Wizcrafts

The Type Of Sewing Machine You Need To Sew Leather

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I've been reading some of the queries on stitchers/sewing machines over the past month or so and it looks to me like some of you want one machine to do it all. I've been a leather crafter for about twenty years now and the best machine in my experience to do this is the Adler 205-370 as I can sew froma 120 needle with 69/69 thread on up to a 250 needle with 415 thread. You may have to make adjustments but, it will do purses on up to-. I understand the big shops set their machines up for one type of sewing job and leave it their and they have different machines set up for different functions which we probably can't do due to the cost. Another good "first" machine in my experience is the old W111 with a speed reducer but, it doesn't have reverse-you have to turn your material around to back tack. It's good for lighter leathers but, not anything heavy. The other thing that some of the dealers have told me to keep in mind that many of these machines weren"t designed to sew leather in the first place and may have to be altered-presser foot and feed dog. Also, with the cylinder arm I can convert it to a flatbed with a small table attached on top of the arm. The next machine I want is an Adler patch machine- due to the versatility. I hope this makes sense to you guys.. Later,Tackman

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tat2   

What about the older needle feeding system where the neeedle moves ahead and pulls the leather through... Its what the Pearson 6, Junk Ruh sd 28 and the adler 205-64 uses and by far is the best sewing operation I have ever used. barely marked the leather too..

When I left off my last post in this thread, I said that I would define the various types of "walking foot" sewing machines. So, here I go!

The home and industrial strength sewing machines I wrote about yesterday all come equipped with flat, static "pressor" feet (the foot shaped steel plate that presses down on the material and applies pressure). I detailed about how a steel pressor foot drags sticky material, causing shortened stitches and showed some optional replacement feet that assist the machines in moving leather and vinyl material properly. This ended with my statement that I recommended a true walking foot machine for sewing leather, rather than a converted flat foot, straight stitch machine. A straight stitch machine does not have zig-zag capabilities and is usually equipped with a flat pressor foot and the work is driven entirely by the bottom feed dogs.

The difference between flat foot, bottom feed (feed dogs), straight stitch machines and walking foot machines is profound. A walking foot machine may have any of the following drive configurations and still fit the walking foot classification.

  1. Compound/triple feed: the feed dog, needle and inside pressor foot all move together, in synchronization. BEST OVERALL SYSTEM
  2. Double feed: The feed dog and outer pressor foot move together in synchronization. GOOD FOR VINYL & NON-MARKABLE LEATHER
  3. Jump feed: The needle moves the work as the slotted pressor foot lifts (with or without a dull tooth or smooth feed dog). BEST FOR HARNESSES, HALTERS AND HOLSTERS
  4. Pressor foot feed: Used by all shoe patchers, the pressor foot has teeth on the bottom that move the work. WILL MARK VEG-TAN AND BRIDLE LEATHER
  5. Snap feed: The feed dog pulls from the bottom while the outer foot pivots on a spring loaded hinge. When the feed dog drops, the outer foot lifts and snaps forward. GOOD FOR BUFFING WHEELS, CAR WASH CLOTHS

Of these types of machine I find #1 to be the best overall machine for a variety of leather and vinyl sewing. The triple feed mechanism ensures that there is no slippage of the layers of material (the needle moves the work with the feed dog), the alternating feet will walk over seams and back down, you can apply as much top pressure as needed to keep the material from lifting and it still feeds properly and you can hold the material fairly tight and it will still feed and give the desired stitch length (unless there is too much slack in the drive system).

The double feed system, #2, is typically used in portable walking foot machines that are designed for and sold to the marine vinyl repair industry. The teeth on the bottom of the outer foot move in time with the feed dogs and provide great traction on otherwise slippery and large vinyl boat and seat covers. However, these teeth will mark veg-tan and bridle leather pretty badly.

Type 3, the jump foot, is the harness makers choice. These machines may or may not have a smooth feed dog underneath, but always have a moving needle and slotted single pressor foot. When the needle penetrates the leather the pressor foot lifts up, then the needle moves the work back according to the preset stitch length. As the needle begins to lift, the foot comes down to secure the work against unwanted movement, or lifting, from a hot needle and thick thread. A sub-category of these machines includes needle and awl machines (more on that later on).

The pressor foot drive in the shoe patchers is meant for patching shoes, boots, zippers, holes in garments and handles on bags. The teeth under the foot are fairly aggressive and will create deep marks in veg-tan and bridle leather. Despite this, a lot of leathercrafters use shoe patchers for a lot of their projects. The real problem with patchers is the typically tiny bobbin they have, although certain models have a larger, double capacity bobbin.

Finally, the snap feed system is not much use when sewing any slick or waxy leather surface. This feed system was stock on the Singer 132K6 machines. I had one early in my sewing history and thought it was the cat's meow. That is, until I tried to sew the edges of a hand stamped and carnauba creamed veg-tan belt. The snapping top foot let the belt slide forward between stitches as it slipped forward prematurely, causing the stitches to vary in length all over the place. It did a good job feeding soft or roughed up leather and buffing wheels, but had a hard time feeding smooth grain leather. I don't recommend these machines for sewing most leather projects.

Interestingly, the snap feed system in the Singer 132k6 is the same principle used in the even feed attachments for the so-called "industrial strength" home sewing machines.

Aside from the snap foot system, which has trouble feeding slick top grain leather, all of the other walking foot systems provide a solid feeding system, with adequate top pressure to allow the operator to control the work as it enters the needle area. If you are stitching a large leather seat cover, a walking foot, compound feed machine will provide the best control and drive to pull the material through the work area, even if it is long and folded over the front of the table, or hangs around nose of a cylinder arm machine. All you need to do is make sure the material feeds the correct distance in from the edge and doesn't fall off the left side of the arm, or needle area. An edge guide really helps to stitch a defined distance in from the edge. You just need to hold or clamp the layers together and press them against the right side edge guide. The walking feet and moving needle do the rest!

If you intend to sew harness, halters, bridles, sheathes and holsters, a narrow slotted jump foot machine is the best for these jobs. Some machines offer optional feet that only have one left or right "toe" - rather than the slotted double toe. With a right toe jump foot you can sew right up to the raised edge of a molded case, or holster, from the top side. Also, since these machines either have no feed dog, or a totally smooth bottom feeder, they do no create tooth marks on the back side of the leather. This is especially important if you want to produce show harness and commercial holsters and Police gear.

In my next installment I will provide some pictures of these different types of walking foot machines.

Note, that I have not addressed the amount of clearance under the pressor feet yet. This is because that figure varies with various brands and the way they have been equipped by the seller. Most walking foot flat table machines will sew up to 3/8" of leather. Some machines are capable of sewing 1/2" and others, 3/4" and more.

Time to go to work. Lee Ya Sater folks!

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What about the older needle feeding system where the neeedle moves ahead and pulls the leather through... Its what the Pearson 6, Junk Ruh sd 28 and the adler 205-64 uses and by far is the best sewing operation I have ever used. barely marked the leather too..

A needle feed - jump foot machine is preferable to a walking foot mechanism, as long as the material is taped, stapled, tacked or glued together. A standard top-pivoting pendulum needlebar doesn't provide the same timing at 3/4" up as it does for the bottom layer. It is the physics of the pendulum that causes bigger stitches to occur on thinner leather than really thick work.

On the other hand, a Union Lockstitch machine has a jump foot and true square drive needle feed. All layers move together at the same rate, whether 1/8 inch or 3/4 inch. Their brother-line, Campbell-Randall, are awl-feed machines, where the awl penetrates the layers, then pulls them back together (squarely). The needle only rises and falls on this type of machine. Either machine can lay a tighter stitch than any standard closed-eye needle machine. Both can sew with linen thread run through liquid wax. Their maximum thread handling capacity is 10 cords, left twist. That's like what is used on the soles of leather boots!

On most needle feed machines there is still a lot of top pressure required to hold down the leather as the needle (or awl) begins to ascend. But, the pressure is applied to the sides of the needle hole, not directly over it. That's why there is less puckering on the bottom of a needle feed- jump foot machine. By matching a narrow slotted throat plate to smaller needles, one minimizes the bottom puckering on needle feed machines. In some cases the owner will have to have these plates custom made. Other times, the manufacturer may offer narrow slotted plates as an option. Union Lockstitch is one that has such plates as an option. I'm fairly confident that the Campbell-Randall machines also have a narrow slotted cover plate available.

The same machines that can sew 10 cord linen thread into armor or hiking/combat boots can also be setup to sew 4 cord linen thread into show harness. I learned to do just that on a Randall stitcher, at Freedman Harness, years ago. At 10 stitches to the inch, using a #11/2 needle and 2 awl, the stitches were tight and beautiful, top and bottom. Walter Mitty would have loved to operate a Randall machine. All day long they go tapocketa, tapocketa!

Anybody wanting more information about the Union Lockstitch and Campbell Randall needle and awl machines can contact Campbell Randall, in Yoakum, Texas.

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Caffy   

Hello Wiz,

I need help! I am making holsters and now need a machine to sew them with. I have been doing them by hand, but business is picking up and so...... I am looking at a Consew 255RB-5 and and Adler 269-273. Also a Consew 227R Cylinder Walking foot. I have no idea if these will sew the holsters or not. I am new at these type of machines. Don't want to get the wrong thing. Do the cylinder type machines have an advantage to sewing thicker leather, other that the obvious one of getting into small spaces? I put a call in to Bob Kovar, but have not received a call back as of yet. I use 7-9oz leather, doubled. Thanks for your help.

This article is now being Tweeted on Twitter. Thanks all!

BTW: I am @Wizcrafts on Twitter. My tweets are mostly about computer and website security, malware threats and spam analysis, but I do make the occasional Tweet about my leather and sewing work.

