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Vintage direct drive machine with free arm

Vintage direct drive machine with free arm

Old 01-18-2016, 02:39 PM
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Default Vintage direct drive machine with free arm

My sewing machine doesn't have a free arm. Do any of you know of a all metal direct drive motor machines with a free arm? Are there any 301-500 or Touch and Sew which fit this qualifications?
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Old 01-18-2016, 03:08 PM
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The 320 is a free arm, all metal but with an external belt driven motor. I've noticed this model for its' very nice wooden extention table and well as the free arm. I think the 431 has the direct drive motor, all metal machine in combination with the free arm, but I need to look it up to verify the motor drive. Many of the free arm models had internal motors but were belt driven. I'm not sure how available they are in the US. Except for the tiny Featherweight 222, Bernina tend to have the narrowest free arm and are very trouble free machines, but they are belt driven. If your requirements aren't absolute, I think some of the the green Husqvarna Automatic series are worth a look too.

Last edited by Mickey2; 01-18-2016 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 01-18-2016, 03:15 PM
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You might have to find a European machine. Elna has an internal belt drive on the SU. The old green ones have a wheel drive.
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Old 01-18-2016, 03:27 PM
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I was looking online and someone had said it is possible to sew in the round (like collars and cuffs) on flat bed machines. It takes technique but is possible. Does that sound right?
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Old 01-18-2016, 03:36 PM
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I did all kinds of sewing on a flat bed, including collars and cuffs. You just have to turn in inside out and then sew on the "inside" instead of the outside. It's really not that hard.

My Mom and Grandma never owned an open arm machine, but that didn't stop them from sewing most of their and their children's clothing.
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Old 01-18-2016, 03:38 PM
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I've made two shirts on my old Singer 201, so absolutely possible. Getting used to the flat bed is the main thing if you are used to the free arm, there are very few limitations, even if the free arm can make it easier some times.
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Old 01-18-2016, 05:02 PM
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I have sewed for ---- many years.lol Always thought a free arm sounded so wonderful, finally bought one years ago, and found I rarely used it, very rarely. When I bought my new plastic machine that free arm was a big sales pitch, duh, I didn't need it but wanted the 11 inch throat space. I made everything from a to z including baby clothes.
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Old 01-18-2016, 06:23 PM
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Thank you all for pipping in.
It's fantastic to hear sewing a circle parts on a flat bed machine is possible. I don't have to worry about getting a sewing machine for the free arm! Lol, when I saw the flat bed on the 15-91 I was given, I couldn't imagine how I could get an arms eye over the plate. Knowing this makes me so happy!
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Old 01-19-2016, 06:45 AM
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I have to say I like the free arm, especially the one on my Bernina (like mentioned; it's narrower than other machines I've used), it makes somethings easier. That said, there are ways about it on a flat bad, and any regular shirt or pants should be no problem. It can get cumbersome and tricky; some times it's the narrow straight stitch foot on my cast iron 201 that makes it easier, some times it's the free arm on my Bernina 730. It all depends, and I'm keeping them both.
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Old 01-19-2016, 07:12 AM
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My 50's Pfaff has a nice small free arm, but it's belt driven. The belts are thick and cleated and as far as I can tell will last just about forever - not a rubber belt you'd need to replace anytime soon.

As an alternative, I think the slant-shank Singers are really good for sewing cuffs and the like, despite their flat bed. That slant setup puts the needle in a good spot where you can really see what you're doing, and it's not too hard to sew cuffs and collars from the inside like Macybaby said. I don't sew a lot of clothes but I recently sewed up a couple of cup sleeves for my DH and I used my 500A with good results - the cup sleeves were too small to fit over any free arm I own! I've also used my big honkin' Janome to make those in the past, again sewing from the inside. It was definitely easier on the slant shank.

(Cup sleeves...is that the right name for those things? The little heat protectors for hot to-go cups is what I'm talking about- DH says the cardboard ones they give out at SBux are wasteful so I make them for him from scraps. )
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