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Old 17-02-2016, 20:05   #1
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Sewing Machines

My family and I are doing our best, planning ahead to live aboard. We have 4 children and I love to make their clothes. I need a new sewing machine. I am looking for one that will be easy to manage to make clothing but will also be reliable and will successfully repair sails. Ideas please and what works for y'all. Thanks!!
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Old 17-02-2016, 20:26   #2
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Re: Sewing Machines

We have a sailrite with a walking foot and zig zag, LZ2 I think, picked it up at a consignment shop. It will do a couple layers of cloth fine, and if you roll by hand and go slow it will do some heavier patches. Seems to be fine on canvas etc too. I think its a Brother machine but am not sure. Alot of people swear by the small Singers for straight stich but they have a hard time on heavier stuff.
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Old 18-02-2016, 07:48   #3
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Re: Sewing Machines

A sewing machine on a boat is great to have. The Sailrites and old Singers mentioned above are the most commonly recommended. I ended up with a Sailrite look-alike with a name tag of "Reliable". As was pointed out, you want something that will go through several layers of canvas, and you'll want a walking foot.

Another issue is how you're going to power it. You didn't say what type of boat, but if electrical power is a limiting factor, some people have successfully outfitted their machines with a hand wheel. But a decent-sized inverter will also power the machine nicely. The ideal would be an old-fashioned treadle machine, but on most boats space is too precious for that.
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Old 18-02-2016, 11:07   #4
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Re: Sewing Machines

In about 2000 I went to a sowing machine service shop and asked the proprietor did he have a "loaner" sewing machine. He replied yes and I asked could I have a look at it. He then produced a fairly old machine in a pretty scruffy carry case.


I then asked him why he had chosen this particular machine to use as a loaner rather than a more modern one, of which he had plenty for sale. He replied that the old machines would take far more abuse than the modern because all the gearing was metal and not plastic or nylon.


I bought the machine, and whilst it could use a better foot mechanism, it has been very reliable and I have used it for sail repairs. The biggest problem I have found is with it breaking needles when I sew multiple layers of sail cloth.
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Old 18-02-2016, 12:46   #5
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Re: Sewing Machines

I used a Viking Emerald for a few years but broke down and bought a Sailrite LSZ after trying to sew Mylar while adding luff tape to my latest sail.
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Old 18-02-2016, 12:55   #6
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Re: Sewing Machines

These are good Pfaff 130
As are many others of the same make. Ditto on a lot of Reed's.
I made the mistake of "loaning" my Pfaff out, & as of last check, it was heading for the S. Pacific.

Too, it'd be worth checking the classifieds on here, if you want a Sail-Rite, or something similar to the above. As they're common sellers.
Plus, there's a CF Sewing Group Cruisers & Sailing Forums - Sewing Group. Boat canvas projects

But you can find some great machines on Craig's List. When you call to inquire about the machine, ask them what the heaviest thing they've run through it is. And if they mind if you bring some test material with you.
If they say it'll sew leather, you may have a keeper. But...

There are a few other features to look into as well. Such as with older, as in half a century or more, machines; they're much more likely to be hand operable, & possibly even powered by a foot pedal. So that you can even setup shop on the beach.

Also, with the older machines which have real hand wheels, it's often fairly easy to bolt on different motors, & run a drive belt right to the hand wheel. Even if you have to DIY a different hand wheel that'll accept a belt.
Thus, with such a setup, you can run them on AC, or DC.

Plus, some of the newer machines, with their electronic brains, aren't big fans of certain types of AC power. Meaning that they don't particularly like some inverters. Both in terms of just running their basic functions, as well as their more advanced, programmable ones.
Also, electronics & the marine environment aren't the best of friends.
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:08   #7
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Re: Sewing Machines

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
A sewing machine on a boat is great to have. The Sailrites and old Singers mentioned above are the most commonly recommended. I ended up with a Sailrite look-alike with a name tag of "Reliable". As was pointed out, you want something that will go through several layers of canvas, and you'll want a walking foot.

Another issue is how you're going to power it. You didn't say what type of boat, but if electrical power is a limiting factor, some people have successfully outfitted their machines with a hand wheel. But a decent-sized inverter will also power the machine nicely. The ideal would be an old-fashioned treadle machine, but on most boats space is too precious for that.
Do you want a walking foot so you do not have to use power or because you need the walking foot for a better sew job on the sails.?
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:42   #8
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Re: Sewing Machines

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Originally Posted by murelyn View Post
Do you want a walking foot so you do not have to use power or because you need the walking foot for a better sew job on the sails.?

