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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 02-17-12, 02:31 AM   #1
Peter_C
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Completely off-topic! Trying to remember a thread about Sewing machines...

Sorry, but this is off-topic for the most part. It does involve biking, but anyhow...

Somewhere on BF in the last couple of years I stumbled across a thread where folks were discussing which old/used "sewing machines" were the best for sewing heavier materials like those used in panniers, messenger bags, and the like.

I can neither find the thread, nor remember any of the suggested machines. I *think* Tom Stormcrowe was in the thread, but do not remember who else.

I want to make my own set of panniers, so am looking for info that may help me? Anyone have any pointers, patterns, FAQs, suggestions?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-17-12, 07:43 AM   #2
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Any of these help?

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ghlight=sewing

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ghlight=sewing

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ghlight=sewing

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ghlight=sewing
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Old 02-17-12, 08:14 AM   #3
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I did some research some time ago and found that in order to sew heavy canvas, sunbrella or cordura and webbing/leather you would need an Industrial compound feed walking foot sewing machine. Something like a Consew 206RB. You could also use an all metal household machine like an old Kenmore if you were using lighter materials. Although Lighter material are not typical of panniers. Another option would be sewing by hand.

I ultimately came to the conclusion that it would be cheaper to buy a good set of panniers than what it would cost to buy the tools and materials to make my own.
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Old 02-17-12, 09:39 AM   #4
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Sorry, but this is off-topic for the most part. It does involve biking, but anyhow...

Somewhere on BF in the last couple of years I stumbled across a thread where folks were discussing which old/used "sewing machines" were the best for sewing heavier materials like those used in panniers, messenger bags, and the like.

I can neither find the thread, nor remember any of the suggested machines. I *think* Tom Stormcrowe was in the thread, but do not remember who else.

I want to make my own set of panniers, so am looking for info that may help me? Anyone have any pointers, patterns, FAQs, suggestions?

Thanks in advance!
Ask on the Touring Forum. People come up with all sorts of homemade panniers on there.
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Old 02-17-12, 09:42 AM   #5
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I used to sew quite a bit. A good, heavy duty old metal machine, usually one that comes in a cabinet rather than portable, will probably work for your task. A Singer from the 1940s or 50s would be great. Or, maybe you can rent an industrial machine, depending on where you live. Use an appropriate size needle, for example, a 16 or 18 if sewing canvas. Sew slow. If you fabric is a natural fabric wash and dry it first to get the shrink out.



http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?doc_id=6598 has a good discussion on making panniers. I've thought about making my own saddlebag out of canvas this summer. I can use my grandmother's old treadle machine, which will drive through a lot of fabric thickness.
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Old 02-17-12, 11:32 AM   #6
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I've done a fair amount of sewing. I'm currently using a cheap department store Singer machine of modern manufacture. I've not had problems with Cordura, which is hard to find these days, glove tanned deer leather, canvas, assorted nylon coated and uncoated fabric as well as nylon webbing doubled. Sharp needles are a must as is correct thread tension settings. If your primary use is going to be heavy fabrics and you will be doing lots of it then a heavy duty machine might make sense. YMMV.
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Old 02-17-12, 11:39 AM   #7
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I have an old (bought it used in NYC in 1976) Riccar which was a heavy (cast metal not plastic) taiwain built machint. it is not industrial but I have sewed a fair amount of heavy duty fabric and webbing with it. Originally purchased for making Frostline kits (anyone remember those)..... you might look for something of this ilk.
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Old 02-17-12, 11:46 AM   #8
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I picked up a Topeak pannier set on eBay for $20 because the stitching had come away on one of the panniers and left an 8" hole. My wife used a modern-day Singer and repaired the hole (triple-stitch) with no issues. Its been strong and holding for the 12 months Ive used it. Arent modern day pannier materials less "tough" to sew? I would imagine most machines would not have a problem with nylon etc. I can see if your using canvas it could be an issue but the Singer went through the nylon material with no problems.
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Old 02-17-12, 07:45 PM   #9
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Thank you for all of the feedback~! And, the links too - gives me a place to start.
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Old 02-17-12, 10:29 PM   #10
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Look up "kitty litter panniers." Lots of people make pannier out of plastic storage containers.
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Old 02-18-12, 02:45 PM   #11
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There's a website called sewing.patternreview.com that has a lot of sewing machine reviews. You can't view any older than 6 months without buying a membership, but a lot of people post reviews of old machines such as Singer 99s. There are also yahoo groups to do with vintage machines.
I have a 1948 Free Westinghouse ALB rotary which sews through heavy fabrics like butter, but it takes a kind of needle that is no longer made, so I can't really recommend it. You could always phone up a shop that carries industrial machines and ask if they'll rent you one for a few weeks.
I used to have a Singer HD110 which was similar to this:
http://www.amazon.com/SINGER-4411-He.../dp/B003VWXZKG
It was an unpleasant machine to use, very hard to control, but it did plow through tough fabrics, even neoprene.
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Old 02-18-12, 07:43 PM   #12
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Well, I now have two one-owner machines in my possession :-) My mother's 1960 Viking 6000 (not used last 15yrs), and my mother in-law's 1965 Kenmore Ultra-Stitch 12, model# 15612 (not used last 17 yrs).

