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Sew What! DIY Tips and Tricks.

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Other users have shown an interest in having one place to gather our thoughts on each persons best ideas on how to DIY crappy homemade gear. So here we go, contribute your successes and as importantly your failures. Mistakes are a great learning tool.

I'll start. Attached are some photos of my little sewing room. Its in a basement and could use some sprucing up but it's a rental and likely poisoning me with Radon gas so I leave it be.

Organization really helps. We all can stand to be better at it but keep up the good fight.

As much as you can afford to, keep a variety of materials on hand. When the creative urge strikes, you are much more likely to go make something if you have some materials on hand.

I find it most helpful to put away my tools and accessories EVERY time I am leaving the shop for more than a few hours. Nothing better than coming in to a tidy workspace to spark creativity.

When purchasing a machine make a budget and then try and double it. You will never wish you bought less machine, in my experience. I have two pretty heavy duty machines and find myself wanting bigger and badder machines. I am ALWAYS on the lookout. Thanks Pine for the hook!!

When you make something and if think you are really gonna like it, try and write down measurements of the pieces used to construct it. At a minimum make sketches. I try and keep large pieces of cardboard around to make patterns. If I really like something I may go as far as drawing it up in Fusion and cutting out patterns on the plasma so that they can be used to cut out material.

If you have industrial machines, make a little thread catch bin on the end of your table. This helps keep the shop so much cleaner.

I will try and continue adding to this thread as time and creativity permits.
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Sweet... already off to a good start and can't wait to see how it goes. Its gonna be awesome seeing everyone's projects and how they make them and the trials and tribulations.

I just picked up this Juki LU-562 Walking Foot machine about a month ago...

Sewing machine feet Sewing machine Sewing Household appliance accessory Wood


This is my first sewing machine and really my first time sewing stuff for real. I've messed around on a friends once or twice and I worked for Wildwasser back in the day and they had a bunch of industrial machines but they had them set up for professional sewers and they were blazing fast. You can sort of see another table next to it and that is a Yamata straight sewing machine (I think thats the term...who knows)that belongs to a buddy. Its a lot more finicky then mine. He has more experience and stuff for all of this....so it's been nice to have someone here to show me the ropes. He is actually the one who found the Juki and was gonna buy it but couldn't afford it...so I got it. I feel like I got a pretty good deal on it...it was half the price of any of the other ones I've seen for sale in the area.

It has been fun learning how it all works and what I like and don't like. This one actually had a fairly easy to use clutch motor on it...but it was still a bit too hair trigger for my taste so I bit the bullet and got a Servo Motor for it. Super controllable now. Its punching power isn't as great anymore but very controllable and easy to use. I may end up making a double pulley speed reducer setup for it in the future but we'll see.

Since this is my first time owning a machine or doing any sewing I'm still in the "gathering materials" stage and learning all the differences between threads, needles, presser feet, materials, and machine attachments and upgrades. My buddy has some of that stuff...but he's kind of a cheap ass so its not always the best quailty. I picked @Bootboy 's brain a little bit about what needles and thread to start off with and order a few colors in Tex90 Poly thread. I also got a spool of Tex135 just to try it. Probably overkill, but we'll see. I think the Tex90 stuff should do for me.

I have a ton of ideas for projects so I'll be buying some fabric and hardware for sure. Any pointers for places around Denver Metro that are DIYer friendly like Peterson would be greatly appreciated. So far I've been messing around with a learning the machine but you can only run lines down scrap fabric so long before it gets old and you aren't really learning anything. I've hemmed a bunch of pants that were fraying and done a few other repairs on things but haven't done a project. Lots of Youtube watching and trying to learn how it all goes.... definitely some deep rabbit holes to go down with this.

I think I'll start out with a few mesh projects and go from there. I think an ultimate goal is to make custom pyramid tent for my Dory. All the ones I've found so far are either way too wide or not tall enough. I have a few ideas about how to maintain interior room using multiple poles but we'll see. I need to learn a bunch more before I tackle that big of a project.

Haha....last thing I'll say is that it seems like sewing machines are like a lot of other tools... once you have one... you always want another one. I'd love to maybe pick up a Cylinder style machine and would love to have a pattern sewer too. I've been kicking myself for not going to check out this Juki AMS machine that someone had up for $200 the other day. Definitely keeping my eye out for those kinda machines in the future.
 

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Ok...two posts in row....

So...for you experienced guys...what are the staple materials you use? Buying a few yards of something special seems good when you need it but is there something you use a ton of enough to justify buying a roll of it? Rolls seem to be around $500 for the commonly used fabrics I've seen and that is pretty daunting... but as people have said already...its nice to have stuff on hand.
 

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I want some of that, Seattle fabrics charges $32/yard for Phifer Plus, that includes shipping and assuming you ordered 6 yards - although if it's $40 before shipping, hmmm.

I got some mesh with a pair of Black Diamond skins (they call them skin savers) that I bought last year, after multiple emails nobody could give me a source, one person mentioned the mesh was probably sourced "overseas". Looks similar but yours looks like bigger squares and thicker coating.


View attachment 73323
Phifertex Plus can be found on fabric.com, an Amazon company, for $20-24 and free shipping....for what its worth.

I personally would prefer to use something other then black mesh...so that is a requirement. I'm leaning towards white or a light tan for whatever I make with grey webbing since that'll be matchy matchy with my white Aire 146DD. Its cool to see the different fabrics though. I'm pretty sure the NRS mesh "floor" that I've mostly used as extra security for my TRS Everything bag is made of that Superman HD stuff. At $25/yard....I'd probably just use Phifertex Plus though.

Anybody know what Whitewater Designs uses for their drop bag stuff? Pretty sure Stitches n STuff and Tuff River Stuff use Phifertex as well as Good Vibes but none of them say what brand mesh they use. I haven't seen the multi-color stuff online... so maybe hard to say. Good Vibes uses a nylon fabric in combination with some of their stuff. Seems like Cordura but might be a similar generic brand. I know and boat with the folks from Good Vibes so its kinda tempting to buy a small roll of the stuff from them. I have products from TRS and Good Vibes and Whitewater Designs and I know it all holds up super well....so whatever they use would be great to get.
 

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Sweet...NEW MACHINE DAY!

This is the servo motor I got... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016EJ1WB6?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

Reasonable price and came with everything needed. I also got a 25mm pulley so it pushed a little harder and can go REALLY slow if you want it to. Night and day difference in speed and controllability for my novice abilities

I've been doing some small projects with my Juki. Made a bag for a pump and a custom harness for one of my dogs that likes to escape the store bought ones and a bunch of other stuff. A buddy has been making custom journals with it for his clients.

I'm on the lookout for a Cylinder Machine with a binding attachment for a reaosnable price for a hobbyist. I've actually seen a few of the same machines as mine go for up for sale and seeing their asking price leads me to believe that I got a REALLY good deal on mine. Also saw a guy on one of the Facebook sewing machine mechanic pages who found three of them collecting dust in the back of a clients workshop that they just gave to him...so I guess its all over the place.
 

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Hmm... so I think I might have found an older Juki Bartack machine for a reasonable price. Should make strap work a breeze but I'm also kind of wondering whether its overkill for my needs and not thrilled about it being a "uni-tasker" sort of machine. It does an amazing job doing the job it does but not much good for anything else. I guess I could start blasting out a line of straps and such to pay for it.

Thoughts?
 

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So that machine (need pictures) is for making straps ? Like the ones that we use to hold frames to boats? Sorry if this should be obvious lol!
That is its most common use yes.... it basically quickly and efficiently stitches a pattern...


It will make quick work of assembling cam straps. I may consider making custom cam straps for people to help pay for it but probably not till mid summer. I'll let ya'll know. Zero idea if people would be interested in that.
 

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For those who want the bare Rollercam Buckles.... you can order them via their website for $3.95 each. If you want a bunch...maybe call him and see if he'll run you a bulk deal or talk to a dealer and see what they can do for ya.

