Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

What skills to learn, what tools to get
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Sclass
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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

Post by Sclass »

Some updates.

The wrinkles never came out of my seat. :| oh well. I have a lot to learn about auto trimming. I struggled with the sewing machine skipping a stitch (i.e. Making a long stitch every now and then). It was annoying because I had to stop and start over to sew over the spot again. This doesn't work well on upholstery leather or vinyl because the holes are there for good once you punch them. The skips were caused by the shuttle hook missing the loop at the eye of the needle.

A few days of setting the timing of the machine left me mentally drained. It turned out some combos of thread, needle and material just don't work. This is true with fabric sewing. But I've found empirically that everything is much more sensitive when sewing leather by machine. There is a very narrow functional space where everything works and you get good looking stitches like those on luggage and car seats.

On another note, today I bought the Harbor Freight Tools Sewing Awl I mentioned here. I needed a gift for a frugal friend of mine. Being able to make heavy sewing repairs is a great money saver.

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4582&p=65111&hilit= ... ool#p65111

It's funny because the one I bought from HFT in 1993 for $15 was a Speedy Stitcher made in MA. Now they sell this Chinese copy for$5.99. I used their 20% off coupon and it came out to $5. I was a little shocked at the low quality. Though the tool is lower quality it still works. Well enough. The advantage of the Speedy Stitcher and this HFT copy is you can use standard 135x17 industrial sewing machine needles. They can be bought with leather points, textile points for canvas etc. for only $1 ea in single quantities shipped on eBay.

The Tandy sewing awl uses a less common 2.5mm(very large) needle shank that is harder to obtain. You can use 793 size industrial sewing machine needles but they are less common and slightly more expensive. Not available in singles. Tandy gouges on replacement needles.

So the HFT awl isn't really BIFL like a Speedy Stitcher. But it works and it's cheap. I think my friend will like using it.

Riggerjack
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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

Post by Riggerjack »

Rats are amazing,defeating them will require more effort.

To eliminate rats, train them. Currently, the way you are using traps is training them to avoid traps. Think about it,peanut butter is pretty tasty, but whenever I see some, there is a smashed rat with it. Probably ought to avoid peanut butter, then...

I hadn't dog go blind, years ago, from diabetes. To help him find his way around, my mom thought it would be a great idea to smear some peanut butter on the dog doors, and in the garage, etc. Nobody knows how I got rats.

In any case, I bought a dozen rat traps (big, angry, finger breaking rat traps, not mousetrap.) and baited them with peanut butter. Then I placed them, without setting them. Each day, I went around, adding more peanut butter. I did this for 2 weeks. Then,on a friday night, I set all the traps. And waited.
Snap! Go check my traps immediately. Find the one that was tripped, clean it up, and go wait again. The point is to never leave a trap signaling an association with death and bait. Clean the trap before reuse, or just toss rat and trap. After all rats are gone, go back to leaving baited, unset traps to ensure that the problem is resolved. Then fix the access issues.

I still have a baited, unset trap in my garage. I check it every other month or so. No return of rats in the last dozen years, though they are still in the neighborhood.

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Sclass
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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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RJ, good suggestion. I looked all over the Victor website and they had that suggestion about baiting unset traps. I just didn't get it till now. I was thinking, okay, but if they eat out of the unset trap, why not spring it on them and catch them? I get it. You want to catch ALL of them. So you need to get them confident that the trap is a peanut butter dispenser.

I caught two using my naive trapping technique. I also located two more holes near the eaves. Got them covered up. I came up with this crazy way to get the second story holes. I use a can lid slathered with Liquid Nails and hoist it up using a long section of electrical conduit with a Sonicaire Toothbrush magnet fastened to the end. I fix the tacky lid to the hole and then pull the magnetized rod back. Works well since I only own a 6' stepladder.

There is something funny about my rats. I don't think they're eating in the attic. There's no food up there. Healthy and smart guys they are eating my neighbor's plums. They go into my house for refuge. We have urban predators. Last night was the first night I didn't hear skittering. Fingers crossed.

