sewing machines

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jesselee
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Re: sewing machines

#826 Post by jesselee » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:12 am

Hey Alasdair, thanks for the manual. It may just do the trick. Sure would like to have a Gritzner like that one. Mine is the old style where you can see all the moving parts. Quite an attractive machine.

Cheers,

JesseLee

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farmerfalconer
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Re: sewing machines

#827 Post by farmerfalconer » Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:24 pm

Quick Question,
I have a singer 404. its a machine designed for teaching highschool home ec classes (back when they used to teach useful stuffImage ) so its really simple and hardy. All metal parts. I got it of ebay on the recomendation of a beginner bootmaker in Raleigh, NC and it will sew leather just fine. up to about 9oz even. Is there anything wrong with using a cloth machine for leather? Some leathers (like pig skin) seem to not slide under the presser foot very well and might bunch up but thats about it. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks,
Cody

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Re: sewing machines

#828 Post by bobcann » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:56 pm

Cody,
The Singer 404 is a great machine for certain reasons and for certain work. One of the main reasons that it's great is the direct gear drive from motor to main shaft. All the rest of the drives are also gear, not belt, so there is no slippage or jumping out of time unless you break some teeth off a gear or two. These gears have metal mounting sleeve and composite (hard plastic) teeth formed on the sleeve. If you strip one gear, plan on getting it and its mate changed, if not all the gears in the machine. If they are original, they are over 50 years old and are possibly beginning to deteriorate. The machine is basically built like a tank and will run for a long long time if well maintained. If you intend on keeping it, see if you can locate a spare motor as they are getting scarce. If you toast it, you'll not be a happy camper. Given the right needle and thread, it will march thru most materials.

That brings me to the "certain work" part. It was built for fabric which for the most part slides fairly well under the presser foot. A lot of leathers, suedes, and vinyls don't want to slide very well causing them to bunch up as you have experienced. (This bunching can also be caused by improper tensions.)

Feet, foot pressure - If you can find it, you might be able to use a teflon foot. This is a standard shaped foot with a layer of teflon on the bottom. The teflon allows the leather to slide a bit easier. Remember when hunting for it that you have a "Slant Needle Singer". You MUST, MUST, MUST tell the sales clerk this info or you will be guaranteed to get the wrong part and it won't fit your machine. Most industrial machines have, or can be fitted with, a roller foot which nearly completely eliminates bunching. Unfortunately, I've not seen a roller foot for a slant needle. If your machine is equipped with adjustable presser foot pressure, see if you can lessen the presser foot pressure, this might help little. I can't remember the fine details of the 404, but check on the top of the machine, above the pressser foot lever. There might be a knob that is adjustable, and if part is pushed down it might stay down and if pushed again will pop up. If it is so equipped, play with it to check your feed results.

Needles and thread - get some leather needles in various sizes - 14, 16, 18. Size 20 if you can find them. They can be made by Singer, Schmetz, Bernina, Organ, to name some of the more popular ones. Use leather needles ONLY on leather and suedes, and nothing else. If you go to fabric (or vinyl) of any sort, change to standard fabric sewing needles. There are scads of them, so get an education from your friendly sewing store employee.

Thread - this machine is built for standard fabric sewing thread. That means it will work with 30, 40, and 50 weight threads commonly found in a sewing store. Unless you are ready to buy and rebuild a bobbin case and possibly a tension unit, you will be limited to these somewhat lighter weight threads. It might, but probably won't, run "button hole" thread as this is heavier than the bobbin case tension spring can handle. I have a "semi-industrial" machine that I use for upholstery and some leather work that will run Tex69 thread. I'd never try to run this on any of my home sewing machines because of the tight turns that the thread has to take. I know that leather workers use T69 and other heavier threads on various industrial machines. You might find that standard fabric sewing threads may be too lightweight for your leather work. If you are trying to run heavier threads now, this can also lead to the bunching that you are experiencing. It can also lead to broken needles because the thread isn't releasing from the tension units so the leather is pulling the thread too tight and pulls the needle and makes it hit the presser foot. Goodbye needle!

Enough for now. I'm not running out of thoughts, just running out of steam. I hope this helps.

