I'm learning to sew.....

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Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later....between general outdoor stuff, canoeing stuff, climbing stuff, camping stuff etc I have been working myself up for some time to learn to sew. So I spent some time learning just enough to get myself in trouble and ordered a few kinds each of canvas, packcloth, ripstop, needles and such and started tinkering. And as I live in an area with a lot of used commercial/industrial sewing machines floating around I started trying to get my brain cell wrapped around the many kinds of those and narrow down what I might be looking out for.

I have a good sized heavy canvas tarp that saw a lot of years of use as a dining fly for scout and family camping. In fact it still gets used for drive up camping and such. But my pole bag has gotten pretty rough. It was after all made from lightweight tent canvas 25-30 years ago.....

One of the canvas' I had is natural color 72" wide 10 ounce canvas so I looked at what I'd change from the old bag and added some length, width and a stout pocket to hold the 16 or so 12" GI surplus aluminum pins I tote around with the tarp.

I used what I had on hand so the handle is a piece of 1" climbing tubular nylon, the handle gussets were cut from 1-1/2" canoe seat webbing with a hot knife, the drawstring is a stout elastic cord I had on hand etc. The side pocket has some pleats as one end of the pins is a lot wider than the other and the pocket has extra length to hold some extra guy lines etc.

I used a size 90/14 needle with heavy polyester thread and it wanted to wander as it stitched due to flexing in the needle and the needle shaft of my wife's sewing machine but truthfully, most of the bobbles and wavy lines were me. Clearly this is going to be like learning to weld but instead of "padding" dozens of weld beads across a steel plate I just need to run a lot of seams of stitches. And if I'm going to do much of this I need to find a heavier machine.

Here's how it came out.

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I pleated the pocket (hard to see under bright light with white fabric and no real shadow) and used a a strip of 2" hook and loop under the flap. Note the crooked handle gusset.... Frankly I was surprised that Nancy's 38 year old machine handled the thick canvas seams and webbing as well as it did. I did quickly find out that if I stopped with the needle buried in a seam corner or the webbing gussets I had to lift it free of the fabric by hand or the machine really struggled with restarting-no surprise there, ehh?


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And the pocket with sixteen 12" pins in it.

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Here is the one design thing I may have to change. The drawstring sleeve is too tight for the elastic cord due to the stiff fabric as it won't collapse enough to close the bag. I'll likely need to open that seam and make a bigger sleeve and switch to 4 or 5mm accessory cord to get the opening to bunch up enough as the narrow tunnel is aggravated by the cord stretching instead of the fabric bunching up. Once I figure out what size cord it will have as the permanent cord I'll get a cord lock for it.


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There is a guy a little over an hour from me with 9 or 10 industrial Singer straight stitch compound feed machines that are priced pretty reasonably. They are made for medium to heavy fabric and I may get one to spare Nancy's machine the abuse of heavy stuff. I eventually want to make us a set of portage packs and spray covers for our canoes but I will need a lot of practice before attempting something as visible as a spay cover.

I think a packcloth cover for the reflector oven is next up. And some paddle bags. And Dutch oven tote bags for our camp ovens. And I have at least a half dozen climbing ropes that could use rope bags. And maybe thwart bags. And.....

Best regards to all,


Lance
 

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That is a good start. I’ve sewn a number of things. I have an old Singer all metal machine that I bought too many years ago to remember but I doubt I paid more that $25 bucks. And two years ago a friend of mine gave me a Sailrite industrial machine which is awesome.
You are on your way.

Jim
 
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Good morning, Jim.

I've looked at the Sailrite machines and they do seem to be pretty good machines with a great reputation for this type of stuff. What model do you have? And have you used it for lighter things like ripstop or silnylon/silpoly?

The machine I'm thinking of going to try out has compound feed and uses the normal drop feed pawls plus a walking foot and needle feed to pretty much eliminate any slippage in fabric layers. A number of online reviews and videos all agree that if you can fit it under the presser foot it will sew it without any issues.

