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Old 06-05-2012, 09:39 PM
altheapdx altheapdx is offline
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Sewing machine comparison-long time seamstress, 1st time upholsterer - Singers


I'm new to this site, but have been a seamstress for decades (a girl never reveals her age). I have mostly done household items - clothing, quilts, handbags and other miscellaneous items. All of these items have been done on my Brother XR-65. A little household machine.

Recently we purchased a 1974 VW Bus. I am in the process of re-doing the seats & curtains. I'm using a medium weight vinyl for the seats, some foam backing. My Brother has blasted through the seams & did a good job of attaching cording to the edges, but once I hit piecing at the corners…uh, oh. It's a no go. My walking foot doesn't lift high enough to maneuver over them. The standard pressure foot is a no go, had a terrible time with it bunching the vinyl.

First, let me state that 'reverse' feature isn't necessary. I am totally capable of flipping the material to do the backstitching. I'm not planning on doing upholstery for a living, just this one time project. So I'm putting that low on the priority list. Of course it would be great, but it's not necessary.

Then walking foot: I've absolutely had to use the walking foot on my Brother to feed the material evenly. For the portion of this project I've done thus far with my Brother, I've been basting the edges of the vinyl prior to sewing it. Will continue to do so just to make doubly sure that the vinyl feeds evenly. But I'm thinking that with this upgrade and with beefer foot dogs with much more girth, I will probably be able to get by with either a nylon/teflon pressure foot or a roller foot. With all the expertise I'm finding on this site, do you think that's a logical assumption?

Here's the machines I'm looking at locally and my comments/questions. Any advice, guidance, suggestions or other would be much appreciated.

A Singer 241-12 for $150: The ad states it runs great but could use a tune up. When I talked with the seller she said there's nothing wrong with it, it just needs cleaned and lubed up. I'm pretty sure this machine would do what I need it to do. Do you agree? I think my biggest reservation with this machine is the speed. This puppy, according to what I've read, moves and it moves FAST. Like 5000 stitches per minute! I'm afraid the speed on such work is going to be too much. I've got to do some pretty tight corners and I happen to like the tips of my fingers. If I purchase this machine, could I put on a different motor to slow it down? It says it has a "foot operated clutch motor". A what?? Feel sort of like a dunce, but I'm not sure I know what that means. My educated guess after reading about 5.7 million webpages is that your foot engages the clutch. But isn't that how all machines engage? It also has a 1/3 horsepower motor, stronger than the other machine I'm thinking about. This machine is gear driven with minimum stitch of 5 1/2 per inch. It's also a drop feed machine, which I think for my purposes is good. The manual I found online says it has a 5/16" pressure foot lift. It also states it will accommodate needles from 8-21. I've been using a 90/14 on the Brother and haven't had issues with it.

The other is a Singer 31-15 for $250: The advantage over the 241-12 seems to be it will go slower, max of 2200 stitches per minute. But it only has a 1/4 horsepower motor versus the 1/3 horsepower of the 241-12. It's been recently serviced and I saw the receipt stating as much. The stitch length is slightly longer, 7 per inch. But I've measured the original seat covers and they are from about 4 - 7 stitches per inch. I can't seem to find information about the pressure foot lift on this machine, whether it's gear driven or not and what type of feed it has. It, per the manual I found, accommodates needles from 14-23, so good there.

So where am I at? Seems as though the 241-12 would be the better machine for my purpose. But I'm really worried about the speed. Like I said I really like the tips of my fingers and wish to keep them. I'm finding a lot more information about the 241-12 online-Gear driven, drop feed, lift of pressure foot.

Enough about sewing machines. I've literally been reading every blog, thread, post, eBay ad, you name it for days trying to whittle this down. I'm cross eyed from staring at the monitor and my head is swirling with details. Plus, my kids have only have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for every meal for days. Ok, not really, but I've definitely not being putting out the 'normal' mommy dinners.

Like I said, any advice, suggestions or recommendations would be really appreciated.

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