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Thread: How well do featherweight machines handle layers?

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    Super Member PamelaOry's Avatar
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    How well do featherweight machines handle layers?

    I only currently have one machine and its a big embroidery machine combo. I love it but there are two things its not good at; thick layers and traveling.im looking at getting a second machine that i can take to classes and use on thick seems (I like to make bags) how do featherweights do with thick layers? Any recommendations for machines that would fit the bill?
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    I think my FW would be the last machine I would choose for making bags. It is a tough, stout little machine but with a .4 amp motor on such a small machine it just doesn't have the power you need. Some of the bags I make have thick seams that my powerful vintage Japanese machines sometimes have trouble with.

    Cari

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    I am in exactly the same boat...big combo Brother machine, and the desire to take classes. My combo machine is great at thick seams, but it is a heavy critter, and even with a rolling tote it is a bit much to haul around. I set out to find a smaller one made by the same manufacturer, in the belief that they would be somewhat similar to operate, but even more importantly will share feet.

    Two days ago I found a smaller Brother machine on Craig'sList. Using an electrical inverter, I was able to test the general function of the machine in the parking lot where the seller and I met up. But I have been too busy since then to test the feet theory. Keeping my fingers crossed. Also hoping it handles thick seams! But I paid very little for it, so it won't be a great loss if not.

    So, my suggestion is to find a smaller version of what you already have.....

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    Super Member PamelaOry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cari-in-Oly View Post
    I think my FW would be the last machine I would choose for making bags. It is a tough, stout little machine but with a .4 amp motor on such a small machine it just doesn't have the power you need. Some of the bags I make have thick seams that my powerful vintage Japanese machines sometimes have trouble with.

    Cari
    Thank you Cari, this is very helpful. I’m leaning more and more toward saving for a Juki.

    Quote Originally Posted by glassbird View Post
    I am in exactly the same boat...big combo Brother machine, and the desire to take classes. My combo machine is great at thick seams, but it is a heavy critter, and even with a rolling tote it is a bit much to haul around. I set out to find a smaller one made by the same manufacturer, in the belief that they would be somewhat similar to operate, but even more importantly will share feet.

    Two days ago I found a smaller Brother machine on Craig'sList. Using an electrical inverter, I was able to test the general function of the machine in the parking lot where the seller and I met up. But I have been too busy since then to test the feet theory. Keeping my fingers crossed. Also hoping it handles thick seams! But I paid very little for it, so it won't be a great loss if not.

    So, my suggestion is to find a smaller version of what you already have.....
    thanks Glassbird, I tried the very inexpensive brother from Costco, it didn’t handle the thick seams but FYI, the feet were interchangeable with my big brother. Congrats on your find!
    Be the change you wish to see in the world.
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    I have a babylock that is supposed to accept thick seams-using the foot with the little black button on the side---- sometimes it works, sometimes NOT! And if I'm doing piecing, I have to remove the piecing foot and fiddle with the 1/4" seam - my old Viking takes whatever I give it, no prob...and my long gone singer touch N sew would sew over a railroad tie if I asked it to. I really think these new machine are way too touchy......or maybe it's just the brand I have,,,,thinking of replacing.........

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    Senior Member Quiltlady330's Avatar
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    I have done 4 thicknesses but not more. Mine piece beautifully but I don't use them for totes or purses or great thicknesses because I have Janomes that do those so well I don't even attempt.

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    Super Member TexasSunshine's Avatar
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    My older Pfaff would sew over any thickness I had. I used to make purses, heavy totes of decorator fabric and denium and it never hesitated. Love that machine
    Texas Sunshine, piney woods of NE Texas

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    Look fr one of the older smaller Janome machines. I have one that must be over 20 years old called "Harmony" that was made for Sears back then. It's a little work horse. Also own the Janome 1600P and MC6500P.

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    My featherweight never complained about hemming blue jeans. That machine does have power.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

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    I think you are on the right track looking for a vintage machine that is all metal no plastic. But I don't think the featherweight is the one for the thick seams. Yes, it will probably do it. But it won't like it. At least mine wouldn't.

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    My mother used her Featherweight to sew leather mittens...she used a heavy duty needle.
    Life may not be the party we planned for,but while we are here we should dance!

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    mac
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    I think that if you are in the market for a machine to sew through layers of thick fabric, I would look for a used industrial machine. You can come by them at flea markets, Ebay, and sometimes even garage sales. If you don't plan to make that many bags, I would suggest getting an old sewing machine like a Viking, Bernina, and even an old Singer. These machines have metal gears and if the foot piece can lift high enough and you use a leather or Denim needle (preferably a leather one) then you have a chance sew through lots of thickness. My old Viking could do this easily. The only problem was that the foot wouldn't lift high enough when you had to sew through a double seam.

    However, I would not, under any circumstances use a Featherweight machine. Yes, they are true workhorses, but if you burn out the motor, you are looking at least $200 to buy a new Chinese motor to replace it.

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    Another draw-back for SOME of the vintage models (including FW's) is that the presser foot lift is not usually sufficient to fit bulky straps under so its best to check how high the lift will go when looking for vintage machines, especially.
    mea

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    Super Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    My vintage Elna will sew through anything you can get under the presser foot which can be manually raised quite high. My Singer 301 came with 4 layers of mid weight leather under the presser foot, but I'd not ask her to do that. My daughter did while playing with it so I know it has the capability, but that's not what I purchased that one for. If you want vintage for purses, wouldn't you want a zigzag machine? The FW and 301 are both straight stitch only.

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    Super Member PamelaOry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irishrose2 View Post
    My vintage Elna will sew through anything you can get under the presser foot which can be manually raised quite high. My Singer 301 came with 4 layers of mid weight leather under the presser foot, but I'd not ask her to do that. My daughter did while playing with it so I know it has the capability, but that's not what I purchased that one for. If you want vintage for purses, wouldn't you want a zigzag machine? The FW and 301 are both straight stitch only.
    The patterns I’ve done so far don’t have a zigzag but that’s a good point.
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    Super Member quiltedsunshine's Avatar
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    Here's a blurb about using a "Seam Jack" or a "Jeans Jack," When you're sewing heavy seams. http://shesasewingmachinemechanic.bl...re-sewing.html You can make your own with chipboard or plastic lid material.
    Annette in Utah

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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltedsunshine View Post
    Here's a blurb about using a "Seam Jack" or a "Jeans Jack," When you're sewing heavy seams. http://shesasewingmachinemechanic.bl...re-sewing.html You can make your own with chipboard or plastic lid material.
    Also called a seam jumper. Years ago they were sold as a hump jumper.

    Cari

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    Super Member cashs_mom's Avatar
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    I used my Bernina for anything thick. If I can get it under the foot, it will sew thru it. I only use my featherweight for piecing and basics stuff. I'm not sure I'd try anything too thick with it.

    The hump jumper is indispensable for me. I hem jeans for my husband a lot and even the Bernina bogs down a bit when it comes to the flat felled side seams. Hump jumper works great.
    Patrice S

    Bernina Artista 180, Singer 301a, Featherweight Centennial, Rocketeer, Juki 2200 QVP Mini, White 1964 Featherweight

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    mac
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    Cashs_mom, how do you use the hump jumper thingy? I've had one for years and I still can't figure out how it works.

  20. #20
    Super Member Darcyshannon's Avatar
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    I use my Bernina for heavy things. I do have a featherweight which is great for piecing or basic sewing.

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