Author Topic: Sewing machine for fixing gear?  (Read 1043 times)

Offline JoW

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Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« on: May 23, 2020, 08:24:46 pm »
We're after a sewing machine for general sewing and some fixing of gear (realise we won't be fixing tackle sacks or oversuits without something very industrial) but we don't know much about them other than we'll need something heavy duty or semi industrial. So just wondering if anyone has any recommendations or useful features to look for?

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Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« on: May 23, 2020, 08:24:46 pm »
Warmbac

Offline T pot 2

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2020, 10:00:35 pm »
A singer 36k used with either diamond or ball point needles would be good for gortex and pvc oversuits.
Or 39k with same needles and roller foot would be good for webbing and tackle bag material.
Double chain stitch a Wilcox and Gibbs feltlock would also be useful.
For overclocking try union special 3950 (I think model num) either straight overlock or twin needle for extra chain stitch.
T

Online tamarmole

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2020, 08:30:47 am »
I bought a Singer 185K last year.  It was made in about 1960 in Glasgow of proper things like metal and wood so  is pretty much caver proof.  I got it to make an ultralight back pack; it sewed through two layers of ripstop nylon and a sheet of 5mm eva foam without a problem.  Its also happy sewing webbing.  The only limitation I found was that it does not do zig zag stitches which can be a pain if you want to sew stretch fabrics.   You should be able to pick up a good, serviced (this is quite important) machine for less than it would cost to buy a modern plastic so called heavy duty machine.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2020, 08:36:10 am »
Jo - there's a possibility I may have something that might do for you. PM me to discuss (or, better, email me, as I think you have my address).

For everyone else, the solution I have in mind may not do, so please keep posting.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2020, 01:16:50 pm »
My mum's Singer is one of these, but I always assumed  that it would be too lightweight for fabrics like we're discussing? It's a beautiful thing though, and in amazing condition:

https://webimg.secondhandapp.com/w-i-mgl/5e4a806c8675ba1f315753d6

Offline Sam Richards

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2020, 05:31:29 pm »
My mum's Singer is one of these, but I always assumed  that it would be too lightweight for fabrics like we're discussing
Lovely bit of kit. I've used a hand-cranked version with AV suits (worked well with care) but wouldn't expect it to be up to dealing with Warmbac thickness or tackle sacks

Offline aardgoose

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2020, 05:48:24 pm »
They are nice, I have used my Grandmother's old Singer on oversuits, it isn't cabinet mounted so you have to hand crank it which takes a bit of coordination (I have the electric motor attachment, but being a 1929 model, I don't want to put it anywhere near the mains.

Incidentally you can date them with the serial number.

Offline bograt

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2020, 06:09:54 pm »
Made the original batch of tackle bags for T.S.G. using a Singer treadle machine back in the 1970's using nylon thread, the material gave way before the stitching after about 12 years. (the material was experimental stuff I scrounged from a place I was production manager at).
 This was in the days before ready made tackle bags and I am convinced it gave Phil Brown the idea---
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Offline Flotsam

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2020, 06:54:25 pm »
Any standard flat bed, straight stitch industrial machine would do, lots on ebay. A walking foot machine has advantages but more expensive and probably not really necessary.  For amateur sewing I would recommend an electronic motor rather than the standard clutch motors which gives far more control, otherwise called a servo motor but there is a cost.I know a fair bit about sewing machines (unfortunately)so if you want advice feel free to message me, I repair sails and might have a spare machine to sell. Years ago our club hired a machine to make equipment for an expedition in the 1970's.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2020, 12:41:07 am »
I remember repairing some jeans easily as a teenager on that one of my mum's - she made us learn it early on, though I never had a problem with that. I always assumed most guys would like sewing machines, but I learnt not to mention it to my friends after a while! So good to see some enthusiasts here. I'll have to ask her the serial number, as I found that dating site. I'm not sure if she'd let me run a caving suit through it though, and i know without asking that a caving bag is just not happening. Apparently it is 'in the will' for me when the time comes, but I really don't have any room for that!

