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Old 09-25-11, 06:27 PM   #1
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Using The Simplest-And Most Inexpensive-New Sewing Machine For My Bike Bags

I noticed the large number of threads and posts on bike bags on this forum. It is so obvious as our portable bikes seems to need the cover and protection a bag and/or slipcover offers it if used. Rkokish started this thread recently “A Cheaper Bag for BF Pocket Bikes?” (I posted an reply right there if you are interested in reading it.) But I have been commenting and designing my own bags and slipcovers for quite a while now, and not just for Bike Friday. I am also interested in the other different bike brands too like my former Dahons, present Brompton, and the earlier 1970s Raleigh Twenty and soon (I hope) Worksman Folding Tricycle & Bicycle.

I wanted something a bit different this time. For myself to use on or off any or all my bikes. I decided on a messenger bag as it would do nicely as they are very popular among cyclists and not right now. And are not too difficult to sew on a plain mechanical domestic household machine like this one is. Plus to answer the periodic question I get just like in past previous threads, “Can you sew a bag on that household domestic sewing machine?” The answer is....you probably can if you pay attention to the weight or density of the fabric (not too dense as to allow the needle to penetrate plus not to be too hard on the motor or the gears) and use the proper size needle (avoiding breakage and possible damage to the fibers).

I decided to demonstrate this practice myself by buying another sewing machine-one intended for little girls/beginner level. I went online to one of the largest discounter department stores in the USA, Target, and ordered this “Janome Hello Kitty Green Model # 11706.” I can quite imagine your faces and laughter. I was not sure what to make of this machine-until I put it to use. And here is the first project finished completely by this machine. I used whatever I had at hand to make it. Remnants of past projects just lying around waiting for just the right time and need. This bag would retail for over 100 US dollars (the same price as the sewing machine itself).

If Hello Kitty is not your style (I was limited by buying at Target for several good reasons), you can get the exact model (minus Kitty & flowers) here plus more information. The surprising thing about these models is; they are all you need to make pretty much any bag-or anything else-you want.

Even this person feels the same way. While it is not exactly how I would put it, he/she helped me to consider, then finally buy this machine model: From www.target.com reviews:

KURDAPYA Nov 24, 2010
overall.
5 of 5 stars
5 of 5 stars
easy to use
quality
value

I am a seamstress who works at somebody's shop and get paid per production. Of course, to make more money at the end of the day i wanted to finish more work orders. But i can't do that if my sewing doesn't stitch properly. So i decided to buy my own sewing machine instead of using the one that the shop owned. And OOOOoooohhhlllllaaaaaaaa Abra Cadabra. . . With this Hello Kitty sewing machine, people thought i am just a kid-like person that works at the dress shop just for fun. But they don't kn ow that this sewing machine works so fast i make [$] This sewing is awesome. It can also sew delicate fabric that most of my co-workers' sewing machine won't. Yesterday i sew a leather jacket on it. I have tried 5 different sewing machine and most of them are more expensive than this Hello Kitty of mine, but they are slow and very sensitive to work on. My Hello Kitty is so pretty and very hardworking. . . I plan to have my own dress shop in Fall 2011 and i will be buying 2 more of this for my employees. . . Without this, my career in sewing will not be possible.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 09-27-11 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 09-25-11, 08:04 PM   #2
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And one more important thing I almost forgot to mention. Here is a video of what is really going on in home use sewing machines. I keep wondering if the current trouble with bikes could be lumped together with this type of shenanigans going on with all sorts of household items, not just sewing machines.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExSnXtx34QI&feature=related
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Old 09-25-11, 09:17 PM   #3
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Swing machines used to last a life time. My mother still using a 30 years old machine that is like new. I presume that will all the new features, electronics, etc, people tend to replace their sewing machines more often.

BTW, that video looks like an infomercial, I would take it with a grain of salt.
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Old 09-26-11, 12:39 AM   #4
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I have three at the moment. The oldest one is the best one, black, not electric, only straight stitches. It is the best one to sew the light fabric I use for kites and the only one that can sew several layers of heavy material and webbings like on the bags for Dogbike2. Just gave a machine to a friend, it is made in the early fiftys. All free finds or cheap.

