sewing machines
May 11, 2005 6:27 PM   Subscribe

im looking for a sewing machine. id like it more powerful/reliable than fancy and feature filled. convenience/ease of use is a plus. Punching through leather would also be nice but isn't necessary. Can anyone recommend such a device?
posted by Tryptophan-5ht to Shopping (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If not Kenmore, from Sears, then White (brand) "Jeans Machine". Mind, I don't know if White is still in business. The Jeans Machine is a medium-duty machine so it will have power for light leather work or working with denim. If White isn't around, shop for a Viking.
posted by Goofyy at 7:05 PM on May 11, 2005

There's a lot of good advice in this thread.

The big question is - how much is your budget? You can probably get a used, low-frills quality machine for $500 (maybe less). For perspective, I spent ~$1000 on a used Husquavarna, which have a good reputation for power and reliability, but my machine has a lot of extra features.

On preview - Sears' Kenmore is not the quality it used to be 20+ years ago (neither is White IMHO). Also, go to a reputable dealer, and try out their machines first - you'll get a feel for what they can do.
posted by dicaxpuella at 7:16 PM on May 11, 2005

Response by poster: damn, left that part out. was thinking under $300. reading the linked thread now.
i read of a customer review that said the kenmore sucked dog bone for canadian nickles. ill google "jeans machine" my thanks to the both of you!

to others: would still appreciate additional insight.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 8:25 PM on May 11, 2005

I had a 40 year old Kenmore and it was a tank. Never used it for leather, but I did for PVC and some serious corsetry (think many layers of very thick fabrics). Sears still made parts for it, too.

If you're not looking for features, and you don't mind something that weighs a metric ton, why not shop the classifieds for a used machine? Anything from the sixties or older is likely going to be much nicer than what you could get in that price range new. With an older Singer or Kenmore (they seem to be the most common) most modern accessories will still work.

Right now I've got a mid-range Singer. It's nice, not what I would have chosen for myself, but it gets the job done. And I don't need someone's help to move it. Pain in the ass to thread, though. The bit that holds the spool is sideways, I just can't dig on that.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:39 PM on May 11, 2005

Juki makes machines that seem like they could stitch together sheet metal. Models that range from simple to enormously complicated, but I think an older simple model can be had for a reasonable price. It's finding the right one that is hard. They're also heavy to ship. It's probably more than you need, but fits the bill.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 9:00 PM on May 11, 2005

I found a great machine at a thrift store. It goes forward and backwards. Sometimes they are like $20. For that amount you could afford to buy several if one didn't work. Also try a sewing machine repair shop. They often have used machines that have been reconditioned and there is usually some guy about a hundred years old who knows everything about them. Good luck.
posted by BoscosMom at 9:26 PM on May 11, 2005

Best answer: Personally, I bought a Pfaff a few years ago for $350.00. It's a tank, sews leather, has made ballistic nylon harnesses (3+ layers) and still keeps on kicking. No real bells and whistles, I was looking for exactly what you are. And found it.


I'm a longtime maker of things, of every stripe, and appreciate a good, solid, versatile tool.

I don't have the model number in front of me, but it's featureset included buttonholes, back-and-forth stitching (for stretchy fabrics) and simple adjustment of stitch length, and position of stitch. That's it. All metal body, great machine.

Pfaffs can cost up to the thousands, but their entry-level models are fabulous.
posted by asavage at 9:28 PM on May 11, 2005 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: alright, ive got it narrowed down to the pfaff and the jeans machine. I can hash the rest out myself. thanks guys :)
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 9:55 PM on May 11, 2005

Enh. Stay away from the White Jeans machine, unless they've changed a lot (for the better) in the last few years. My mom had one 15 years ago, and it was a piece of junk. When I was looking for a new machine a few years ago, they hadn't gotten much better. (I was replacing a cheap machine, and given a choice between the one I had and the Jeans machine, I would have kept the old one. ymmv.)

Your best bet would be to go to a local sewing machine shop and see what they've got in their used machines. You should be able to find a good mid-'60's Singer, Pfaff, or Kenmore that will do what you want for under $300.
posted by jlkr at 4:17 AM on May 12, 2005

Consider, depending on what you want, an older industrial machine. They will basically sew straight lines, but they will sew them through every substance known to man, and probably a few others, as well. If piecing leather is your primary use for it, and you have a current machine for lighter duty sewing, that may be all you need.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:30 AM on May 12, 2005

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