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question about an industrial type sewing machine

My 13 yr old grandson Billy and his dad have been busy designing and making leather sheaths for hunting knives that they hope to sell at a local flea market.  So far the dad has been stitching these by hand, but that is taking its toll on him, plus it is way too slow.  He asked me for my opinion on what kind of a sewing machine would work to sew through as many as 3 layers of leather.  I told him I would ask on this forum to see if anyone has any suggestions although I did tell him he would need to use a needle specifically for sewing through leather.  The dad is disabled due to losing half of his left leg almost 4 yrs ago in a motorcycle accident and the case has never been settled so he is hoping to find a way to make some extra money on the side so he doesn't have very much money to spend.  

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Comment by Joan on March 19, 2015 at 6:47pm

Thanks, P.Q.!  I really enjoyed watching Bruce Cheaney work, and learned a lot about sewing machines with the other video.   And your overhearing the repairman at the LQS confirms it.  Good stuff to know, I just need to look up Servo motors now, LOL!

Comment by Janet/MO on March 19, 2015 at 5:28pm

Thanks for all the help everyone.  I believe the thickness will be right around 1/4" so I would certainly think an industrial machine would be best.  He did tell me that he found an old Singer still in the cabinet at the same flea market where he wants to sell these sheaves, but I don't know enough about them to know if it would be worth the $150 the seller was asking for it.   Even though he & my daughter are no longer together, he & I have always had a pretty decent relationship so I would really like to see him be able to do this.  I would think he might be eligible for some sort of grant because of his leg too.  Would be worth checking in to anyway.  

Comment by Prairie Quilter Jan/NE on March 19, 2015 at 4:38pm

Janet,  I was in a quilt shop today when a woman brought in her "industrial" sewing machine to the repairman.  She'd been sewing leather with it (although she said it wasn't thick leather).  It was skipping stitches.  I admit to eavesdropping.   He admonished her about sewing any type of leather on a domestic sewing machine.  He was emphatic about recommending a leather sewing machine in order to sew leather.  (Lest you think he was trying to sell her a machine, this shop does not deal in leather sewing machines. He's just repaired too many domestic machines, even the "heavy duty" ones.)  I learned something, because I've always read that the heavy duty  machines were made to handle some types of leather.  I guess it must depend on the thickness and weight of the leather (suedes, etc.)  and how often one sews with it.

Hope this helps.  

Comment by MaryAgnes/NYC on March 19, 2015 at 10:47am

Why don't you suggest he speak with local shoe repair people?  They might be able to steer him in the right direction.

Comment by Mary S. on March 19, 2015 at 8:10am

How about an old treadle machine?  I used one to sew car upholstery and a head liner for an old car.  The needle for sewing leather is essential or the stitching line will tear out. 

Comment by Prairie Quilter Jan/NE on March 19, 2015 at 7:35am

http://www.tolindsewmach.com/cowboy.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8-BiTxDhOo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYo2ST0m7f8

There are a number of dedicated leather sewing machines on the market.  They are an investment, but if this is a new career move for him (a way to support himself for a long-term business), it would at least be worth looking into and discussing the options.  It might not be feasible for a hobby.  

Hope these links help a little bit.  

Comment by Janet/MO on March 19, 2015 at 7:11am

Thanks for that link Enid.  Also, thanks for the suggestion B J.  I will pass these on to him.  

Comment by B J Elder/WA on March 19, 2015 at 7:08am

eBay is always a good place to look for things. There are machines out there, and I am sure some older ones that still work great but aren't overly costly.  What a great project/business.

Comment by enid wellman on March 19, 2015 at 6:42am

http://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/consew-CP206R.php.  Don't know what kind of money he would have to invest, but this looks like it would do the job.

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