I really like the look of those straps Bootboy... your machine does much neater and precise stitches then mine. Does it do all of them in one run or one at a time?

I know I'm not gonna be able to justify it and won't do it...but I already wanna upgrade to one of those pattern machines. I think I'd rather figure out a binding attachment setup first though.
 

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You didn't miss anything... MG's reaction was to the previous spat between Charley and Marshall. Kinda wish the mods deleted the entire interaction between them but at least they got rid of the worst post of it.

You do good work already... I imagine a machine upgrade would up the quality even more.
 

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Soooo.... I'm finding out that Sewing machines are kind of an addiction.... just picked up this old beauty for a very reasonable price...

Sewing machine feet Sewing machine Sewing machine needle Sewing Household appliance accessory


It had been sitting on Facebook marketplace for months for more then I wanted to pay considering its missing some parts and hasn't been run for a while. There is a note in the manual that is dated 1985...but a bit of research about serial numbers and their dates turns out this machine was likely made between 1963 and 1964... pretty cool stuff. They still make the Pfaff 335 in this basic configuration but the casting is much newer.

I will likely use it for binding 90% of the time...but it'll be nice to have something that do tube shaped stuff more easily too. Definitely needs a good cleaning and some grease and lubrication (don't we all). Since it came with a big ole 3 phase motor I'm going to upgrade it to a Servo Motor and get a binding attachment and bobbin cover for it and see how it does. I'd actually really love to do binding with thick webbing for a lot of stuff....I guess I'll see if I can make that work.

At this point...the only other machine I can sort of think of needing would possibly be a Surger.
 

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Cool old machine! After making some mesh tote bags recently I was wishing I had a cylinder arm machine for the top edge webbing.

I did end up buying a swing away binder from Sailrite (likely made by Suisei) and holy shit what a time saver, I can't believe I did so much binding by hand...binding by hand suuuuucks.

So many quesions...
  • Is the "cylinder" by the thumb screw some sort of binding routing thingy?
  • Binding attachments are readily available?
  • Is the machine in time?
They work like this when mounted...


Notice how the binder arm moves with the walking foot too, so everything stays lined up. That is the main difference between this kind of machine and just putting a binding attachment on a flat bed machine. That Sailrite attachment does look like a nice upgrade though. A buddy picked up a couple of binders while he was in Vietnam and I played with them a bit on my Juki and it defintely made it a lot easier.

Turning by hand...everything seems to be timed allright but I haven't had time to do much more then bring it inside.

Shaft went over it already but clutch motors were/are pretty standard for industrial machines and are sometimes single phase and sometimes 3phase...both wtih varying voltages depending on their use and needs. A lot of the new machines have gone to Servo motors now though. As Shaft said, clutch motors are very finicky and hard to control especially a novice sewer. Its crazy how good the sewers in most industrial/commercial settings are at it...but for me its almost unusable. Think of it as super stiff old truck clutch when you didn't know how drive a manual. It goes from zero to out of control in the matter of a quarter inch or less of pedal input.

A servo motor basically solves the control problem by just having a potentiometer attached to the pedal that then controls a servo motor. It has a control box that allows you to adjust what RPM the motor spins for a given pedal input as well (Just a dial or buttons up or down...very simple). I put one on my Juki and I can now just chug along as slow as I want. The slowest setting is actually annoyingly slow for most things but if you are doing work trying to keep multiple layers lined up its REALLY nice to have. I put a smaller pully on that one too, so higher torque and slower speeds and can go even slower.

Since this machine came with a 3-phase motor its kind of a no brainer. I'm sure a VFD that varies the speed would help... but I think the VFD would be more expensive then the Servo motor setup ($140 for the whole thing) and you'd still have to deal with the clutch. I have the single phase120v motor from my Juki I could put on it...but just don't wanna deal with a clutch.

I'm actually thinking about building a belt sander/grinder and I think these clutch motors might be amazing for that since you'd basically design the belt sander to run at full speed/full clutch engagement so you'd just stomp on it to get the sanding belt spinning but could also use it to attenuate the belt speed.
 
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