I fought rats for five years at my mom's. We were always seeing rats running around the house. As a kid we had them in the attic and basement but this was the first time they actually ran across the counter and up and down the curtains. The caregivers were pretty nonchalant about it. My brother set traps within reach of my mom...he's a freaking idiot. Nothing happened thank God. She seemed to know what they were and avoided them. Finally I realized it didn't matter how many we killed, it was a matter of excluding them. So I searched and searched and found a plumbing pipe in the kitchen that never got drywalled in by mom's thieving handyman. I sheet rocked the hole and the rat highway was closed. No more rats in the house.

Ok, but today we're sewing thick stuff again. I needed a case for my used needles. Sewing thick stuff wears out needles. I got some new needles and my machine is singing now. No more skips. It's a shame because the old needles are dull or a hair bent but they are still useful in a hand sewing awl like the Harbor Freight Tools version. Since I'm generating a pile of discards I thought it would be nice to store them conveniently and safely. I have this nightmare vision of sitting or stepping on one.

So here is what I came up with.

Milk carton again. Start recovering material and prepping for cutting.

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Square up the edges with a rotary cutter and cutting mat with square lines.
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Nice clean square pieces. Time to sew.

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First evenly perforate the needle carrier by sewing without thread. I learned this on YouTube from people trying to make evenly spaced stitch holes in steering wheel covers. If you double up the material the holes will perfectly register with each other.

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Now stitch down the needle carrier to the case back. Test it out with a discarded needle. Perfect fit.

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To close my case which is kind of a matchbook design, I'll cut out a little semicircular tab using a nickel.

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And there it is.

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Some appropriate labelling. :P

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Not bad. Used milk jugs. Love them.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

Post by Riggerjack »

Nice! That is a clean looking case. How do you store your sharp needles?

Are you labeling with a p-touch?

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Sclass
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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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Sharp needles come in little cardboard envelopes from Organ Needle or plastic cards from Schmetz. I wanted to separate new from old.

The skipping problem I had was primarily coming from dull or slightly bent needles. I tried to get cute and grind the burrs and resharpen and the skipping got worse as I destroyed the needles' symmetry. Thick/tough material is very sensitive to slight bends or lopsided grinds on the needle. I've learned the hard way. Fabric is 100x more forgiving.

Yeah that's an old p touch from 1998. It's a great organizing tool.

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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Riggerjack wrote:
Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:27 am
Rats are amazing,defeating them will require more effort.

To eliminate rats, train them. Currently, the way you are using traps is training them to avoid traps. Think about it,peanut butter is pretty tasty, but whenever I see some, there is a smashed rat with it. Probably ought to avoid peanut butter, then....
RJ

Thought I'd mention, I've been using your trapping technique and it works well. My rats don't seem to think peanut butter is food. They like plum cores. I have left a single trap by the trash can outside and I bait it unset. The core stays there a few days. Then one day it disappears along with the arrival of chittering sounds in my attic. I bait and arm the trap and presto, dead rat. Thanks for the tip.

Just got one a few minutes ago I just heard the telltale pop and flopping near the trash cans.

The technique also means the trap won't be dangerous most of the time. This is good because I hate catching birds accidentally.

Riggerjack
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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

Post by Riggerjack »

Oh. I set my traps in the garage. No worries about birds or cats. But you gotta trap the rats where the rats are.

I bought a dozen traps on eBay. I wanted this problem solved, not treated. I didn't want rats to learn to avoid the traps, so i may have overkilled. Not the first time, probably not the last.

Now if anyone has a solution for moles....

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

Post by Sclass »

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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So I was crawling around under my car yesterday and I found this big hole under the engine. Apparently it is an inspection port for the flex plate. I was worried it could scoop dirt in since it was forward facing. So I made a cover. It is supposed to be covered with a black plastic plug.

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Milk carton plus thin slice of pool noodle.

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Sewn together of course.

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A little sloppy but it'll make a nice friction fit.

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Problem solved. It was a little loose so I dabbed on some bath silicone. I have made up this trick to get a good bond on slightly oily and dirty surfaces. I put down a dab of silicone and smear it around with my finger till it picks up the oil and dirt and mixes it into the glue matrix. Basically I use extra glue to clean the surface and leave the whole mess there. Then the silicone has a chance to bond. Yes, I weaken the glue by mixing in impurity but at least I get a bond. I learned this while gluing dusty shoes back together.

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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More grocery bags from Tyvek mailers. I get a kick out of repurposing the envelopes with my sewing machine. This material is really good for shopping bags. Very tough and impossible to rip...unless you poke it with a sharp object.