Today is my birthday, so I probably won't be posting anything new today. I'll get back to this article later, or tomorrow. I know I have a contract sewing job to do sometime tomorrow. Maybe I'll shoot a couple of pix of my walking foot machine earning me some money. It may help someone who wants to sew similar leather projects.

I have shot a few movies of my machines, with my digital camera, but haven't figured out how to convert them from Apple .MOV files into WM .AVI files. I may see if YouTube has a converter and upload them there, for the world to see (in Flash format).

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Hello Wiz,

I need help! I am making holsters and now need a machine to sew them with. I have been doing them by hand, but business is picking up and so...... I am looking at a Consew 255RB-5 and and Adler 269-273. Also a Consew 227R Cylinder Walking foot. I have no idea if these will sew the holsters or not. I am new at these type of machines. Don't want to get the wrong thing. Do the cylinder type machines have an advantage to sewing thicker leather, other that the obvious one of getting into small spaces? I put a call in to Bob Kovar, but have not received a call back as of yet. I use 7-9oz leather, doubled. Thanks for your help.

Caffy;

If your holsters are only going to be two layers of 9 oz veg-tan leather, a 227 type machine will do fine. But, it will be limited to using #138 thread. Most holsters are sewn with #277 thread, or thicker. To use heavier thread you will need to move up to a more capable sewing machine.

Some of the heavy weight sewing machines currently in use by our members are sold by Cobra, Cowboy, Artisan, Ferdo, Techsew, Adler, Campbell-Randall and Juki. Most of these companies have stitchers capable of sewing to and beyond 3/4 inch of hard leather. There are some that are fed by feed dogs on the bottom; some that have triple feed and some that have a needle and awl and jumping foot.

Since you are a beginner to industrial sewing machines, I would recommend that you use a simple to operate machine, like the ones we refer to as 441 clones. Based on the Juki 441 type, these machines come with cylinder arms in lengths of 9" up to 25". You might do fine with a 9" model, such as the Cowboy CB3500, Cobra Class 3, or equivalent in other brands. These 9 inch stitchers can be bought for about $1,800, plus shipping (some are more, some are less).

If you think ahead you'll anticipate that someone will ask you to build something too large to be sewn on a 9" arm machine. Fore-planning suggests a 16.5" arm machine, like the Cowboy CB4500, or Cobra Class 4, etc. These machines all use very thick thread, huge needles and have very large bobbins. All are sold with easy to control servo motors and speed reducers. These machines sew over 3/4 inch and sell for $2500, plus or minus, plus shipping.

The reason for the plus or minus in the pricing is that most dealers offer accessory packages that are optional. Also, prices may be going up due to money market factors.

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Caffy   

Thank you so much, that helps tremendously!

I called Ron at Raphael Sewing, he is setting me up with a GA5-1R I think. Its in my price range and takes the heaver thread and needles.

Thanks again and have a great day.

Caffy;

If your holsters are only going to be two layers of 9 oz veg-tan leather, a 227 type machine will do fine. But, it will be limited to using #138 thread. Most holsters are sewn with #277 thread, or thicker. To use heavier thread you will need to move up to a more capable sewing machine.

Some of the heavy weight sewing machines currently in use by our members are sold by Cobra, Cowboy, Artisan, Ferdo, Techsew, Adler, Campbell-Randall and Juki. Most of these companies have stitchers capable of sewing to and beyond 3/4 inch of hard leather. There are some that are fed by feed dogs on the bottom; some that have triple feed and some that have a needle and awl and jumping foot.

Since you are a beginner to industrial sewing machines, I would recommend that you use a simple to operate machine, like the ones we refer to as 441 clones. Based on the Juki 441 type, these machines come with cylinder arms in lengths of 9" up to 25". You might do fine with a 9" model, such as the Cowboy CB3500, Cobra Class 3, or equivalent in other brands. These 9 inch stitchers can be bought for about $1,800, plus shipping (some are more, some are less).

If you think ahead you'll anticipate that someone will ask you to build something too large to be sewn on a 9" arm machine. Fore-planning suggests a 16.5" arm machine, like the Cowboy CB4500, or Cobra Class 4, etc. These machines all use very thick thread, huge needles and have very large bobbins. All are sold with easy to control servo motors and speed reducers. These machines sew over 3/4 inch and sell for $2500, plus or minus, plus shipping.

The reason for the plus or minus in the pricing is that most dealers offer accessory packages that are optional. Also, prices may be going up due to money market factors.

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Caffy   

Hi all,

Just an additional note. I heard the GA5 can leave some marks on the leather when sewing, so was glad to know that before purchasing. I ordered a Cowboy 3500 instead. Really looks like a nice machine and I am looking forward to learning how to use this big thing. I am used to home machines so it will be a real change. Can't wait!

Happy leathering all.

Thank you so much, that helps tremendously!

I called Ron at Raphael Sewing, he is setting me up with a GA5-1R I think. Its in my price range and takes the heaver thread and needles.

Thanks again and have a great day.