Best regards,


Lance
 
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Hi Lance
I have the basic LSZ-1 it has the walking foot and zig-zag and straight stitch. I haven’t used the Sailrite in ripstop, it’s mostly my heavy duty use machine. The old Singer is what I use for ripstop. I don’t hesitate to break out the speedy-stitcher or sailors palm and sail needles to to something by hand if it needs it.
Got thinking about your draw cord issue. I made a paddle bag years and had a similar issue. Depending on the length of the bag perhaps you could fold the top over and just tie the draw cord around the poles. If there is not enough material it would be easy to add a little more length to one side to create the flap.

Jim
 
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I used to do leather work and did it by hand. The same techniques work for canvas repairs. My canvas wall tent is 40 years old and needs no repairs.
 
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Will do Lance. I have been very blessed, people have given me more things than I can remember. He and I have traded many thing over the years. But that gift was the result of economics, he was a boat customer (lived in the city and on his boat that I did work on) before anyone gets the wrong idea his apartment was 600 square feet and his boat was a twenty-three foot sailboat. He would store misc items in a self storage unit, when they raised the rent again (I think it went to $125 for a 5x5 foot) he got rid of all of what was in there. And he knew if he gave it to me he could borrow it back at any time. A win-win.
sorry for the thread drift.
Jim
 
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I would love to have a Sailright with both stitch options, the only thing I have is a commercial/industrial Pfaff leather machine, it doesn't really well in fabric too! I also have an older made in England Singer that is alright but not great and I also have an old treadle Singer that is fantastic!! I don't do a lot of sewing but I would love to do more, I ave a few projects in the near future. The major problem up here is fabric sourcing, no fabric store, everything need to be ordered online and most of everything good need to come from US or UK.
 
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I started with a suit of buckskins, then some bags, carrying pouches and moccasins. The preferred material for sewing is sinew. Now there is artificial sinew which works well.
Then I moved on to heavier leather like belts, headstalls, spur straps, chaps and repair work. Gun holsters are fun to make. Heavy cotton thread waxed with bees wax is the stuff. The work is normally held in a clamp called a stitching pony. A sewer's palm is used to push the heavy needles. An awl is used to start the holes. Very substantial work that will outlive me.
 
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I started with a suit of buckskins, then some bags, carrying pouches and moccasins. The preferred material for sewing is sinew. Now there is artificial sinew which works well.
Then I moved on to heavier leather like belts, headstalls, spur straps, chaps and repair work. Gun holsters are fun to make. Heavy cotton thread waxed with bees wax is the stuff. The work is normally held in a clamp called a stitching pony. A sewer's palm is used to push the heavy needles. An awl is used to start the holes. Very substantial work that will outlive me.

I've done lots of hand sewing, knife sheaths, tool sheaths, axe sheaths, moccasin, mittens, belts, pouches... I still do a lot of hand stitching, in both leather and canvas. I've used artificial sinew, but I prefer a heavy waxed thread oner sinew. Never used a sticking pony but I think I would like to make myself one!!

I tend to use the sewing machine more and more when it comes to fabric of all sorts!!
 
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There's no "thread drift" there, Jim. Or was that thread drift reference a sideways pun on my wobbly seams? :) Anyway, it's all good.

ppine, my leatherwork experience has been confined to repairs and a few small things like very basic axe or hatchet masks (sheaths). I may someday give it a try though and make a stitching horse and/or pony if I decide I want to keep at it.

The guy with the Singer industrial sewing machines is only asking $300-350 US for them and even if I swap the current clutch motor for a more hobbyist friendly servo motor and smaller pulley to slow it down from 3000 stitches a minute I won't have a ton of money in it. I'm still mulling the whole thing.

