A recent visitor wrote:
I am with a small clothing company and we are looking to buy a coverstitch machine for sample making. Can you suggest any machines? Should it be an industrial machine or do you think we could use a home machine? We were looking at a few models, the Juki MO-735, Singer 14T967 DC, Elna 744, and Janome CP1000, as well as an industrial Kansai Special Coverstitch machine. Also, do you know if a blind stitch machine works on knits?
I passed this question off to Gigi who is the ideal person to respond since she started out as a home sewer and learned all about industrials the hard way. You remember Gigi, no? She wrote Industrial sewing machines pt 2 here on F-I -which you may want to review along with pt 1. With respect to the question at hand, Gigi says:
First, I’ll say that I wouldn’t recommend that you buy a home machine. You will pay nearly as much as you would for a good used industrial machine. Stitch quality and fabric handling is far superior with an industrial machine. I’ve owned three domestic coverstitch machines (an Elna and two Berninas) and, while I loved and used them often, my industrial coverstitch is far better and much less fussy. Additionally, industrial machines retain their value – home machines do not. If, a few years down the road, you decide you no longer need the coverstitch it will be easy to resell at a good price. I own a Kansai Special coverstitch, which I love. It is very easy to use and sews beautifully on all sorts of knits – even the softer, thinner rayon/lycras that are so popular. If this will be your only coverstitch, I’d recommend a flatbed machine which will be able to accept a binder, downturn feller and belt loop/strap folder to name a few. If you are looking at used machines, you may find that many of them have had their top cover looper removed (or broken off). This may or may not be important to you. You can always have it repaired at a later date should you decide you’d like to have a top cover.
With regard to the blindstitch machine, I am assuming you mean a true blindstitch with a curved needle. Yes, it will work beautifully on knits. The way the blindstitch is formed makes it naturally slightly elastic – perfect for dressier knits. On this dress (below), I’ve used the blindstitch machine to finish both the neckline and the hems. It’s a fast, easy finish that doesn’t detract from the elegance of the garment.
Speaking of Gigi and industrials, don’t miss her blog. She has several entries on machines complete with succinct tutorials. For example, in a recent entry she talks about the new flatbed Kansai Special W8103-D she bought (and mentions above). In another entry, Gigi warns you that just because a seller says the machine is an industrial, doesn’t mean that it is and provides an example of an ordinary home machine that was not so “cleverly disguised” as an industrial walking foot.
Other entries you may find useful on her site are tips for coverstitching over serged seams, an entry on block fusing and how to effect a decorative elastic finish. One of her most recent entries is about a new bobbin winder she acquired, a custom made job. It’s awesome but I wish she’d mentioned what it cost. The bobbin winders you get from suppliers start at about $800 although if you’re cheap like me, you can make a rough but serviceable winder by cannibalizing a walmart hand mixer and mounting it to a block of wood.
Lastly, Gigi is available for consulting if you need help with machine selection. She’s very reasonable and I’d heartily recommend her. Email her for more info.