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Thank you so much for your informative posts! I am new to this site and to the world of leather crafting, just beginning to shop for a leather-working machine. The information you've shared here is invaluable! Thank you for sharing your time and wisdom.

- Mary

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Thank you so much for your informative posts! I am new to this site and to the world of leather crafting, just beginning to shop for a leather-working machine. The information you've shared here is invaluable! Thank you for sharing your time and wisdom.

- Mary

Yer welcome Mary! I hope it helps you pick the right machine from the get-go.

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No matter what the brand name is on your big stitchers, or who sold them to you, keep the suckers oiled! Don't overlook the holes feeding oil to the hook area, or the walking foot parts. Also, unbeknown to some owners, there are tiny oil holes on the cranks inside the front faceplate. Remove the plate occasionally and use a precision oiler to place a drop or two inside each of these little holes.

Your well oiled machines are going to drip for a while, so keep an absorbent rag on and under the pressor feet and open front-bottom of the arm. Use pure clear Lilly oil to avoid severely discoloring your leather or cloth projects. Oil once a week for light use, or more often after big runs.

The faster you spin the machine, the more oil it will lose. If most of your work is done at very slow speeds, you can go longer between oiling sessions. But, do not neglect the hook area!

It is a good idea to initially operate at slow speeds, until the machine has had time to break in a bit. After a week or so, and a good oiling, you should be able to attain high speed operation without overheating the moving parts.

Lilly Oil is extremely thin and even though it coats the bearings and shafts, it is easily flung off by high RPMs and heat.

If you are not sewing very thick, dense leather, back off the top pressure housing screw (turn ccw - raising it up). Less pressure on the feet makes for less pounding of the moving parts and less wear overall. Too little pressure will allow the leather to lift with the needle, causing skipped stitches. So, reduce it carefully, testing as you go. Use only the minimum size needle that passes the top thread and forms a well positioned knot in the leather. The larger the needle, the harder the machine works to punch the leather.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers reading this!

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Hello everyone. I have the opportunity to purchase an Adler 467 with a 220 motor at a good price. Could anyone tell me the pros and cons about this machine. My husband says that he will have to change the outlets to conform to the motor. Should I change to the servo motor as suggested? I will be using it to do car upholsterly and leather seats for cars. I am an expert seamstress for clothing, but now I feel I am moving into the big leagues. Don't want to make a mistake. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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I think you will be better off to just buy a 110 volt, single phase motor. Your outlets for the 220 volt motor would need to be wired for three phases plus ground.

I bought a SewPro 500GR servo motor for my walking foot machine and it gives a full range of speed control, without needing to feather a clutch. They are sold at Toledo Industrial Sewing Machines: 866-362-7397. They can install whatever size pulley works best for your work. Leathercrafters prefer a 2" pulley for punching power, less friction and better control with slow speeds. Upholsters prefer a 3.5 or 4" pulley, for higher top speed (time is money in upholstery). You may need to also change the belt length is you install this motor and the pulley size is much different.

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Lately, I have been answering questions from newbies to sewing leather, who are laboring under the misconception that an old, restored home type cast iron sewing machine is good enough to sew leather holsters. The people selling these machines even post close-up photos showing them using what appears to be very thick thread and sewing what looks like thick leather. Nothing could be further from the truth! These are still home sewing machines, made to handle cloth and thin, flexible thread. The photos exaggerate the real sizes of the items in them. Read on...

Newbies to sewing leather should listen to the advice given by people who have paved the way for you. Long time leather sewers, who have dozens of years of experience between them, have worked their way up, from fancy looking home sewing machines, to straight stitch, to needle feed, to spring foot, to walking foot jeans-upholstery machines and finally, into really strong machines that are specifically designed to sew hard and thick leather, with very strong thread, without breaking down. I am one of these people.

I have watched the take-up levers on cast iron home sewing machines bend or snap off, under the strain of using #138 thread, while trying to sew 5/16" of veg-tan leather. The slightest thread jam in the bobbin throws them totally out of time. Tensions are hard to balance and they don't hold much thread, once you go beyond size 69.

So, what about a big industrial sewing machine, like those found on eBay and Craigslist? These must sew hard leather with thick thread ... right? Mostly wrong!

There is little more disheartening than having spent $1000 - $1500 on an industrial sewing machine and setting it up with a #24 needle and #207 thread, sewing into 3/8" of holster leather, than to hear the decisive THWANK it makes as the main parts break, strip, de-time, and/or seize under the strain. This happens when a person tries to use garment and upholstery grade machines to sew 3/8 inch of veg-tan or latigo leather, with #207 or thicker thread. Yes, you may get a few projects sewn, but, eventually: THWANK!