Best regards to all,


Lance
 
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There's no "thread drift" there, Jim. Or was that thread drift reference a sideways pun on my wobbly seams? :) Anyway, it's all good.

ppine, my leatherwork experience has been confined to repairs and a few small things like very basic axe or hatchet masks (sheaths). I may someday give it a try though and make a stitching horse and/or pony if I decide I want to keep at it.

The guy with the Singer industrial sewing machines is only asking $300-350 US for them and even if I swap the current clutch motor for a more hobbyist friendly servo motor and smaller pulley to slow it down from 3000 stitches a minute I won't have a ton of money in it. I'm still mulling the whole thing.

Best regards to all,


Lance

What model Singer ?
 
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All of the machines he has are Singer 211A157 walking foot, needle feed and standard bobbin. Many of the later 211s had the alternating presser feet and many had the big bobbin.

Best regards to all,


Lance
 
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Lance, I recently got an industrial machine and really like it. I had been using my wife's home machine for projects but it does not handle heavier stuff well. If I were to damage it with the heavy stuff I would be in for a world of suffering. I had been wanting covers for two of my canoes and reasoned it would be cheaper and more fun (and better for my well being) to buy a used machine/ materials and make them rather than go for custom ordered covers.

I researched machines on line and watched Craig's List for months before I found what I wanted at a reasonable price. I want to be able to work with lighter weight synthetics as well as ocassional heavy work. Walking foot machines are great for heavy stuff but don't handle light weight synthetics as well. I ended up finding a Juki DLN 415-4 needle feed machine for $300. It needed a tune up as it sometimes skipped stitches. A month of patience, internet sleuthing and a couple new parts and it works perfect. It's been six weeks since I got it tuned up and have done some gear repairs, testing with different materials and made some masks. It works great with anything from two layers of ripstop nylon to 16 layers of denim.

A few thoughts based on my experience so far:
Motors: I thought I needed a servo motor to be able to slow things down to a reasonable speed. My machine has a 3/4 hp clutch motor and was set up to do 5000 stitches per minute. I swapped the pulley and cut the speed in half. After just a little use I am comfortable with the speed and sometimes think I could go up a bit. No need to change a perfectly good clutch motor for a servo, pulleys are cheap.
Feed type: I have a friend who has a walking foot machine (A Singer, not sure what model) he used it to make new seats for a car restoration. He says his machine would not handle the lighter weight stuff I showed him. I like the needle feed as the layers of material don't slip relative to one another. I don't know anyone with a compound feed machine but they seem like they could handle everything.
Needles: I have tried both Organ and Groz-Beckert, the Groz-Beckert work way better in my machine. It is worth trying different needles.
Thread: Get good quality thread, the less expensive thread from a local fabric store is not worth using. I get better more consistent stitches and never break thread using the good stuff.
On line info: I stumbled across the Make Your Own Gear section on the back packing light forum https://backpackinglight.com/forums/...your-own-gear/ So much knowledge and sharing there like canoetripping.net. I have spent too many hours falling down that rabbit hole. Worth a look if you are going to stitch your own gear.

Good luck with your sewing projects and I will post pictures of my covers as I get them made. Material is on order so hopefully soon.

Tom
 
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An industrial sewing machine is a big deal. A friend had one and made some great repairs on canvas. It opens doors and creates opportunity. Don't try sewing canvas and leather with a regular machine.
 
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Thanks, Tom. I got a mix of Gutermann's Mara and Tera polyester thread to try on my wife's machine and the largest I have is Tera 40 "Upholstery thread" which is the equivalent of #69 nylon thread. Her machine handles it just fine and it's likely the heaviest thread most homeowner machine will take.