Best cheap slipcower solution if you do not sew: this weekend was our first travel w Bromptons and I had no time to make light cowers for them. The slipcowers for our bigger folders are much too big for the Bromptons. We keep some light cheap wind breaker jackets for travels. The biggest are XL and XXL. Put the arms innside the body, wrap the jacket around the folded Brompton. Engage the zipper and pull up. The hole for your neck is where you can put your arm in and grab the frame for carrying.

Folder Fanatic is good at this sewing stuff, just saying.
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Old 09-26-11, 05:11 AM   #5
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I keep meaning to try to learn enough about the basics of sewing that I can make a Brompton messenger bag that uses the Brompton frame. . . haven't got there yet. This is inspiring stuff, I shall have to have a more detailed look.
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Old 09-26-11, 10:56 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by kamtsa View Post
Swing machines used to last a life time. My mother still using a 30 years old machine that is like new. I presume that will all the new features, electronics, etc, people tend to replace their sewing machines more often.
Your're right. If you could find or own a mechanical sewing machine made from 30 years or so or earlier, I would hold on to it. I explored the possibility of buying used for a while-just like I do occasionally with bikes. The difference with sewing machines and bikes are rather sharp in one respect. The electrical motor. While you can swap another motor in it's place (assuming the motor fits inside), it will run much higher in cost than the sewing machine is probably worth. Hence,, the Hello Kitty one.

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BTW, that video looks like an infomercial, I would take it with a grain of salt.
It is a good possibility it is an infomercial masquerading as an informative news clip. But one of the most important things it did discuss is how many sewing machines are made now-especially the most of the Big Box specials-without a metal frame, parts screwed directly into the plastic outer cover. The newer sewing machines cannot be opened up to oil, major cleaning, and adjust yourself anymore. They are permanently lubricated. It must be taken to a shop periodically. So I only buy mechanical only sewing machines that are not too expensive as they are more reliable in many ways than ones with computer chips. Plus only buying sewing machines with actual metal frames (you can still open up a few points on newer machines-to clean or change the light bulb-to peek inside & check).

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I have three at the moment. The oldest one is the best one, black, not electric, only straight stitches. It is the best one to sew the light fabric I use for kites and the only one that can sew several layers of heavy material and webbings like on the bags for Dogbike2. Just gave a machine to a friend, it is made in the early fiftys. All free finds or cheap.
I think you are describing a treadle sewing machine. My grandmother had one bought in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. I was hoping to inherent it. Sadly, it went to someone that does not sew and does not appreciate it. It is now a rusted piece of junk sitting in some damp garage somewhere.

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Best cheap slipcower solution if you do not sew: this weekend was our first travel w Bromptons and I had no time to make light cowers for them. The slipcowers for our bigger folders are much too big for the Bromptons. We keep some light cheap wind breaker jackets for travels. The biggest are XL and XXL. Put the arms innside the body, wrap the jacket around the folded Brompton. Engage the zipper and pull up. The hole for your neck is where you can put your arm in and grab the frame for carrying.
If you don't have time or know how to sew, you can still create a cover for a bike. I use an clean old blanket or tarp and wrap it up with it. You can partially unwrap it to grab the frame when needed.

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I keep meaning to try to learn enough about the basics of sewing that I can make a Brompton messenger bag that uses the Brompton frame. . . haven't got there yet. This is inspiring stuff, I shall have to have a more detailed look.
When you can sew a straight line, curve, and thread & control the speed of the machine properly, you can make your own bags. You will not regret learning a new skill. I really like the video below. This young man with the interesting lock pendant demonstrates a good working knowledge and operates the sewing machine very well sewing his own bike messenger bag:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o1MprypSok
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Folder Fanatic is good at this sewing stuff, just saying.
Thank you.
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Last edited by folder fanatic; 09-26-11 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 09-26-11, 11:24 AM   #7
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I made a shirt from scraps when I was in high school. The other boys made fun of me until I got in front of the class and asked how many of the girls there were impressed. Every girl held up her hand and that shut the other boys up. I didn't know anything about sewing except what I learned from looking at the seams of the clothes I was using. My mother helped with corners if I recall. It isn't difficult until you get to fancy fabrics and such. I have made musical instrument cases and hiking equipment. I use an old Singer sewing machine that only goes forward and backward. Just start looking at products for the stitching methods they are using for heavy use bags and such. As easy as fixing a flat tire.
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Old 09-27-11, 07:24 AM   #8
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Bought an old Singer decades ago at a garage sale for under $5 and at another garage sale a couple years ago I bought a post-WW2 Japanese sewing machine that zig zags for under $5 that only needed an hour of cleaning and lubrication.