Over-stressed machines will typically produce shorter stitches in thicker leather, due to a combination of the pendulum geometry and the lack of "feed-ability" of smooth surfaced leather that is too thick for the feeding system. I have watched in dismay as a fully rebuilt, huge, Singer 132k6, with a spring loaded "walking" foot system, which I payed $1500 for, slipped and slid all over the edges of a hand stamped and Carnauba waxed belt I just made. The stitches varied from 5 to the inch, down to 10 to the inch! The knots were all over the place, vertically. This was caused by me buying an incredibly strong machine that was made to feed and sew buffing wheels, tow ropes, parachutes and tents, but using it to try to sew veg-tan leather.

I have probably wasted over 7 or 8 thousand dollars, moving up through inadequate, yet tough looking sewing machines, over the years. Once I acquired a real harness stitcher and learned to use it, I never looked back. I sold off most of the other machines and only kept a long arm patcher and a Japanese walking foot machine. When I work at my buddy's leather shop, I sew on his Cobra with a 16.5 inch arm and an 18" arm Adler 30-70 "Patcher." The patcher maxes out with #138 thread and a little over 5/16" thickness. Everything else is either sewn on the owner's Cobra, or I take it home and sew it on my Union Lockstitch (with #277 or #346 thread) or my modified National 300N (#138 or #207 thread).

I also have a small collection of some beautiful, very old Singer and White Rotary sewing machines. At best, they are able to use #69 nylon thread and sew up to 1/4 inch, maximum. These are the types of machines being sold by the eBay restorers and similar shops that specialize in old iron. I picked up a nice Singer 15-91 and totally rebuilt it, including the motor. It had a terrible time feeding 3/16" of leather, or two layers of Naugahyde. So, I bought a so-called walking foot attachment for it. This allowed me to sew the Naugahyde better, but cut down the clearance under the feet to 1/8 inch. The lift of the feet above that thickness caused the needle bar to hit the inside foot and damaged it.

Don't be fooled by beautiful close up photos of restored old home sewing machines. They use close-up lenses to distort the actual size of the needle and thread being used. It appears to the untrained eye that these machines are sewing 12-14 ounce leather belting with #207 thread, when in fact they are sewing an 8-10 oz belt with #69 thread. That is all they can handle. Most home machine needles stop at size 18, which feeds #69 thread (and maybe #92). To sew with #207 thread requires a #24 or #25 needle!

Home machines have a tiny motor, weighing about 1 pound, that is rated at between 1/2 to 1.5 amps, equaling 50 to 150 watts current draw. The horsepower rating of these motors ranges from about 1/25th to maybe 1/10th. A gear-reduced Thompson, or Sailrite produces the equivalent of about 1/5th HP. This is great punching power for denim, Naugahyde, duck cloth, plastic windscreens and even small upholstery projects. But, when it comes to penetrating 3 or 4 layers of 8 ounce veg-tan leather, with a #23 needle, threaded with #138 bonded nylon thread, 1/2 Horsepower is the minimum requirement.

Most sewing machines that are set-up and or built to sew hard, thick leather, with serious thread, have very small pulleys on the motor, which tends to range from 1/2 to 3/4 HP, drawing from 300 to 600 watts. These motors then feed a large wheel on a speed reducer, which has another small pulley feeding up the the machine pulley. You will often see an overall speed reduction/torque multiplication of 5 to 15 times, from the same type of machine setup for use in upholstery or garment work. I had an Adler 204 flatbed machine, equipped with a 3/4 HP clutch motor (almost 50 pounds!), with a 2" motor pulley feeding a large difference speed reducer. The net outcome was a pedal down, blazing top speed of 2 stitches per second! This machine penetrated 3/4 inch of belt leather like it was butter!

The same machine, as setup and sold to an upholstery shop, might produce about 800 to 1600 stitches per minute. That would be slow for most upholsters! Most upholstery machines clock in at around 2,000 stitches per minute. Most garment machines are made to sew at over 3,000 stitches per minute! These speeds are totally useless for sewing any leather other than upholstery grade. With veg-tan, or latigo, the slower, the better.

I mentioned the difference in available needle sizes between home and industrial machines. There is more to it then just the diameter of the shaft. Home machines are designed to sew thin cloth and if they have a clearance under the foot of 3/8 inch, that is unusual. Also, the needles are short, in comparison to say, walking foot needles, and don't have much room between the needle bar and top of the pressor foot. Most have only 5/16" under the foot before the top thread tension release engages. Once that happens there is little or no tension on your top thread. This results in knots under the bottom layer and usually leads to jamming.

The stitchers built for sewing heavy, thick leather have very long needles (~2 .5" ), allowing for high lifting of two alternating pressor feet while sewing through 3/4 inch plus of hard leather. Most of the 441 clone machines use series 7x3 and 794 needles, which start with #18 or 19 on the small end, but go up to #27, or even #30, on the big end. These needles are the diameter of the nails used to hold a wooden porch together! The flange that mounts inside the needle bar is about 1/8" diameter! The flange width (on the round sides) on a home sewing needle is just under 1/16 inch. The biggest home series needle I have found is a #20, which is straight from the mounting flange down.

