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Sewing machines for DIY

fbwguy

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That thing looks pristine! Have you tried it yet?
Not yet! She will give me lessons this weekend. She has so many of these things, this is clean but she says it’s her worst one! She buys em cheap and cleans em up nice
 

BudgetBuck1

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Oct 20, 2017
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Hickory, NC
I just bought a walking foot for my old singer. Haven't got it in the mail yet so I don't know how good it will work. I was surprised that they sold walking foot attachments for the older machines. Remember to adjust the tension when you put the thick thread in that old singer. That one thing will save you a lot of headaches when you are learning to sew. I have went back and fixed all the holes in my old hunting gear after I got my sewing machine working. It's kind of addictive.
 

IkemanTX

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There are a ton of good (home or household) machines floating around out there. The best ones for DIY gear are going to be older ones from the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s. I’m a Kenmore fan but Singers are very good as well. Of course I have a Juki now so the Kenmore is my back up. The main thing to look for is ALL METAL !!! internal parts. Just pop off the cover and give them a look. The ones you want will have internals that look like they could power a train! The newer ones with the cheap plastic gears just can’t hold up to what we use them for. The motors also don’t have the power to punch through multiple layers of webbing and Cordura.

These machines are literally everywhere when you start actually looking for them. Odds are someone in your family or a friends mom/grandma has one tucked away in a closet or basement. You might actually be able to find one for free!

Goodwill, Craigslist, and second hand stores are good places to look. You can usually pick them up from $20-$100 depending on the make and model. There are always decent ones on EBay but shipping is usually the killer.

Here are some photos of several things I made with my Kenmore 158 series (1968 model). As you can see you can do very lightweight, thin material to very heavy stuff.

NOTE: I have found having zig zag stitch capability is NOT necessary for DIY gear making. All you need is forward/reverse, stitch length adjustment, and good speed control.

EDIT: IMPORTANT!!!!!! You need to make sure the machine can handle a thicker industrial thread and that you can find needles to handle the thread as well. Remember, if you're making a saddle, THIS THING IS HOLDING YOUR ASS 20 - 30 FEET OFF OF THE GROUND!!! MAKE SURE YOU ARE USING GOOD QUALITY THREAD/MATERIALS AND YOU HAVE COMPLETE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR SKILLS!

HERE'S THE THREAD I USE FOR MY HEAVY DUTY GEAR:
http://www.rockywoods.com/Gutermann-TERA-40-Polyester-Thread

HERE'S WHAT I USE FOR BASICALLY EVERYTHING ELSE:
https://www.wawak.com/Gutermann-Mara-70-Top-Stitch-Button-Hole-Thread-Tex-40-765-yds?quantity=1&custcol28=685

HERE'S A GREAT NEEDLE TYPE/SIZE CHART: https://www.schmetzneedles.com/learning/pdf/schmetz-needle-chart.pdf























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This has still got to be some of the best executed diy projects on here......
Dang man. You make me want to learn to sew.


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benny a gregoire jr.

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Dec 4, 2017
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Here's the specs for the Tera 40: (Suggested needle size: Metric 90-110, Singer 14-18). Most of your home machines will use the standard Singer sizing. I use Groz-Beckert or Organ needles for my Juki machine. I used Schmetz most of the time in my Kenmore with great results. Ebay has great deals on bulk buys. Schmetz makes good needles too that can be found at Wal Mart. I just added a needle size chart above with the other links.
Still figuring out all these numbers. What schmetz needle are you running in kenmore


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7mmremmag

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Oct 15, 2018
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Long time lurker bumping this thread instead of starting a new one (lots of good info here). Found a friend wanting to sell a working singer rfj8-8 (pretty cheap too from what I can tell googling) that seems to be in good shape. Anyone using one of those with luck or should I be looking at other machines?
 

skell

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Long time lurker bumping this thread instead of starting a new one (lots of good info here). Found a friend wanting to sell a working singer rfj8-8 (pretty cheap too from what I can tell googling) that seems to be in good shape. Anyone using one of those with luck or should I be looking at other machines?
Quick look... I think it will likely do what you want within reason. This has some good info on that machine...

 

7mmremmag

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Newhunter1

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Well this machine do the heavy duty saddle sewing? Got it free today from the sewing ministry at my church.


There was also an singer machine that looked from the 60-70’s.


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wayne r

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Dec 28, 2018
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Check underneath and see if the gears are all metal, some use plastic gears and the break, yours looks a nice machine
 

Newhunter1

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Check underneath and see if the gears are all metal, some use plastic gears and the break, yours looks a nice machine
All metal...and the needle easily goes through my flat webbing that's rated for 6000ibs or 26.7kN. No tread...just testing to see if it will do the box X...I think I have a winner.
 

7mmremmag

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Well, went ahead and bought the singer. Picking it up tomorrow. Looks like all the original pieces are with it and in good shape as well. I feel like the start of PA archery season is a bad time to learn a new skill
 

Homebrew454

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Oct 17, 2017
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Is there heavy duty thread that you need to use? Where do you get your materials from?
For thread I use size 92 polyester with a size 20 needle and some size 138 polyester with a size 22 needle. The needles and thread I get from here https://www.thethreadexchange.com/miva/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=polyester-thread.

Materials vary but I get a lot of it from ripstopbytheroll.com or eBay.

I have switched from the box stitch to the "w" stitch. I used a formula I found and figured out if I go up and down six times (with size 92 thread) making the "w" 5 inches each way. It results in a stitch strength in theory of about 6000 pounds. I need a total stitch strength of 33.5 inches to achieve this result. Here is a good link to what I'm referring to. https://www.sailrite.com/How-to-Sew-Webbing-Loops


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Last edited:

Homebrew454

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Just a note as well.... When you start sewing webbing, use a thread that clashes/is highly visible in the webbing. The different color really helps to see the proper stitch tension. It also is easier to see if the stitches are getting frayed or bad and the item needs to be taken out of service.

You can even use different colors for the bobbin and topstitch to help with tension settings as well.

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J3general

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Long time lurker bumping this thread instead of starting a new one (lots of good info here). Found a friend wanting to sell a working singer rfj8-8 (pretty cheap too from what I can tell googling) that seems to be in good shape. Anyone using one of those with luck or should I be looking at other machines?
The model number your quoted rfj8-8 is the model number of the electric motor. Post a picture of the machine and we can identify it.

John Thomas in NC
 

7mmremmag

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The model number your quoted rfj8-8 is the model number of the electric motor. Post a picture of the machine and we can identify it.

John Thomas in NC
I figured it out a while ago when I could check it out in person. It is a 185k. I bought it, cleaned it, put new tension springs in it, played with it for a week making stuff sacks and other fun stuff and built a saddle that has been flawless. The machine runs beautifully.

Thanks for trying to help!
 
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