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Best Sewing Machine for DIY Modifications
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Aug 14, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Future Goal
I've found various discussions on how to sew specific things but I'm trying to figure out if there is one reliable sewing machine that works for most fairly basic do-it-yourself gear modifications. Is there a machine (that doesn't cost a fortune) that can hem a pair of shorts as well as it can sew through a couple layers of flat webbing on a backpack? I realize there are considerations on needle sizes and thread when sewing different things so thoughts on that are welcome too. Jason Himick
From Denver, CO
Joined Dec 27, 2005
192 points
Aug 14, 2012
I've been using a cheap Brother sewing ( walmart.com/ip/Brother-10-Port... ) for years now. Its works fine for occasional use hemming pants, repairing gear, or even box stitching and zig zags on two layers of climbing webbing.

As you mentioned, spend the money to pick up several different needles sizes and points, and some heavy upholstery thread or "E" nylon thread for gear repairs.

Good Luck!
darin
Joined Mar 6, 2007
104 points
Aug 14, 2012
Jason Himick wrote:
I've found various discussions on how to sew specific things but I'm trying to figure out if there is one reliable sewing machine that works for most fairly basic do-it-yourself gear modifications. Is there a machine (that doesn't cost a fortune) that can hem a pair of shorts as well as it can sew through a couple layers of flat webbing on a backpack? I realize there are considerations on needle sizes and thread when sewing different things so thoughts on that are welcome too.



You want a used old singer/brother/pfaff/bernina/viking

If the case of it is metal, you are good to go.
Preferably less that $100

New sewing machines are junk.
Devin Krevetski
From West Woodstock, VT
Joined May 3, 2008
57 points
Aug 14, 2012
+1 for an older good brand. Easily found for $0- $100. I use an old 60's singer, made in japan, has zig zag and reverse, and a dropping foot for freehand work. A little oil can work wonders, making a dead relic a working machine. An older household model will work easily with flat webbing, like on packs, and tube webbing should be do-able. For extra heavy stuff (haulbags or shoes) I use a $10 speedy stitch hand awl. MattB
Joined Sep 17, 2009
62 points
Aug 14, 2012
I have a Singer 301a and I use it for everything you have listed. My mother has had the same one for many years (30+), I used that when I was younger, and she found me the same model (they're very common) at a sewing shop that was tuned and lubed for $65. They are really great machines. Linnaeus
From New England/ Baltimore
Joined Aug 22, 2011
4 points
Aug 15, 2012
I have an old machine my mother-in-law was getting rid of. I forget what brand it is, but it's a quality thing which is now almost worthless due to being out-dated. It works well for sewing UL backpacking gear from the lightest fabrics, and I also sew full-strength climbing gear with it, using #92 DB poly thread. Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Joined Aug 1, 2010
46 points
Aug 15, 2012
Great info here:
Ray Jardine's Sewing Tips
jnowis
From Laramie, Wyoming
Joined May 13, 2008
60 points
Aug 20, 2012
Juke! Chris Vinson
Joined Jul 9, 2012
67 points
Aug 26, 2012
My girlfriend has been through a few Brother sewing machines for her business and now we have two of
THESE

Steel internal construction, super reliable. Runs through my heavy Duck Cloth, webbing, neoprene, denim, and vinyl without any problems.
btustison
From Tacoma, Washington
Joined Oct 13, 2011
7 points
Nov 2, 2012
Juki LU-562 jc5462
Joined Dec 15, 2007
0 points
Jun 2, 2013
The Singer 9960 quantum is really good. It has a lot of features and was relatively low priced. Here is a review

Singer 9960 Quantum
Jayne4567
Joined Jun 2, 2013
0 points
Feb 3, 2016
Most sewing machines will work fine for what you are wanting to do. I use an olderish (maybe 90's?) Singer and it does fine. For thicker things you can use the motor less and help it with the hand wheel, go slow with this don't ram it in but push it through. Make sure you get a heavy duty needle and as others suggested, I use nylon upholstery thread. With the thicker thread don't forget to adjust your tension tighter, otherwise you will get a tangled mess on the underside.

But generally speaking an older all metal machine will last longer, which is why you can still find them.
Brady3
Joined Apr 18, 2014
16 points
Feb 4, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Parunuweap Canyon
I have used the same Necchi sewing machine since the 90s, also all metal. I bought it after trashing a cheapo Brother one within a few years. It's durable like the old singers, but does fancier stitches (which I rarely use). I use it for sewing everything from upholstery to bike tubes.

They make sewing machine needles for different thickness of materials, including ones for denim and leather. You'll need to go slower on thicker/heavier material, and test out your thread tension first on a scrap to avoid a giant mess of thread on the bottom. Also, wash whatever you are sewing first to keep dirt from gunking up your machine.
fossana
From leeds, ut
Joined Apr 30, 2006
12,924 points
Feb 4, 2016
Pfaff 130 has served me very well, many bar tacks. Its a compact machine but seems to weigh a ton M Hanna
Joined Apr 28, 2015
5 points
Feb 4, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Great exposure!
Viking/Husquavarna if you can find one. If you find two let me know! A white "jeans machine" is a bit heavier duty all purpose machine but it is still a home use cheapy. It will hold up as it's designed for multiple layers of denim. If you are looking at older or newer heavy duty machines make sure they do the stitch patterns your after because many heavy machines are designed for upholstery and are thus straight stitch only. But honestly a Viking with a metal case (aka Husquavarna) is an awesome setup Gunks Jesse
From Shawangunk Township, NY
Joined May 18, 2014
262 points
Feb 4, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Keeping the ground-up ethic alive in the Hills. Al...
Highly recommend finding a Kenmore Model 1941 (mid-70s, all steel, and as close to industrial as you'll need). Mine has worked perfectly for everything from tent/tarp/pack/bag repair to bar-tacking runners, re-slinging cams, making 'Fish-o-lets'(sorry Russ), etc. etc. But yes, nylon thread and an assortment of needles, and know when to walk the wheel. Jeff Mahoney
From Santa Barbara, CA
Joined Feb 19, 2007
1,419 points


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