As I discussed much earlier in this thread, the bobbins are vastly different between home and industrial "sewing" machines and leather "stitchers." A home machine bobbin, like the Class 15, might hold a couple hundred feet of household cotton thread, or hundred feet or so of #69 nylon. The bobbins on the 441 clones can hold at over 5 times that amount of thread, in sizes 138 up (the thicker, the less).

The bobbins used by my Union Lockstitch machine, measuring in at 2.5 x .75 inches, can hold about a football field length of #277 thread, tightly wound.

Nuff said.

Edited by Wizcrafts

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Sixer   

Great info! Thanks again Wiz!

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Anyone have any thoughts or experience with a Tacsew GC6-6 Walking Foot Industrial Machine? :whatdoyouthink:

I mainly sew leather handbags and cell cases out of the old fancy stitched cowboy boot tops..would this machine be over kill for my type of leather projects?

I would like to try my hand at making leather headstalls and halters later on..but can't afford 2 different leather machines.

BIG thanks to Wiz for sharing all his been there done that machine experiences with us!

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Anyone have any thoughts or experience with a Tacsew GC6-6 Walking Foot Industrial Machine? :whatdoyouthink:

I mainly sew leather handbags and cell cases out of the old fancy stitched cowboy boot tops..would this machine be over kill for my type of leather projects?

I would like to try my hand at making leather headstalls and halters later on..but can't afford 2 different leather machines.

BIG thanks to Wiz for sharing all his been there done that machine experiences with us!

First, you're welcome!

Second; I wouldn't go there (Tacsew brand) if I were you.

Do not confuse the Tacsew junk machines with Techsew, which is a good brand, distributed, setup, adjusted and modified if necessary, by Raphael Sewing in Montreal.

This is just my opinion. Opinions are like a__holes: everybody's got one!

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First, you're welcome!

Second; I wouldn't go there (Tacsew brand) if I were you.

Do not confuse the Tacsew junk machines with Techsew, which is a good brand, distributed, setup, adjusted and modified if necessary, by Raphael Sewing in Montreal.

This is just my opinion. Opinions are like a__holes: everybody's got one!

lol, thanks Wiz !

Ron

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I have a few customers with them Tacsews & have had to repair them.We had to wait a month to get a hook in.Wiz is correct STAY AWAY from them.

Bob

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Thank you Wiz and Bob! :You_Rock_Emoticon:

I really appreciate the input on the Tacsew Machine. you saved me from making a possible $800 mistake!

I'm taking everyone's good advice and searching for a Conew, Techsew etc...they are much more expensive though really going to have to shop around for a good deal on these machines.

I did find out about the new Servo Smart motor at Raphael Sewing in Canada, sounds like a good thing to keep the speed down (what I need being a newbie)

anyone have any thoughts on that motor?

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Johanna   

Scroll up and call "Ronnie" from Techsew (Raphael in Canada). I have an old Singer that sews 750 stitches per minute. I could quickly sew my arm to saddle skirting. With a Servo Motor (available on all the new machines) you can sew at any speed you want. Having a Servo Motor takes the "intimidation factor" out of sewing leather.

Johanna

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Scroll up and call "Ronnie" from Techsew (Raphael in Canada). I have an old Singer that sews 750 stitches per minute. I could quickly sew my arm to saddle skirting. With a Servo Motor (available on all the new machines) you can sew at any speed you want. Having a Servo Motor takes the "intimidation factor" out of sewing leather.

Johanna

Thanks Johanna,

I have found several used Singer walking foot machines..(industrial not industrial strength)..any thoughts on those? I would think parts for them would be easy to find being a Singer? Also found a new Yamata Heavy Duty Walking Foot machine, after some research found out they are made in China, by a company called Fiueye or something like that...the US company selling them claims to keep parts on hand ...sure wouldn't want to wait

for something to be shipped from China!

Enclose a pic of the Industrial Singer, a little rough looking but only asking $500 for everything..maybe something to be said for that.. lol! also a pic of the new Yamata ..I prefer new myself but money is a factor just getting started.

I agree the Servo smart motor sounds like a good thing..only problem is Raphael Sewing only seem to offer them on select machines..their most expensive ones that I can't afford.:16:

post-23648-041829200 1312427627_thumb.jp

post-23648-075929300 1312427639_thumb.jp

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Tackgirl;

You may or may not be getting a good deal on the used machines. As I have often written, just because a sewing machine is an industrial machine, it may not necessarily be good at sewing leather, such as we use on this forum. Our leather projects are not usually seat covers, although we may make some now and then. Most of the leather crafters haunting Leatherworker.net are making a wide variety of items, including many that are constructed from dense and often thick leather. We like to use heavy bonded nylon thread that is capable of holding these items together against strong external forces. When we go a-lookin' for a leather sewin machine, we have a whole nuther kind a machine in mind.

Let me explain.