Robert

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Re: sewing machines

#829 Post by raving_raven » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:06 pm

Hi Cody,

You could try a teflon presser foot or a roller presser foot. They are made to alleviate problems with vinyl or other sticky materials not sliding smoothly under the presser foot. The only problem I have had with using cloth machines on leather is ruining them. The harder pounding to get through the leather makes them slip the timing adjustment, so they won't form stitches. I don't understand why they don't grind a flat spot on the shaft where the collar and screw are to adjust the timing. Be sure to use a leather needle to minimize the pounding. Sewing the leather when slightly damp helps a lot as well. Some of the older machines hold up pretty well and are often free or under $25.

The feed dogs on the bottom can mar the leather surface, but if you have the flesh side against the feed dogs is not a problem.

I finally got an industrial walking foot machine that will also mar the leather to some extent, but is heavy duty enough to not get out of timing.
They can sometimes be found at yard sales.

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Re: sewing machines

#830 Post by salsa » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:43 am

The thing is that if you look, Singer 31 class machines are fairly common and at reasonable, sometime ridiculously low, prices. Replacing the presser foot is chump change and the machines are so simple that simply studying the way the machine cycles can suggest most necessary adjustments.

Trying to do the job with a tool that is not designed for the job usually ends up costing more money than buying the proper tool to begin with; or so stymies a person that they end up quitting in frustration.

()

(Message edited by admin on January 30, 2013)

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Re: sewing machines

#831 Post by farmerfalconer » Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:06 am

Robert, Rosemary, and Richard,

Thanks a lot for all the info.
Robert, so far I am using a nylon upholstery thread that is pretty strong but i dont know the exact # or weight. I've printed your post and plan on taking it with me to the sewing store.

Rosemary, When you say "some of the older machines hold up pretty well" do you mean like treadle fabric machines?

and Richard, I know what you mean. I have been trying to make a good shoe for 3 years, still havnt though Image I started out always getting the cheapest I could and your right. I payed for it in frustration at times. Recently I feel my skills are a little better so Im treating myself to some better leather and better tools.

Once again thanks to all,
Cody

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Re: sewing machines

#832 Post by raving_raven » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:19 pm

Hi Cody,

I had a fabric Riccar zig-zag made in early 60's and my mother had a singer made then, and they would not get out of timing no matter how they were abused. I regret I gave them away, when I bought more versatile machines. The machines made in the late 70's or 80's get out of timing from sewing through 4 layers of denim making or mending clothes.

Generally, the heavier the head of the machine, the tougher it is. This rule does not apply if it is because of crude quality castings.

I do have an old treadle machine, but it has never been abused and I have never tried to sew leather with it, as it is still in good working order and I want to keep it that way. It seems lightly built compared to industrial machines.

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Re: sewing machines

#833 Post by jesselee » Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:37 pm

All,

My old 1876 Bradbury sews incredibly well and perfect for her age. In fact all my 19th century machines just need a drop of oil now and then. Wish they made 'em as well today as in the past.

Cheers,

JesseLee

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Re: sewing machines

#834 Post by farmerfalconer » Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:30 pm

Sew, I have a problem with my 404 (no pun intendedImage ) I havent gotten a teflon foot yet but that hasnt been a big hang up.
I was closing some uppers today and had done probably 4 ft of stitches when the thread unwound at the needle base and the thing jammed.
Its hard to explain so a pic is worth a thousand words:
15163.jpg

This is how it was sewing b4 the incident:
15162.jpg
15162.jpg (166.43 KiB) Viewed 1218 times


Any advice?

Thanks,
Cody

(Message edited by farmerfalconer on February 05, 2013)

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Re: sewing machines

#835 Post by bobcann » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:35 am

Cody,

Did you change thread or needle before this project? What thread size are you running, what size and type of needle? Are you getting any loops or strange stitches on the underside of the leather?

Looks like you might be running a thread that is too large for the needle and it's shredding as it passes thru the eye of the needle. Possibly a burr on the needle, or the needle is bent and is hitting either the hook, the presser foot, or the needle plate.

Try changing your needle, check the timing, and check needle to hook clearance. Go for changing the needle first because that's the easiest to fix. Probably not the timing or clearance unless you have really jammed up the machine and/or wrenched leather and thread out of it.

Good luck,
Robert

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Re: sewing machines

#836 Post by dlskidmore » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:12 am

Tension problems can also cause something similar. I have a sewing machine that the tension knob occasionally slips and I get that massive pile of thread in one spot...

