I’m tagging on to this question as have a Wilcox Gibs but no drive for it. Is there a modern set up for the machine I can attach it to?
A previous discussion on straw machines. Some of milliners in this discussion may be able to help
You can use any sewing machine for making a straw hat. However, you may find it easier to use a straw braid machine such as W&G. There are a couple reasons to consider such as: the chain stitch is much easier to take out of straw then the traditional lock stitch of a conventional machine. Trust me, you will want to be able to rip out an occasional stitch, row, hat! Secondly, when sewing a hat from straw you need to make sharp turns, manipulating straw up and down, etc. Making those turns you need an open space to hold the hat body that you're in the process of creating. A free-arm is not raised up high enough to create the room that you need to move the hat around. There are many challenges to sewing on a straw braid machine but their purpose is undeniable. Good Luck!