The machines you posted the pictures of are upholstery grade machines. They are great for sewing drapes, seat covers, couch covers, boat covers, sails, awnings, even jeans. Yes, they will sew leather. But, how fast are they setup to sew? What type of tension springs are they equipped with? How high do the feet lift and alternate? What needle system do they use? How big are the bobbins? How tight is the mechanism? how thick is the take-up lever and its crank shaft? How heavy is the flywheel? Is the wheel and machine balanced?

Any good, modern walking foot machine, with strong, good steel take-up and moving parts, can be modified to become an efficient leather sewing machine. You want one that is already in good condition and is able to clear at least 7/16 to 8/16 inch under the fully raised presser feet. If equipped with a system 135x16 or 135x17 needle, they can effectively sew through 3/8 inch of material. If everything is tight and the take-up lever is not worn with a thread groove, and the springs are replaced with heavier tension springs, it can be made to sew 3/8 inch of leather. If equipped with system 190 needles, they can sew to almost 1/2 inch! Here's what else you need to do to accomplish this goal:

First, the speed is important. Leather cannot be sewn at high speeds like garment machines run at. It will smoke from friction and melt the thread, and burn the leather. Upholsters like their machines to run at 2000 rpm. As one upholsterer put it to me, when I asked why his machines ran so fast: "time is money." A machine spinning at 2000 rpm is great is you're sewing fabric, canvas, or sometimes vinyl, but not leather. Even 1000 rpm is way too fast for leather. I see smoke from the needle at 600 rpm! If you want your machine to sew mostly leather, the top speed should be under 600 rpm. Most crafters have theirs set to 320, 160, or less. I had an Alder 204 that had a clutch motor and a speed reducer. It's full speed, pedal down, was 2 stitches per second! That's only 120 rpm.

If the motor is a clutch motor running at 3450 RPM, lose the motor. Sell it off. If it is a 1st generation high speed, low torque servo motor, sell it off. If it is a 1725 rpm clutch motor with less than 1/2 horsepower, get rid of it. If it is 1/2 HP and has a pulley larger than 2.25 inches, replace the pulley with the smallest one you can buy. 2 inches is perfect, in my opinion.

Your goal is to equip it with a motor that has a lot of punching power at all speeds, but can easily be made to sew slowly, by foot. For clutch motors, that means learning to feather the clutch. For servos, they have a knob or up/down speed limiter buttons, to set the top speed. Some have more actual range of foot control that others.

If you have to replace the motor, I recommend the one I bought to replace my clutch motor. This is the .SewPro500GR, sold by Toledo Industrial Sewing Machines (866-362-7397). It has a built in 3:1 gear reducer and a 2 inch pulley. While it bolts into the same holes as the original clutch motor, it sits closer to the table. So, when buying a new belt, you need to choose one that is not only an equal amount shorter than the original pulley to new pulley diameter, but you must subtract one inch more for the closer body profile.

With a walking foot machine slowed down to a controllable speed, your next concern is the size of the bobbin. If you only want to sew thin leather, using #69 bonded nylon thread, a standard industrial class 15 bobbin will do fine. But, load that bobbin up with #138 thread, and you cut your sewing distance in half, per bobbin load. So, most leather sewing machines are equipped with a large bobbin. Most of them use the M size, which holds 50% more than the standard bobbin. Juki LU machine large bobbins hold double the standard size!

All of these facts relate to industrial flat bed machines, like those you asked for opinions on. If you want to buy a used, or new upholstery grade machine, be prepared to pay to modify it to sew leather. You can probably save a lot of expense and aggravation by contacting our dealers and asking what they can sell you at a price you are willing to pay. Let them know what you intend to sew and you will get a machine that fits your needs. Additionally, you get dealer support. You probably won't get that if you buy a used machine from a warehouse, or Chinese import off the boat.

Edited by Wizcrafts

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I actually have some domestic (15X1) needles in 21# and know of one manufacturer who lists them to 23#. There is only one domestic machine I would even attempt to run the 21# needles in with 30 ticket thread and that is a 1950's PFAFF 30. I cannot readily think of an application for the 23# but someone might enlighten me.

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Tackgirl;

You may or may not be getting a good deal on the used machines. As I have often written, just because a sewing machine is an industrial machine, it may not necessarily be good at sewing leather, such as we use on this forum. Our leather projects are not usually seat covers, although we may make some now and then. Most of the leather crafters haunting Leatherworker.net are making a wide variety of items, including many that are constructed from dense and often thick leather. We like to use heavy bonded nylon thread that is capable of holding these items together against strong external forces. When we go a-lookin' for a leather sewin machine, we have a whole nuther kind a machine in mind.

Let me explain.

The machines you posted the pictures of are upholstery grade machines. They are great for sewing drapes, seat covers, couch covers, boat covers, sails, awnings, even jeans. Yes, they will sew leather. But, how fast are they setup to sew? What type of tension springs are they equipped with? How high do the feet lift and alternate? What needle system do they use? How big are the bobbins? How tight is the mechanism? how thick is the take-up lever and its crank shaft? How heavy is the flywheel? Is the wheel and machine balanced?