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New machine in the stable. I just bought an Elna 62c. 1972 machine. Very high quality unit. Retailed for $600 back then. A Vespa could be had for that kind of money at that time. I know clothes were more expensive back then but was it really necessary to have a sewing machine priced like a scooter? Got it for $50 but it needed a $20 gear replaced. The job was hard but somebody on YouTube shows the entire process. I just followed along and boom I'm a sewing machine repairman. I even learned how to do dog and hook timing to dial it in. Very smooth machine. Quiet too. I do not recommend these if you want cheap. They are collectible by a small number of crazies who drive the price up. For people who want to just hook stuff together craigslist has many non collectible machines for less than $50.

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Hoarding up cheap heavy (V69) thread from China found on ebay. Yeah, this stuff is awesome. Strong. Cheap. Comes on big rolls. Excess from jeans making factories. I got the blue from a jeans manufacturer. They had gold too. For jeans of course. I get 1500 yd rolls for a few dollars. Much cheaper than my local department store or sewing shop. Check out the tiny spool that I pay $3 for at Walmart. I also get a lifetime supply when I buy a big spool.

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Patching pants with the tough jeans thread. Matches the jeans. Kind of. So that's the denim thread. I decided to try darning the hole in my favorite jeans. Ten year old jeans. Yeah, I could easily afford a new pair but what fun is that. I can strut down the street showing everyone how frugal I am. My friends are shocked I'd do something like this, but hey, it's fun. Anyone can buy a new pair of pants. Nothing more comfy than old jeans. Now that the machine is set up for darning I'm fixing all kinds of pants, socks or anything with a hole. Yeah I look like an idiot. I don't care about convincing the world I can afford new stuff anymore.

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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Is the Elna 390-B similar in quality to the 62c? My wife is sewing some clothes for the kids and borrowing her mom's machine is a bit of a hassle. I see a 390-B on local Craigslist (also another really old Elna too).

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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I am not familiar with the 390b. This might come from the point where they transitioned to plastic chassis. But I don’t know the specifics. Nor do I know much about the really old Supermatics. I own a Lotus and this SU 62c. Both are early 70s. Older Elnas were expensive machines so I think you’ll be getting a higher quality unit than say an old White, Sears or Singer. (However those will also be great for putting things together).

It’s best to go and try the machine and make absolutely sure it works. Bring fabric and thread so you can see how it stitches. Listen for knackered up innards. Old Elnas hum smoothly when working properly. If the machine works and it is under $100 you probably cannot do that bad by buying it. Let your wife try it. If she sews a lot she may be able to tell you if it is better than the one she borrows.

Make sure you’re getting a good price. I’d look around on eBay to see where the machines are trending. Some people on Craigslist want outlandish prices for vintage machines.

Old Supermatics have manual speed control. That is, they govern speed using a cone shaped rubber roller that sets a gear ratio mechanically. They wear and create a bumpy ride so to speak from flat spots on the rollers after storage. I expect vintage Elnas to run very quietly. Anything rubber on these old machines may have to be replaced. Make sure you can test the unit and it works to your wife’s satisfaction or you’ll never hear the end of it. :lol:

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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I just got a chance to read about the Elna Carina. I suspect it is the same variant of machine as your 390b. Elna’s naming is crazy.

http://www.ashleyandthenoisemakers.com/ ... lex-review

First I was wrong about the plastic chassis. It appears to be metal. This looks a lot like my 62 inside. Just more complex. Nice machined metal parts and fewer injected molded plastic parts. Not that plastic parts are bad, it’s just that 1980s plastic can crumble apart leaving few options for replacement.

My theory is a lot of expensive things like my old Mercedes or these Elnas are just made better than their budget alternatives at the time...like a 1980s Yugo. The engineers had bigger budgets to work with. It’s not a rule because some smart ass marketers along the way decided marking up prices on cheap junk made it desirable. However in many cases things that originally cost more in the past are made with better guts.

So I’d say this is a nice machine. Additionally it doesn’t have a collector following. This is good if you want a workhorse for cheap. The air control looks interesting. Can’t tell if it’s a plus or minus. I’d go and try it out. Remember, a junk machine at Walmart is $50 and up. If the elna works you have a quality machine for about the same money.

