a question for the seamsters...

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a question for the seamsters...

Postby NessaZee » Sun Oct 30, 2011 4:58 pm

My parents want to gift me a sewing machine (yay!) and have asked me to pick the one I want (within a budget). I've been doing some research and know my sewing machines, but don't have a clue about sergers. Most people I've spoken with love sergers and have nothing but good things to say about them. I've not used one before. pros and cons? budget is $400 or less, this is the one I'm considering. I'll be working with all sorts of textiles including worn in leather. any input is much appreciated :)
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby Simon of the Playa » Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:04 pm

try looking at used ones, there are great deals on craigslist regularly.

i dont use a serger, so i dont know about them, it's more for clothing. I use a heavy duty industrial singer from 1930 thats been retrofitted with a new motor.

it only goes forward, but it will go thru 6-8 layers of leather. It will never die, im convinced it is an immortal.

so i guess, the answer might be depending on your needs, is to get two machines.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby Drawingablank » Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:06 pm

Do you already have a regular sewing machine? Because sergers are used for different purposes and a standard machine will also be needed for many things.

I don't own a serger atm and can't comment on the quality of that one but will say that after several very bad experiences, I no longer buy Kenmore anything.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:39 pm

I'm with Simon on the virtues of used. The machines they made before they offended man and nature by using plastic gears are going to last a long time with care. So craigslist, or go to a local fabric store (shoudl you have one) and a local sewing machine repair place (yeah, they could offer bum advice in hopes that you'd have to bring it in every year, but I don't think they mostly would) and ask questions. What's good about this, what other machines have these qualities, did you use one, for how long, how hard is it to get parts--that sort of stuff. Then when you get your machine, take it in for servicing, so it starts off in tip top shape.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby Bin Noddin » Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:51 pm

Ditto on an older machine - the sewing machine repairman really smiled when I brought my 60+ year old Singer for some maintenance. And you should have heard him mutter and grumble about new machines. My machine came from a flea market.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:20 pm

And you've had that a few years, now.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby ygmir » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:50 pm

Simon of the Playa wrote:try looking at used ones, there are great deals on craigslist regularly.

i dont use a serger, so i dont know about them, it's more for clothing. I use a heavy duty industrial singer from 1930 thats been retrofitted with a new motor.

it only goes forward, but it will go thru 6-8 layers of leather. It will never die, im convinced it is an immortal.

so i guess, the answer might be depending on your needs, is to get two machines.


like my recent find?
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:54 pm

That looks like it could use a serious tune up. But a treadle machine is good. I think it would be a good thing to take a sewing machine (and mad skills) to the playa for instant costuming. I mean costume repair and creation on playa.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby ygmir » Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:16 pm

oh yeah, a serious tune up........but, the nice thing is,there are very few moving parts. and, the treadle part would work cool on playa........maybe I can get it in shape by the burn, so someone could do just that.

good call, Fishy
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby Simon of the Playa » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:03 am

Ygmir, thats a cobblers machine, meant to do shoes and belts and purses, mostly a leather machine, it has a rotating bobbin for ease of use.

very nice machine if you can get it to work...my friend picked up the same one at a shoe repair service that went out of business..

im still kicking myself for not getting there first...he got it for 50$


actual "Value" if it's running is ten times that.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby NessaZee » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:51 am

spank yous for your replies!!
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby trilobyte » Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:11 pm

Giving this a push to the clothing/playa-wear board, since I think it's a better fit.

I wouldn't consider a serger as a primary/only sewing machine. It's a great piece of specialized equipment, but I don't think it can cover all the basic needs on its own.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:35 pm

So, I'm not quite sure what a serger does. Thought A is that they somehow do those seams that off the rack stuff has with overlapping pieces of cloth. Thought B is that somehow they have energy serges when a little extra "oomph" is needed.
Thought C is that I'm confused.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby Drawingablank » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:05 pm

Sergers are most commonly used on raw fabric edges. My only experience is with an antique Merrow machine used to put a finished edge on fabric window shades (roller shades) that keeps them from fraying. IIRC serging is typically done with 3, 4, or 5 threads, but some industrial machines have more complex arrangements and may incorporate multiple needles as well. Most common home sergers are limited to 4 threads, but some have 2 needle capability.

I've seen quilted stuff where the serging is on the outside as a decorative element, and I have a cheap faux fur and felt hat with some serging on the unlined inside. I would consider it a handy gadget to have on brocades and other stuff that likes to fray, but it does not replace a standard machine.

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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:07 pm

Then why were they the shit when the first came out in mass amounts?
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby Drawingablank » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:13 pm

Probably because of quilters wanting them - there was a time when they were only readily available in industrial models and beyond the budget of most home sewers. If you go in any fabric store around here, about 70% of the fabric section is devoted to quilting.

Its a specialty sorta thing but the best tool for what it does. The only thing a regular machine can really do that even comes close is a zigzag stitch as far as I know.

Now that I think of it I believe its a popular stitch on sweatshirts fabrics too.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:14 pm

Aha, that makes sense.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby delle » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:55 am

From what you've described (that this will be your ONE machine), I'd have to say do not even think of getting a serger.

1. They do only one thing, and it isn't the thing that you'll be wanting to do most of the time.

2. They're REALLY hard to get used to, have impossible thread feeds and when they fuck up (which can be often) it can really mess up your piece --- because it cuts off a piece of material with each pass. If it malfunctions and you have to start that line over again, you're cutting the piece smaller than it was intended to be.

3. To get the straight line of sewing in the seam that was shown in DAB's picture, you need to have a 5-thread serger. The 3-threads do only the outside part. 5-threads are not only way more expensive, but WAY harder to thread properly. The threading is a nightmare. Believe me!



