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one machine for all?

JanF | Posted in General Discussion on

I’ve just attempted to watch a video about a designer using an industrial machine to do free motion embroidery. I do a lot of this with my domestic Bernina and am ashamed to admit I did not know that you would be able to use an industrial in the same way! obviously I would need to become a speed freak!
However, being the tight-fisted person I am I cannot buy a new machine for home unless it fits a few criteria and I am unsure wether it can be done at all. I would like a sensibly priced industrial that I could use to do straight stitch on fairly heavy fabric(corsets) and that I could also do zizag stitch with, but one that I could also use to do free motion embroidery with too!! I think its not asking a lot is it?
Can any one advise me of a suitable machine to buy?
Actually I know I might be dreaming of an ideal machine – but I am serious about wanting one to help me at home!


  1. sewchris703 | | #1

    I think that what you want is called a sample machine.  My sister has one.  It's an industrial sewing machine that does both straight stitch and zigzag and that's what she calls it.  In rtw, it's used to make the sample garments before they go to production so it has to be able to sew straight seams, buttonholes, etc. just like a home machine.  I would think that it could do free motion sewing as well but I don't know if the feed dogs drop or not.  But free motion work can be done with the feed dogs engaged by putting the fabric in a hoop and removing the pressure foot.


    1. JanF | | #2

      Thanks for ur info. I will try to see if i can source one over here - at the moment i'm having some trouble getting info. but i'm going to keep searching. i'll have saved up enough money by the time I get it together!!
      Thanks Jan

      1. MaryinColorado | | #3

        For free motion work, if you cannot lower the feed dogs, you may be able to cover them.  I had one machine that had a plate that covered it.

        1. JanF | | #4

          Thanks for your reply - I can remember having plates for my mums old singer - but I would prefer to find a machine that was easy to switch to free motion - but perhaps industrials - or semi-industrials dont have this facility - I really feel a visit to a stockist coming on!
          Thanks Jan

          1. Kiley | | #5

            You might want to check on some of the new larger bed quilting machines. Many of them are straight stitch only but Janome has the model 6500 and 6600 Pro with more stitches and features. These machines run at faster speeds. The 6600 has Acufeed which is like the Pfaff dual feed foot. Both machines have many features and stitches. I believe they offer a knee lift for raising and lowering the pressure foot. Elna also has a Quilting model much the same with many features. If memory serves me right I think the Elna model is 7200 but I could be wrong and I think this Elna is also Janome made. The Viking Mega Quilter and Pfaff Grand Quilter are also Janome made, are only straight stitch machines however. Most of the quilting machines have a very fast speed, are flat bed, have separate bobbin winding motors and knee lifts. Not all have a drop feed. Some have a feed cover plate but the plate is firmer than most of the home sewing machines.

          2. JanF | | #6

            Thank you for that Kiley -I never gave a thought to a quilting machine as I have never been that much into making quilts and I did not realise that the machines would be quicker at all! It is surprising what you learn from others who enjoy differing aspects of textile work and i can easily research the machines from my local stockist - thanks a lot for this info! Jan

          3. Kiley | | #7

            I hope you find a machine you like. I think being able to test drive models really helps in making a decision to purchase and to bring home a machine you will love forever. I hope you get back with us telling of purchasing a nice machine that is perfect for you. Have fun on your search. 

  2. DONNAKAYE | | #8

    Been there, done that.  I've worked on both home and industrial machines.  Interestingly, and to my surprise, what I discovered was that my home model Bernina, although not as super-fast as the industrial models, can actually sew through more thicknesses successfully than any industrial model my mom's factory machines could.....Now, I do use an industrial model for light to medium weight draperies, valances, duvets, etc., but when I get into heavier work and trims and such on these items, I have to always go back to the Bernina.  I know.  I couldn't believe it myself.  As big as the motors are in the industrial models, the needle would break before it could drive it through heavy or stiff layers.  Likewise my sister-in-law, who has a designer handbag business.....Hope this helps....

    1. JanF | | #9

      Thanks Donna - I'm not sure what to do apart from looking at sample machines. My own Bernina I love - but it does not handle very thick fabric that well - even with strong needles in and I have visions of it really frustrating me if I want to produce corsetry in large quantities.
      I an ideal world i would have a newer Bernina and an overlocker(serger) that had more than 4 threads to do what I believe is called cover stitching. My own is a 4 thread Bernette - which does work very well - just getting old hat as they say!
      Thanks for your comment - it does make me realise Ive got to do a lot of research/trialling before i buy my next machine.

