Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board

Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board (
-   Interior (
-   -   Newbie With A Sewing Machine - Opinions Wanted (

Dusty82 02-04-2007 10:04 AM

Newbie With A Sewing Machine - Opinions Wanted
I didn't want to hijack Horvath's thread with a question of my own, so I'm hoping DanTwoLakes, Trees, or anyone else with an opinion will see this and comment.

I fell into a deal about 2 years ago and ended up with an upholstery sewing machine. It's a Juki LU-562, and it's been sitting (covered) in my garage ever since I brought it home. A co-worker's ex-husband was forced to sell off some possessions to avoid foreclosure on a house, and I bought this thing as both a favor to her (the house is still in her name too,) and in the hopes that I could trade it off to an upholsterer in exchange for some work. I ended up paying $200 for it, and she was glad to see it go - it had been sitting in the middle of her livingroom, and she wanted it gone NOW! Well, I'm in no way ready for upholstery work yet, and it's just sitting there taking up space.

Cutting to the chase, I'm thinking I could learn some of the basics of using the machine to do a couple of small projects I have around here. I have no illusions of doing a complete interior of a vehicle, but I know I can figure out a few small projects. The machine came with LOTS of thread, bobbins, needles, feet, and other accessories too numerous to mention here (3 large boxes of stuff.) I know the machine works, as we plugged it in and she fired it up (ran a few stitches in an old rag just to show me it worked.) Other than that, I really don't know anything about it, other than it's a heavy SOB.

My question is, what would you recommend for a newbie like me as far as information on set up, basic operation of the machine, and practice using it is concerned? Are there any books you'd recommend that will help guide me through the basics? I know this type of thing requires practice and experience to master, so I don't have any unreasonable demands on myself in that regard. I'm just looking for any tips you seasoned veterans can pass along to a guy who has no idea what he's about to do, but has a lot of interest in trying it.

Oh, and for the record, the wife says she hates to sew, hasn't tried it since she was 13, and is just as lost with it as I am.

Thanks in advance for any advice, opinions, or comments.

OneMoreTime 02-04-2007 10:43 AM

You can get a basic sewing book at any fabric store and since you can sew a rag then you can make something simple for practice..maybe a tool bag for the car or something..I am no expert on sewing myself I just found a used machine and went for it..made a few things for myself with it..

Most of us I think started that way..also if there is a community college near you may wish to see if they have any upholstery classes there..once a fellow learns the basics then the moving on to other things works well..

Good Luck

horvath 02-04-2007 11:19 AM

Wow! That machine is worth $1,100.00, Dusty!

You can get a user's manual for it here:

Wanna sell it?

teach 02-04-2007 01:59 PM

We had an automotive upholstery business for many years. One of the simplier learning projects is a straight pickup seat, perferrably one that only needs the seating section and not the banding replaced.
Remove the covering and mark joining seams with a magic marker in several areas to show how the sections are joined together.
Now, using a cutting tool, rip the seams apart. (My wife perferred a single-edge razor blade...and could have those seats apart in the blink of an eye.. ;) )
Use those pieces as patterns to cut the new pieces...marking the joining marks on the new pieces.
Match the marks and sew together. If you were able to reuse the banding/edging that the seat sections were sewn to, match the marks and reattach it to the new seat section.

By taking the seat apart you can learn how it was sewn together.

You might want to check out <> Jack and the others are great about answering questions and can probably refer you to other sites.

Another become accustomed to your machine...before tackling an actual seat you might want to try some things like a tool wrap bag of heavy canvas or other material, a shift boot, etc.


Dusty82 02-04-2007 04:07 PM


Originally Posted by horvath
Wow! That machine is worth $1,100.00, Dusty!

Wanna sell it?

Heh! The shipping from NV to NJ alone would kill us both - this thing weighs a ton! :D

When I got it home I looked it up online and discovered what it's worth - it shocked me too! That's why I figured I could trade it to a professional upholsterer in exchange for some interior work. I may still do that when I'm ready for interior, but why not use it now?

Thanks for the links. I didn't think about looking up an owner's manual online - duhhhhhh. I'll get one ordered and get on the machine. I have some heavy canvas and some denim I can play with. Maybe I'll work up a pattern for a tool bag or two and go from there. That was a good idea, folks - thanks.

armysniper 02-04-2007 06:33 PM

Just to get the feel of the pedal and how the machine stitches, just run some material through the machine with a piece of foam under it. Do figure 6's, turns, and put a few straight chalk marked lines on there to learn how to get eh machine to sew straight. But I found figure 8's very helpful with learning how to sew corners, curves and just general control of the machine.

You could get a junk seat and recover it with some super cheap material as practice as well.

Dusty82 02-04-2007 09:30 PM

I'm married to a genius.

I showed my wife this thread and she told me about when she was in school, and "all the girls had to take cooking and home economics while all the boys got to take shop," (her words.) According to her, the teacher had them take the thread and bobbins off of the sewing machine, then take a regular piece if lined paper, and "sew" along the lines in order to teach them how to sew a straight line, and control the machine. Once they got proficient at sewing a straight line, they graduated to "sewing" curves and other shapes that they drew on sheets of blank paper. She said that they just put the piece of paper on top of a piece of cloth so the feed dogs would have something to grab on to. Then they just ran it on through the machine and used the holes left by the needle to judge how accurate they were sewing. Sounds brilliant to me!

