Help choosing sewing machine for Leather/Vinyl

clovis7January 14, 2009

Hello everyone,

Took me a while to find a sewing forum he he :)

I want to work with leather and vinyl, just not sure what machine to get. I've been doing a lot of research and seems I can't use a regular machine, I've come across a lot of brands in my research, including Brother, Techsew, among others.

Does anyone suggest something to start with? the ones I've seen start at $800, and that's second hand!

Thank you :)

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What weights of leather and vinyl are you planning to sew?

My commercial walking foot is a Consew. Easy for me to maintain. I did pay to have it downgeared by 25% as I had no need for the max speed. I paid $500 about 15 years ago and it was 2-3 years old. I could sell it today for more than what I paid.

Try to locate the person who could service the machine you buy. I was in the DC-NYC corridor area and was able to find a person who regularly made "house calls" to various businesses servicing thier sewing machines. My machine is a floor model and not what you would want to heft into a van for servicing. In my current area, I have been unable to locate anyone who provides in the home or business service. On the other hand, there may be a machine out there that is a portable model that you could clamp onto a base table. It would probably be Chinese made, for, despite what so many believe, really have been the leaders in compact sewing machines. When we lived in China, I wanted to bring one of their sergers home, as it was simplicity and efficiency superb, unlike any of my non-Chinese made sergers.

Am not familiar with your mentioned brands. Please do look for a walking foot machine. I have a 1938 Singer 31-15 (non-walking foot), that is wonderful for standard leathers, but not polished or glazed. Vinyl is a challenge. Take pieces of your materials with you as you check out machines. Try to locate folks in your area who have the machines and get their feed back. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 9:37PM
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What you will be getting is an industrial machine, so $800 used seems about right. Can you find a forum or group on-line of folks that works with leather--they will be able to give the pros and cons of different brands.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 9:56AM
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Vintage machines can sew leather and vinyl. Many of them can sew through several layers of light leather or vinyl like butter. I have a kenmore model 52 with a 1.2 amp motor that goes through heavy duty work like it was nothing. I paid 7 dollars at the goodwill for the machine and another 40 at the sewing shop on a new power/foot pedal cord. I also have an old heavy duty National/Eldredge. I do not know much about this machine but after playing with it a bit I do know it can sew through similar conditions as my kenmore.

The old machines were all metal and capable of much heavier duty sewing than modern household machines. So if you just need normal vinyl and light weight leather sewing look for one of those but do your research and have an idea of wich brand/ model you are looking for before you start hunting the thrift stores.
Also you can find walking foot attachments for most of those old machines.

A huge pro to going with the vintage model rather than an industrial is no need to worry about the oil pan and such.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 9:33AM
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I have used a regular, inexpensive machine for years now.
I mostly saw leather, but did vinyl as well.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:10AM
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I have sewn very little leather myself (trim on one project). However, I have heard second hand that you can burn out the motor of a typical home sewing machine if you do a lot of heavy-duty leather sewing. If you're going to do it regularly it might be worth it buy the industrial leather machine.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 5:47PM
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Most home sewing machines can handle garment weight leathers with no problems. But heavier weight hides, or commercial outputs, do require industrial technology.

Often walking foot or compound feed machines are used for the heavy stuff. And real industrial WF mechanisms are NOTHING at all like the WF on home machines. Industrial sewing machines are usually much cheaper than home machines of comparative quality. But they are very specialized - your WF leather machine will not make buttonholes or mend silk pajamas.

Google walking foot industrial sewing machines on Youtube for some good demos.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:59PM
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Also, you have to use a special needle.

I sewed leather clothing in college and we used mid-grade industrial machines with the leather needles and linen thread.

Vinyl - it's a PITA. I've sewn it, and had to use tissue paper so it would pass under the foot if I was top-stitchng.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 4:51PM
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