A walking foot is to ensure even stitching when working with large cumbersome things, sails, sail covers, and seat covers etc. In reality for sail and canvas repair you will be re-stiching. IE if you regularly inspect your stuff and see a seam that has been chaffed or a top row of stiching that is suffering from UV, you want to stich over the existing. Ideally you will try to match the existing stiches. Esspecially in a sail as the goal is to put as few of holes in the material as possible. With a good walking foot zig zag machine, a little testing and patience, you will be able to match and run over the existing stuff. A "MUST HAVE" is alot of double sticky tape to make life easier.
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:58   #9
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Re: Sewing Machines

Tried a PTAFF 130 before the LSZ and it would not pierce the Mylar.
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Old 18-02-2016, 16:21   #10
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Re: Sewing Machines

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Originally Posted by murelyn View Post
My family and I are doing our best, planning ahead to live aboard. We have 4 children and I love to make their clothes. I need a new sewing machine. I am looking for one that will be easy to manage to make clothing but will also be reliable and will successfully repair sails. Ideas please and what works for y'all. Thanks!!
When I said new I do not mean made recently. I see that the old Singer metal machines are used by cruisers but many people say they are not real good for zigzag or sail fabric. Has anyone used a Kenmore 48? Its all metal. And the manual foot pedal why is it good to have for sail mending?
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Old 18-02-2016, 16:28   #11
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Re: Sewing Machines

Okay, Ive got a better idea what to look for. Thanks so much for the replies.
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Old 18-02-2016, 20:27   #12
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Re: Sewing Machines

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Originally Posted by Cap Erict3 View Post
Tried a PTAFF 130 before the LSZ and it would not pierce the Mylar.
I service sewing machines for a living, but have never understood the almost religious fervor for the Pfaff 130.
It has no more motor power than any machine of its time, no particular other reason I can see.
There are lots of other machines which will do everything the 130 will do.
Can someone please enlighten me?

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Old 18-02-2016, 20:41   #13
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Re: Sewing Machines

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Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
I service sewing machines for a living, but have never understood the almost religious fervor for the Pfaff 130.
It has no more motor power than any machine of its time, no particular other reason I can see.
There are lots of other machines which will do everything the 130 will do.
Can someone please enlighten me?

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Alright! An actual pro on the thread.

Cannot enlighten you on the fervor for the Pfaff 130 (yes I've seen them recommended as well) but would love to hear your opinion on a good machine.

Something that will sew through leather, maybe even a thin sheet of stainless.

Also cheap, reliable, lightweight, heavy duty and cheap.
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Old 19-02-2016, 14:09   #14
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Re: Sewing Machines

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Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
I service sewing machines for a living, but have never understood the almost religious fervor for the Pfaff 130. It has no more motor power than any machine of its time, no particular other reason I can see. There are lots of other machines which will do everything the 130 will do. Can someone please enlighten me?
Sailrite's Matt Grant says (in Sail Sewing Machine - Sailrite Forum )

The other option would be to look for a steal on an older machine like the Sailrite Sailmaker, the Reeds Sailmaker, the Phaff 138, the Phaff 130 (rebuilt with larger motor), or Singer 20U. I have seen some of these sell for $200. Your issue will be that you need a zigzag machine that also does a nice straight stitch. This type of machine is harder to come by than a straight stitch only machine. Knowing what I know about the market and the machines, I still buy the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 myself. Hope this helps!

Note the "rebuilt with a larger motor".
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Old 19-02-2016, 20:33   #15
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Re: Sewing Machines

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Originally Posted by murelyn View Post
When I said new I do not mean made recently. I see that the old Singer metal machines are used by cruisers but many people say they are not real good for zigzag or sail fabric. Has anyone used a Kenmore 48? Its all metal. And the manual foot pedal why is it good to have for sail mending?
A foot pedal leaves you with both hands free for manipulating the cloth, and some people like them better than the levers you push with the outside of your knee.

If the Kenmore 48 is all metal inside, it should last a long time, as long as you can get belts for it. Be sure to not lose any of the tiny bits.

I do not have experience with one, but I used to have a Pfaff 130, and put a hand crank on it for use ashore, where I re-stitched the sacrificial strip on a friend's genoa for him. It had a hard time and couldn't penetrate the clew patches. The Pfaff sewed lots of canvas work, as well as a lot of clothes for my kids when they were small. It is basically a reasonably well built home sewing machine; my Mom got hers (which she gave to me) in late 1949. So they're old now. It loved being oiled. I always oiled it before starting a large project, and sometimes during it, too. It will not happily go through a lot of sail cloth, or even many layers of Sunbrella or WeatherMax. The largest needle it would accept was a # 18 (110), and it wasn't too happy in reverse with heavy cloth.

A tip, if you have sails made, have at least one row of the stitching done from PTFE (tenara is one kind) thread. It has much less UV deterioration than the UV treated dacron. And after 2 yrs exposure, the Tenara will be stronger than the aging dacron thread, which usually lasts around 4 yrs. max, in tropical usage. I never tried any Tenara in my Pfaff, and I don't know if all machines can be adjusted to use it, the thread is very slippery, so getting the tension right is essential. Sail-Rite has a video explaining what to do. Our old boom bag was sewn with tenara thread about 10 yrs. ago, by the sailmaker. All that thread is good, but the sunbrella is in poor shape.

Having a good batch of sail needles and dacron twine for hand work on sails is convenient, too. You'll also want a sailor's palm, to help you force the needle through.

Feel free to PM me if you think i might be able to help.


Ann
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