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Old 01-10-2008, 23:30   #1
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Sewing and sewing machines

I've decided to get a sewing machine and learn to sew. I have a bunch of canvas projects that I would love to get done but there is simply no way I have time or budget for them before I leave. However, I could get a machine and some sunbrella and see what I can do once I am down south.

I was toying with this anyway when I noticed that a seam on my main is coming undone. No material damage- just the threads coming out. Anyway, that was sort of my final straw and I started researching machines.

I was looking at industrial machines on ebay and there were several that seemed like good deals. Then, for comparison, I was looking on sailrite.com and I noticed they have a completely separate class of machine for zig zag.

I don't know enough to know how to evaluate this.

Is this a stitch that normal machines CANNOT do? Or just cannot do well? Is it semi-marketing speak for "way to charge boaters more money!" Was it invented by West Marine?
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:18   #2
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I have just bought a Singer 20 U off Ebay. This has the zig zag feature which is really necessary for sail making/repairs etc. Straight stitching is fine for sunbrella projects. The tricky part is getting the machine to operate with V69 thread. The thread tension has to be spot on and there is plenty of experimenting required. Fortunately there is plenty of help out there on various web pages. Go for it, it is strangely satisfying.
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:29   #3
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Ramona,

Could you help me out and explain what the zig zag feature means? Just like a one paragraph primer? Everything I've looked at seems to assume a step in knowledge I don't have...

Thanks,
J
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:55   #4
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Most sails are stitched with a zig zag stitch. The main advantage is I suspect to spread the holes a bit.


In the photo you can see both straight stitching and zig zag.
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:59   #5
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A lot of the machines I looked at seemed to have many many stitch options. The zig zag is of an inherently different type of thing that requires a different machine not just a different cam?
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Old 02-10-2008, 02:12   #6
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Most home machines have zig zag. Not many industrial machines. On the Singer the adjustments entail some fiddling to set the width and length and then testing on a bit of scrap material. A good home machine with suitable needle and V69 thread will often suffice. I have an old Singer treadle machine that only does straight stitching that will sew several layers of 6 ounce cloth. It will sew material that the Singer industrial can't handle.
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Old 02-10-2008, 04:41   #7
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Sails are sewn with a zig zag pattern because sails stretch. Straight stiches have no give. Go to the sailrite web site and do some looking before you buy a machine.
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Old 02-10-2008, 06:21   #8
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Singer Machine

You do not have to spend tons. I have successfully sewn sails and canvas using an older singer machine, purchase price, zero (0)--we dug it out of the trash!. We can use up to V-92 thread with #16 or #18 needle, zig zag and straight stitch.

Make sure you get the best thread you can find (I recommend the stuff at Sailrite). I have used thread that does not feed well, requires constant tension adjustment, etc....

Look for a machine with all metal parts--canvas can be hard on modern plastic machines. I use a singer 327K, but most of the older machines will do the job and the cost should be reasonable.

Good luck!
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:09   #9
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Joli,

Its funny... I was looking on ebay- thought I had some good options- went to sailrite- and came away completely confused and intimidated. That is what lead to my posting here!!!

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Old 02-10-2008, 07:36   #10
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There's always the hand for stitching....BEEN THERE & DONE THAT.....OUCH
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:47   #11
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Really? With the videos Sailrite posts it's a very informative site. They have always been helpful when we called with any questions. You might also try some of the sewing sites, specifically the sites that cater to upholstery. Same type of equipment.

Here is another source for machines:

Sail Making Machines

We use a Japanese built Consew for some of our work. Big jobs go to the sail maker.

Good luck!

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Joli,

Its funny... I was looking on ebay- thought I had some good options- went to sailrite- and came away completely confused and intimidated. That is what lead to my posting here!!!

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Old 02-10-2008, 07:50   #12
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Joli,

Like I said in an earlier post I think the problem was that they assumed a level of knowledge about 2 points above mine. Something just wasn't clicking for me.

I think I've got a decent handle now... We will see if that confidence lasts through a purchase. :P

Later,
J
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:57   #13
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We picked up a Singer 501 Industrial last year. It has the zig-zag stitches plus a few other features probably valuable to sailors. It'll handle the heaver threads and larger needles. A little under-powered and not a "walking-foot" machine. We compensated for this by adding a teflon foot. Another option that's handy is the binding tape attachment if you sew a lot. I find the sail-rite site a wealth of info. We got our machine from alcnational on e-Bay and they provide some good info too. Good luck with your machine and post some pics of your projects.
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:06   #14
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How similar is this to yours Knott?

Brand New Singer Sewing Machine Industrial CG500 - eBay (item 180292313406 end time Oct-02-08 14:21:57 PDT)
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:31   #15
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How similar is this to yours Knott?
Not even close. I think the big difference with ours is the angle at which the shaft(thingy that holds the foot) is not verticle. Dunno why that's important but it affects what attachments etc. you'd need.



There's five or six on e-Bay right now. Search for "Singer Rocketeer".
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