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Old 22-01-2014, 13:13   #1
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best sewing machine for sunbrella

my husband and i want to re-do all of our canvas work ( interior, exterior cushions, sunbrella bimini, etc) and i can get a really good deal on a janomi 1600 sewing machine. the only thing is, it doesn't have the zig zag feature. is it really needed if you are not planning to do actual sail work? i want to do everything but working on the sails. i mentioned the sailrite machine to my sewing machine salesman and he seemed to think the janome would do everything i need as long as i don't need the zig zag feature.
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Old 22-01-2014, 13:28   #2
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Re: best sewing machine for sunbrella

I don't sew, but my wife does. If you aren't doing sail work, then I don't think you need the zig zag, but you should have a walking foot and the ability to go through multiple layers including vinyl.
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Old 22-01-2014, 13:42   #3
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Re: best sewing machine for sunbrella

My sewing machine does zigzag, and I zigzag much of my canvas work, too. It is much easier to seam rip out a mistake with the zigzag stitch, and as I'm not the worlds best seamstress, that does sometimes happen.

If you choose to make your own tethers, which I shall be doing after reading Evans Starzinger's thread about load testing line and stitching, you will need a zigzag capability to make your bar tacks in your webbing.

Therefore, my opinion is that you would be better off with a machine that will do zigzag stitches.

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Old 22-01-2014, 13:59   #4
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Re: best sewing machine for sunbrella

After doing several small Sunbrella projects, we are happy with our Sailrite. There were a couple cases where we used zig zag, so I recommend getting that option. The machine isn't real sensitive to tension, and handles webbing and multiple layers of Sunbrella/binding/zippers well.
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Old 22-01-2014, 17:08   #5
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Re: best sewing machine for sunbrella

Thanks for all the feedback ! I think that a machine with the zig zag option is important. I guess I'll be doing my research.
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Old 22-01-2014, 18:47   #6
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Re: best sewing machine for sunbrella

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Originally Posted by scurvy dog View Post
my husband and i want to re-do all of our canvas work ( interior, exterior cushions, sunbrella bimini, etc) and i can get a really good deal on a janomi 1600 sewing machine.
The Janomi 1600 looks like a decent machine.

One limitation could be the presser foot lift. It is about a half inch when using the hand lever, less when using the knee lift.

An industrial machine, like my Juki DNU-1541S has the power and control to punch through any fabric thickness, at any speed, from waaay too fast, to one stitch at-a-time. It is not even breathing hard when the material thickness is a half inch of canvas, rubber and plastic.

The sewing table is very handy when working on larger projects. I set my sewing table to the same height as my pool table, using both together when working on my canvas.
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Old 23-01-2014, 10:49   #7
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Re: best sewing machine for sunbrella

As a person who sews Sunbrella for a living, I think your best option is a straight stitch machine with a walking foot. Very few professional canvas shops use zigzag machines unless they’re sewing sails. You will find that a straight stitch machine is more powerful and much easier to time and keep in time than a zigzag machine.

Many home machines can be adjusted to sew heavier marine fabrics like Sunbrella. Ideally, a less complicated machine with metal parts will likely work best. The pressure on the foot will need to be adjusted to its maximum and sometimes extra springs may need to be added. It is important to keep the thickness, that is, the number of layers you’re sewing thru, to a minimum.

When I first began sewing sails and marine canvas, I used an old Pfaff 130 zigzag machine to repair and sew new sails and canvas projects. I could make it sew thru just about anything. One of the most frustrating things to sew on that machine, however, was vinyl, especially clear vinyl. I can’t find the word to say how utterly liberating it was to finally use a commercial machine with a walking foot. Now instead of sticking to the machine, the vinyl was pulled thru by the foot. All I had to do was guide it. If you have space in your home, workshop or garage, you should consider a commercial machine. The first commercial machine I purchased (used) was a Singer 111 with no reverse for $100. I found it by placing an ad in the newspaper (Craig’s List maybe now days) under Wanted to Purchase.

I hope this helps!
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Old 23-01-2014, 10:55   #8
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Re: best sewing machine for sunbrella

You might want to include Barracuda in your research. It looks remarkably like a well known brand for much less.
I have been happy with mine.
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Old 23-01-2014, 18:12   #9
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Re: best sewing machine for sunbrella

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You might want to include Barracuda in your research. It looks remarkably like a well known brand for much less.
I have been happy with mine.
I bought one of those too. It would appear they sell under several brand names. At least one of them is a name brand mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

Mine will, indeed, sew through the 8 layers of sunbrella as advertised. It does have a "Chinese made" feel about it. It's rugged, but not quite commercial grade. It takes some getting used to. The so-called manual is just a few pages in broken English and some parts diagrams, so you're pretty much on your own. A little mechanical ability was required once or twice, but nothing major. The so-called case is just a flimsy, undersized base. I bought a standard, inexpensive sewing machine case at Wal Mart that works fine.

Looking back, and considering price, functionality and portability, I think I made the right choice.
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Old 09-02-2014, 15:19   #10
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Re: best sewing machine for sunbrella

I have a Jenome and a Sailrite both with ZigZag features. I find the Sailrite is better for Sunbrella, canvas, and heavier fabrics. I use the Jenome for sewing curtains, clothes, and light weight fabric.
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Old 21-02-2014, 08:54   #11
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Re: best sewing machine for sunbrella

My wife bought a sailrite LSZ-1 that she has been using non-stop since opening the box. I'm sure there are other options out there which can be had at a lower entry cost, but if you want a no fuse solution to get the job done quickly then I'd highly recommend the sailrite. The ease of use coupled with the extremely robust build quality should make for a quick resale if we decide to part with it when we go cruising.

The zig zag feature has been useful when joining multiple layers of bulky material. My wife just fabricated a mast cover for keel stepped mast and used the zig zag to join the insulating felt to the naugahyde external upholstery. It's a handy tool to have quickly available.
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Old 21-02-2014, 09:16   #12
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Re: best sewing machine for sunbrella

Thanks, I decided to buy the LSZ 1 and it is great. Great videos online, great support. Thanks everyone
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