I spent the last few hours cleaning and oiling the Viking (it came with my mom's sewing table too), and reading the manual, and doing so test sewing. While I don't have the actual fabric I hope to use, I did use nine layer's of denim with zero problems - the Viking also has a 5 to 1 gear reduction for slow-speed sewing, and ultra heavy work. So I think it'll do the job for me.

I have not spent any time with the Kenmore yet, so I do not know which may be better.
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Old 02-18-12, 08:23 PM   #13
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Well, I now have two one-owner machines in my possession :-) My mother's 1960 Viking 6000 (not used last 15yrs), and my mother in-law's 1965 Kenmore Ultra-Stitch 12, model# 15612 (not used last 17 yrs).

I spent the last few hours cleaning and oiling the Viking (it came with my mom's sewing table too), and reading the manual, and doing so test sewing. While I don't have the actual fabric I hope to use, I did use nine layer's of denim with zero problems - the Viking also has a 5 to 1 gear reduction for slow-speed sewing, and ultra heavy work. So I think it'll do the job for me.

I have not spent any time with the Kenmore yet, so I do not know which may be better.
How long to have a suit altered and dry cleaned, Peter C? :-)
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Old 02-18-12, 11:14 PM   #14
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How long to have a suit altered and dry cleaned, Peter C? :-)
No plans at present to do clothes -in the future, who knows? What I am wondering is if I were to make bags, say custom for trikes, and they look halfway decent, at a reasonable price, would anyone buy them ?? I just don;t know...
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Old 02-19-12, 07:39 AM   #15
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Post pictures! I know it's a bike forum, but I'm enough of a sewing machine geek to want to see them.
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Old 02-19-12, 07:34 PM   #16
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Post pictures! I know it's a bike forum, but I'm enough of a sewing machine geek to want to see them.
As you wish. Below is one photo of the 1960 Viking 6000 owned by my Mom;



So far I only have 20-odd photos up in the sewing section of my photobucket page here:
http://s1103.photobucket.com/albums/...ewing%20stuff/

I will add more photos of the Kenmore when I get to it. I have been playing with the Viking, and once cleaned, oiled, and tension adjusted - it is sewing better and better.
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Old 02-19-12, 08:52 PM   #17
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No plans at present to do clothes -in the future, who knows? What I am wondering is if I were to make bags, say custom for trikes, and they look halfway decent, at a reasonable price, would anyone buy them ?? I just don;t know...
Could be. You would have BROL to help you sell. What are you thinking of using for fabric?
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Old 02-20-12, 11:19 PM   #18
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Hehe - Right now it's just an idea bouncing around in my head. Either Cordura, or Sil-nylon, or both :-) Currently am side-tracked and doing a lot of reading on the subject, learning what others have done before me, and practicing on my sewing machine.
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Old 02-21-12, 08:03 AM   #19
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Oh Peter, please don't use sewing machines as you used to use lawnmowers. In other words, as a way to avoid riding. :-)
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Old 02-21-12, 11:52 PM   #20
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It was snowing today...
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