As a complete beginner, and someone who's hand stitching leaves a lot to be desired, what sewing machine is recommended by all you experienced milliners out there?

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Its according to the type of hat you're making.  I use both my regular apparel sewing machine to zig zag milliner wire on the brim for both straw Capelines, straw Brims and also Buckram brims.  I also use straw braid to make hats and these are my 1884 antique straw and satin braid sewing machines. 

FABULOUS machines FR!! Where on earth did you find them??  What would one expect to pay dfor such precious antique machines!!? And who would be able to service them?  And what about finding parts??

Hi Elsie, You and I are in the same millinery group on Facebook, "Mad Hatters Society."

I found these on e-bay about 3 years ago. It took me 2 years of looking.  If you find one, be sure you see how it stitches, if they can't show you that, don't buy one. I purchased 6 of them at one time, sold 2. Go to YOU TUBE and type in STRAW BRAID MACHINE and see how they work. They are all cast iron, and you can check with your local sewing machine repair shop for servicing but mine have never given me any trouble.  They didn't look like this when I purchased them, my husband refurbished them for me.  Every time I use it, you have to oil them (regular sewing machine oil) & if you sew on it after a few hours, you have to oil them again.  Also, the newer regular sewing machine needle was too long & my husband filed it down from the top so it would fit, works perfectly.  He also purchased a consew motor and a leather belt and changed them to electrical working machines and cut a table out for the ever growing hat.  You may be able to find the parts on e-bay, when mine came it was all kind of parts the vendor sent. Funny old tupperware lunch container, he painted it and made me a foot peddle, works perfectly.  The prices vary and they all cost under $350.00 each with shipping.     

wow! what amazing machines!

Thank you.  If you're looking for a straw braid machine, check e-bay.  Be sure that you ask for a demonstration of how the machine sews and look for this in the machine (See anatomy of my machine).  There are different type of straw braid machines. The 2nd pic is the anatomy of my machine.  They are rare, hard to find, took me 2 years to find mine.

Thank you.


this guide about sewing machine is helpful 

I'm interested to find out more about this too Ruth, i'll follow your feed, thanks for asking this....

Roberta, I asked that question about 4 years ago, and did actually buy a reconditioned Bernina machine - its been fantastic, and everything that I needed. Occasionally I look around and wonder if I should up-grade, but it never goes any further than that.

Hi Ruth

Thanks so much for letting me know. I actually have a bernina, I should use it more. I mostly hand sew everything. I'm a bit scared of machine sewing. I actually thought there was a specific machine for sewing hat, something I need to look into x


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