The Singer 211A157s the guy near me has are rated for medium to heavy fabrics at 4,000 stitches per minute, not the 3,000 I stated earlier so I would definitely want to slow it down. The largest stitch it can make is 4.2mm. The later 211s could do 7.3mm stitches. From what I understand I don't think the 4.2mm stitches are an issue for what I want to do, though.

http://www.industrialsewmachine.com/webdoc1/singer/211a.htm

If I understand things correctly a smaller pulley for the clutch motor should be $30 or less so if I buy one of the 211s I'll do that first. At least all the machines he has are 120 volt and not three phase as many of the machines around me are. I have a 5-hp rotary phase converter for my three phase woodworking tools but having that thing humming in the corner along with a constantly spinning clutch motor would be more than a little annoying.

I think I'll take a shot and call the guy with the 211s in the next day or so before I smoke my wife's machine.

What fabric has anyone here used on spray covers?

Best regards to all,


Lance
 
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Good morning, Jim.

I've looked at the Sailrite machines and they do seem to be pretty good machines with a great reputation for this type of stuff. What model do you have? And have you used it for lighter things like ripstop or silnylon/silpoly?

The machine I'm thinking of going to try out has compound feed and uses the normal drop feed pawls plus a walking foot and needle feed to pretty much eliminate any slippage in fabric layers. A number of online reviews and videos all agree that if you can fit it under the presser foot it will sew it without any issues.

Best regards,


Lance
I bought a family sew machine and side by side they appear to come from the same factory with many interchangeable parts. I used it for a few sailing projects and sold it to a commercial sewing friend of mine. There are copies of sail rite machines out there. I paid $450 for mine new about 10 years ago. My buddy has big commercial machines but uses this portable to take job site and last i heard he loves it. Mine also did zigzag.
 
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I bought a family sew machine and side by side they appear to come from the same factory with many interchangeable parts. I used it for a few sailing projects and sold it to a commercial sewing friend of mine. There are copies of sail rite machines out there. I paid $450 for mine new about 10 years ago. My buddy has big commercial machines but uses this portable to take job site and last i heard he loves it. Mine also did zigzag.

Salty, the Sailrites are copies as are many (most) of the industrial machines out there. There's not a lot new under the sun in sewing machines anymore aside from computerized controls. I know folks that can quote chapter and verse as to what machines are copies or which other machines *wholly or in parts) but I get a headache over it all so I decided to stick to mainstream industrial machines.

I have a smaller 1950s Necchi on an industrial style table but my workhorses are a Consew 226R flat bed machine and a Consew 227 cylinder bed machine. Both are triple feed (feed dogs, needle feed and walking foot. Presser foot lift is 7/16" or a wee bit more and they will sew just about anything you can stuff under there.

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Here's my latest project:


It'll likely be a whil before I do anything big swing-wise as I recently went back to my more youthful years and after decades away from the EMS world I'm back in school to regain my EMT certification and also joined the local fire department so that's taking another 2-3 nights a week for another 5 months.

Best regards,


Lance
 
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An industrial sewing machine is a big deal. A friend had one and made some great repairs on canvas. It opens doors and creates opportunity. Don't try sewing canvas and leather with a regular machine.
I've done both with an old Kenmore my wife's mother gave me, the new ones may not work with all the plastic on them but that 60 year old one just keeps humming along. I've repaired dozens of nylon tents (scouts tear them up pretty fast), sewn 7 different hot tents, made hundreds of pole, tent, gear, or stuffsacks from nylon, polyester, broadcloth, or even 10oz duck, and even a few dozen leather sheaths of various types or sizes. I found the 3 things you need is the proper tension, good thread (love Gutermann's outdoor upholstery thread) , and good, SHARP needles. It's stock 1/5hp motor does just fine with up to 4-5 layers of 10oz canvas, you just have to start off on the seam where it's only 2 layers thick to "get a run at it". Easiest way I found to run slippery fabrics is to use low- temp"fusible tape" (interfacing) to hold the seam together first- no straight pin holes, no shifting, and no puckering, and some is water-soluble so it just dissolves in the washer- I prefer the regular woven low- temp stuff because I think it actually helps reinforce the seam
 
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