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sewing machine hack

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  • sewing machine hack

    OK, My interests have lead me to joining a Yahoo quilting group ( My brother-in-laws have already made fun of me for this ) because I've been designing a quilting machine for my mother. I am designing the frame to be made on my homemade CNC router. In researching the use of these types of machines I've come across some information on "stretching" a singer model 66 sewing machine to extend the harp distance and turn it into a long arm machine. The pictures that I have seen look like the machine was cut in half and then put back together with some filler pieces and some extensions on the linkages of the machine. Since production long arm machines cost many thousands of dollars and vintage model 66's in the hundreds if they are in good condition, it seemed like worthy use of my time to modify one of these machines for my mom. Anybody ever do this? By the way, the model 66 was made for many years and it was made of metal, I'm told that some people just cut them and welded or brazed filler pieces in to extend the harp.

    I was also admiring a cnc controlled quilter and thinking wow! If I could extend the harp to one of these machines inthe neighborhood of 3-4 feet, I could put it in a similar X,Ymechanism as my CNC router and make a small CNC quilter.

    Thanks for your help...again

  • #2
    Don't think you'd realy -need- a model 66, seems like any of the metal machines would work, I actually own three sewing machines, two singers, an old 'cam' type 400 model, (drop in cam to provide various 'fancy' stitches) used mostly for leather work,(tough machine) and an old hand cranked style the hand cranked I just looked at and it could be easily extended, only two bars on the bottom driving the feed and bobbin carrier, and I think there's only one in the top.

    The old hand cranked has what looks to be nearly 3/16 thick iron in the base, it's old, but has untapped holes for a motor and light, and the groove for a belt, so it's not ancient.

    The hand cranked one is normally used on the boat for emergency sewing, but it's not deep enough to reach the center of the main, so you have me saying HMMMMM.....



    • #3
      "Since production long arm machines cost many thousands of dollars"

      The cheapest real longarms are around $6,000 for a Gammill mid-arm. My wife is a long arm quilter, we have a 12' foot long full-sized beast consuming our ex-living room:

      Things you'll have to be careful about:

      1) The machine head runs on 2 sets of wheels and rails. One axis is down the length of the machine and allows lateral movement. The other axis is "to and fro", if you will. If the machine doesn't move like buttah it will be hard to use.

      2) long-arm quilting machines have a stitch regulator that makes all the stitches the same length no matter how fast the operator is moving the head. You can do without this, but it takes a lot more skill.

      3) usually there is a 2nd set of handles and controls at the back of the machine. This 'station' is used when templates are being followed.

      There are CNC packages for long-arm quiiting machines. One example is the 'Statler Stitcher' (sp?). It is about $14,000 by itself. The machinery is what you'd expect (servos and those toothy belts) but the software is excellent.

      If you can produce and market a computer-controlled long-arm quilting machine (a real production machine, not a toy) for, say, $20,000 versus the $30,000 for a Statler-enriched Gammill, you can retire. It sure seems do-able to me, but no one has done it yet.

      A common and relatively inexpensive product is a frame and a platform to mount a normal sewing machine. This gives you small-throat quilting capability and all the sewing features of a normal machine. I don't know anyone who uses one, my guess is that it would be a PITA.


      • #4
        Originally posted by tony ennis
        "Since production long arm machines cost many thousands of dollars"

        The cheapest real longarms are around $6,000 for a Gammill mid-arm. My wife is a long arm quilter, we have a 12' foot long full-sized beast consuming our ex-living room:
        So she should be pretty understanding if you want a lathe in the living room too right?



        • #5
          yeah, metal shaving and fabric. Perfect together!


          • #6
            I do occasional upholstery work in cars but I'd never admit to joining a sewing club.

            Tony - That reminds me of my X's use of our formal living room. No furniture--Just gym equipment.


            • #7
              I had a frame design mostly worked out then I saw the pictures of the stretched singer. I've never taken a sewing machine apart, so I thought I'd ask first. There is a company not too far from me that makes their own machine from copied singer mechanisms made in foreign lands, but I doubt they would be willing to show me how they do it.

              PS, I joined a couple more metals groups and bought a #3 arbor press just to raise my self esteem.


              • #8
                I've never understand the sometimes strange atitude some people have to men sewing, it is, after all just another skill. Traditionally it was monks who did the fine church needlework, sailors & fishermen made their own clothes a well as sails & nets.
                As a child I learned sewing from my Mum, carpentry from my Dad, gardening from one Grandfather & an interest in things mechanical from the other.
                I have learned to accept the inevitable piss taking whenever I produce a piece of sewing & if you associate with submariners & bikers you have the urine extracted by experts! The attitude changes when a badge is needed on a No.1 uniform, or the favourite leathers need repair.
                I have 2 machines, a 29K patcher & a Singer treadle bought for 10/- (25c) 40 years ago, however most of my sewing is by hand, I am currently on my 4th patchwork quilt (1.125" squares, nearly 4000 to make a decent sized double quilt)
                More of my 'sewing' activity here,
                here, and here.

