Mr. Fashion-Incubator got a new whiz bang camera which we played with last weekend. Like many cameras these days, it also shoots short video segments. We thought a good sample video would be to show the difference between the sewing operation of a needle feed machine (the one I bought recently) versus a regular straight stitch machine. With the video, our intent was to show three things:
- The needle feed action
- Machine speed
- Machine noise level
Needle feed action
Many people were curious about how this machine worked and why it offered advantages over a regular machine. On the needle feed, the needle moves to and from as well as up and down. The other is a normal machine in which the needle only moves up and down. Both machines are industrial machines, so novices can gauge the quiet and controlled operation of both. In this clip, the needle feed has a white Teflon foot that is useful for leather and velvets.
This is shot in real time, it’s not slow motion. I ran the machine as slowly as possible so those who fear the runaway speed of industrial machines can realize their fears are for naught. In the video you’ll see I’m just chug chug chugging along.
Machine noise level
The machine noise is barely perceptible yet with the camera microphone so close, it is amplified. It wasn’t until we got home and in the process of editing that we learned how good the microphone was in that it picked up a lot of ambient noise. Duly noted for next time.
Both of these machines have servo motors with electronic controls versus the noisy clutch motors that are traditionally known in production sewing. These machines are easier to control with regard to speed, use less power and are much quieter. Although it is not evident in the clip, my home sewing machine is noisier than either of these two machines. The servo motors are programmable; you can program automatic back and end tacking with a variety of configurations and my favorite, automatic thread trimming. Like I said before, I thought automatic thread trimming was only for wusses but I never want to buy another machine without it again.
Benefits of a needle feed machine
The reasons to consider a needle feed machine are myriad. These are new (to me), I haven’t worked in a facility where these were used as a matter of course. I had a friend who swore by these, all of his were needle feeds. He used to sew athletic jerseys made of that very light nylon mesh material with holes in it (don’t know the official name of the fabric). Needle feeds are good for any material that needs a little help. Everything from slippery light dress weights to piled fabrics (velvet, why I got it) and even garment weight leathers (walking foot machines used to sew heavier leathers are also needle feeds).
If you’re having a problem feeding materials and want to know if one of these machines will solve your problems, the best thing to do is to send samples of your fabrics to a machine dealer and let them do a test sew for you. They’ll ship the sewn samples back so you can compare for yourself. The only thing I would have done differently would have been to cut the fabric sample strips to exact lengths. It would have been easier to judge whether the machine fed them evenly.
If you decide to buy the machine, ask that they set the machine up for you. Also ask what they did differently to set it up in case you need to reset the machine. In the case of the velvet samples I sent, the mechanic reduced the foot pressure a significant amount. So, if I decide to use the machine for something else, I’ll know to increase the pressure if the machine isn’t forming a quality stitch.
If you’ve never purchased an industrial, these are easy to set up. These days, all you do is unwrap it (after unbolting it from the pallet). The thread stand is the only thing you need to connect, the rest is good to go. Do go through the manual to cover your bases making sure the machine has adequate oil etc.
Oh, one last word and that is power. If it’s a new machine with a servo motor, there’s a switch on the motor so you can change it over to either 110 or 220. Have them set this for you depending on your needs. You also need to ask about amperage. My Adler runs on 110 but specifies a 20 amp circuit. Many circuits are only rated for 15 amps. Newer places have 20 amp circuits but the plugs on a 20 amp machine don’t match the outlet. The work around is to change out the receptacle to match the machine plug and to not put anything else on that circuit. Out of curiosity, we tested the load on both machines. Although the Adler specifies a 20 amp circuit, the most it drew was 5 amps at top speed. But that’s the Germans for you, they’ll over engineer everything. Not that I’m complaining, better safe than sorry. I doubt you’ll have the difficulties I did with setting up the Adler (the regular feed machine). It’s at least ten years older than the needle feed.