Any good, modern walking foot machine, with strong, good steel take-up and moving parts, can be modified to become an efficient leather sewing machine. You want one that is already in good condition and is able to clear at least 7/16 to 8/16 inch under the fully raised presser feet. If equipped with a system 135x16 or 135x17 needle, they can effectively sew through 3/8 inch of material. If everything is tight and the take-up lever is not worn with a thread groove, and the springs are replaced with heavier tension springs, it can be made to sew 3/8 inch of leather. If equipped with system 190 needles, they can sew to almost 1/2 inch! Here's what else you need to do to accomplish this goal:

First, the speed is important. Leather cannot be sewn at high speeds like garment machines run at. It will smoke from friction and melt the thread, and burn the leather. Upholsters like their machines to run at 2000 rpm. As one upholsterer put it to me, when I asked why his machines ran so fast: "time is money." A machine spinning at 2000 rpm is great is you're sewing fabric, canvas, or sometimes vinyl, but not leather. Even 1000 rpm is way too fast for leather. I see smoke from the needle at 600 rpm! If you want your machine to sew mostly leather, the top speed should be under 600 rpm. Most crafters have theirs set to 320, 160, or less. I had an Alder 204 that had a clutch motor and a speed reducer. It's full speed, pedal down, was 2 stitches per second! That's only 120 rpm.

If the motor is a clutch motor running at 3450 RPM, lose the motor. Sell it off. If it is a 1st generation high speed, low torque servo motor, sell it off. If it is a 1725 rpm clutch motor with less than 1/2 horsepower, get rid of it. If it is 1/2 HP and has a pulley larger than 2.25 inches, replace the pulley with the smallest one you can buy. 2 inches is perfect, in my opinion.

Your goal is to equip it with a motor that has a lot of punching power at all speeds, but can easily be made to sew slowly, by foot. For clutch motors, that means learning to feather the clutch. For servos, they have a knob or up/down speed limiter buttons, to set the top speed. Some have more actual range of foot control that others.

If you have to replace the motor, I recommend the one I bought to replace my clutch motor. This is the .SewPro500GR, sold by Toledo Industrial Sewing Machines (866-362-7397). It has a built in 3:1 gear reducer and a 2 inch pulley. While it bolts into the same holes as the original clutch motor, it sits closer to the table. So, when buying a new belt, you need to choose one that is not only an equal amount shorter than the original pulley to new pulley diameter, but you must subtract one inch more for the closer body profile.

With a walking foot machine slowed down to a controllable speed, your next concern is the size of the bobbin. If you only want to sew thin leather, using #69 bonded nylon thread, a standard industrial class 15 bobbin will do fine. But, load that bobbin up with #138 thread, and you cut your sewing distance in half, per bobbin load. So, most leather sewing machines are equipped with a large bobbin. Most of them use the M size, which holds 50% more than the standard bobbin. Juki LU machine large bobbins hold double the standard size!

All of these facts relate to industrial flat bed machines, like those you asked for opinions on. If you want to buy a used, or new upholstery grade machine, be prepared to pay to modify it to sew leather. You can probably save a lot of expense and aggravation by contacting our dealers and asking what they can sell you at a price you are willing to pay. Let them know what you intend to sew and you will get a machine that fits your needs. Additionally, you get dealer support. You probably won't get that if you buy a used machine from a warehouse, or Chinese import off the boat.

Wiz, I'm printing this post for safe keeping! Thanks so much for the input..actually I had a dealer tell me the same thing today..go with a slower less stitch per inch sewing machine..he recommended the Chandler 406 versus the Consew 206RB.. said the Chandler 406 was less stitches per inch (1600) and would run slower. I believe he said Chandler was made by Consew, a somewhat less expensive version of the 206RB..choice of either a clutch or servo motor.

I have visited Toledo, love love their Cowboy machines..but didn't see any flat bed walking foot pics or prices? Guess I'll give them a call..not rushing into anything want to know all my choices. :thankyou:

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Wiz, I'm printing this post for safe keeping! Thanks so much for the input..actually I had a dealer tell me the same thing today..go with a slower less stitch per inch sewing machine..he recommended the Chandler 406 versus the Consew 206RB.. said the Chandler 406 was less stitches per inch (1600) and would run slower. I believe he said Chandler was made by Consew, a somewhat less expensive version of the 206RB..choice of either a clutch or servo motor.

I have visited Toledo, love love their Cowboy machines..but didn't see any flat bed walking foot pics or prices? Guess I'll give them a call..not rushing into anything want to know all my choices. :thankyou:

Toledo Industrial Sewing Machines has dozens of flatbed walking foot machines, from most well known brands, including the Chandler you mentioned (I saw a bunch of Chandlers there last year). Call them at 866-362-7397 and see what they can do for you.

The website, as it is currently, is featuring the Cowboy cylinder arm leather stitcher line and the Consew 206RB flatbed upholstery machine. That doesn't mean that they have no other machines. On the contrary, there are hundreds of industrial machines in the building. They actually prefer doing sales over the phone.

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