Offline MJenkinson

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2020, 01:43:41 pm »
You've asked for a sewing machine recommendation but I thought I would throw this in - I have made harnesses and fixed suits and tackle bags quite easily with a speedy sticher.

https://seamarknunn.com/acatalog/speedy-stitcher-sewing-awl-1704.html?gclid=CjwKCAjw2a32BRBXEiwAUcugiL9uCB1EwtFR7RHcuPrHmgVAuA90prhtUMyVRnTD3OENtTMu87XoShoCtP0QAvD_BwE

Will go through whatever you can physically make it go through! Ive sewn HD webbing to a farrworld diving harness belt for instance - thats pretty thick stuff. But its slow. However for small repair jobs it's great, throw some aquasure over the thread to protect it and it works pretty well. My tacklebag repairs have lasted a good few years.

Might (I don't know) be cheaper to buy one of those for the odd caving kit repair and then a cheaper less heavy duty sewing machine for normal stuff.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2020, 02:00:19 pm »
I bought one of these recently and was very impressed - I repaired some kneepads that I would normally have had to throw away as it's always the straps that go rather than the pad itself. Also repaired a rucksack and can now fix the hole in my fishing-rod holdall! However, I suspect for very thick material it might be better to pre-punch the holes, as the needle on this doesn't seem as sharp as it could be. I bought a couple of the smaller size just to help in that respect.

Offline MJenkinson

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2020, 02:39:46 pm »
However, I suspect for very thick material it might be better to pre-punch the holes, as the needle on this doesn't seem as sharp as it could be. I bought a couple of the smaller size just to help in that respect.

True - probably the better idea. I just clamped the waist belt in a vice and "gave it the beans"! You say those needles aren't sharp, but god help you if you have your thumb in the wrong place!


Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2020, 02:50:27 pm »
If any of you have very tough sewing needs, I can recommend Nelson's in Settle. They do a good job and it's inexpensive. (I get my cave diving harnesses fixed there.) Any half decent sadler's shop would probably help as well. The golden rule is to make sure any items are squeeky clean because they don't appreciate grit cascading into the "works".

I gave Jo a machine this morning, which she's going to have a go with. It should sort her problem but keep this topic going just in case the one I gave her won't do.

Online PeteHall

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2020, 03:49:06 pm »
Another vote for the Speedy Stitcher.

I've not used mine for an SRT harness as I'm slightly nervous of fixing or making something so critical, but I've sewed pretty much everything else. Oversuits, belts, tackle bags, knee pads, vinyl hood and seats for various old cars etc.

I've found the thing to be lethaly sharp and cut my hand pretty badly when I first had it. For thicker materials, I tend to push less hard and give it a gentle wiggle as I push and it seems to go through in a more controlled way.

The downsides are that it's not as speedy as the name suggests if you have a lot to do and winding on the bobbins by hand is really tedious.

I would consider it an essential in any cavers toolbox.  :thumbsup:
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Offline mikem

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2020, 04:30:03 pm »
Amazon seems to be offering delivery on such things between 4th & 14th JULY...

Online MarkS

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2020, 04:59:12 pm »
And another Speedy Stitcher vote!

One of the main straps on my rucksack tore off on quite a remote expedition 6 or 7 years ago. I did a quick bodge with a Speedy Stitcher, which survived the rest of the expedition, carrying some pretty significant weight, and then lasted another 5 years. I did a further repair on it because I thought I was tempting fate a bit too much leaving it as a bodge for so long, but that repair was also with the Speedy Stitcher. My chest harness was made with it too.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2020, 01:33:14 am »

The downsides are that it's not as speedy as the name suggests if you have a lot to do and winding on the bobbins by hand is really tedious.


I bought some thinner thread that came on a card rather than a spool, and had to wind it onto a spare Speedy Stitcher bobbin - without twisting it. I had a think, and then hit using on a magnetic hex drive in my impact driver, with the bobbin stuck to it, with a bit of masking tape to stop it slipping, and the thread coiled loose in my washing-up bowl. I then ran the driver at a very slow speed and was able to thread the bobbin and lay it across evenly just using my hand - took about a minute and it's perfect.