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Re: sewing machines

#837 Post by farmerfalconer » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:59 pm

Weel I called the local repairman and he thought my needle might be dull with a burr so I put a new one in and it worked for a little b4 bunching up again so I took it out and with a fine diamond stone put a shisel point on it.
So far problem solved though it needs resharpening rather often.

Thanks for the tips,
Cody

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Re: sewing machines

#838 Post by romango » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:46 pm

Also, check for any gummy build up on the needle from sewing through glued areas.

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Re: sewing machines

#839 Post by bobcann » Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:07 pm

Cody,

Are you sure that you're using using a "leather" needle? These have sharp wings on the sides that cut thru the leather - similar to an awl. If you are using a standard "fabric" needle, it certainly will dull up quite fast, as you have discovered. If using a fabric needle, you will eventually develop a "mushroom" on the tip unless the needle breaks first from being hammered thru the leather. Talk to your service person and get some leather needles in various sizes. Size will depend mostly on size of thread.

Good luck,
Robert

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Re: sewing machines

#840 Post by farmerfalconer » Sat Feb 09, 2013 9:36 am

Robert,
Im using a sharps needle for sewing denim. Its all the repairman had and the nearest sewing store is 1hour away. Im getting some next week though.

Rick,
I did have some gummy stuff at one point so I washed the needle and now whenever possible I put the glue over to the side of the actual seam.

Thanks a lot,
Cody

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Re: sewing machines

#841 Post by jesselee » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:12 am

Cody,

I lety the glue set, usually minimum a few hours or overnight (if I use Barge). Then the needle does not gum up. A bit of spray WD40 or a wipe of oil helps as well.

Cheers,

JesseLee

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Re: sewing machines

#842 Post by artzend » Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:51 pm

Cody

Only use a light coating of glue, never thick. If you use a thick layer you will get areas that the solvents get trapped in and the adhesive remains wet.

Always make sure that the adhesive is dry before you put the two areas together.

Any moist adhesive will gum up the needles.

Always use leather point needles for leather. Round points are not satisfactory.

Tim
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Re: sewing machines

#843 Post by farmerfalconer » Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:53 pm

I am actually using a water based cement.
Tandys leather craft cement. Its nontoxic and doesnt smell at all. I put a real thin layer on each piece leave it for about 2 minutes and then hammer the pieces together, lightly. Works great. strong enough to hold it while you sew and if you leave it overnight its very tough.

Cody

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Re: sewing machines

#844 Post by dw » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:04 pm

Cody,

What size needle are you using and what size thread?

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Re: sewing machines

#845 Post by farmerfalconer » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:17 pm

Im afraid I dont know.
I dont have internet a the house so I use the library and dont have anything with me.

Ill try to remember to bring some next time.

Cody

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Re: sewing machines

#846 Post by dw » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:38 pm

You understand that you're asking the impossible to expect anyone to diagnose sewing machine problems with anything close to certainty without that person actually seeing and cycling the machine through a few stitches.

That said, one of the more common reasons for a "pile up" of thread is too heavy a thread for too small a needle.

If a threaded needle will not freely slide from one end of a 12" strand of the thread to the other end, it is too small for the thread.

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Re: sewing machines

#847 Post by courtney » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:43 pm

I have been using 134r needles in my 31-20 and they work great on thin leather.

I would like to sew a little thicker do they come in leather points?

What are they called if so?

All the different numbers get pretty confusing.

Thanks,
Courtney

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Re: sewing machines

#848 Post by courtney » Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:00 pm

O.K., I think its 135x8,

Whats the biggest thread I can use in a singer 31-20?

69, 92?

Courtney

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Re: sewing machines

#849 Post by dw » Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:56 pm

Neither the 134r designation nor the 135x8 designation are needle sizes. Depending on the maker the size will be printed on the shaft of the needle--70, 80, 90, 100, etc..

And I don't know for sure but i wouldn't try a size 92 thread in a 31 class machine.

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Re: sewing machines

#850 Post by dw » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:48 pm

PS...a size 14/90 needle will not sew reliably with a size 69 thread. You need to go to a size 16/100. And I don't believe needle sizes for the 31 class go above 120...which would be a size 20, or at best 140/24.

Again, I've never worked with size 92 thread but it bears repeating that if a threaded needle won't slide freely on a length of 92, the needle is too small/the thread too heavy.

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