Hello all! I am here to ask for help narrowing down my choice of leather sewing machine.
Please allow me to explain my needs, and also offer the disclaimer that I definitely don't know all of what I'm talking about. My first passion is music, which means I have a lot of time for my second passion, which is leather. I'll make anything anyone asks me to, as long as it is within my abilities. I want to be able to easily make all sorts of garments, everything from pants and shirts to full bodysuits. I already do a lot of saddle stitch for making pet supplies, straps for cameras, wallets, and anything like that. I've even had friends ask me to make leather intimate stuff like corsets and the only reason I said not right now is I don't have a machine for putting together bigger projects like that, and no way am I hand sewing large, complex patterns and designs.
I know that a good leatherworker likely will have more than one machine. However, as this is going to be my first real machine, I feel like I should be getting the one that can do the most all around work. I've been researching, asking questions, contacting manufacturers for a long time and have finally narrowed it down to basically one or two models over a few different manufacturers. I also know that everyone might have a different opinion but that most of these machines are on the same level and can't really go wrong with most of them...but still, I like to see what others say.
The main piece of advice I have gotten so far is a flatbed compound walking foot machine for light to medium weight material. I mainly use garment leathers and thickness isn't usually much more than a few layers of chap leather, but wouldn't mind being able to sew through thicker, sturdier leather as well. Maybe 2-2.5 oz at most? Here is what I am looking at so far (my price limit is ideally $1500, but I'm reasonably flexible)...
Artisan 1797 AB LTHR
Consew 206 RB-5
Techsew 1460 OR 1660 (Does anyone know if the 1660 Pro is worth the extra money?)
I want to be able to do some things with shape at some point, but know I probably need a cylinder arm machine for that. I have looked at the Artisan 335 B for that option, and briefly spoke to Jerry at Artisan about that machine...would that be a viable option for that "first machine a leather worker should have" because it has the "flatbed worktable" option, which is just a smaller table that sits on the larger table? I already assume I am going to basically get a no on that question. I have been told numerous times to start with a flatbed compound etc....
If there are any other machines that I should be looking at based on what I listed above, I am more than open to suggestions. Also, feel free to ask any more questions that might help decide. Thank you everyone in advance. It kind of seems like all any of the machines I have on my final list are fine choices, but I'd like to hear other people's experiences with any of them. Thanks again!