PfitzSewSwell has been growing like a weed recently! I am so proud of my new website and all-original lineup of leather goods from which clients can pick and choose. The ten colors of leather can be mixed and matched throughout the collection so you’re sure to create a bag or wallet which truly represents you! I am extremely grateful for all the new business I’ve received and am excited to see what the future has in store.
Making all of these bags has meant that I needed to re-evaluate my sewing machine situation. Initially—in summer of 2016—I purchased a cylinder arm machine that I thought would fit the bill for my bag-making over the years. Back then, I was working with mostly quilting cotton and vinyl. However, I knew that I wanted to start transitioning to creating solely leather goods full-time. As my leather work increased, so did my frustration with my cylinder arm industrial machine. It did not stand up to leather as I had thought it would. I am not discounting that machine’s abilities at all, because it works very well for cotton and vinyl…but that wasn’t for me anymore.
So, in summer of 2017, I purchased a flatbed industrial sewing machine off of Craigslist. It was in like-new condition, had barely been used, and I was able to purchase it for a very reasonable price. I started using the flatbed compound walking foot machine and was very pleased with how it sewed, specifically over thick seams. But, I kept finding myself wishing and yearning for a cylinder arm machine that would be up to par with my flatbed machine.
I did a great (and I mean great) deal of research trying to decide which cylinder arm sewing machine would be the one for me. One of the features that I had been so interested in when I purchased the flatbed machine was the stepping foot height adjustment dial. It allowed me to raise my presser foot to sew at varying thicknesses; I just needed to adjust it according to which textiles I was using.
When I say I did a lot of research, I really did. I Googled, read manuals and forums, and made a list of all the pros and cons. My first cylinder arm was a triple-feed compound walking foot sewing machine, but after doing some investigating, I found that it was designed specifically for binding operations; it didn’t have true feed dogs to feed textiles through the machine and instead made use of an oscillating arm. Being that I didn’t use the first cylinder arm machine for binding whatsoever, it became clear to me that my purchase hadn’t been the right one. Additionally, I was on a budget. Many of the cylinder arm compound walking foot sewing machines were several thousand dollars…and they had very limited features considering all the items I had compiled on my wish list.
Finally, on one of my morning 4.5 mile walks, I found it. I pored through the webpage and looked at every single photo in great detail. I had found the machine for me! And no…I didn’t have to compromise on ANY one of my wish list items. Not one. This machine went above and beyond my requirements, so shortly after, I had a conversation with my husband that I would like to sell the first cylinder arm machine and purchase this one. Together, we agreed that this new machine would be the one for me and that it would be a good move to put the first cylinder arm machine up for sale. In short, the first cylinder arm machine was on the market for quite literally about five minutes. I couldn’t be more grateful for the buyer I found; there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that the new owner would be very happy with and get great use from the machine.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering…Katherine—which machine did you get?!? And to you, I’d say that now is the time for me to carefully outline exactly why I chose the machine and company I did from whom to purchase.
I decided to purchase a THOR GC1341 single needle cylinder arm walking foot sewing machine from Sunny Sewing Machines located in Dallas, Texas. After receiving the final go-ahead from my husband, I reached out to ask a question about the machine I’d had my eye on for a while. I was incredibly impressed when I got a near-instant response from Stephen, who turned out to be the kindest, most generous person I’ve met while researching and purchasing any sewing machine. Ever. Since I had done so much research, I advised Stephen that I would have many, many questions for him. He answered every single question I had regarding pretty much anything I could think of and made me feel comfortable and as though I could ask anything that I came up with…which I did! It was evident that the THOR GC1341 was the machine for me. Why? Let me tell you!