The difficulty is finding convenient fabric sources. In the 1970s, many camping stores stocked various grades of nylon but now you have to order it over the internet and you don't really know what you are getting until it arrives.
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Old 09-27-11, 10:54 PM   #9
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I made a shirt from scraps when I was in high school. The other boys made fun of me until I got in front of the class and asked how many of the girls there were impressed. Every girl held up her hand and that shut the other boys up. I didn't know anything about sewing except what I learned from looking at the seams of the clothes I was using. My mother helped with corners if I recall. It isn't difficult until you get to fancy fabrics and such. I have made musical instrument cases and hiking equipment. I use an old Singer sewing machine that only goes forward and backward. Just start looking at products for the stitching methods they are using for heavy use bags and such. As easy as fixing a flat tire.
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Bought an old Singer decades ago at a garage sale for under $5 and at another garage sale a couple years ago I bought a post-WW2 Japanese sewing machine that zig zags for under $5 that only needed an hour of cleaning and lubrication.

The difficulty is finding convenient fabric sources. In the 1970s, many camping stores stocked various grades of nylon but now you have to order it over the internet and you don't really know what you are getting until it arrives.
I am so glad that people (including men) have gotten out of sewing so much utility and pleasure-not to mention saving much $$$$$. While good fabric, along with basic sewing machines are becoming harder to locate (the same could be said for bicycles), don't give up!
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Old 09-28-11, 12:04 AM   #10
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I started sewing as a hobby in conjunction with my cycling back when I was a young teenager. I sewed my own cycling jerseys because I couldn't afford (or didn't like) the commercial jerseys available at the time.

I have 6 sewing machines that I use on a regular basis (straight stitch only, zig-zag, embroidery stitch machine with cams, and 3 different sergers) plus a collection of quite a few "collectable" machines I couldn't pass up.

There is an abundance of excellent quality vintage sewing machines available at relatively cheap prices. Some of the finest machines ever made were produced from about 1950 until the mid 1960's. Since then the machines have been decreasing in quality by comparison.

You won't appreciate the difference between a $100.00 new machine until you sew on a $100.00 vintage machine from the 50's. I know the new machine won't last 60 weeks of hard use, let alone 60 years. There is a lot more to stitch quality than just holding two pieces of material together.
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Old 09-28-11, 12:24 AM   #11
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My Singer is a 1961 model 403a that I picked up from an elderly fellow who shared my name... it was his machine and he had owned it since new and it had been maintained so well you may have thought it was just taken out of the box.

These are some of the finest sewing machines ever made and according the folks who run the Singer shop, these older machines are better than the current commercial models due to the very high level of workmanship.

I will probably never wear it out and it will stitch almost anything.
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Old 09-29-11, 04:07 AM   #12
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My Singer is a 1961 model 403a that I picked up from an elderly fellow who shared my name... it was his machine and he had owned it since new and it had been maintained so well you may have thought it was just taken out of the box.

These are some of the finest sewing machines ever made and according the folks who run the Singer shop, these older machines are better than the current commercial models due to the very high level of workmanship.

I will probably never wear it out and it will stitch almost anything.
I have a Singer 401 that is one of my main go-to machines if I want anything more than a straight stitch. I think that by the early 1960's Singer had reached the pinnacle of their engineering and produced the epitome of what a home sewing machine should be. After the 400 and 500 series machines I think quality started slipping in favor of lower prices. New sewing machines back in the day were crazy expensive. Thousands of dollars, adjusted for inflation.

I think I paid less than $80.00 recently for my mint 401 and it was in a beautiful cabinet that looked virtually unused. I wouldn't buy a new plastic made in China machine when these classic workhorses are so readily available. New isn't always better.

I like my 401 so much I vectorized it into an art poster for myself and to give to some of my sewing friends.

