Thursday, January 15, 2009


Visited Joe Payne at Portland’s Rooster Roc SewCo last Saturday.  You know, the store at 3427 NE 72nd Ave. behind Annie’s Donuts on Sandy?  The building with the big “Commercial Sewing Machines” sign on it?
           I love that place and I don’t know why.  Car showrooms?  Make my skin crawl.  Hardware stores?  Ho-hum.
           But put me in a sewing machine store and this girl drools!  Maybe it’s the thought of all that power sewing.  6,600 stitches per minute.  That’s fast, baby.  Who wants a Jaguar when you can have a Juki?  Yeah, that’s why – I need the speed.
         What does a sewing girl need in her sewing room?  Take a note and send a memo to the men and partners in your life.  The holidays are over but you must have another gift-giving occasion soon, right?
I have 13 machines.  Six of them are industrials.  Three of them are key:
       - Single needle lockstitch.  Mine is the Juki DDL8700.  It has an on-board computer.  This means it automatically backstitches, cuts the thread and lifts the presser foot with a kick of my heel on the footplate.  I can program it to sew the same length seams quickly and automatically.
Don’t need all these bells and whistles?  You can get a Juki DDL8300 – a standard for sewing contractors – for one-fourth the price of mine.
- 3-thread overlock (i.e., serger).  You need this for knits so get a pack of ballpoint needles.  Mine is the Juki MO3304.  The MO6704 has since replaced it.
I also have 5-thread safety stitch for simultaneously stitching and finishing the seams of pants, jackets, blouses.  It’s a Juki MO6716.  Of all the machines, this is the one I use the most.  But if your budget makes you choose, go with the 3-thread.  It’s more versatile.
- Blindhemmer.  Mine’s a Consew.  If you’re using the blindhem foot on your home sewing machine, stop!  The Consew is how it’s done in the real world of apparel.  You can set the length and depth so no stitches show on the outside.
Yes, other than the Consew, all my machines are Jukis.  Brother, Pfaff and Singer Union Special make fine machines.  I just trust the Jukis.
Yes, I bought all my machines new.  The action is smooth.  The machines, problem free.
Yes, I bought almost all my machines from Joe.  You can buy off the Internet, just be sure that:
- It comes with a power table.  This is the secret behind the speed.  These are 20”x48”, so make sure you have the room.
- Shipping is free.  The motor is very heavy.  Better yet, make sure someone can deliver and set it up for you.  You’re going to have plugs, a “fanbelt” and an oil pan that needs the right kind of oil.  You need someone who knows how these go together.
- Made in Japan, not China.  More reliable.
Commercial machines can be confusing.  So many models!  And I like to give them a test drive.  That’s why I shop at Joe’s.
I’ve known Joe since I came to Portland and he sold me a home sewing machine, the Pfaff 1471.  He worked at Montavilla Sewing before the fire and the new store they built at SE 84th and Stark.
Montavilla sold industrial machines back then.  His job was to sell and repair them.
From what I can gather, Joe retired.  Montavilla quit selling industrials.  So Joe took up the trade and moved it to NE Portland.
         The name Rooster Roc?  Well, he lives near there in Corbett, Ore.  At least I think.  You see, Joe knows a lot about machines but he’s not a big talker.  When he answers the phone, listen closely.  The words he blurts out?  “Sewing machines.”

NOTE:  My little company, PortlandSewing, will offer industrial machine sewing classes in April so stay tuned.  Want to be notified when classes come up?  Send me an e-mail.

Cheers -- Sharon


janeanemarie said...

Thanks for both of these posts, Sharon! about the machines and about contracting. So helpful! I never would have thought of it all...

Brenda whitlow Whitlow said...

Be careful when buying an industrial machine. They are tempermental and very heavy so if you have any problems at all, repair resource is important. With Joe, you have to take the machine to him.

I have bought several machines from Joe. I sew on very heavy fabrics. When I bought a new Juki walking foot machine from him I asked about repair as I had myriad problems with the used one I bought from him and always had to lug it over to him.

When I bought the new Juki from him I told him I wouldn't be able to transport this huge machine to him so if I had problems as I had with the refurbished one I had previously bought from him, I asked him how he would handle repair if need be. He said he would come to my place for any repair..

Unfortunately, this new Juki had bobbin problems. It was near impossible to get him to come and repair it. My assumption was that a brand new machine has a warranty, but I had to pay to get him to come to my studio and fix my problematic machine. $130. And it still didn't work. I called again. Basically he would not come in any timely way to fix the brand new machine I bought from him so I hired another repairman to the tune of $270 and it finally works right. At $75/hour it's quite clear that here were problems with the bobbin and bobbin case from the manufacturer which is why it did not sew right and kept breaking the thread and throwing itself out of time.

Joe's a good guy, but i'd never buy a new industrial machine from him. I'd find a reputable merchant with a repair shop included in the price.

Good Luck said...

Brenda whitlow Whitlow, who would u recommend I buy from?