Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => The Knowledge => OT Knowledge => Topic started by: BrianI on March 18, 2017, 03:39:03 pm

Title: Make it Sew?
Post by: BrianI on March 18, 2017, 03:39:03 pm
If I was to buy a sewing machine for DIY clothing repair (e.g. replacement of zips on trousers etc), and possible for fettling together diy bike packing bags, what features should I look for?
Something like this Singer?  https://www.gumtree.com/p/arts-crafts/singer-sewing-machine-for-sale/1224312997 (https://www.gumtree.com/p/arts-crafts/singer-sewing-machine-for-sale/1224312997)
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: Kim on March 18, 2017, 05:05:19 pm
The ability to do zig-zag stitches is worth having, IMHO, which is where otherwise excellent vintage machines fall short.  They'll take a bit more strain without breaking than straight stitches, which is useful for clothing (and possibly bags).  Most of the other features on modern machines are just bling.

Machine-sewing properly stretchy fabrics is advanced witchcraft requiring special equipment and skills.  I outsource that to barakta's mum.
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: Paul H on March 18, 2017, 06:28:43 pm
As long as that's working OK you'll get £30 worth of fun out of it.
One of the issues with older machines is the foot pedal can lack finesse, they can be a bit on/off with nothing in between.  If you haven't done much machine sewing it might take a while to work out if that's you or it.  Universal replacements are available, but from what I've heard they don't always cure it. Try and get a demo and ask them to stitch something slowly.  When it comes to thicker material or multi layers an under powered machine  will only get through it at speed, not what you want in an awkward corner. So in the same demo, ask them to stitch something at least as thick as you intend.  For bulky items, like some bag designs, having more space under the arm is a real advantage. I used to make marquees before they all went plastic, the person sitting at the machine has the easy job, it's the three wrestling the tent through it that do all the work. 
Top tips, good needles of the right size and change them before they're blunt.  Thread is cheap, get some charity shop curtains and if in doubt try it on them first.
Here's my baby. 1948 Pfaff 230, a thing of beauty running as smooth as when new, though quiet it isn't.  £50 off ebay a decade ago, though they fetch a bit more now. Just plucking up courage to make a new flysheet for my tent.
  (https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2934/32669906114_b38f7ae177_n.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/RLVNTm)P1000386 (https://flic.kr/p/RLVNTm) by Paul (https://www.flickr.com/photos/phbike/), on Flickr
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: Kim on March 18, 2017, 06:37:14 pm
As long as that's working OK you'll get £30 worth of fun out of it.

Seconded.
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: dim on March 18, 2017, 07:05:40 pm
Singer 222k .... they don't come cheap though, but it's one favoured by many who sew for a living .... I bought my wife one at carboot for £30.... she has used it twice

(http://www.singersewinginfo.co.uk/images/222reds500.jpg)
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: arabella on March 19, 2017, 08:47:11 pm
Mine you can take off the bit around the plate to get a wrist-sized bit which is handy of you're doing cuffs.  But if you aren't then it's probably not strictly necessary.

varying striaght stich length, zigzag as mentioned above are the 2 main things you want.  Reverse to oversew the ends is handy but not essential.  I find my buttonhole program is shite thought it would be nice if it weren't.

Anything else is just vast complications.
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: BrianI on March 25, 2017, 06:21:07 pm
How about this one, described as a "Jones vintage sewing machine" . Seems to be model number 451 according to the photie:

https://www.gumtree.com/p/arts-crafts/sewing-machine/1225247378 (https://www.gumtree.com/p/arts-crafts/sewing-machine/1225247378)

Looks awfy like the one my dad had when I was younger, which I'm sure he used to make curtains with...  Not that I'll be doing drapery, but more for having a bash at bike packing bags.  Although by the time I buy a sewing machine (£30+ for a second hand one), plus materials + time, then an alpkit frame bag / seat pack might not be that much difference in cost...

Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: BrianI on March 26, 2017, 08:45:22 am
Well, seller contacted to see if its still available. Should be ok for £30, even for just doing clothing repairs...
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: Clare on March 26, 2017, 09:12:16 am
My mum had one of those when I was a kid; it became mine when she finally got a Bernina. I made most of my clothes on it for years.
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: Paul H on March 26, 2017, 01:15:58 pm
Well, seller contacted to see if its still available. Should be ok for £30, even for just doing clothing repairs...
It's a well enough respected make, though I've never used one.  I'd google parts availability, but I doubt you'll have any trouble finding them.  Like all sewing machine purchases, I'd want to see it demonstrated before buying, look at the stitching, if it doesn't look right - tight and even - walk away.   And listen to it, if it sounds right it probably is, IME sewing machines that have been neglected sound rough, most noticeable when your foot come off the pedal, sometimes that just needs a bit of oiling, but I wouldn't risk it.
I know it's only £30, but the time and effort you can waste trying to use one that isn't running well takes all the fun out of it and there's enough cheap machines out there to get a good one.
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: BrianI on March 29, 2017, 08:13:00 pm
Or this one, for £40, a Singer 411g?  https://www.gumtree.com/p/arts-crafts/singer-411g-semi-industrial-sewing-machine-/1226054980
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: BrianI on March 29, 2017, 08:42:45 pm
Or this one, for £40, a Singer 411g?  https://www.gumtree.com/p/arts-crafts/singer-411g-semi-industrial-sewing-machine-/1226054980

