Thursday, March 13, 2014

My sewing machines

Kim has asked several times about it, so here goes...

The sewing machine I use at home is an industrial Brother high speed single needle straight lock stitch machine. What a mouthful. I used to have an industrial overlock as well, but those suckers take up a lot of room so I got rid of it in favor of a domestic Husqvarna overlock/coverstitch machine.

Industrial machines are typically cheaper than the fancy domestic ones that do a million stitches, especially if you get it used. The garment industry having been decimated, used equipment is plentiful and cheap, and since those machines are built to last forever, getting one from a reputable dealer who will have tuned it up is generally a safe bet. Some people need the zig-zag function on domestic machines, if for nothing other than buttonholes, but you do get a better stitch out of a machine that is only made to do straight-stitches for a number of reasons. Since I never use pins when sewing, I also HATE the presser foot lever on the back of the sewing head of a domestic machine (I need both hands when loading); basic industrial ones will have a knee lever and fancier ones have an automatic lift built into the pedal. Being used to the speed of an industrial machine (up to 5,000 stitches a minute) I find domestic ones impossibly poky. It's also nice that special presser feet, folders and attachments are nearly universal so it's actually much easier to get them for an industrial machine than a domestic one. And once you've got yourself a couple of scroll hemmer feet and a binding folder, you wonder how you ever lived without them. Compensating feet make top stitching and edge stitching easier and neater, and I like to use a hinged quilting guide as a seam allowance gauge because they are easy to adjust and can be flipped up and out of the way when not needed.

Fancier straight stitch machines will also have automatic back tackers and thread trimmers, and a few other functions that are really overkill for the home sewer.


Unknown said...

I agree with almost every thing Jeffery has to say, but I disagree about the automation features. they're not essential, but they're very useful. They won't improve your sewing, but they make you faster. I'm just a hobbyist, but I've replaced my old machine with a near TOL juki 9000. Auto backtack, trimming, and a foot lift save time, and they make working less tiring. That means I'm more likely to pick up and work when I've only got a little bit of time.

If you're buying new, the cost differential is surprising small.

Kim said...

Thanks for that, Jeffery. I suspected as much. I am beginning to lean toward getting an industrial sewing machine. Kinda tired of the home sewing machine drama of malfunctioning machinery.

Anonymous said...

What is your preference when it comes to feed: needle feed or drop feed? For me I prefer needle feed, both my Juki 5410 and my ancient Singer 211 are needle feeds. I think you can get more consistent topstitching with these machines, although I seem to break more needles on the Juki when backstitching.

Anonymous said...

Interesting as always. I adore the Compensating Foot.

Lindsay Whitehead said...

My Juki industrial with auto backtack, thread cutting and presser foot lifter is the best thing I've ever bought. Sure, they may not be necessary features, but neither is a microwave in a kitchen. They speed up the whole sewing process and makes you hate going on a machine without it. When I have sew at school or use my domestic (for buttonholes etc) I'm constantly frustrated with the lack of these simple features. To me, along with speed, they are the major draw cards to getting an industrial.


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