Modern day sewing machines

Questions and conversations related to sewing up a magnificent kite creation.
Mytoyz
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Joined: Thu, Jun 27 2013, 05:17 PM

Modern day sewing machines

Postby Mytoyz » Tue, Jul 01 2014, 02:00 PM

Are there any sewing machines sold today that make good kite sewing machines? Found a new singer that does all the basic stitch patterns required and will stitch the heavier fabrics and such. Looking to do some tails as a first project, but Leary of used machines on Craig list or eBay that cost $1, but take $500 to get tuned up. Money is not an object, just don't want crap. If I only make one tail, and fail at that, I will give it to my niece! Found a singer 4411 at Joann's fabrics for around 200. Ideas?
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goestoeleven
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Re: Modern day sewing machines

Postby goestoeleven » Tue, Jul 01 2014, 09:47 PM

I am not the person to ask about this . . . . but I think I've heard that Pfaff are the best ones if you are really serious about sewing a lot.

I used my wife's old machine that she's had at least 25 years, but then again I hardly sew anything. I'm not even sure which brand . . . . and I have yet to make a kite . . .

Maybe this thread will revive the idea of our kite building session that we never had over the winter . . . . due to lots of winter.

TMadz
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Re: Modern day sewing machines

Postby TMadz » Tue, Jul 01 2014, 10:45 PM

A good old fashioned singer that allows you to expand your zigzag stitch will work, if you can find one. Pfaff and Berninas are higher end sewing machines. ( My wife and mother in law are sewers)
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Jeepster
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Re: Modern day sewing machines

Postby Jeepster » Wed, Jul 02 2014, 09:53 AM

Oh wow, an easier question would be what should I be looking for in a future spouse!! Here's the path I've taken:

My first few kites were built with a hand-me-down 1970's Kenmore machine. Those kites were smaller in size and everything went well with the sewing. Once I started building 75 sq ft and larger kites, fabric management became more important because of slippage under the pressure foot during sewing. Ripstop is very slippery and having the feed dogs working on the bottom layer and nothing working on the top layer of fabric caused some problems. Once aware of what was happening, I spent more time arranging the fabric to alleviate drag at the pressure foot. The Kenmore is now set up with a binding attachment and that has become it's primary function.

When I wanted to make a Rev-like kite, I used my wife's fancy new Brother machine with an add-on walking foot. The stitch selection on it is almost infinite. I could duplicate Rev's three-step zig-zag stick almost exactly. The add-on walking foot was better than nothing, but it didn't have enough top-side pressure to alleviate fabric slippage ... had to pay close attention while feeding the material.

I bought a Pfaff 1222 machine off e-bay and sent it to Kenn's Place for reconditioning. Love(d) it ... thought it was the ultimate kite building machine. With the IDT system, the top-side walking foot really grabs the top layer of fabric and keeps it much more even with the bottom layer with less attention to fabric management. Now the stitch length was very consistent in the finished kite. That machine, like the old Kenmore, sets the stitches mechanically via cams so there is a finite set of options for stitch length and width. Great machine, but I missed the needle down feature on the electronic machines.

Bought a Pfaff 1473 machine off Craig's list. It's a 1990's era machine and is one of their early excursions into electronics. It's now my primary sewing machine. I like the IDT system, full control of side-to-side needle position, needle down feature, end of bobbin thread warning light, and the ease of setting the stitch parameters. The negative of this machine is that some of the electronic components are no longer available. If one of them goes belly up, the machine is worthless.

If I had to start over (remember that I've already answered the question of "do I want to build kites") I'd buy a new, medium priced Pfaff electronic sewing machine. I'd stay with the Pfaff because that's the brand I have experience with using. Probably find a used machine as back-up and use it primarily to do binding ... the binding system is great, but finicky.

The other side of the story is that I've seen some fantastic applique kites built on a home/mechanical sewing machine with minimal features. One guy couldn't even remember what brand his machine was ... he said he wanted to control the needle, not let the machine control it. I've also seen Trev's (Australia) and Ron Bohart's (Oregan) applique kites built on Pfaff 1222 machines ... their work is fantastic. So, a fancy new machine is not really a necessary tool to build great kites.

Conclusion: Unless you know you'll be building quite a few kites for the foreseeable future, don't agonize over what to start with. New or used, buy a reasonably good machine and you can't go wrong. If you dislike building kites, you can pass it on to someone else. If kite building is just okay for you, then it'll satisfy your needs. If you find you really like building kites, it'll serve as a 1) travel sewing machine, 2) back-up machine, or 3) dedicated binding/cording/repair machine.

My experience with the e-bay purchased machine was good, but more expensive than other options. My experience with Criag's list was excellent ... brought some ripstop along and test drove the sewing machine with it.

Do shy away from any questionable used machine ... the frustration factor far outweighs the cost savings factor. Sewing machines are basically very robust, but the thread delivery process has a number of stages where things can go wrong. Chasing down and fixing those problems can cause one to take up drinking as a new hobby.

Cheers,
Tom

Mytoyz
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Re: Modern day sewing machines

Postby Mytoyz » Wed, Jul 02 2014, 11:27 AM

Thanks Tom, my desire at the moment is experimentation with some custom tails, and learning some of the technics. Maybe some repair, and possibly then an actual kite. Pointers or other flat designs. If this works well I would invest in something better. A lot of helpfull info!
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makatakam
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Re: Modern day sewing machines

Postby makatakam » Wed, Jul 02 2014, 09:06 PM

TMadz wrote:A good old fashioned singer that allows you to expand your zigzag stitch will work, if you can find one. Pfaff and Berninas are higher end sewing machines. ( My wife and mother in law are sewers)


Don't let them know that you called them "sewers"!
MARK

"...it's a fair wind blowin' warm, out of the south over my shoulder, guess I'll set a course and go." CSN&Y

TMadz
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Joined: Thu, Apr 05 2012, 05:31 PM
Location: Sugar Grove, IL

Re: Modern day sewing machines

Postby TMadz » Thu, Jul 03 2014, 06:45 AM

makatakam wrote:
TMadz wrote:A good old fashioned singer that allows you to expand your zigzag stitch will work, if you can find one. Pfaff and Berninas are higher end sewing machines. ( My wife and mother in law are sewers)


Don't let them know that you called them "sewers"!

They don't listen to anything I say anyway. I'm the "break glass in case of emergency " guy. They ignore me until they need me.
Bonum vinum laetificat cor hominis

almerino
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Joined: Tue, Sep 13 2016, 12:08 PM

Re: Modern day sewing machines

Postby almerino » Wed, Sep 14 2016, 11:00 PM

Hi, I'm Al Merino. I just bought a Pfaff 1222, but it needs some work. Can anybody tell me where Kenn's Place is located? I need his shipping address. My half dozen emails via his website have had no response.


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