View Full Version : Sewing machine?

01-05-2006, 19:01
I've been bitten by the ultralight bug and am considering sewing to meet my custom needs. Any suggestions on a machine that will do the job? I don't need any fancy embroidery or computer connectivity, just something to make a tent, backpack, stitch the occasional button or open joint. And of course, it's got to be cheap.

01-05-2006, 19:14
Big Lots (near me) had one, should so good enough, was around $90.00. It's possible that one near you still has some / one left.

All you really need for most gear is a machine that does a straight stich.

Have fun.


01-05-2006, 19:25
check out sewing machines shops,,,they take old machines for tradeins and refurbish them.

we bought a good used sewing machine for 60 bucks in Fairbanks Ak,,,even came with a 30 day guarantee. dog harness and fleece sock sewer

look for older models that are heavier (metal)

the new lightweight plastic machines "jump" around and are more difflucult to work with.

01-05-2006, 19:36
look for older models that are heavier (metal)

the new lightweight plastic machines "jump" around and are more difflucult to work with.

That's really good advice. I know I get real tired of chasing the sewing machine around the table while I'm trying to sew on it. Makes the task 100 times more difficult.

Another option would be to have a sewing cabinet that you can anchor the machine into then the weight of the machine itself wouldn't matter so much.

01-05-2006, 19:52
I use a Singer that's older than I am. Heavy. Even sewing multiple layers of 3D it doesn't jump around at all, so looking for an old one is a great idea. I'm looking to buy my mom one to replace the one I "borrowed" from her. I saw some new Singers at Target for about a hundred bucks.

You definitely don't need bells and whistles. I do everything with straight, reverse, and zigzag. Good luck. If you see a place that has good deals, let us know.

01-05-2006, 20:13
A good sturdy sewing table is as important as the solid machine to reduce/eliminate the jumping around problem....IMHO.


01-05-2006, 20:50
older machines have metal innards where the new ones are plastic and such. the old ones with the metal gears will perform many of the functions as a commercial machine with out the excessive speed.

01-05-2006, 21:39
The above advice about getting an older machine, even one that just does straight stitching, sounds on the mark to me. Good to get it from a reputable dealer.
You really get what you pay for when you buy a new sewing machine. I would avoid those tempting hundred dollar machines. Do a web search for "sewing machine reviews", there's dozens of websites that have reviews from people who buy particular machines.
I've got a HuskyStar 219, it was about $350. It's a great machine.

01-05-2006, 22:23
I picked up a cheapy $79.00 Janome at Hancock last year right before christmas. It's a plastic model, but it's been fine thus far for my backpack and tarptent, as well as a bunch of clothing repairs, some messenger bags and meditation pillows. The model itself is NOT even made by Janome (HF107, i think), nor is it even acknowledged on their website (at last check), basically a very cheap intro machine that they market.

That being said, for the price, it's not bad. I definitly has it's downsides, but I've not had any major issues with it at all. I keep it cleaned and maintained. HOWEVER, I bought an $8.00 machine at Goodwill that is a 1970's model Singer. This machine was SOLID when I got it, but needed to be retimed. Instead of paying $80 to have it retimed, I moved the belt over one notch, and bingo, it works. It does sew now, but somehow it has an incorrect size bobbin casing (spindle, holder, hook, race, whatever it's called) and it bounces around, so after about 40 stitches the bobbin thread jams and breaks. A new hook will cost me about $40 over the net.