Online PeteHall

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2020, 10:45:37 am »
Why didn't you suggest that last week?  :wall:

Hopefully I remember this in six months or so when I next need to rewind it...  :thumbsup:
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Offline pwhole

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2020, 12:14:46 pm »
Well, with the benefit of hindsight...;)

Offline AlexR

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2020, 09:32:23 am »
The Speedy Stitcher is great, and although Phil's drill method sounds cool I'm lazy and have just always used a sewing machine bobbin (which I "load" on the sewing machine). It holds less thread than the spool the stitcher comes with, but that's not really a limiting factor on the stitcher.

I'd say the stitcher and a sewing machine do pretty different things (for me), although it's possible to e.g. replace the velcro on an AV using the stitcher, you'll be there a good while. I definitely was. Conversely, there's not a chance in hell my puny sewing machine could do anything with a tackle sack.

Stitcher:
Really good for small fixes in thick material and hard to get to places; e.g. webbing attachment or bottom of a tackle sack. Punches through absolutely everything, including your hand. The pantin fix below is a good example, though I should have left way more webbing between the stitches in picture 1. Also fixed bouldering mats, knee pads, put an extra attachment loop on my tackle sack, stuff like that.
In my experience the stitching has always outlived the surrounding material, case in point the bottom of the AV tackle sack in the picture below.

Sewing machine:
You'll wish you had one as soon as it comes to stitching longer stretches, e.g. crampon ripped bottom 3rd of trousers, changing velcro on caving suit, etc.


This might not be a problem with a decent sewing machine, but with my AEG plastic fantastic (I think it's this one) it takes me quite a long time & scrap material to find out the correct upper and lower thread tension plus some experimenting with stitch length to get an ok stitch out with thicker threads. Even with a thick needle the machine just doesn't like thick threads. I've had some success with using a thicker upper thread and thinner bottom thread.
Some of this fiddling got me pretty close to throwing the machine out of the window.

Offline AlexR

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Re: Sewing machine for fixing gear?
« Reply #21 on: Yesterday at 02:30:22 pm »
Just took out the old sewing machine and remembered a couple of points that might be useful to anyone else looking at this. These are personal opinions, naturally the more experienced will have a better grasp on this than me. The below is intended for anyone not sure where to start.


Threads & Needles

Thread sold for personal use is usually marked in wt., the higher the number the thinner the thread. For the purpose of outdoor-compatible gear don't bother with a wt. higher than 40. Do not confuse a 40wt with #40.* 40wt. should be sewn with a #90/14 needle. That's the sort of standard thread I use for general sewing, say undersuit bits and bobs. Depending on where the seam is, probably a 30wt. for oversuit (with a #100/16 needle). On AV suits the fabric will still fail before the stitching does, especially as you're fixing an oversuit that has likely already worn thinner. If you're getting to work on a Warmbac with a normal sewing machine, good luck to you.

In a commercial/ industrial setting, thread sizes may be given in Tex (T), Denier (D) or Commercial Size (V, this is Denier divided by 10). These all work the other way around: The higher the number, the thicker the thread. I've read that a normal household sewing machine will struggle to handle heavier than V69.

Thread is sold in different materials, I recommend bonded nylon. This is most easily and cheaply available on ebay; stronger than polyester but doesn't like heat.

For tackle sacks/ hand sewing I use Dyneema fishing line, at least this is marked with the actual thickness rather than the jungle above. 0.26mm is plenty strong for nearly anything. On tackle sacks I use 0.5mm, this will outlive any material you sew with it. I have 1mm, this is excessive for even the most demanding sewing application. I've broken 4 needles and my will in trying to get Dyneema to work on a sewing machine.

If you're anywhere near as inept as me, bear in mind you'll need scrap fabric to determine the upper (and potentially bobbin) thread tension at a given stitch length to get a usable seam out. An old oversuit will do nicely, but word on the street is Tony (Starless river) may give you a piece of AV suit fabric for repairs if you ask him nicely. If you take the piss and ask for enough fabric to make yourself an oversuit, he may still give it to you, but your ladder on Garland's might mysteriously coil itself upwards on your next Giant's round trip/ rocks appear on lids, that kind of thing :p

Happy sewing!


*The counter-intuitive higher weight = thinner thread comes from the fact that it is the weight of a spool, the thinner the thread the more densely loaded the spool, therefore the heavier.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 02:39:45 pm by AlexR »

 

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