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About Singer 120U Machine


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#1 alongjordan

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 06:28 PM

Hello all!

New to forum.

I have a Singer 120U machine and while I believe it will do well for any fabric I could feed it, I am pretty sure from lurking around here that it will basically not do leather that I am looking to sew. I am looking to do holster work in 2+ layers of 5/6 up to 8/9 tooling leather. I may add some to the repertoire like belts, guitar straps, etc. I do this because I enjoy it, not because I am looking to make money or seriously go into business. If I were to sell some stuff here and there to offset the costs of my hobby, I would not complain.

The Singer is in working order, has a clutch motor (that goes what I call absurdly fast for fabric), and is complete with table.

So the question goes...

How much heck and investment would I be looking at to convert it to my needs? Would it even be worth it?

-OR-

Could I expect to be able to do a direct (or almost direct) trade against a Tippman Leather Boss or similar?

Thanks in advance.

#2 Wizcrafts

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 01:15 AM

That Singer is strictly a garment sewing machine, meant for factory use. It sews fast on purpose. It is designed to tension cotton or polycore thread in the light weights used in garments, like shirts and pants. Due to its using a short needle stroke system, it cannot sew thick stacks of material. This machine will not properly sew veg-tan leather with #138 thread, or heavier. You will be limited to using #69 bonded nylon, top and bottom.

There are very few improvements you can make to that machine. To slow it down requires a replacement servo motor. To feed veg-tan leather you will need to convert it into a roller foot machine. Still, it won't sew 18 ounces of leather, even with #69 thread.

As for a walking foot machine, if you mean an upholstery grade machine for 20 ounce veg-tan holsters, maybe, maybe not. It depends on what machine and how new it is and if it can tension heavy thread. Most walking foot machines max out at #138 thread. However, it is possible to use up to #207 on top and 138 in the bobbin. These machines are limited to sewing no more than 3/8 inch thickness.

If you can sell the 120U on Craigslist, or a local classifieds, do so. Save your money and buy a "441" clone, like those made by Cowboy or Cobra, with a 9 or 16.5 inch arm and flat table attachment. They easily sew 3/4 inch, with up to #415 thread. And, these machine come with a servo motor and a speed reducer pulley between the motor and machine. With their long needles, they can sew over 3/4 inch of material, including veg-tan leather.

You can list your machine for sale or trade in our Marketplace section, under Leather machinery > Sewing Machines > Used

Edited by Wizcrafts, 11 December 2011 - 01:17 AM.

Posted IMHO, by Wiz

#3 alongjordan

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 05:14 PM

Thanks Wiz! As a result of my lurking before registering, I was more than kind of hoping you would reply to this.

Thanks for pretty much confirming what I thought about that machine. The price was nice when I found it and I figured it was worth more than I gave and could maybe work as a trade against something more like what I actually want.

What little garment work I do, I'm hoping to find a reasonably nice treadle machine for.

Do you think that I could realistically expect to do anything close to a full trade against a used 441 clone you mention or a Tippman Boss fuguring this Singer is in reasonably good condition?

#4 Wizcrafts

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 11:49 PM

Thanks Wiz! As a result of my lurking before registering, I was more than kind of hoping you would reply to this.

Snip...

Do you think that I could realistically expect to do anything close to a full trade against a used 441 clone you mention or a Tippman Boss fuguring this Singer is in reasonably good condition?

No, it would definitely NOT be realistic to expect that on Leatherworker.net. Not to say it couldn't happen; it's just not likely. Most of our members are only sewing leather, especially heavy leather, with thick thread. You can post it for sale in our Marketplace section and maybe somebody who repairs or makes cloth garments will want it.

Your Singer 120U is a garment maker's machine. It might be of use to a local dry cleaner, or tailor shop. Those businesses like high speed, self-oiling, drop feed machines that can sew with #40 or #50 cotton or polycore thread, or "invisible" thread.

Upholsters do not like drop feed machines, unless they also do fine work, like sewing on lace appliques.

Leather workers prefer walking foot machines that can handle at the very least, #138 bonded nylon thread. Holster and heavy strap makers need a machine that can sew up to or over 3/4 inch, using #346 thread, or thicker. These machines are geared down to sew at the rate of 1 to 3 stitches per second. Your Singer 120U is probably setup to sew at somewhere between 30 to 60 stitches per second.

In order to get the best price for that drop feed machine you must market it to the right audience. You can try selling it on eBay, with local pickup as the option.
Posted IMHO, by Wiz

#5 alongjordan

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 12:23 AM

Thanks again, Wiz. Your input is valuable.

I've been pointed at a local sewing machine shop by an acquaintance. I was looking to check with them about a trade of my machine for something appropriate for heavy leather work.

I will keep your advice in mind.

Thanks again!

#6 Wizcrafts

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 02:05 AM

When you say you want a machine for heavy leather work, by my definition, you have already eliminated 90% of the industrial sewing machines on the market. I define heavy leather sewing as anything over 3/8 inch in thickness, or any thickness using #277 or larger thread.. Thus, a 1/4" thick double bridle leather belt, edge and fishtail sewn with #277 thread, requires a heavy duty leather stitcher. To me, a leather stitcher is not the same thing as a sewing machine that sews leather.

The Adler 205-370 and Juki TSC441 are the models upon which the modern day 441 clones are based. Either of those machines can pound through about 19 mm of hard leather, with #346 thread, using a #27 needle, of system 794. The modern 441 clones have improved on those specs and can now sew up to 7/8 inch, with a #28 needle and #415 thread. The only other heavy leather machines qualified to sew that thick, with very heavy thread, are the Union Lockstitch and Campbell Lockstitch needle and awl machines. These machines sew through wood and even pennies!
Posted IMHO, by Wiz

#7 alongjordan

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 12:04 PM

When you say you want a machine for heavy leather work, by my definition, you have already eliminated 90% of the industrial sewing machines on the market. I define heavy leather sewing as anything over 3/8 inch in thickness, or any thickness using #277 or larger thread.. Thus, a 1/4" thick double bridle leather belt, edge and fishtail sewn with #277 thread, requires a heavy duty leather stitcher. To me, a leather stitcher is not the same thing as a sewing machine that sews leather.

The Adler 205-370 and Juki TSC441 are the models upon which the modern day 441 clones are based. Either of those machines can pound through about 19 mm of hard leather, with #346 thread, using a #27 needle, of system 794. The modern 441 clones have improved on those specs and can now sew up to 7/8 inch, with a #28 needle and #415 thread. The only other heavy leather machines qualified to sew that thick, with very heavy thread, are the Union Lockstitch and Campbell Lockstitch needle and awl machines. These machines sew through wood and even pennies!


Will these Adler and Juki machines, and clones thereof also work through Kydex sheet? I've been looking at some thinner versions of that for reinforcement of certain holster areas (throats and belt loops for instance).

#8 Wizcrafts

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 10:20 PM

Will these Adler and Juki machines, and clones thereof also work through Kydex sheet? I've been looking at some thinner versions of that for reinforcement of certain holster areas (throats and belt loops for instance).


Yes, and with ballistic nylon and Biothane. You may need to use a size larger needle to maintain a suitable exit hole in these materials, which tend to self-heal.

When (not if) you get your 441 machine, be sure to order needles in one size above and below your expected regular size, based on the primary thread size you will be using. For leather, use leather point needles.
Posted IMHO, by Wiz





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