Sunday, January 17, 2016

Industrial Strength

Since the sewing machine garage sale I've been in touch with Tess who has been trying her best to fill orders for her hand made dog collars. Business is booming but her sewing machines have been giving her problems. The lovely little Kenmore 148-273 in a compact desk went home with her but, even though she loves it, there were problems with the heavy materials she was working with:

Kenmore 148-273
The belt kept slipping, stitches weren't quite what she had hoped for, and there were many emails back and forth while we tried to make this work. Finally I loaned her my Singer 201-2 since she needed something more heavy duty. I did advise her to seek out an industrial sewing machine since she needed piercing power for the nylon webbing and even sent a few links to local models for sale. I was trying to take a look at one, the Consew CP-206R but couldn't get the seller to answer back. Now I know why: Tess got there before me and bought it. Way to go Tess! There were still problems and I didn't know anything about this machine so I wasn't much help until I saw another ad for the same model. What? Was Tess trying to sell hers? Nope, another one came up for sale and I got it:

Consew CP 206R
It came in a portable case, something of a rarity for an industrial sewing machine, just perfect for the occasional user. I shied away from industrial's since they usually came with big, heavy tables with large motors than are mounted underneath. But I keep getting inquiries from people who would like to buy one so now I'm ready to start exploring at least this portable model.
Walking foot mechanism on back of the presser foot
The Consew CP 206R is a straight stitch with reverse walking foot sewing machine that does only one thing but does it so well. I downloaded a free manual but was scared to start stitching. There were warnings about throwing off the timing if you don't start the stitches right so I was very careful...but still got knots and loops of thread underneath. I stopped and got back in touch with Tess. She already had her's serviced and the man showed her how to use it. Well, I wasn't going to do that since I had the receipt for recent service on mine, I just needed to know how to get it started. Online videos were suggested so I watched portions of a very long one that gave me some good tips:
  1. Start with threads pulled out the back and hold them there.
  2. Put needle into fabric then lower presser foot.
  3. Move handwheel to make the first couple of stitches.
  4. With take up lever high up but in the decending position (going down) put foot on the foot control and give it some gas.
  5. Let the machine start and sew without me moving the handwheel: do not touch it!
That's what worked for me; apparently, if you get your hand in there to assist the handwheel you can mess it up. Now it stitched! It's pretty loud and feels stiff but I got it to stitch with the very heavy thread that came with it. Now I just needed a project to work on.

Back of Consew with black bars of the walking foot mechanism
I remembered a set of heavy fabric placemats that I had started on so I got them out of my UFO (UnFinished Objects) storage and gave them a try. I didn't like the look of the heavy black thread so I tried some khaki colored thread that matched the thread I used on the one I had already quilted. It worked! On the first one I had used a quilting bar that measured the correct distance but there was no place to insert the bar with the walking foot on the Consew.  I ended up drawing stitch lines with marking chalk/soap and it went much faster. I couldn't tell the first one made on a regular sewing machine and those made with the industrial sewing machine. I added the bias binding and then hand-stitched it on the reverse side:
Yup, even camouflage on the table
Did they turn out better? Nope: they all look exactly the same. Was it easier? Maybe just a touch but what I noticed was when I came to the intersection of stitches it sailed right over them, no puckering or hesitation. Maybe this wasn't that heavy of a project but the camouflage fabric is canvas-like so with the batting and heavy backing fabric it was heavy enough to cause my regular sewing machines to labor. I'm very happy to put these placemats in my Etsy shop and I notified the person who requested them (sorry it took me ten months to get them done!) and now maybe I won't have to shy away from using heavy fabrics and projects like this. I'll keep it for awhile and when someone wants to buy one of my sewing machines for their heavy projects I can ask "Would you like to see the portable industrial sewing machine I have for sale?" I can speak more knowledgeably than just you-need-an-industrial-sewing-machine response. Honestly, I had about six people in the past year who might have bought this machine...but maybe I'll keep it.

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