The Sewing Place

Machine recommendations for soft furnishings/light upholstery

Nuke

Machine recommendations for soft furnishings/light upholstery
« on: August 16, 2017, 12:10:53 PM »
I haven't used my sewing machine in years, it's in the loft and was given to me second-hand about 30 years ago so would like to invest in a new one.  I would like to make my own curtains, cushions, and do some light upholstery. There are so many machines to choose from these days that I find it quite mind boggling. Can anyone recommend a machine which would suit my requirements. What machines are you using and how are you finding them for this type of sewing? I would be grateful for any advice. Many thanks.   -<  :sew:

b15erk

Re: Machine recommendations for soft furnishings/light upholstery
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2017, 12:21:29 PM »
With modern machines it really is a case of 'you get what you pay for'.

It really may be a good idea to get your old machine out of the loft, and ask around on here to see if it is worth investing a bit of time and money on it.

Lots of us have gone back to older machines as they have excellent quality stitches, and are very reliable.

I'm sure someone will be on here with recommendations for new machines.

My advice would be, if you don't want to use your old machine, look for a re-conditioned one from either a good bricks and mortar shop, or a recommended internet supplier - you will get more for your money.

Good luck whatever you decide to do.

Jessie
Jessie, who is very happy to be here!!  :),  but who has far too many sewing machines to be healthy, and a fabric stash which is becoming embarrassing.

SkoutSews

Re: Machine recommendations for soft furnishings/light upholstery
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2017, 15:01:47 PM »
I'd echo that.  Don't write off your old machine without considering what you're hoping to gain from buying a new one and weighing that up against what you already have.  There's always plenty of advice on older machines available on this forum.

Having said that, if you're wanting to buy new and are looking for recommendations, this https://www.johnlewis.com/janome-excel-decor-5024-sewing-machine/p231340607 is what I bought four or five years ago when my old machine packed in.  It's sewn curtains, blinds, clothing and more without any trouble.  On one blind it even went through 5 layers of thick jacquard upholstery fabric without noticing.  I decided to go for a good mechanical machine and avoid computerised models, but that was my choice.

I did think it had a problem a few months after I'd bought it and took it back to the shop.  It turned out to be operator error (not an unusual occurrence in this house!).  The assistant told me that she knew it wouldn't have been the machine as they never get problems with that model.

Vegegrow

Re: Machine recommendations for soft furnishings/light upholstery
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2017, 15:26:47 PM »
As the others have said its a good idea to have a closer look at your old machine..  tell us what it is.. and we can recommend somewhere to have it serviced spending on that will be a lot cheaper than a quality new machine
there is a recommended supplier thread on the forum
I have always used PFAFF machines because I like the IDT which feeds the fabric through evenly top and bottom  but we all have our favourites
get your old machine out and give it a go.. you can spend the money you save on fabric  :loveit:
"The only place where housework comes before needlework is in the dictionary." ~Mary Kurtz

maliw

Re: Machine recommendations for soft furnishings/light upholstery
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2017, 17:52:31 PM »
Hello and welcome to the forum. I agree with what everyone else has said about machine, you certainly don't need one with all the 'bells and whistles' if all you are going to do is straight sewing. Good luck deciding what to get.
At leisure on the leisure penninsula

BrendaP

Re: Machine recommendations for soft furnishings/light upholstery
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2017, 20:27:50 PM »
Welcome to The Sewing Place.

I too agree with all the others - have a look at your existing machine, and tell us what it is, before deciding to part with it.

For curtains and upholstery you need a sturdy machine but it doesn't have to have many bells and whistles.  A machine which was second hand thirty years ago may well be as good, if not better, than a brand spanking new one unless you go really high-end.
Brenda.  My machines are: Caroline a Singer 201K-3 born 1940, Thirza a Featherweight 221K born 1949, Azilia a Singer 201K born 1957 and Vera, a Husqvarna 350 SewEasy about 20 years old. Also Bernina 1150 overlocker and Elna 444 Coverstitcher.
http://paternoster.orpheusweb.co.uk/

Swisslass

Re: Machine recommendations for soft furnishings/light upholstery
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2017, 21:22:34 PM »
I do upholstery occasionally (and yes I'm a bernina fan) but my point being that my 800 (I think it's an 801 in the uk) is an old basic small bernina, it does straight stitch and zigzag only and it goes like a tank through everything, this machine cost me about £100.
I'd like to think I was inspired, but maybe sewing is just hard wired

arrow

Re: Machine recommendations for soft furnishings/light upholstery
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2017, 01:11:29 AM »
I have fixed up a Singer 201 from 1950 and it's my favorite machine to use. It's a flatbed in a small talbe and it's a joy to work on it. It makes it easy to maneuver large pices of uphostery fabric like chushion covers for chair and sofa seats. Uphostery and furnishings usually need top stitch thread or extra strength and the machine handles it fine.

Not all newer machines behaves well with heavier threads, regardless of tension setting, so you have to choose model carefully. My Bernina 730 as well as the older 530 will behave just as well as the 1970s 800 series mentioned. I have an Elna Supermatic that's suprisingly tough and relible, my point is mainly that an older machine can be every bit as good as a new one.

The difference is mostly various auto features computerised machines can add in plenty compared to mechanical machines. There are lots of nice models to choose from. The only features you will not find on the older models are 9 mm zigzag (actually I think some Japanese high shank machines from the 60 and 70 had something very close to it). Few have variable stitch width on stretchy stitches. I haven't seen one step buttonholers either, but there are buttonholer attachments with something very close to one step buttonholes.  Some kind of buttonholer feature are very common though.

Even if you take out your old  machine, clean, oil and sort it out, you can always go stest sew some new models. I can tell you, I was very surpiced at how well an old Bernina 730 compared to brand new top models a few years ago. The good ones are expensive and if you aren't looking for a particular feature there might not be that much to gain over a suitable vintage model.