Although it could be compared to a Juki 1341, the THOR GC1341 has a number of features above and beyond the Juki (which is at least double the price of the THOR). It is suited for sewing medium to heavyweight materials—anything from canvas to vinyl to leather and beyond. It has an unusually high presser foot lift—at 16mm, it can handle very, very thick textiles with ease. It has real, grooved feed-dogs that gently guide material through the machine. It’s a compound, triple feed walking foot, meaning that textiles are fed with the needle—in concert with the presser foot, the walking foot, and the feed-dogs. Because of this, there is a presser foot (whether the needle foot or walking foot) on the material at all times. This machine doesn’t let material slide from one thickness to the next, creating very lengthy stitches that then must be ripped out. Instead, it too has a stepping foot height adjustment dial, which sets it apart from any other cylinder arm industrial sewing machine I came across in my extensive research. This feature allows the presser foot to be raised to consistently walk at a much higher height than typical for this type of machine. And...another amazing thing? There is a knee lift! This is something I didn't know I was missing out on until the GC1341 arrived and I started using it. Now I don't have to take my hands off of my work!
The stitch length ranges from 3mm to 9mm! The longest stitch length on my first cylinder arm machine was 5mm; on the Juki 1341, the longest stitch length is 6mm. Not everyone would need a 9mm (or 2.5”) stitch length, but I have used it several times for basting and have been extremely pleased with the result.
The THOR GC1341 can sew with thread anywhere from size 69 to 210; it can sew up to 277 with fine adjustments, though I don’t have any need for anything that heavy-duty as of the present. Of course, I exclusively use my favorite Bonded Polyester #92 thread from the wonderful Superior Threads in gray—it matches everything and is the BEST stuff! Try it out if you haven’t yet. And if you use a semi-industrial sewing machine, you can easily use Superior Threads' Bonded Polyester #69. I love this thread and wanted to tell the world…so I did in another post, too, as well as on Superior Threads’ website as a Superior Star!
The THOR GC1341 has a maximum sewing speed of 2,000 stitches per minute (SPM)—that is VERY fast! But, thanks to the servo motor, it uses very little power and is as quiet as a mouse! Plus, you’re able to easily control the speed with which you sew. Being that I use exclusively leather in my sewing applications, I opted to add a speed reducer to my GC1341. It allows me to topstitch with even more precision than with solely a servo motor. I’m not scared to topstitch beautifully on the first go-round in the least…and my goodness, does it produce gorgeous stitches! The bobbin is a size M bobbin—which is pretty darn big—and sits horizontally on the machine arm—this makes locking each stitch happen flawlessly. After extended use, my GC1341 hasn’t jammed. Not once!
So, back to Stephen and the wonderful people at Sunny Sewing Machines. Stephen made the process educational and provided extensive photos and support when I had a question. Every machine from Sunny Sewing Machines comes backed with a one-year parts warranty and lifetime support via phone, email, or video chat (though I haven’t had to resort to this option). Everyone I’ve spoken with, whether it be the lead technician who has 30 years’ experience working with sewing machines, Stephen, or another employee, has treated me with the utmost care and kindness, ultimately ensuring that my question gets answered in a timely fashion.
Although my THOR GC1341 was shipped knocked-down—or in boxes, and then assembled by yours truly—it comes fully assembled on a pallet by default and was delivered via freight directly to my home. This means that it is fully ready to sew out of the box—everything has been adjusted for you, so you can just get to practicing with scraps and increasing your cylinder arm sewing machine acumen…because no matter how experienced you might be, there is always a learning curve when working with a new piece of equipment. The wonderful people at Sunny Sewing Machines sent along the GC1341 machine head, table top, heavy-duty stand, servo motor, LED light (which means you don’t overheat as you’re sitting and sewing), manuals, and extra needles, bobbins, and tools. That’s a ton of stuff for an extremely reasonable price and with the best customer service I’ve ever come across in this field.
So, if you’re in the market for a cylinder arm industrial sewing machine, or any industrial sewing machine for that matter, you need to drop everything and check out Sunny Sewing Machines. Give them a call, email them, or swing by if you’re in the Dallas area. I know they’d love to see you!
I would like to provide a disclaimer that I was not compensated to create this post and that all opinions are my own. Simply put, I adore my THOR GC1341, the people at Sunny Sewing Machines in Dallas, and Superior Threads…and had to tell the world about them!
You can buy your own THOR GC1341 from this link right here, visit Sunny Sewing Machines' website at this link right here, and check out the amazing Superior Threads' Bonded Polyester thread from this link right here!
If you’ve got any questions or comments for me, please feel free to leave them below or contact me…and thanks for reading!