Turn Your Home Sewing Machine Into a Commercial Workhorse

By: Modhomeecteacher May 05, 2010

created at: 05/05/2010

First of all, notice my aqua Singer, circa 1970's, that I found a couple of months ago at the Salvation Army Superstore for $10.00. Serviced and cleaned up, it's one of my favorites. Now, on to the matter at hand; one drawback to sewing home furnishings with a lightweight machine is that it's difficult to get the durability you need from plain old All Purpose thread. What you really need to get the job done right is a true commercial machine that will accept upholstery weight thread. Sewing machines designed for home use, especially inexpensive new machines, aren't set up to handle upholstery weight thread. However, there is a trick I learned from a talented costume seamstress/Hancock Fabric Assistant Manager. Here's what you can do to get strong durable seams and professional looking topstitching using your home machine.

↓ Continue reading

1. Thread the top of the machine with upholstery weight thread and use All Purpose thread in the bobbin

2.  Use a heavy duty needle in the machine. I use either a needle made for denim/jeans or leather. The eye is larger so it won't fray the upholstery thread

Check out the difference that heavier thread makes on this canvas topstitching.

1/2" seam allowance on a canvas strip

created at: 05/05/2010

Topstitching with All Purpose thread in both the top and the bobbin

created at: 05/05/2010

Upholstery weight thread in the top and All Purpose thread in the bobbin

created at: 05/05/2010

I didn't even change the tension on my machine. This may not work on all home sewing machines but it's worth a try if you need to do heavy weight sewing.

One other obstacle to sewing heavy weight upholstery fabric on a home machine is that the presser foot only raises so far. Depending on how thick your fabric is, it can be impossible to get double and triple layers of heavy upholstery fabric to move through the machine.

 

 

Tagged : , , , , , , , , , ,

7285 views | Comments (8)

Comments

What machines are you using? does anyone use the Singer 401, for this kind of work?

Can someone recommend a good machine that could do some upholstery (not often, but enough to make new cushions for outdoor furniture that I'll be selling at garage sales, etc) and embroidery?

Icon_missing_thumb
To add to Tricia Rose's great advice- This only applies to sewing unseen seams. It doesn't apply to top stiching for a decorative effect. Heavy weight thread on top with something lighter in the bobbin works great when used along with a heavy duty, large eyed, denim/leather needle. The second run through Tricia mentioned does make it stronger. However, if you flip your fabric for the second trip it adds even more strength because now you have the same strength on both sides. Also, if you want to try using heavy weight thread in the bobbin, and some home use machines can handle it, just pay better attention when preparing your bobbin. If you add extra tension to keep it as tight as possible it can reduce the risks of a problem. The main problem most people have with heavy weight thread on a bobbin is a result of the thread being to loose because it is so thick. I hope this is helpful. My family has been in the upholstery, drapery, and furniture business since 1933. My mother and grandmother did all their work on home model machines until the early 70's when they finally bought an industrial walking foot Consew machine. But to this day, my mother does most work on her home models and I do almost all upholstery on the Consew. However I still use home models on occasion. Most can handle it. Yeah,they have issues. But if you just sew for yourself you can get through them. It just takes a little extra attention and time. If you are tired of trying to get it to work you don't have to buy an industrial machine. SINGER makes two excellent heavy duty home models that sell for around $200. I have one and use it often. Plus, it even works great on any light weight projects too. And no, I don't work for Singer.

Thanks so much!  You just prevented from completely giving up on a project that I am halfway through.  :)

That's right Amy. Thanks for reminding me.

To sew thick layers you can try dropping the feed dog if you are good at pacing the speed of movement of the fabric under the needle.  It takes a little practice and it's not something I would want to do for a long seam, but for short sections it's doable.

I agree. But my thought is that at least one side of the chain is strong. Sewing twice is obviously the best solution. The upholstery thread makes me feel secure.

Congratulations on your sturdy little Singer!   I truly believe the old machines are better engineered than some of the newer ones - it's like the difference between driving a reliable old good car, and a clunker.

I sew from home too, and yes without a professional machine it is hard to sew heavy duty fabrics, but I don't see how using upholstery thread on one side only is going to make your sewing all that much stronger.  Maybe it will help with stretching but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and if the bottom thread snaps with use, your seam is compromised.  It does give a handsome top stitch though.

For safely if I need a seam to be very strong, I sew it twice.  It's a pain, but my old granny is looking down from heaven telling me it's worth the effort.

» All comments
» Comments RSS

To help stop SPAM, please follow the directions in the graphic below: