I decided to upgrade to an industrial walking foot sewing machine when I got serious about designing leather handbags, clothing and accessories. As you may know, sewing leather with a commercial sewing machine will eventually damage it as the leather is too hard on the motor of a standard fabric sewing machine. The nature of leather, besides being too thick for a machine, makes it difficult for the machine to sew it in that it doesn’t slide easily under the presser foot. In order to sew any thickness of leather, even counting nappa lambskin leather, requires not only a powerful motor but also the use of a walking-foot attachment that standard machines do not come with typically.
Sewing Machines for Leather
The problem with industrial machines naturally is the price and the space they take up. The most reputable industrial machines with walking foot capability start out at $1000 or more. Some names of industrial machines are Juki, Tacsew, and Yamata. Machines by these manufacturers are expensive not only because they have high powered motors and multiple features, they also come as non-portable machines and are therefore the utmost in durability. These machines also will take up more space than a standard machine depending on the table it comes with.
Enter the Rex 607Z Zig Zag “portable” machine. At a fraction of the cost of standard industrial machines, this machine is deemed perfect for a starter machine for leather designers. This machine is originally designed to be used in the construction and repair of sailboat sails and therefore was designed to be portable. It is lighter weight than standard industrial walking foot machines and has basic features, resulting in a much more affordable price of around $300+/- as compared to $1200 or more for an industrial machine.
The features on the Rex607Z are very basic and include:
- Thread Tension – Dial in between 0 – 9 on the knob.
- Stitch Width Adjustment– Select between 0 – 5 using the slider.
- Stitch Style – Select between straight stitch or zigzag
- Stitch Length – The length of stitches are controlled by the vertical lever.
- Direction – Option to sew forward or reverse.
What I like
After purchasing and using my Rex607Z for 6 months now I definitely have an opinion about this machine. The following are some points about this machine that make me happy I did buy it.
- Solid Motor – The motor is fast and strong, it doesn’t lag even when sewing 4 layers of leather together. The Rex powers through medium leathers very quickly and is a beast on anything lightweight.
- Lightweight – This machine is easy to move around from station to station considering its weight of 35 lbs. It is also easy to turn over so you can oil and maintain it. This being said it is not as light weight as a standard Singer or Brother machine, so if you have a bad back it could cause you some trouble, however for the most part I find this an easy machine to manipulate.
- Nice Wide ZigZag Stitch – I like the zigzag for doing patchwork leather and for reinforcing purses and other goods that need an extra few stitches. In the case that you don’t need zigzag and want to save a few dollars, you can purchase the Rex607 which is the same machine but without the zigzag and for less.
- Cost Savings – While I do have my gripes about this machine and don’t think I could use it for full production, I do think for my own designs and for making samples to take to a cut and sew facility the price is right on for me.
What I Don’t Like
I found some problems with the machine that make it a little challenging to work with. Some of these issues extended my production time by forcing me to do some things by hand due to the machine damaging the leather by backstitching.
- Skips Stitches Occasionally – The machine skips stitches every once in a while. I noticed also that if I tried to feed the leather through too quickly it skipped stitches worse.
- High Maintenance – You must oil the machine a lot. It is recommended that you oil it each time you use it, which can be time consuming and messy. I got into a habit of oiling the machine at the end of my day, leaving paper towels where I found the oil pooled. Also you may find frustrating that you must sew on a scrap piece of fabric or leather each time you start your day to get all the excess extra oil off the machine, if you do not you will ruin your fine leather with streaks of dirty oil.
- Needles Too Large for Lambskin – The large needles are almost too large for fine lambskin and can tear a hole into the leather up if you sew too many times in the same place. You have to make sure you only pass once and do the backstitching by hand to ensure a clean seam sometimes.
- Jackrabbit Starts – It’s hard to get this machine to slow slowly and steadily, you tend to start too fast then slow down. It takes practice to find the “sweet spot” where you can sew slow enough for leather. This machine being designed for sails sews too quickly for leather which doesn’t require the ____rpms this machine can output. Essentially you have to be very careful if you are sewing in delicate places or where you cannot risk a mistake.
All in all I’m not totally disappointed with my Rex607Z, however I do feel it’s limitations and am already planning on replacing it with a Juki as soon as I can afford it. The good thing is I live near the ocean so it is likely I can sell this machine used and recoup some of the investment I’ve made in it.
My personal recommendation is that if you have the money to spend on a Juki or other non-portable walking foot machine, even if you have to finance it, that you do so. While I love the cost savings I have with the Rex607Z, the amount of time I have had to spend going back to fix a missed stitch, or redo a whole piece because the machine started to tear the fine lambskin makes it frustrating to work with. If you don’t plan to make items to sell to customers on a professional level, and if you don’t need to output items quickly then this machine may be the right choice for you.