Which is still available as I've just made contact with the seller, and while it's not *local*  it seems a good bargain for a heavy duty machine....  :thumbsup: 

Bumph about the Singer 411g:  http://www.singersewinginfo.co.uk/431/
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: Paul H on March 29, 2017, 09:03:35 pm
That's probably the best model you've linked to.  I learnt to sew on the sister model which is identical other than having a removable bed. Easy to use, very smooth, simple controls.
I don't think it was ever intended to be semi industrial as the ad says,  though I know it got used for light industrial, maybe robust domestic would be a better description.  It'll do everything you want from it.  The G in the model number means it's a German made machine. There were an extraordinary number of attachments available, endless fun... It might even do twin stitch which would be good if you get into bag making.
As with the others I'd want a demo before buying.
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: redshift on March 30, 2017, 11:19:06 am
Alternatively you could try finding your local version of these guys: https://m-s-sewing-machines.myshopify.com/

They're about 5 minutes walk from me, and in addition to new and secondhand domestic and industrial machines, they do servicing of all makes.  Last year they serviced my Singer, which isn't heavily used but just needed a little fettle and some TLC.  They were servicing flatlockers for a Manx wetsuit maker when I dropped mine off.

They can't be the only guys that do this, but of course Manchester has a history of fabric/garment manufacture and still has people dotted around who do piecework.  You may find somewhere closer to you that does similar sales/servicing of an old machine.

Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: BrianI on March 30, 2017, 04:24:30 pm
Picking the machine up tonight!   :thumbsup:

Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: BrianI on March 31, 2017, 04:16:22 pm
And here she is!

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2924/32943521543_4fcf6a0335_c.jpg)

 :thumbsup:

She runs pretty well indeed despite being a circa 1964 machine. Built in Germany it seems. Probably the only bit of German engineering I'll ever own! 

I tried some test stitching on a old handkerchief, looks like I need to fiddle with thread tension slightly, but it stitches quite well indeed, I think user error is more to blame!

Only slight issue is that the machine starts to run slowly without pressing the foot speed controller. This is a known fault, apparently the capacitor which was fitted across the rheostat to suppress RFI starts to "leak", creating a short across the rheostat.  Fixable by removing the capacitor:

https://oldsingersewingmachineblog.com/2012/02/22/the-vintage-singer-foot-pedal-button-controller-sewing-motor-controller-whatever-more-about-it/ (https://oldsingersewingmachineblog.com/2012/02/22/the-vintage-singer-foot-pedal-button-controller-sewing-motor-controller-whatever-more-about-it/)

Might be worthwhile getting a replacement wiring harness as well, as the wiring from the mains socket and to the foot switch looks a little shoddy.  But for £40, even if I do need to spend of few ££ on repairs, it's a very fine machine indeed.
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: BrianI on April 08, 2017, 07:15:34 pm
Got hold of some sewing machine oil today, and was able to open her up and give it a good clean and lube.

Runs very sweet despite being 54 years old! Robust German Engineering for the win!  Should be good for another 50 years...

https://youtu.be/oMNs8NU13MU
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: fruitcake on April 10, 2017, 01:12:37 pm
A 1960s electric machine will be good for clothing repairs and alterations. Replacement controllers can be bought for very little and modern electronic ones ramp up the voltage more gradually, so they work well at low speed. And new motors are cheap as chips nowadays.

The learning curve is steep but short: using a sewing machines is frustrating and fiddly at first, but you get it a feel for it after a few sessions, and then you can sew almost anything. 

And when you're ready to consider n+1...
(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: BrianI on April 11, 2017, 07:50:40 pm
A 1960s electric machine will be good for clothing repairs and alterations. Replacement controllers can be bought for very little and modern electronic ones ramp up the voltage more gradually, so they work well at low speed. And new motors are cheap as chips nowadays.

The learning curve is steep but short: using a sewing machines is frustrating and fiddly at first, but you get it a feel for it after a few sessions, and then you can sew almost anything. 

And when you're ready to consider n+1...
(click to show/hide)

I think the 411g should see me out, as it's still running well despite being 54 years old!!   :thumbsup: I may replace the rheostat controller with a modern electronic one though, for better control.

Title: Re: Make it Sew?
Post by: phantasmagoriana on May 05, 2019, 06:37:26 pm
Shamelessly bumping this thread because I, too, have bought an old sewing machine. I'd been thinking it would be good to have one for ages, and picked up an old Singer 315 for £15 in a local shop. I don't know much about this model, but it was apparently made in 1955, just down the road in Clydebank. :thumbsup:

Growing up, we had a couple of very old Singers at home (hand-cranked, black ones with wooden cases), but this is my first new-fangled electric one - Modern machines seem to have too many features I'll never use; I just need something that can stitch. So far, I've managed to thread it and it made stitches.