I suspect my machines will outlive me and eventually go to Goodwill. My first machine was a 1942 Singer cast iron straight stitch donated to a church rummage sale undoubtedly owned by a dead person. It’s cool that these tools can live on and provide useful service to a new person.

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

Post by SavingWithBabies »

Thanks Sclass! It is surprisingly hard to find information like this sometimes. I really appreciate what to look for and will follow your advice. The 390b looks similar to the 62c but instead of "SU" it says "TSP". Do you know what those letters stand for? I should have linked it before -- it's here:

https://annarbor.craigslist.org/hsh/d/e ... 36850.html

I'm kind of excited by that table to be honest. My wife hasn't sewed before and was trying to sit on the floor and do it. I have only sewed a little bit but I know manual feed control is important and it looks like having the machine in the table like that would be a real boon for bigger things and make little things just a touch easier.

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

Post by jacob »

@SWB - On the floor?!? :? At least give her a table man. You can make your own raised table with a melamine board (home depot/menards/...) and a jig saw (or a big scroll saw). Just glue some blocks underneath it to make it level with the machine. It's nice for long/flat stuff but useless/cumbersome for round stuff (like sleeves) so you don't want a permanent installation. Also depends on whether your bobbin is a "toploader" or a "frontloader". Moreso than a raised table, I think it's useful to have space on the table behind and in front of the machine to keep fabric from bunching up or falling off => big table.

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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Buy this machine. It is a screaming deal and it is collectible. It’ll fetch 2x what they want on eBay.

Tsp is elna speak for special stitches. That’s the wheel on top. This is basically an SU 62c without removable cams. You only get the special decorative stitches on the selector wheel on top.

There are two things that break on this model. Cam gear and hook gear. Check them by doing a zig zag stitch - if the needle moves side to side it has a good cam gear. You can test without fabric. Open the little bobbin access door below the needle and see if the rotary hook rotates as the needle goes up and down. Then you know your hook gear is good.

The best test is with cloth and thread since missing teeth may still allow the motion yet make wonky stitches.

Wow...good thing it’s far away. I’d snatch it up.

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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The table with the unit is nice. The box also converts to a sewing surface with the big slot in the side. Tavaro Elna is a munitions maker. The case is designed after an ammo box and can be integrated with the machine. Not to mention this unit is being sold with a table.

http://possumjimandelizabeth.com/xhtml/ ... na_su.html

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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If the unit doesn’t pass the gear tests, you can offer less. Hook and cam gears go for $15-$20 ea on eBay. There are YouTube videos on swapping them. Sorry I steered you wrong on the original identification of the machine. Elna nomenclature makes absolutely no sense.

Yeah, I took a look at the listing again. The machine is barely used. A well used machine (like mine) will have scratches and chipped paint on the wheel and table. The tension knob gets worn by the thread. This unit has non of that. Wow.

Just checked eBay completed auctions. One just like it sold for $100 with no case and no pedal. Both of those parts go for $50 alone. Looks like you don’t have the collectors trolling your CL. :lol:

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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@jacob I was going to say but wasn't sure how to word it that my wife is 1/2 Asian and likes to sit on the floor/carpet. We do have a big dining table she could use too. I think once she tries it on a table or a custom table like the one with that machine, it'll click. I've made a table similar to what you're suggesting for a photography dark room so I'll keep that as a backup idea if this one doesn't work out.

@Sclass Great! We have a big snow storm today but hopefully we can go check it out tomorrow. I'll check those things and bring some cloth and thread to test with. Thanks you.

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Re: Inexpensive way to sew thick stuff

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ffj wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:36 pm
Btw, that is a beautiful Japanese knife you made a sheath for a couple of pages back. Ever use the Japanese water stones to sharpen them? Oh my god, talk about a zen moment.
No. I just use a carborundum stone from a restaurant supply. I think it came from China. Works well. Two grits. $3. The knife is scary sharp. I skin salmon and mackerel with it.

I’m too cheap to get one of those Japanese stones. I saw a demo at Hida Tool in Berkeley, CA of a Japanese plane. They honed the blade on one of those stones. I was in a state of shock seeing what kind of surface finish the plane made on the block of hardwood. The guy would stop periodically to polish the blade. Expensive tools. A little outside the Sclass budget.

https://www.hidatool.com

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