      1. DONNAKAYE | | #10

        Yes, the newer Berninas will go through eight layers of heavy denim without a hiccup.  For me and for what I do, it was worth every penny.  None of the sample machines in mom's workshop could do that.  Good luck with your hunting!

        1. JanF | | #11

          Hi Donna - just goes to show that you should keep up to date with machinery! My husband does 'cos he sells power tools and of course gets new info and machines on the shelf all the time - but I can't do that with my machinery and I think my machine has got to be nearly 10 years old - I hadn't really thought about it cos my previous Bernina I had when i was 1st, qualified as a teacher in 1974 and replaced when I moved house!(it was still going well and I sold it on to someone who is still using it fully) I get newer stuff for school(when funds allow a purchase) but of course I haven't really given my own a thought until now 'cos I want to start making corsets as a business before I finish teaching in 5 years!
          Ive got some serious planning and saving to do!
          I suspect it might be a while before I buy - cos they are really expensive and I'd better get it right! Lots of research is going to be done I think before I do actually buy!
          Thanks for your reply - by chance what model is your Bernina that handles the denim so well?

          1. DONNAKAYE | | #12

            Mine is the 180-QE (quilting and embroidery).  The current model, I believe, is the 200.  Let me know if you go to a dealer and try that out for yourself.  The denim should be part of the demonstration.  Usually the dealer will demonstrate stitching on a piece of silk and then immediately stitching on several layers of denim.  That's what mind did, and that's what sold me.  Went through it like a dream, with no tension adjustment necessary.  I would think there are other brands out there in the home market that will do likewise, and I'm sure the industrial end has some too which are specifically made for heavy-duty work like denim, duck and the like, but with the Bernina I can still do embroicery, quilting, and even swimwear and lingerie, so I only had to spend the money on one machine.....Let me know how you fare!

  3. stitchintime | | #13

    Hi Jan,

    Have you seen the video "Manuel's free motion embroidery technique" here on the Thread's site? The embroiderer uses what looks like an old Juki industrial machine. The result is fabulous. Have you considered looking for a similar model?

    To everybody else:

    I have an old Singer machine that sews forward, back and zigzag and in theory I should be able to free motion machine embroider and quilt on it as well. I have a feed dog cover and an embroidery foot. What I don't know  is how to set the stitch length, pressure foot pressure and thread tension.

    Any suggestions? And what type of needle do I use?


    1. JanF | | #14

      Thanks for your reply - I have in fact watched the video - albeit with very poor production - which is why I became interested - I am looking at Juki at the mo. mind you after saying that I also am looking at a new bernina (however i might be dreaming here - planned to get one when I retire in 5 years)
      I think if finances allow and I can source a Juki - that might be what I get - just need to see some demonstrations and have a go first.It isn't so easy to see one of them around where I live! Its the speed of free-motion stitching that appealled to me 'cos sometimes I can be hours sewing and still got lots to do!
      With regard to your old singer - someone else might tell you differently, but if you cover the feed, in theory, the length of stitch is altered by you moving your work - just set it on straight stitch and keep the work moving. If you work too long in 1 spot - it tends to break threads or needles! and can make holes in the fabric!
      You should be able to just set the zig-zag as normal, but the stitch will only be as wide as the setting, unless you move your work very quickly from side to side! - Not always a good thing to do!
      I was always taught that adjust the pressure for the foot only if you really need to - trial and arror - just remember that you must have the presser foot down even though it will not touch the fabric to grip as per usual stitching!
      Apologies if so much info is telling you what you already know - I was playing safe! I expect you know that you can do free - motion with or withou your fabric in a frame - it just keeps tighter if its in a frame and the fabric needs to be quite tight and flat when u r sewing!
      Sorry about the lecture - i'm a teacher on holiday - and obviously I need to get back to work!!!

      1. stitchintime | | #15

        It certainly wasn't too much information. Thanks for taking the time from your vacation for such a long answer. I will review your suggestions and give it another whirl.

        I am looking seriously at new machines but I thought it would be fun to practise in the meantime. It's a toss up between a Bernina Activa 230, Viking 445 or Janome 4900QC all of which seem versatile enough and will meet my humble needs.

        My daughter just came back from a 5 month stay in India and she said they also do amazing things with very simple machines.

        Good luck on your machine hunt. And keep teaching.

        1. JanF | | #16

          Hi - I am biased towards Bernina - but the Janome bear up quite well in school with the hammering they get from boys - + girls! and have a few innovative tricks - my advice is to try out + keep trying until u make ur choice - become a nuisance at the local sewing machine shop!
          Jan - off to psych myself up to go back to school!!

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