Best semi-pro sewing machine for heavy fabrics?
February 11, 2013 9:30 PM   Subscribe

What pro or semi-pro sewing machine would be best for a home sewer opening an Etsy store that sells denim, canvas, and Cordura (1000 denier) luggage and other bags? Ability to sew lighter fabrics as well would be a plus, as would overlock capability (a separate overlock machine would also work). This is for a class project and hypothetical, so price is no object.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome to Shopping (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Janome? Or an industrial Bernina, but I'm not sure how that would handle lighter fabrics.
posted by Mimzy at 9:50 PM on February 11, 2013

Best answer: If money is really no object, a Consew or Juki walking foot machine. Vintage industrial Singers have a good reputation too, but since they're vintage they don't have a list price per se. These take up a lot of space, however, so if you need a non-furniture-scale/portable machine, a Sailrite Ultrafeed would work. They have a spotty reputation, but newer ones are supposed to be better, at least.
posted by pullayup at 10:32 PM on February 11, 2013

'drop needle' is also a feature to look for...the needle drops down when you stop stitching, making corners easier to turn...this is really useful for making pockets look neat...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:16 PM on February 11, 2013

A couple of other things:

1. A walking foot machine won't perform well on thin or delicate fabrics (though I've heard people like them for unwieldy materials like velvet or slippery synthetics), but machines that do generally won't handle multiple layers of denim, canvas, cordura, etc. very well. If luggage is the main event, you really want a sewing machine that's intended for that kind of use. Half-assing it with a non-walking foot machine will lead to frustrating performance, break a lot of needles, and probably shorten the life of the motor.

2. Some commercial machines have accessories that add on a walking foot--this isn't what you want.

3. Luckily, serviceable consumer-grade machines for lighter duty applications are available used for (relatively) little money.

4. If by "lighter fabrics" you mean harder-to-sew materials like lace or mesh, you want a needle feed machine, which moves the needle (but not the foot) along with the fabric as it is fed through. I've heard that this can improve performance on thick material, but in my experience it's usually intended as a speed and performance enhancement for materials which can be tricky to sew with a drop stitch machine. These are commercial machines, though, and will be comparable in price to a walking foot model.

5. All of this is an oversimplification. It's worth finding people, or at least forums, that address the specific use you're considering. I know this is a project, but if you're about to drop $1000+ it's also a good idea to demo the model you're considering so you can see how it performs with your fabric.
posted by pullayup at 1:20 PM on February 12, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses. I decided to go with the top-of-the-line Juki semi-pro machine as it was the only one I saw that explicitly was for denim-type fabrics. I figured anything it couldn't do (e.g., machine applique) I could do with my basic White machine.

And I got 100% on my project, so I guess I did something right. ;)
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 11:11 AM on March 15, 2013

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