138's have the newer and evre so slightly different hook configuration with a minimally different bobbin capsule. This allows for much higher sewing speeds. Pfaff, however, recommends you use lightweight bobbins for these, especially for high speed sewing...

Schneiderfrei

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Re: Sewing Machine Advise
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2020, 11:00:12 AM »
Brilliant advice Hendrick, thank you.

I was supplied with 20 odd aluminium bobbins when I bought the machine. But, I do appreciate knowing the reason.

G

MukPuk

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Re: Sewing Machine Advise
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2020, 10:19:31 AM »
Currently I'm only sewing shirts on an old Bernina Record 530-2. Though the results are kind of alright, I think that a lockstitch machine would provide a far better looking seam and more controll as well.


I'm afraid you already have a lockstitch machine.  ;D But while the 530 is a nice domestic there are certainly limits to what it can do. Not such much in the shirting department mind you, but for trousers I would definitely want a regular flat bed single needle lockstitch industrial. aka "regular industrial"

Just make sure the machine is set up for general purpose (and able to use needles sizes 70 to 110 or thereabouts) and has at least some 8 mm (5/16") clearance under the foot, or else you may find you'll struggle with some types of trousers and heavy cloth. Industrials too have their limits and it's best to try a few before you buy.


Hendrick

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Re: Sewing Machine Advise
« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2020, 08:17:08 PM »

Hi,

I like to think of Berninas as the "Apple computers of sewing". Normally they give a more than accurate stitch quality. But a straight stitcher is indeed better. Problem with thin materials is that the the hole in the needle plate of a zigzagging machine is too large and the fabric will partly get pushed down into the needle hole and that is what affects your stitch-integrity mostly. That said, I would never do shirts and blouses on an industrial for the same reason. As much as I dread making shirts, I made some a few weeks ago. For poplins and things like that I use a Pfaff 8 without zigzag that sews a perfect stitch and is extremely precise and dead quiet. For even lighter or slippery materials I use a singer 99, a small 3/4 size machine with the the smallest possible needle hole. I am an extremely finicky sewist admittedly; a single skipped stitch drives me mad and I measure stitches per cm. For heavier materials I use a Singer 201, my favourite machine of all times that sews 8 layers of denim with ease. Since I use the 201 I got rid of my industrial Pfaff 461 with servo; the older Singer is far more controllable...

MukPuk

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Re: Sewing Machine Advise
« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2020, 04:00:43 AM »
Problem with thin materials is that the the hole in the needle plate of a zigzagging machine is too large and the fabric will partly get pushed down into the needle hole and that is what affects your stitch-integrity mostly.

There are needles plates on the market with small, medium and large holes, and matching feed dogs with sensible different degrees of coarseness. THIS is where industrial machines shine as all these parts are readily available for them, whereas most domestic machines have to make do with their generalist setup. The same goes for feet and attachments, while lots is available for domestic machines, the quality is usually inferior and the cost is much higher.

That said, I would never do shirts and blouses on an industrial for the same reason. As much as I dread making shirts, I made some a few weeks ago. For poplins and things like that I use a Pfaff 8 without zigzag that sews a perfect stitch and is extremely precise and dead quiet. For even lighter or slippery materials I use a singer 99, a small 3/4 size machine with the the smallest possible needle hole. I am an extremely finicky sewist admittedly; a single skipped stitch drives me mad and I measure stitches per cm.

These are all fine machines, but it hardly explains why you wouldn't make a shirt on an industrial machine. I make 3 per week on average on an industrial Bernina 217 machine with a 750 W servo and that machine is about as quit as you can get them. In fact, you will find that while using a well set up and maintained industrial sewing machine skipped stitches are far less likely than with any domestic machine as the feed mechanism is far more capable than on any domestic, ever.

For heavier materials I use a Singer 201, my favourite machine of all times that sews 8 layers of denim with ease. Since I use the 201 I got rid of my industrial Pfaff 461 with servo; the older Singer is far more controllable...

That's nice, but when you sew the yoke on a pair of jeans and you have both the yoke pieces felled and you want to "single needle" fell the centre seam as well, it's not 8 layers but 16, although you can clip the edges a bit and work it down with a hammer, that is still a very hard nut to crack for all but a few domestic machines with anything but very lightweight denim whereas with even a very modest industrial you can sew 14-15 oz denim with relative ease, not to mention that you can really forget about using thick thread, as is often desirable on jeans, such as 30/3 (tex 105) because even if you can find 120 or even the very rare 125 705/class 15 needles, penetrating so many layers of denim with that size needle and that size thread will simply result in thread breakages time and time again.

It's far better to save yourself all the trouble and limitations and get the right tool for the job and once you do, you will never look back.

