Sewing Sunbrella® and Associated Myths
Sewing Sunbrella or other such fabrics for your boat, RV, awnings or lawn furniture can save a lot of hard earned money. Sunbrella, the fabric, is a densely woven treated acrylic material which is harder for the needle to penetrate than apparel or typical upholstery fabric. If you've tried on you home machine and it does not have the power don't throw it out. Send us an email, tell us what you have, and we will tell you if, once it is serviced, will do the job for you.
We sell many machines to folks doing their own Sunbrella work. Typically the machine that we recommend would be made of cast iron in Japan or Italy and have a motor with a rating of 1.0 to 1.5 amps. This type of machine, when properly serviced and running at its peak will sew 4 to 8 layers of Sunbrella with a No.18 or No 20 needle using No.69 Bonded Polyester thread. Of course you will be using welting, zippers, flexible acrylic glass etc. These machine will sew this.
The MYTH: You need a walking foot!!!!
The FACT: If you are going to sew these fabrics for a living, then sewing is easier, faster, and more efficient with an industrial grade walking foot machine. The idea of the walking foot is that it helps the fabric feed by "pinching and pulling" it under the needle. You can buy Chinese made domestic sized walking foot machines from Sailrite for $800 + or a true industrial machine with a wider gate for $1,100 and up.
REALLY, a good strong "old school" domestic machine, properly set up, will likely do all you need for your project. I will help you in selecting the "proper accessories" from good suppliers.
ONE SIMPLE ACCESSORY THAT CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE: The ROLLER FOOT
On a domestic machine the fabric is "pulled" through the needle area by steel feed dogs from the bottom of the fabric and the top layer is "pressed" against the bottom layer(s) by a presser foot. Most machines will have either a steel or clear plastic presser foot. This type of presser foot is fine for most sewing, even most Sunbrella sewing, however sewing clear acrylic or vinyl fabric may become a feed problem due to friction caused by the material sliding under the steel or plastic presser foot. This friction can be reduced dramatically by the use of a "ROLLER FOOT". The roller foot solves most of the feed problems associated with sewing clear, flexible acrylics, vinyls, and even helps with Sunbrella. I sewed my sailboat's Sunbrella with an old (1951) Necchi Nova with a roller foot. Roller feet are available for short shank, long shank, slant shank and most proprietary shank machines.
TRUE INDSUTRIAL WALKING FOOT MACHINES
If you think that you do need a walking foot machine contact me with your requirements!
I SOLD THID HIGH QUALITY INDUSTRIAL UNISON FEED WALKING FOOT MACHINE A FEW YEARS AGO.
Hisico CK 563, a Juki LU563 Clone, (Japan 1970s) Cast iron, Unison Feed Walking Foot, Reverse
Head is 65 to 70 lbs Highly sought after machine.
Motor beneath the power stand. The oil splash pan of
machine was removed for you to see lower part of machine
Motor weighs around 40 lbs. These are continous run motors and drive the machine using a clutch.
I would highly recommend a new DC Servo Motor with full RPM adjustment.