A Home Made Sewing Machine May Be The Only One

The sewing machine is a tool that many of us will have somewhere around our workshop. Concealed within it lies an intricate and fascinating mechanism. Some of us may have peered inside, but very few indeed of us will have gone to the effort of building our own. In case you had ever wondered whether it was possible, [Fraens] has done just that, with what he claims may be the only entirely homemade sewing machine on the Internet.

If you’ve ever studied the history of sewing machines you’ll notice that it bears a striking resemblance to some of the earliest commercial machines, with a relatively short reach and an entirely open construction. The main chassis appears to be laser-cut acrylic while all the fittings are 3D-printed, with machined brass bushes and aluminum rods for the other metal parts. The design utilizes a hand crank, but is also pictured with a DC motor. It makes for a fascinating illustration of how sewing machines work. Sadly we can’t see any design file links (Update: He’s contacted us to tell us they’re now on Thingiverse.), so you might have to be inventive if that’s the way you want to build your own. Take a look at it in the video below the break.

Fancy a sewing machine but don’t fancy making your own? We’ve got the guide for that, and for filling the rest of your textile bench.

36 thoughts on “A Home Made Sewing Machine May Be The Only One

    1. 26 part files and they all have to be downloaded individually. Man, I wish more people would upload to Printables instead of the train-wreck Thingiverse has become.

      1. I moved to Printables quite some time ago and did not regret it.
        The one and only reason to upload on thingiverse is the much bigger userbase and thus: reach.

        Other than that, train-wreck it is…

        1. Thingiverse is a disaster. Someone should take care of this site. Thingiverse is for me the site to build an audience. I like Printables better. This is a very nice collection of 3D printed parts. However, the reach is not very large at this time. I expect this to be different in the future.

    1. It’s called a Chain Stitch. It uses only one thread from the top of the material.

      A chain stitch can be undone by simply pulling the free end of the thread. While this isn’t very suitable for holding clothing together, it’s excellent for closing bags of bulk material that later need to be opened without tools.

      A typical sewing machine that you’d find in a home or tailor’s shop creates a “lock stitch”, which requires a second thread carried in a bobbin on the other side of the material. As the name implies, a lock stitch usually won’t come unraveled just by pulling on it. Each stitch has to be cut.


      1. I’m curious about the choice of doing a chain stitch instead of a lock stitch. A lock stitch isn’t that much more difficult. Yes, a little more difficult, because the bobbin case needs to be free-floating within a carrier that has reciprocating motion, but considering how complicated this machine is, it seems like not that much more.

        1. Some (early?) machines have a shuttle that passes the bobbin through the loop instead of the free floating bobbin around which the loop is pulled. In my head, it seems like the shuttle would be easier to implement.

          The shuttle was certaily more visually easy to understand when I was trying to comprehend the lockstitch. I would never have come up with that free floating bobbin concept. It still impresses me to see it work.

          1. Sounds like they may have been avoiding patent royalties – having the shuttle passing in alternate directions doesn’t really simplify anything, since it still has to pass completely through the loop both ways, meaning it still has to be free-floating. But I’m sure that was also quite an elegant device!

  1. “Someone should”
    Maybe you can be that someone? The chosen one who does it so well, nobody will complain about it?
    Whining is simple. “Thingiverse is a disaster” might be true. Or not. But I’m simply happy, it’s there.

  2. The Secret Life of Machines did a whole episode on sewing machines, including a part with a human powered one where someone punched a giant needle through a sheet of foam board and someone else underneath passed the thread through to demonstrate the stitch. What an awesome show.
    To be a little grumpy, though, hard to imagine a world where you have access to internet, 3D printer etc but not an unused “regular” sewing machine rotting in a closet somewhere.

  3. Why do people keep printing large flat parts?
    Looking at the pictures and files, there are exactly 2 that get any benefit from being printed.
    Literally everything else could be cut from a flat sheet. And yes, this includes multiple parts with odd shapes that could be made with squares/screws.
    What a mind boggling waste of filament, electricity, time, and fume-free air.

    The machine is cool, but the production method is awful and should NOT be praised.

    1. I don’t understand your excitement. Making parts out of sheet metal is not for everyone. You need some tools and knowledge about sheet metal working.
      It is easier to design the parts on the computer and then print them with the 3D printer. You can share these parts wonderfully on Thingiverse or Prusarprinters. Of course you can also build the machine out of metal if you have the possibility. The goal of the project, as with my other projects, is to design a machine that can be replicated with relatively simple means.
      I don’t see the waste either. Filament is cheaper than metal. Electricity is also needed by the machines to produce metal parts. And it’s certainly not a waste of time. While the printer is printing, I can take care of other things. And we really don’t need to discuss air pollution here. I don’t think 3D printers contribute much to air pollution.

      1. Very nice answer, Fraens!
        I think your machine is very nice, and certainly a LOT of thought went into it! If others don’t appreciate the thrill of making such things, then let them wander on to some other entertainment. I am very much excited about your ability to print the machine. I am a woodworker, and sure, I could see where some of the parts would be easier, or faster with wood, but…that doesn’t make it cheaper. I like that you say that you can go on to other things, while the printer chugs away at your instructions. Plastic isn’t expensive, and I applaud you for your time and work on this design. I also collect non electric sewing machines, and enjoy the way they can speed my sewing up, while using no electric. I only need thread, fabric, and light to see by. I could sit in the middle of an open field, to make my clothing!
        Thanks for a neat video!!

    2. It sounds like your objection isn’t to this project, but to the very notion of 3D printing. Sure, stamped metal parts are cheap and fast when you’re mass producing something, but the first one? Not so much. Where open-source projects are concerned, each person building one is building the first one.

      I will praise projects as I see fit.

      1. Many of the parts are just flat beams with strategically drilled holes, which you could turn out faster with a coping saw and a file. It’s obviously a copy of an earlier machine which was made largely from flat sheet, and some parts are simply bent into the correct shape rather than stamped.

        In fact, they do exactly that for the base frame, which is made of clear acrylics.

    3. Living in a flat (pun intended), you can run a printer all day but if you’re running a CNC router or using a hacksaw/drill/files you’ll likely get a visit from a neighbour in no time at all.

    1. eBay has really attractive hand powered machines for leather for under $200 and they seem to be pretty good. Watch some videos on them. Some people clean them up a bit more, but the basic carcass is sound.

    1. You will laugh. I’m in the process of making something similar. It won’t be a printer, but I need to separate sheets on my next machine. I’ll get a printer out of the crotch in the next few days and take a closer look at the mechanics.

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