Help with machine capabilities.

Old 08-07-2018, 05:46 PM
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Default Help with machine capabilities.

I'm looking to grab an inexpensive machine that can handle some leather work.

And as I like vintage things...

I came across an old Singer machine. Model 28/128.

Is rated as a domestic unit but was told that these old machines can do leather and upholstery fabric.

Is this a true story?

Thanks.
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:20 PM
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I think the question here comes down to defining 'some' leather work. Leather is such a undetermined thing. If you're speaking of thin garment leather then many vintage all-metal machines should suffice. It's when that thin piece of leather becomes four layers or eight, or the leather you're using is much thicker - that's when you can begin to stress any sewing machine. Help us all out here and little and give us an idea of what sort of application. As thick as denim or canvas? Twice that thick? The Singer 28/128 was produced from the 1880's into the 1950's, and there's nothing wrong with that, but you may find slightly newer models more convenient when say... buying bobbins.
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Old 08-07-2018, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Steelsewing
I think the question here comes down to defining 'some' leather work. Leather is such a undetermined thing. If you're speaking of thin garment leather then many vintage all-metal machines should suffice. It's when that thin piece of leather becomes four layers or eight, or the leather you're using is much thicker - that's when you can begin to stress any sewing machine. Help us all out here and little and give us an idea of what sort of application. As thick as denim or canvas? Twice that thick? The Singer 28/128 was produced from the 1880's into the 1950's, and there's nothing wrong with that, but you may find slightly newer models more convenient when say... buying bobbins.
I just read your blog and enjoyed it. Especially the one where you decided to keep some age characteristics on the machine. I finally got the Singer 15 treadle I played with as a child. It was made in 1922 so by the time I played on it it was about 25 years old. It has sat in a house covered and unused for about the past 35 years. It seems in good shape but very dry. Very little dirt. No rust. I don’t want it to look new but want it to be clean and sew. I’m working on it. The cabinet has some wear but I’m just going to clean it up. Welcome to the board.
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Old 08-07-2018, 07:45 PM
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If you’re planning to use heavy thread you might have issues because of the thread having to go around the shuttle. I tried using gold jeans thread in my 27 and it made loops on the bottom or skipped stitches. I didn’t try adjusting the shuttle carrier to have more clearance and I don’t know if that would work
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Old 08-07-2018, 09:42 PM
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I think Jim is right, we need to know more about what exactly it is that you want to do. I know which of my domestic machines can handle a little tougher projects than sewing a skirt or drapes and which ones can't. But I will never advocate using a domestic machine for heavy work that should be done on a machine built for that purpose.

Cari
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Old 08-08-2018, 02:43 AM
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Not only the machine matters when wanting to do leather work- the machine needs to be able to have a leather needle— the needle matters just as much. My Viking does quite well sewing leather.
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:23 AM
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You can assume soft leather is well within what the old straight stitchers do. As long as the material easily goes under the presser foot they usually stitch throught the layers with out struggle. I have sewn flat felled seams on upholstery on my 201, it stitched though it with out hesitating. I reupholstered a bike seat and sewed two layers of fairly sturdy leather and it stitched perfectly.

For heavier threads like top stitch thread and extra strength polyester, you need a larger needle. The most common reason for skipped stitches on these are needle in the wrong. With top stitch thread on heavier canvas you need to up the needle size; that's the most common reason for loops under the fabric when you sort of never get enough upper tension. The needle hole needs to be large enough for the thread, the size of needle shaft matters too: The needle needs to punch a large enough hole and the larger groove along the needle shaft will provide enough space for the thread and it's easier to get enough upper tension.

These machines were made in an age were thread were thicker; linen and cotton thread are thicker, compared to equivalent strenght polyester threads. The cast iron straight stitchers are made to take up to size #20-22 needles. I don't know the finer points of a model 28, but I know a 15, 66 or 201 does this with ease. I know a few cases were they owner swear their 28 and 27 do the best top stitching of all their machines on jeans. At least two of them have capable modern machines on hand as well as other vintage models. I have heard owners who use their 27 (larger than the 28) describe it as sturdier and more solid than a 66 and 201. I know a Pfaff 30 is often mentioned as quite capable with top stitch threads and perhaps a notch stronger than a 15 or 201.

If you plan to do a lot of leather work, push the thickness of the leather beyond jacked and hand bag weights, you might as well go for a more suitable industrial model to begin with. The odd project with soft leather is not too much for an old cast iron straight stitcher.

Last edited by Mickey2; 08-08-2018 at 05:30 AM.
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:52 AM
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Majority of the leather work would be for leather projects like a motorcycle seat, dice bags, water bottle etc.

Can't see myself working with heavier than 10oz (4mm thick) leather.

Thanks.
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Old 08-08-2018, 06:17 AM
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Maximum presser foot lift on these models tend to be around 5 millimeters. On some you can push it just a bit over seam bumps with out getting into trouble. I can fit numerous layers of the standard faux leather used for bike seats (it's reasonably water proof with out any upkeep). I think I sewed through two and three layers of just over 2 mm thick white cow hide without any trouble. Leather quality varies a lot, and you need the firm top quality for seats like that. On Leatherworker.net there are a few guys who knows all about the new and vintage models ideal for thicker leather.
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Old 08-08-2018, 08:23 AM
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Thank you for the information.

Have a great day!
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