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Recomendations for a basic work-horse

TinyMityMo | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hi all
I’ve been sewing for several years now, mostly clothes. Lately I’ve started sewing garment weight leather. I have a 3 or 4 year old Baby Lock 6200. I just took it in for service because it was starting to clump up the bottom thread. After I got it back, I was trying to sew some velcro onto leather (the same leather I had previously sewn fine) and it kept missing the bottom thread and leaving long stretches (1-2 cm) of no stitches and then starting up again. I called the store and they told me to bring it in. I took with me the ruined piece I was trying to make and a previous piece that I made right before they worked on it. All they told me was that I needed a bigger leather needle (had been using leather needles all along). She gave me a larger sized one and it seemed to work ok then. It works ok on regular fabric with a regular needle. Then they told me that if I keep doing this type of sewing I would destroy the machine as it wasn’t made to do this type of heavy duty sewing on a long term basis. Then they proceeded to try to sell me a $1000 quilters professional type of machine. I paid $600 for this machine and except for this new problem it’s been great.
I can’t spend $1000 on a new machine. Are there other heavy weight machines out there that will sew garment weight leather without falling apart? Do I even need a new machine – will this one really fall apart when it seems like it goes through the leather with no strain? I worry that they were just trying to push a sale.
Thanks for any advice.


  1. SEWSERIOU1 | | #1

    If you want to continue to sew on leather, I would recommend a different machine.  A commerical machine, not industrial, would probably serve you well.  You don't have to buy a new one either, there are plenty of used ones out there to be had.  Most 'household' machines just won't stand up to a lot of sewing of leather and similar fabrics for a long period of time.  Money spent on the right machine will be money saved in the long run.  If you ruin that $600 machine, you will have to replace it!  While the machine may have the power to penetrate the leather, it obviously has some problems with it or it wouldn't be acting up every time you sew it. 

    1. TinyMityMo | | #2

      Thanks for the input.

      OK, so what makes a machine commercial instead of household and what do I look for. Do most of the major brands make a commercial model? Are they clearly indicated as such?

      Also, we have started making leather dog collars. The garment leather I've been sewing is for tag bags (to silence the jingling dog tags). So far we are handsewing the lining deer skin to the main collar leather which is 8 oz and about 1.5-2 mm thick. Is there a commercial machine that would do both garment weight leather and heavier weight leather?

      Thanks for your help as I step up into a new area for me.

      1. SEWSERIOU1 | | #3

        Sounds like you really need an industrial machine if you are doing the collars also.  I don't have one, but there are plenty of others on the board who do and could make a recommendation.  These have a separate motor and table.  These can be cheaper than $1000 if you buy used.

        1. TinyMityMo | | #4

          Will an industrial machine do lighter weight as well as heavy weight? They had one at the shop for about $600 but she said it wouldn't do the lighter weight, only the heavy weight.

          I guess I need to know how the three different levels differ.

          Thanks again


          1. SEWSERIOU1 | | #5

            Sorry, I can't answer those questions.  Maybe a search on google for leather sewing would turn up more information.

          2. sueb | | #6

            Hi, I do a lot of sewing over bulky seams and occasionally sew with leather.  I just got myself a Juki TL98E machine and I have to say I love it.  No bells and whistles on this machine, just a straight stitch with lots of power.  doesn't balk at all at sewing over a lot of bulk at all.  I got it from allbrands.com  they sell a lot of industrial and heavyweight machines, you may want to check them out.



          3. TinyMityMo | | #7

            I went back to the store today with samples of all the different weights of leather I wanted to sew. The $1000 machine he showed me was able to sew even the heaviest one I had. It was a babylock quilters professional. When I looked at the allbrands site it is identical to the Juki (he mentioned Juki when he was telling me about them). I went hoping the $600 machine would work for everything because I found a place selling those for $400, but it didn't work on the lighter weight stuff and it was not nice to sew on.

            It looks like I'll be getting the expensive machine.

            My question becomes, do I buy his floor model for $850 or the Juki from Allbrands for $750? Does it work to buy over the internet or will I be borrowing trouble?

            Thanks for everyones help.


          4. sueb | | #8

            I bought the juki from allbrands and it was my first large purchase of this kind over the internet and I had no problems at all with the transaction.  For me I didn't have much choice though as the only dealers within a 100 mile radius in this area sell only regular sewing machines, no industrials ones.  You're only looking at 100 dollar difference so if it makes you nervous to buy online for this type of thing it may be worth the 100 to buy something locally.

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