So, for about $48 and an hour or so of cleaning and troubleshooting, I've got a machine that it bigger, more convenient, more rugged, and has more features then my brand new $90 janome....

sorry for the long post! (all I wanted to say was, you might check goodwill or consignment/thrift stores!)

blytz (SandalScout)

hammock engineer
01-06-2006, 00:26
You might be able to find one to borrow by asking around. I asked my friends and family and came across one that is no longer used. I read somewhere online a quote that sewing machines are like excersie equipment. People buy them, use them a little, then pack them away in the closet. YMMV

01-06-2006, 01:17
I will second hammock engineer's advice. Look for friends and family members. Machines sit around all the time, you just need to get the word out. If you are willing to wait, you can pick one up at a garage sale for as little as $20. Sewing machines are rarely used by a lot of people that own them. An older machine (before plastic) is better (I prefer Italian models, but old Singers work), however, they are harder to get ur hands on. If you do buy a used one...make sure to practice before you buy. See that the the threads are locking both on the top and bottom. Any machine that you run into these days will have reverse. Zig-Zag is not a necessity, but is still more than likely on plastic models. With a $20 garage sale machine, I've made my own tarptent (sil nylon), bug netting, backpack pockets, altered sleeping bags, and other creations- meaning, for the beginner, I dont' see the need for a pfaff or high end machine- off brand imported sewing machines will do the job. Getting a table that actually holds the machine will increase your stitch accuracy and give you an extra hand.

01-06-2006, 09:28
you've gotta have a machine that has reverse for backstithching. also a walking foot is helpful with sil/nylon but not essential by any means. older singer home models are wonderful and will take commercial size thread like nylon #69 which you may want to use on your pack(s). most newer machines will not handle larger thread, usually up to B46 max. i've got three machines that i use on a daily basis: a commercial singer model 95-80 straight stitch, a singer 290C multi stitch heavy duty, and a Kenmore student model multi stitch. I like the 290C the best. it was my grandmothers, and she bought it new some time in the late 70's or early 80's. shaft drive on a singer is important. no belt to wear out and is virtually maintence free (asside from oil and cleaning). if you can find a home model that is in a table, where the machine folds down and out of the way, the weight of the table eliminates any movement of the machine. the multi stitch models offer an assortment of options from zig-zag to buttenhole stitching. also, when looking at an old machine, be sure to give it a go before laying your money down.

The Solemates
01-06-2006, 10:52
I've been bitten by the ultralight bug and am considering sewing to meet my custom needs. Any suggestions on a machine that will do the job? I don't need any fancy embroidery or computer connectivity, just something to make a tent, backpack, stitch the occasional button or open joint. And of course, it's got to be cheap.

go to yard sales and estate sales. people are always trying to get rid of their sewing machines because it has become a way of the past to most. my wife just made a quilt using a sewing machine that is over 30 years old. she also made others things like christmas stockings, dog beds, purses, and more...

01-06-2006, 11:06
Old sewing machines (metal) are great, but if they have not been well-taken care of, i.e., oiled regularly, they may not work properly.
Also you may not get an instruction book (I find, necessary for any machine) with one found at a garage sale, etc. Each machine operates a little differently.
I have an old Singer that weighs a ton, but the one I currently use was bought at a fabric store for around $70. It's plastic, but is specifically for sewing heavy jean material. Has all the gizmos...reverse stitch, lightweight/heavyweight material, stitch length, etc. Very durable, will stitch any weight fabric and doesn't need oiling!
Good luck!

01-07-2006, 02:16
Ditto on almost all of the forementioned advice...

my only additions:

Get a machine that has a "featherstitch." It prevents fabric from fraying if you don't have access to a serger/overlock machine. I tripled stiched my PCT backpacks outermost seam with the featherstitch and never had a single unravel. I find it helpful for all sorts of sewing!

Secondly, sewing advice-wise, if you are sewing cotton, use cotton all purpose thread, if you are sewing polyester or other synthetic fabric, use synthetic thread. It makes a difference!

All of that is, of course, merely my two cents...

Muchas Smoochas,

01-07-2006, 09:54
I have a Viking from the late 60's. About five years ago I took it to a Viking store and had it worked over. It's an excellent, sturdy machine, with a low gear, zigzag, and backstitch. When I was at the Viking shop, they had some older machines for sale. (I think they had taken them as trade-ins.) As others have said, the all-metal machines should work just about forever, if cleaned and cared for periodically. Personally, I wouldn't get one so old it didn't have zigzag. Besides the Viking, I've also got my grandmother's treadle Singer, but don't actually use it. But in a pinch, I could.