Sewing machines

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I'm looking at buying an older model sewing machine that is sturdy enough to  
sew denims, canvas, or other thicker materials. I've recently looked at a  
Singer 96-40 (industrial), 15-91, and a 1500 class Singer with a heavy duty  
motor attached. I could stitch through 1/4" leather with either. Do you know  
of a website I could compare and contrast their features? I have looked, but  
have not had much success. I'd also be interested in reading reviews or  
hearing your opinions.

Re: Sewing machines
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A 15-91 will not handle 1/4" leather, though it  
sews denim and reasonable weights of canvas just fine.  Even  
if you could get a couple of plies of 1/4" leather under  
the foot, the foot would be so far up the upper tension disks  
would be open, and the stitching would be crummy, loopy on the
back.  It's a home sewing machine, not an industrial.  It is  
designed to handle from very light fabrics, like chiffons,  
through stuff like denim and wool coating.

I don't know the 96-40 or the 1500 series.  Industrial does not mean "will sew through anything, including steel plate".  
Industrial machines are designed to do one job very, very well,
and that includes "liking" a limited range of fabric weights.  
The machine you choose for sewing lightweight fabrics will be a different one from the one designed for heavier fabrics like
heavy denims and canvas.  And heavy leather is still a differentmachine.

If you're truly after an industrial (remember, most of 'em  
run on 220V, so check your electrical system  
first), then gather up samples of the fabrics and leathers  
you want to sew and give them to the dealer(s) you want to
consider, telling them the seam types you intend to use. Then
see what the samples look like and the recommendations.

You'll find several short essays here that should be helpful:

Kay, who is quite happy to rent time on the local auto  
upholstery shop machines when I need heavy duty industrial  
sewing.  Or just pay him to do it for me.

Re: Sewing machines

:If you're truly after an industrial (remember, most of 'em  
:run on 220V, so check your electrical system  
:first), then gather up samples of the fabrics and leathers  

While there are lots of industrials that have 240 motors, the majority
of them are 120V.  And on most that aren't, it's simply a matter of
replacing the motor.  Modern machines, with nifty motor controllers,
can run on either.  My Juki 9000 can run on 120 or 240, at 50 or 60
hz, and on various three phase set ups.  You need to wire the plug
correctly, but that's it.  

If you're buying new, it's a non-issue.  you just get the seller to
supply you the right motor, or set up the controller properly.  

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