Jump to content

Best affordable machine

Recommended Posts

So I’m new to leather working, I’ve been hand stitching my projects but it’s SO tedious! I’d like to get a sewing machine, but the ones I’m seeing are over $1,000? 

I usually use 2 layers of 8 Oz leather for my breast collars and a layer of 8 Oz and a layer of 5-6oz for inlays on the bridles I make. I don’t want a machine that barely gets through the leather, I’ve seen a few that sew 1/4” leather well (or they’re advertised to do so). Is that enough? Or do I need to get something more heavy duty? Any advice on what brands are good and what price range they’re in (around $500 would be best, but i know it’s a long shot)  

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

If your budget is only around $500, you're going to have to buy something used and abused, privately. Search Craigslist for your state and neighboring states. Also, take a look in our Marketplace section, under Sewing Equipment, under the Refurbished or Used categories.

The least expensive industrial sewing machine you can purchase as a complete unit is about $1100, plus shipping. Even a hand cranked heavy duty machine sells new for $1400 (Tippman Boss and Cowboy Outlaw). You can find some real awesome machines there.

The biggest obstacle you will encounter is the thread size limitations of various types of sewing machines. As a hand sewer you may be used to waxed linen thread that is between 1/2 to 1mm thick. None of the modern lockstitch walking foot machines are able to pass that thread without gumming up the works and needle. That leaves you with dry or lubed bonded nylon or bonded polyester thread as your 2 options. Machines designed for upholstery are usually limited to a maximum thread size of #138 (aka, T135), which is rated at 22 pounds breaking strength. Some walking foot machines have been upgraded by specialty dealers, like our dealers, so they can handle #207 thread on top. But, that still leaves a weaker thread on the bottom. Not good for horse tack.

See this thread and needle size chart for a reference.

The machines that are designed with the required heavy duty parts for tensioning heavier thread (#207, 277, 346, etc) cost much more money and are much bigger. Be prepared to quadruple your budget for a truly qualified new harness stitcher. Even a used one will often sell for over $1300. Check our Marketplace, which I linked to in the first paragraph.

I use this machine to sew harness, holsters, saddlery, knife sheathes, saddle bags, etc. Look at the pictures and read the specs.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Wiz and if you want to eliminate the monotonous effort of hand stitching and increase your productivity then you are going to need a heavy duty stitcher. Increase your budget and purchase something with capabilities a little above what you need now for future projects.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends on your expectations - you sometimes can find machines like Singer 45K or Adler 5, Adler 105 or the like for a "fair price" but they are for sure not as technically advanced as the CB4500 Wiz has linked too. These machines have been used for decades in the leather trade long before the heavy triple feed machines came out. For me these machines are by far not outdated - though they are not "the hottest shit" in the leather trade but for the above mentioned machines there was a great number of sewing devices and special presser feet for different applications. You will not find these presser feet for most of modern heavy duty compound feed / triple feed stitchers - maybe for the later models of Dürkopp-Adler as they always have supplied special devices for the leather trade but they are $$$

Some will say "but they mark the bottom side of the leather" due to the toothed feed dog - well thats what I mean with expectations - question is does it really bother you or your customers? When I look at the vintage miliary leather equipments or some vintage civilian or miliary holsters then I often see markings on the backside - seems no one bothered that. These markings are usually on the "far side of the moon"  - so does it bother? It depends on you and / or the customers I´d say. Markings on the backside especially on the heavier leather equipment usually do not bother I´d say but as mentioned before - it depends.

So in my opinion there is nothing wrong with vintage Singer 45K Adler 5, Adler 105 and the like - you just have to look around and watch there market. But most likely for $500 you will not find many heavy duty sewing machines.

My 2 cents ;)

Edited by Constabulary

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to think its helping to say, re think effecient choices.

Both, from an early machine knowledge or one with a bit more experience with parts and adjustment. 

Im positive the talent with the leather products from members here is at the highest levels. The forums are great proof, in this as few others. We each can see easily an efficient path from our other experiences.

This helps as we find a more comfortable zone to look. Its crazy tough to look at expensive items we have to wait for.

So we set it up in a comfort zone to gauge why items are relegated to certain higher levels. Well, it’s likely more than daily comments of praise, being the higher price. 

With all its more than value to take a second look see at the extreme price range equipment. Its likely we will notice a worthy characteristic.

These start typicaly with duty or abilities, this always is the tough part because its when we have to leave the domestic world and have! to enter the industrial. This is where big conpanies have had on staff engineers to spec equipment for task “ specifically  “

They are pretty spot on with little gray area

Upholstery class machines are my main style. Though I know they are capable of thick seam sewing, but primarily sewing over. So in my opinion are not designed for heavy threads.  

Some abilities incorporated in seam strength cannot be felled with leathers easily. With this I think horse tac products can benefit more efeciently from bigger threads than 138.

Now the hunt for a machine thats ready! For your project “ now “ this should be a serious priority. In this I dont mean it has to be new. 


Good day


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...