That said.... Getting a good machine with a goodly selection of stitches is really all you need to start out with. You can "serge" the edges to ensure a moopless finish using one of these specialty stitches. Zigzag will do better than nothing, but "Overlock" is best (definitely try to get one with this stitch!!!). It basically does the same thing as the serger would do, but without cutting it flush. You just have to be really good at staying right on the edge.

Here's link where someone took the time to draw in the stitches: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/m ... r-you.html It might be helpful just to have the visual when choosing your machine.


$400 will get you a really nice machine.

Make sure you google a potential model before buying it. Even the older ones. Some seemingly solid metal machines have plastic cogs that are known to be problems down the line. These can mean costly repairs and real headaches during a sewing session.

My best machine was bought on Ebay from a guy who refurbished old machines. A Toyota from the late 40's, It is absolute perfection and will go thru thick leather and silk alike. Under $200

My worst purchase (tho I can't give it up because I've now grown to love it) was my serger. Industrial with no threading chart, it took me eons to learn how to get it to work with 3 threads. I've yet to thread the 5th properly, rendering the 4th useless. Since I bought it from an individual who hadn't used it herself I have no idea if the problem is me or the machine, and would have to pay to have someone come in to check it out (it being a huge, unwieldy and about 500 pounds of table and machine).

I would never suggest buying a secondhand serger to someone who's never used one before. Really. Paying the same amount of money (or less) for a used industrial machine as a new plastic one from Walmart may seem like a really good idea, but you have to consider your own knowledge and skill level before making that move. It can bite you in the ass later. For a Serger. For a regular machine, you can get amazing deals on a really good quality machine for less than you'd pay for a cheaper one prone to meltdowns. Just make sure you get it from someone who really knows machines and stands by their word.

And really. Google the model first for known issues. Take your time in selecting the right one.


And then enjoy the hell out of it.

Edited to say: Get a machine with an overlock stitch. Do NOT get an overlock machine. That's just another name for a serger. :wink:
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby NessaZee » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:00 am

wow, thanks you delle for taking the time to share what you know :D

I'm tempted by the shiny new plastic, but know my mom has an old singer in the basement. I shall find out the model and do some research. I'm much more into sturdy well made parts and machines with history (and i'm stoked to have a chat with the repair guy! :mrgreen: )

overlock stich you say.....
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby delle » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:32 am

NessaZee wrote:wow, thanks you delle for taking the time to share what you know :D

I'm tempted by the shiny new plastic, but know my mom has an old singer in the basement. I shall find out the model and do some research. I'm much more into sturdy well made parts and machines with history (and i'm stoked to have a chat with the repair guy! :mrgreen: )

overlock stich you say.....



You're very welcome.

Just remember: Overlock STITCH. Not overlock machine.

:-)


PM me when you figure out what you've got in the basement.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby delle » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:05 am

Oh. And if you don't already have a repair guy, it might be a good idea to walk in and have a little chat with your local seamsters (love that word, btw! thanks for adding it to my vocabulary) or reupholster shops. These people have to deal with repair and upkeep folk all the time and are well placed to tell you who's good and who to avoid!

They might even have a hint or two on how to fix something yourself if you try it and it does something you don't like. (it could be as simple as having the wrong needle or tension, etc.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby NessaZee » Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:01 am

my mom says: The machine is a singer 377 made in Italy probably around 1977...and it is geared for a higher voltage.
she had a had time with thicker materials but thinks that's because she used a step-down transformer here in canada.

not sure if that's worth pursuing.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby Drawingablank » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:11 pm

NessaZee wrote:my mom says: The machine is a singer 377 made in Italy probably around 1977...and it is geared for a higher voltage.
she had a had time with thicker materials but thinks that's because she used a step-down transformer here in canada.

not sure if that's worth pursuing.


Well if it's free why not try it. You can always get a different one if it don't work out.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby delle » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:29 pm

I would definitely at least spark it up and run a few tests before looking elsewhere. At least to know what you've got and what its limitations are.... then you'd better know what you need instead.

Here's a link to a free instruction manual download for it, if you don't yet have one.

http://sewingonline.co.uk/library/SINGE ... TIONS.html
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby The CO » Fri Dec 09, 2011 1:59 pm

I have a 1973 Monkey Wards that I worried was not up to the materials I was going to put it through, but it is a workhorse.
The stitching patter cams I have are for a different machine, which sucks, but it's still awesome.
So, I would totally throw my vote in for finding a good older machine. I found out the history on mine, (I'm owner #3 or 4) and it has apparently never been shop serviced, yet still going strong.
Additionally, a lot of those 1940-1970 store brand (wards, sears, etc) were Singers or their type with a different nameplate.

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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby lucky420 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:44 pm

WOW nice work CO. So neat and tidy looking. I only sew for playa because I know that no one will be looking at my stitches that close... :oops:
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby delle » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:14 pm

Awesome work, CO. REALLY nice!!!

What the heck are those discs? Can't figure them out for the life of me.


I'm like Lucky. A sewer for occasions where ppl aren't likely to look at your talent level. I sure can appreciate good work when I see it tho.................

......and that is some GOOD work!!!! Thanks for sharing.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby lucky420 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:33 pm

I think they're frisbees
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby The CO » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:49 pm

Disc golf. Smaller than a conventional frisbee, about 8.5" across.
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Re: a question for the seamsters...

Postby robbidobbs » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:49 pm

Very nice CO. I have a strong kenmore that's still doing the job.
Make friend's with your local sewing machine mechanic. I got an excellent deal on a rainbow vacuum because I just kept talking.
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