Originally Posted by GoneDiving
I'm starting to consider options for sewing soft furnishings for a trawler
(no steady sail). Ideally I would like to buy a used Sailrite but they are unicorns in Australia
. A new one is A$2500 delivered. Intended use is a full vessel refit of lounge toppers, curtains, custom mattress covers and exterior shade fabrics. Plus the 50 other jobs I find when I have a machine sitting there ready to go. I have zero experience sewing.
Option 1: Buy a new Sailrite and sell it once the main refit is finished. Resale is unlikely to happen as there will always be new work
to do, so I'm down $2500 but have a very good machine.
Option 2: wait for a used machine to appear. Hopefully this century.
Option 3: Chineseium unit for $700 delivered. Zero resale value so just keep it. Tolerate any quality issues.
Has anyone used a AliExpress special? Is quality so-so or complete garbage?
Is a walking foot model a need to have or a nice to have? The thickest materials will be the couch toppers and shade sails
Is there anything/other models that I have missed?
I'll take a stab at at least part of this. I bought a used Sailrite a while back, and have been satisfied with it. I found that the Sailrite people were friendly, even though it was used, when I contacted them. I'll get back to this.
For years, I did all our canvas
work on an old Pfaff 130 that had been my mother's, before me. Eventually, I sorta wore it out. I think that the walking foot is a great idea. It was a quieter machine, and it was easier to control than the Sailrite. With the Sailrite, it will be for heavy projects, no silk shirts. It is the ability to sew clothing
, and sheets
for the V berth is something I gave up with the Pfaff, unknowing, and it is a significant loss. I made simple wraparound skirts for people as gifts while we were out in the South Pacific
I also think the throat on the Pfaff and the Sailrite were about the same size: a larger throat (area that you can put fabric
through on the machine side of the sewing) is better. You have to research
We have some friends with one of the Chinese ones. He is an engineer
, and chose it carefully, paid, iirc ~$800AUD. It is white. It is not noisier than my Sailrite, which sounds clunky in operation. It has a larger throat, and I'm sure that makes it easier to use when working on large projects where you can't have all the excess fabric
off to the side. (Sewing in dodger
windows comes to mind.) I do not know if it is set up for a binding attachment, but they are pretty simple, and one could drill and tap and install one for oneself, if one were handy. I like the binder for some edges, some of the time.
Sailrite has customer service
going for it, and gadgets for the machines. They buy Chinese, too, but strip them down and re-assemble them to their own specs, so their product is pretty uniform. Their videos are educational, and even their written instructions for doing projects are helpful. I wished I'd had read the dinghy
chaps suggestions before Jim and I got stuck into that project
, for sure!
I do think that you could buy an old fashioned sewing machine
with metal insides (not the plastics), and be well satisfied, for canvas
work, but not have the capability for heavy sail repairs
. Nor, will the Sailrite do. It is limited in its pressure foot height, so you can "layer out" with it on clews or tacks. (you'd have to hand finish.) Still, the walking foot is a big help.
Since you have not done a sewing project
previously, I'd suggest starting with something simple. When I first started sewing, I found straight seams a bit of a challenge, but as you practice, you definitely will do better at it.
I said I'd get back to the Sailrite attitude. Part of their appeal is that they have very good customer service
, and thought out recommendations for folks who want to take their products cruising where there are little or no services. Their reputation is good. I would not expect any service from the Chinese supplier, and the manual might be a little difficult, as well.
Good luck with it all, and please feel free to PM me with questions. One way to look at it is that your first big project, like a boom bag, will pay for the sewing machine
, maybe more than once. Use ptfe thread for everything out of doors. It's a little fussy to work with, and expensive, but it means you only sew it once. The #92 dacron thread only lasts 4 yrs. in UV exposure. Most of the fabrics you use will last ~10 yrs., except for your inside stuff.