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Old 09-29-11, 04:33 AM   #13
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Well I haven't sewn a stitch on a machine. OTOH I have designed and made a pattern for Connie's final school Year Dance dress; and I have re-wound the motor on her Bernina sewing machine when it shorted out. So I guess I am not totally out there.
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Old 09-29-11, 08:12 AM   #14
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http://www.ecrater.com/p/1349223/sai...1-walking-foot

I wouldnt mind finding one like that ...much cheaper of course :-)

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Old 09-29-11, 09:03 AM   #15
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I have a Singer 401 that is one of my main go-to machines if I want anything more than a straight stitch. I think that by the early 1960's Singer had reached the pinnacle of their engineering and produced the epitome of what a home sewing machine should be. After the 400 and 500 series machines I think quality started slipping in favor of lower prices. New sewing machines back in the day were crazy expensive. Thousands of dollars, adjusted for inflation.

I think I paid less than $80.00 recently for my mint 401 and it was in a beautiful cabinet that looked virtually unused. I wouldn't buy a new plastic made in China machine when these classic workhorses are so readily available. New isn't always better.

I like my 401 so much I vectorized it into an art poster for myself and to give to some of my sewing friends.
I paid 100.00 for mine with it's immaculate cabinet and the wife has a 500 series so we can share cams... have been collecting these and other accessories for quite some time and our collection of top hat cams is nearly complete. My local dealer has tons of cams and have picked up quite a few from them.
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Old 09-29-11, 10:16 AM   #16
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How do you find the model of the old Singer machines. I got mine from an old man who didn't speak English. He was living in Mpls. but used to work in Germany at the Singer factory. He would find old machines and fix them up. I got mine with the cabinet for $100. I see a number on it, AJ99 something but no model number. It does have a metal decal that says Singer 1851 -1951.
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Old 09-29-11, 10:35 AM   #17
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I leave my sewing, cooking and surgeries to the experts.
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Old 09-29-11, 11:04 AM   #18
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How do you find the model of the old Singer machines. I got mine from an old man who didn't speak English. He was living in Mpls. but used to work in Germany at the Singer factory. He would find old machines and fix them up. I got mine with the cabinet for $100. I see a number on it, AJ99 something but no model number. It does have a metal decal that says Singer 1851 -1951.
Sometimes Singer model numbers aren't clearly marked on all machines. I guess Singer went to the Campagnolo school for labeling your products. If you attach a photo I can probably identify the machine.
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Old 10-01-11, 11:42 AM   #19
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I found it by Googling using the number on the metal label. Thanks though. It is a 1950 and strong as an ox.
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Old 10-02-11, 09:19 PM   #20
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Sometimes you much consider whether or not to fix or throw it away and buy new as I have done. My 18 year old much used White Sewing Machines would have cost more than half the price of a new one. So Hello Kitty it is. I do wish most everything else which resides and used in my home is as easy to locate an excellent-and honest-mechanic as the bicycle industry own mechanics seems to take for granted (a crooked one or someone who does not know what he/she is doing would not last very long).

For more information on deciding whether to fix or toss: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/video-hub/appliances/other-appliances/should-you-repair-or-replace-a-broken-appliance/16548701001/1069387732001/

I do hope in the future that I will be able to buy an straight lock stitch only industrial machine as their parts are easy to just pull out and replace when the time comes-not throw out the whole unit like home domestic sewing machines generally are. Below is an example of an industrial sewing machine and it's separate 1/2-3/4 HP motor plus it's specialized table I used in an sample making room when I was sewing in the now mostly defunct fashion, apparel, or home soft furnishings industry (I really miss using it). I could sew most anything I wanted to-especially bike bags-with that type of heavy duty machine so quickly without fear. For all of you that are curious, this is probably the machine type used to make the bags you buy ready made for your bike or just for using yourself:
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File Type: jpg Juki Industrial Sewing Machine.jpg (81.8 KB, 10 views)

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Old 10-03-11, 10:26 AM   #21
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Since I live in wooden boat heaven here, there are industrial sewing machines that were used for sail making coming up for sale quite often.
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Old 10-03-11, 10:43 AM   #22
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But mine is a folder! And little too.
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Old 10-03-11, 11:25 AM   #23
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But mine is a folder! And little too.

Loving the painting in the background!
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Old 10-04-11, 09:30 AM   #24
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My mother's was a 'portable'. You could tell because the case had a handle on it. It weighed a ton and was an old Singer. I don't know what happened to it.
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Old 10-04-11, 09:41 AM   #25
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Doesn't Popeil make a pocket sewing machine,? they got the 'pocket fisherman' covered, already.
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