Thanks for the advice, folks. I'm ordering a manual for the machine so I can get it set up and running. Then I'm off to learn how to use it.

horvath 02-04-2007 09:33 PM

You're really fortunate to have a machine like that, man. I'm glad you're getting into it! Sewing can be a lot of fun!

You could make some boots for your brake and clutch pedals (just the brake pedal if you have automatic like me) ... I'm making boots for my brake pedal, shifter and hand brake ... these would be the easiest projects I can think of to start with and I wouldn't be surprised if, after you made a couple of boots, you just kept on going.

The boots I already have, have stainless trim rings and the vinyl is glued under the *inside* circle of the trim ring. I'm going to glue leather on the *outside* of the circle of the trim ring ... in order to do that, and still be able to access the screws to mount the trim ring to the floor, I'm going to make a slit up the front of the boot with holes punched to lace it up (like a shoe) and will do a French stitch on each side. I think this is going to look really cool; I found a nice looking black hemp cord at a crafts store that I'm going to use for the lacing.

So far, I've made a radio faceplate, a faceplate for a clock and some switches, and I covered the center (horn cover) of my steering wheel ... all are covered with moose (black) and none involved any sewing.

Next I'm going to cover the backside of the steeringwheel (3 arms) with moose (black) and then make a steeringwheel cover with elk (black). The backside of the steering wheel will require some sewing and French stitches and the steering wheel cover will only require one very simple seam (completing the circle) - the trick with the wheel cover will be punching holes by hand, all the way around on both edges and then hand-stitching the edges together for a tight fit.

These are all simple projects in terms of sewing ... although the steering wheel will present some challenges in fitting ... but the real serious job will be recovering seats. I plan on getting a pair of power seats out of a late model Caddy (or something similar) and recovering them in a two-color leather scheme.

DanTwoLakes 02-08-2007 02:21 PM

Armysniper is right on the money. Learn to sew straight seams first and then graduate to 6's and 8's to learn the curves. Get to know how to make it go slow and then increase your speed after you've practiced so that you know how the machine reacts to your foot on the foot pedal. That's a great machine, and my only suggestion (for ANYBODY who buys a used machine) would be to have a pro go over it, time it, thread it,and get it set for you when you're ready to do an interior. If you don't want it, put it on E-bay and they'll kill each other bidding on it. (Horvath is already drooling over that idea. LOL. Sorry Alan, I couldn't resist!) I have one other comment: I never use old parts and trace around them onto new material. I always make cardboard patterns from the old parts to trace and cut from. You don't need to make a pattern for everything:..on straight, square or rectangular pieces all you need is the measurements. Good luck.

horvath 02-08-2007 08:47 PM

LOL! You've got me pegged, Dan!
But, today I received my Tacsew!!! I was in shock; I ordered it on Tuesday and it arrived on Thursday! And Friday is my birthday -- how cool is that!?

I spent the whole afternoon and evening watching the DVD, hitting the pause button, assembling a section, and so on. I don't have the motor yet ... the servo comes a day or two later ... but I stitched a few short runs with some leather, turning the balance wheel by hand, and I am one happy camper! This is really gonna make a difference!


DanTwoLakes 02-09-2007 07:45 AM

Alan, you should have bought an automatically backstiches when you lean your foot back on the foot pedal and cuts your thread for you when it finishes backstitching. Of course it's a tad more expensive than the Tacsew.

horvath 02-09-2007 08:21 AM

Thanks, Dan ... the Tacsew automatically backstiches by pressing a lever; simple enough. But it doesn't cut the thread for me - that's a cool feature! Nonetheless, I'm grinning bigtime ... can't wait for the servo motor to get here so I can start practicing!

TackBradley 02-14-2007 05:48 PM

what are you guys spending on these machines? is there a cheaper one i can practice on? or should i just use my moms for practice? im completely new to this and im super excited to get started doing this. thanks guys!!!

Dusty82 02-14-2007 06:09 PM

As I mentioned in my first post, I spent $200 on mine, and the tune up is costing me $99. I fell into a deal though, so I wouldn't expect to get away that cheap. I've seen machines like mine go for as little as $700, and as much as $1500.

While mine is in the shop, I'm using a borrowed Brother home sewing machine just to get used to the idea of running it. It's teaching me to sew straight, and I'm about to start some curved pieces. I know controlling this thing is going to be nothing like the Juki, but it's giving me some insight as to how the whole sewing thing works.

Maybe I'm wrong here (Dan? Sniper?) but I don't see a thing wrong with learning the basic skills of material control on a small home machine if you can't afford to go out and buy an industrial machine. We'll see how much I've really learned when the Juki comes home and I get on it.

horvath 02-14-2007 06:55 PM

By all means, TackBradley, practice on your mothers machine with regular material! At least you'll get some experience at sewing and controling a straight and/or curved stitch line, etc.

I've seen the Tacsew I bought (just the machine) selling for more than $900; it's the T111-155 ... but the guy I bought mine from sells them for $600:

He sells the Tacsew T111-155 with a table (you *must* have a table with these because they sit atop an oil pan), thread stand and clutch motor for only $750 (shipping is $99, bringing it up to $849) ... but I upgraded the motor to an electronic servo motor for another $99 (they sell for $150 alone). So I dropped a total of $947.00 for my setup -- and everyone who knows this stuff says I did extremely well ... I'm sure I did because I'm grinning from ear to ear.

Keep an eye on my site:
I post photo-tutorials on everything I do there ... I also have links there to buy those 2 upholstery books I mentioned on another thread.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:09 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright 1999 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.