If you have followed us for a while, then you will have seen our blog post on the difference between handcrafted and handmade. There is a subtle yet fundamental difference in the definitions of these artisan-associated words. You can take a look at that blog here.
For a long while Colville Leather has been priding itself as producing products that are handcrafted - ‘without a sewing machine in sight’.
Now I am not talking about stepping up to factory level industry here, bringing it back into perspective, I am referring to one (utterly charming) sewing machine.
Colville Leather has a place for a sewing machine: whilst ‘handcrafted’ and ‘handmade’ are mutually exclusive, there is room for products of both definition in the Colville Leather Family.
So, that out of the way. The new sewing machine is here… and it’s wonderful.
How did I choose my machine?
There are a few makes out there - the big names you will hear of - Brother, Janome, Singer that dominate the domestic market that most occasional sewers or those of us working with finer fabrics will gravitate to. We have a domestic brother in our house - because that’s what my wife uses - it’s what her mother uses and it’s the make her grandmother used. It’s a thing in sewing machine land - you are a Brother, or a Janome, and you may venture into other makes, but loyalty is big in sewing.
A domestic machine won’t do what I need it to do with leather so I was in the market for an industrial machine.
All the above (familiar) brands have heavy duty and industrial models - but in looking into the industrial sewing machine world you start hearing other names including Juki, Adler, Jack and Pfaf. Minefield.
We move from domestic comparisons of multiple stitches and variety of settings designed with versatility in mind, to industrial machines which boast perhaps more simplicity but strength and durability. Industrial machines are built to be heavier, stronger, faster and can handle denser materials such as leather - just what I need!
The other thing is that there is a big second hand market. I didn’t want to rely on Ebay or Gumtree, I wanted to buy one I knew was good quality and in good condition. I know a man. I chose an Adler.
I could say that I tried each and every model, but in truth, it’s a brand I have experience of, so I suppose I have already become loyal. It is also often dubbed one of the best brands for stitching leather (though I am sure anyone would say the same of the make of their own machine!)
As I was familiar with the Adler, I considered I also wouldn’t have to spend time re-learning.
I have opted for a second hand, reconditioned Adler 69. It is, I think, around 50 years old (and looks awesome!) fully reconditioned with a new motor. I had it delivered and set up in my workshop too, so it was ready to stitch as soon as it had been set up.
Some people say that there is no such thing as a ‘one machine does all’ but I think I have got pretty close to that. My machine has a fast motor that I can slow down perfectly. It is a cylinder arm perfect for stitching gussets on bags but it then has a flat bed attachment making it easier to stitch flat products like wallets.
A few spools of [thread] and I am ready to roll. It is a very smooth, solid sounding, perfectly adjusted machine. Possibility is only limited by imagination now!
Adler isn’t a sewing machine company itself - it is a brand name. My own research seems to suggest the company Koch & Co which was established in 1860, first produced the ‘Adler’. Fast forward, through a few changes in the company name and make-up to the 1960s and the company dropped out of the domestic sewing machine market to focus on industrial sewing machines. Now known as Durkopp Adler, new machines are made in China.
Mine is a vintage, she’s got history, she’s already a seasoned maker, and I am very much looking forward to getting to know her.