Hendrick

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Re: Sewing Machine Advise
« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2020, 06:04:46 AM »

Agreed and to illustrate "the right tool for the job"watch this;

I think for true jeans making a real "feller" like a Union Special 35800 should be used, for heavy single needle topstitching a "walking transporter" like a Juki 5600 or preferably something more vintage. For overlocking, a wide overlocker Like Union Special 15400 or a little Singer 81k for that vintage look. For straight stiching a Singer 31k is perfect, a 101k will do also. Mind you; the 31k ("industrial") is actually a longer arm version of the domestic Singer 15k and later became the 331; the machine that served as the example for modern Juki's. Don't forget the narrow hemming chainstitcher from Union Special, the 43200 G.
Most these machines are featured in the youtube movie above; these people make jeans like Levi's used to. Note that in the history of authentic denim manufacturing no single machine has been more widely used than the Singer 31k. Rolls Royce used Singer 101 and 201's to sew their leather upholstery on...  The closest I would go to an industrial myself is the Pfaff 138, like Schneiderfrei has. For making jeans I do think you need "real iron", however. But in the end there is no perfect allround sewing machine... Cheers

MukPuk

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Re: Sewing Machine Advise
« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2020, 07:06:35 AM »
I agree, at at least in part. It of course all depends on what sort of jeans you want to make. Conners sewing factory makes 1940's reproductions and they're doing a really smashing job at it too, but if for arguments' sake you would like to make something with a more of a 1920's or earlier look, a single needle like a Singer 31 would be quite appropriate and in fact, combine that with a Singer industrial buttonhole attachment (the granddaddy of the YS Star 4455) and that's about all you need. That said, this would be perfectly feasible as the denims used back then were 11.5 oz max.

But you are completely mistaken on the class 15 and the class 31 being related. The class 15 and the class 16 are related, the 31 was a unique development and while the general form looks similar, there are significant differences with the class 31 being a thoroughly more modern machine. The biggest innovation that was incorporated in the class 31 design was the direct tension unit release, an idea Singer frankly "borrowed" from the design bureau of Wheeler and Wilson, and they would buy the out some 7 years later altogether. The biggest advantage the Singer 31 has over really all it's competition, is the fact that it can handle a 160 needle and 8 cord in the needle and 12 weight in the bobbin without any trouble making it really capable to sew absurdly heavy gear. More than enough for any whimsy 14 oz denim...

I rather think Juki oriented themselves at both the 96 (oh look, more Wheeler and Wilson genius....) and 241 class for their "own"  ;D designs. But that said, before that, Juki copied their hearts out on every Singer design they could get their hands on. So did just about everybody else for that matter, at best changing a few details to avoid the patent lawyer...

No variant of the 15400 (and the 15500/600's) was ever made to sew material such as denim, and only a few actually sew a 504 stitch. It''s really meant for knitwear and the like, both for seaming as well as for hemming. The 81-5 was more common and much more capable. Even the later 39200/300 etc were really not intended for heavy, hard fabrics like denim. Most of them sew it though, and like the 15000 series, it's perfectly capable to sew flies, pockets and so on, but the inseam is the real crunch. By the late 1930's Union Special had developed the 52900 (the black ones, first available in 1938) for simultaneous seaming and over-seaming with a huge number of 52900 Z variants being made during the war. Interestingly enough, these machines are a bit "rare" these days, and even the streamlined red/brown 52900's from the 1950's are not common by any standard. Very strange, because these machines are really fantastic for the purpose.

For sure, the felling machines, either off the arm ( Union Special 35700, 35800, Singer 238, 261) or up-the arm (31500 B, Singer class 19-5/9 etc, are great, but by no means the only way to go. Many manufacturers "back in the day" used flat bed twin needle chainstitch machines or even single needle chainstitch, or just used a Singer 31.

and yes... the 43200 G.. the most overhyped, overrated and blah-blah-blah machines out there. The fact is that machine wasn't used as much as some individuals make it out to be. The 11500 was far more common, and the 33500 after that. And both are far more practical too. Most smaller manufacturers or contractors simply used any single needle chainstitch or even a lockstitch to hem jeans instead of buying a dedicated machine. With unsanforised denim and cotton thread you'll get a roped hem, no matter what.

As for the Pfaff 138, what can I say? It's a very, very nice machine and it's certainly more affordable and more common than a Bernina 217, but the Pfaff has the downside of the very high shank feet with really only a zigzag foot and a straight stitch hinged foot being commonly available. Some have the dual hole presser bar so you can use regular industrial feet but most don't and those pressor bars haven't been on the market for years. Sadly enough. The Bernina 217 has the same quality as Pfaff but is far more compatible with "regular" feet, attachments and so on. Plus, the general parts availability is somewhat better. Besides that, there's very little difference in capabilities between the two machines apart from the usually wider zigzag and the definitely more practical and positive Bernina controls. I would say any tailor would be well served with either one.


Hendrick

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Re: Sewing Machine Advise
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2020, 08:09:44 AM »

Agreed on most, but. In Europe, manufacturing was done on a far smaller scale back then and most factories had a different setup from the larger scale american producers. The demand for "soft workwear"was huge and it took years for these operators to switch to denim production later on. That is why all the 60's 70's and 80's denim was produced with the remaining safety stitchers... As for the Bernina 217; I've only ever seen a long-arm version of it in action at a sailmakers' (if it even was a 217).

Cheers,