                Last edited by old-biker-uk; 01-07-2008, 02:05 PM.
                What you say & what people hear is not always the same thing.


                • #9
                  Nobody made fun of Rosie Grier either, he did embroidery.

                  I'll come out and say I got two sewing machines. I too have looked at stretching one.

                  The stretched industrial ones sell for good money.. it is a thick aluminum casting and could be tig welded.
                  Excuse me, I farted.


                  • #10
                    I've never had an issue with men sewing, sewing is a usefull skill, done hundreds of sewing projects, bike seats, auto interiors, sails and a lot of other stuff, not to mention hundreds of emergency repairs, I also keep sewing kits in my work truck, and with my camping gear.

                    Got to thinking about it last night, why couldn't you cut a couple big C's out of suitable plate, weld in bulkheads then mount the mechanism of an old heavy duty machine inside of that, or fabricate something out of tubular stock. Would enable you to build the machine as stiff as you'd like, and as deep as you'd need. On my old hand cranker,(assumed to be representative) the mechanism at the needle end is all mounted on a flat bulkhead, the drive end from what I can see looks the same, everything on the bottom is mounted using cast in ears and pads, simple project for the home machinist I'd say.

                    All I can think of at present is a bead roller or a small english wheel type frame with suitable depth and clearance to match intended use.



                    • #11
                      i was scared i was the only one

                      I too am a member of the "my wife is a quilter" support group

                      When do we meet to lament the cost of fabric and why she needs more of it?

                      (I looked in to making a longarm quilter for a long time, there is really not a lot to it, CNC is virtually worthless IMO but stitch regulator is a requirement)


                      • #12
                        Hey bout some detailed "machine pictures" of that beast....

                        In a family of quilters, the building of a succesful stitch regulated longarm would make me a king amongst kings....every dinner would be made, every tool purchase approved

                        Ahh the dreams.

                        Stitch terms that it's been explained to me.

                        Pick up a pencil and draw a picture, always moving your hand at the same speed.

                        Now, the pencil is stationary and you have to move the paper, always at the same speed, and have just as pretty of a picture.


                        • #13
                          I'll post more pics, but it is the wife's machine and she would kill me if I took it apart.

                          CNC is virtually worthless IMO
                          It's not, actually. Having a quilt quilted is expensive, depending on how dense and complex the quilting pattern. Most quilters just want a simple pattern, not heirloom work. For this, the CNC (Statler thing mentioned earlier) is a God-send. It works well. You use the machine head as an input device to mark the corners of the block or row of blocks and the software scales and skews the pattern as appropriate. A little math shows the Statler will pay for itself before too long as long as the business is there, and as far as we can tell, it is. The wife was doing free-hand heirloom jobs while in her downtime the son was doing easy stipples and following patterns (he was playing human Statler, lol.) He makes as much per hour and works less hard.

                          Now, if you want CNC for heirloom stuff, fergit it. The end result will look amazing to the novice but will have a cold sterile look to those in the know. Or you'll have to babysit it so much you might as well just do it yourself.

                          When do we meet to lament the cost of fabric and why she needs more of it?
                          I solved this problem by getting a lathe.

                          Stitch terms that it's been explained to me.
                          Tie the up-and-down movement of the needle with the movement speed of the head's wheels. No movement - no stitching. Move very fast, stitch very fast. Basically, the wheels have digital encoders on them so it knows how far and fast it's moving.


                          • #14
                            I think the babysitting was my biggest fear....and you state it well, for our use, even as a family and close friend machine, a longarm with stitch regulator is plenty of machine. If however she was doing work for other people, CNC becomes important...


                            • #15
                              WOW!!! i have an attic full of old sewing machines, from about 1871 to the present. they are almost as cool as old Brown & Sharpe horizontal milling machines. heck, i made almost my entire Civil War uniform, as well as a ton of other junk around the house. nothing wrong with guys who know how to sew.

                              first, i don't get the "CNC quilting". well, i guess i do if you need to make 20 of them in a hurry. i remember my mom setting up her "CNC quilting" station in the family room. my dad built it from 2x4s and C-clamps. a bunch of ladies would come over and blab all night and sew some squares.

                              second, i saw a few suggestions about just cutting the machine in half and mounting the pieces on a big C to extend it. while that is a nice idea, i think you need to actually look at a real sewing machine (not one of those crazy CNC quilters). there is a mechanical linkage between the needle and the bobbin/shuttle to keep them in time. the needle is in the top of the machine, the shuttle is in the bottom. while you can certainly mount the machine head in one half of a giant C, and mount the bottom containing the shuttle in the other half, trying to devise a linkage to keep all of that in time will require some careful work.

                              if i was going to experiment with this project, i would look for a Singer 66, 99 or 15. just look on fleabay for the cheapest local one you can find. you should be able to get just the machine itself with half the decals worn off for under $20, probably under $10 if you watch for a week.

                              andy b.
                              The danger is not that computers will come to think like men - but that men will come to think like computers. - some guy on another forum not dedicated to machining