Author Topic: Sewing machine for a beginner?  (Read 379 times)

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slowmoguy

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Sewing machine for a beginner?
« on: March 05, 2019, 11:18:08 AM »
Which one do you use, how well does it work, do you like it and.. why?

Looking for a quality 'amatuer' machine. I was thinking the salirite fabricator. However, typical gc6-7-D is pretty similar and about $400 less. Sailrite offered me a small price deduction being military member, prices are similar but..

Want advice on which machines to avoid, what will work well for my desires and otherwise information of expectations versus performance on models being recommended.

Hope this is clear and direct.

Thank You!
« Last Edit: March 06, 2019, 09:58:41 AM by essal »

essal

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Re: Sewing machines
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2019, 09:58:07 AM »
I use a Tacsew T-111 with a clutch motor. Why? Because back in the DIY Tactical days it was a fairly popular machine and priced decently (it was $750 around that time). Buying 2nd hand wasn't an option for me, because of the non-existing options here. Machines that were similar to the T-111 retailed for ~$2500 so I bought it from SewingGold in the US.
It does what it is intended to do, and that goes for pretty much any industrial machine. It's 100% manual, so it's not efficient compared to more automated machines. I'll replace the motor with a servo as soon as I find the time to do so. Clutch motors are for idiots.

If I were to buy a new machine today, I'd do one of the following in prioritized order (also probably from the most expensive and down):
- Get a real high-end Juki 2210N
- Get a real high-end machine 2nd hand (Nick-O-Sew seems to have a great reputation around here)
- Get a high-end (Juki or Durkopp Adler) machine with a minimum of electric (assuming you don't want a compressor running) presser foot lift and thread trimmer.
- Get a Juki 1514S or similar machine.
- Get a Tacsew T-111/Consew RB206 etc. that should be extremely common 2nd hand. With a servo.

The easiest thing is to call your local sewing machine dealer, or dealer of choice, and tell them what you need and your budget. There are so many brands that make machines that are 95% the same so getting too hooked on a brand, especially at the "lower end", makes no sense. Things to mention are military, heavy fabrics, webbing, molle etc. (or whatever you intend to make). You also of course want a walking foot and a servo motor. Ideally automatic thread trimmer and presser foot lift. Then your budget. They'll probably give you a few specific suggestions that you could post here for others to chime in on.

Edit: I modified the thread title to better suit your question.
Nora Tactical
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slowmoguy

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Re: Sewing machine for a beginner?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2019, 11:48:32 AM »
Would the tacsew(typical) 111 with a 3/4hp servo motor be worth the $1000? As in 'it will sew most things I plan to do, it will last for a while when cared for and is a well priced machine.'

I am not 'loyal' to anything. Plenty of hooks in the water. Most are to catch fisherman, not fish.

Appreciated.

ultimind

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Re: Sewing machine for a beginner?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2019, 01:56:49 PM »
The T-111 and any other 111W clone is not worth $1000. You should be able to obtain a used older Singer 111W or more modern clone (with reverse) for well under $500 in a table with a motor.

I paid $250 for my Singer 111W in a table with a clutch motor. And I've been told that I overpaid. 80+ year old machine and it chews through anything that fits under the foot. "Built like a tank" doesn't even begin to describe these old beasts. Good news is that all the wear components are still made to today, as nearly all 111W clones share parts.

Newer 111W clones will serve you well. Talk to your local industrial dealer. I would bet that nearly all of them out there have 111W's that they would be happy to put into a new table with a new motor and get going for you. Work with someone who will get it set up and adjusted to how you need it to be. You can save money doing it yourself, and it is valuable to do so, but it takes time and patience and a lot of ordering bits and pieces from eBay and the like.

essal

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Re: Sewing machine for a beginner?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2019, 02:12:07 PM »
Is it worth $1000? Sure. Especially if that gives you access to someone who knows the in's and out's of it in case you ever run into trouble. Are there better machines out there on the 2nd hand market for roughly the same price? Absolutely. And can you get the same machine used for less? Most def.
A Singer 111W isn't even close to the modern counterparts.

I have no idea what you make, or what you expect your machine to be capable of, so it's hard to answer. It is among the smaller walking foot machines, so if you expect to work with extremely thick builds (such as multiple layers scuba webbing or thick foam) then you probably need to step up in presser foot lift- which usually means a bigger machine. For normal PALS grids, Cordura etc. it's good enough.

Before you pull the trigger, I just want to say get a machine with some automatic features if you're serious about sewing or intend to make any money. It's worth whatever they charge for it.
Nora Tactical
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slowmoguy

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Re: Sewing machine for a beginner?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2019, 03:21:34 PM »
Want to do up to 1/2" closed cell ldpe foam for pads&straps. However, I had thought sewing a 'sock' and rolling it around the foam pad would be most easy.

I will look at nickosew some. If I could spend $500 or less and get a machine that makes plate carriers and cumberbunds.. awesome.

I want to spend the least, get the most.

What automatic features are you talking about?

Stone

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Re: Sewing machine for a beginner?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2019, 10:35:46 PM »
TBH, 1/2" closed cell is gonna be too thick for most walking foot machines. You will need a barrel hook style machine, and even that might be too much. 1/4" no problem for a Consew 206RB style machine or similar.

An open cell foam that is 1/2" thick uncompressed might be able to be sewn with a 206RB, but you'll need to lengthen your stitch to get the material to move.

-Dan

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Re: Sewing machine for a beginner?
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2019, 12:54:23 AM »
I'm still using my Tacsew T111 that I found used locally for $500 ten years ago. It's still my primary machine and has proven very reliable. If I had to replace it, I wouldn't have any trouble paying what SewingGold is asking for a new one. It works without a hiccup every time I sit down to sew.

In all the years, I only had one maintenance issue of note: one day, the head of the needle set screw broke off. While extracting the remains of the screw, I damaged (stripped) the needle bar. I ordered a needle bar for a Singer 111-155, and found it a bit longer but same diameter as the one from my Tacsew. I cut it shorter, swapped it in, and it worked just fine. Setting the timing was easy too, although the English translation of the manual is a joke.




essal

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Re: Sewing machine for a beginner?
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2019, 12:23:26 PM »
What automatic features are you talking about?
Presser foot lift and thread trimmer. It probably doesn't sound that time saving, but it is. And time = money, so if this is something you consider as a business or even side-business, just get it. If you sew at home and don't want to have pieces of thread everywhere, just get it.
It will probably add ~$500-1000 to a machine, but they have more features with the control panel, which if you learn how to use properly can basically make everything so damned much faster. Sewing PALS grid with a program is a million times quicker, and a lot cleaner than manual machines. Same with box-X's. It's no pattern tacker though, but then we're getting into more production-line machines.

Manual machines aren't bad, it just that automatic machines are so much better.
Nora Tactical
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slowmoguy

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Re: Sewing machine for a beginner?
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2019, 03:41:24 PM »
Ok, recommend some of these machines. Plus give a 'value' that they should be had around?

Side revenue is my interest. Nothing too large scale.

I also have been interested in other setups. Is laser cut fabric taking over? I see a lot of people using it now. Looks great. However.. that is another 'large' investment cost, I would presume.

Not trying to derail thread. Just - thinking.

essal

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Re: Sewing machine for a beginner?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2019, 10:03:58 AM »
Talk to a dealer. They know more about what's available in your area, and they also know a whole lot more than I do about sewing machines. I'm not a sewing machine encyclopedia, I just know what features I want.

A laser will never replace a sewing machine. Different machines for different applications.
Nora Tactical
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