While visiting Gold Coast Sew and Vac in West Palm Beach, Florida, I came across an Alphasew PW 200 portable walking foot sewing machine. According to Brad, the store owner and manager, this particular machine is very popular in the sail boat maintenance business.
With this machine in the inventory, boat owners can call someone to come to the boat and repair their sails right on the spot, reducing the amount of time the boat is not seaworthy.
He added that lots of sailboat owners have purchased this machine so they can repair their own sails without having to even go back to shore to pick up someone to mend a damaged sail.
At A Glance
When I first saw the Alphasew PW 200, I mistakenly thought it was an ordinary mechanical portable sewing machine. Upon closer inspection, however, it was plain to see that this was no ordinary sewing machine.
The permanently mounted walking foot was the first signal that this was a sewing machine with the ability to do more than any ordinary sewing machine was capable of doing.
The next thing I noticed was the small tab on the base at the front and hinges on the back that allow the user to lift the head for cleaning.
This is something that I haven’t seen on any new sewing machine for many years.
With this little nondescript feature, it is possible for anyone who knows how to service a mechanical sewing machine to thoroughly clean and lubricate the Alphasew PW 200 without having to take it to a sewing machine service professional for routine cleaning.
The only reason to take this machine in for servicing is when and if there is an actual mechanical problem or a part needs to be replaced.
In addition to the tab that gives you the ability to raise the head for cleaning and lubrication, the Alphasew PW 200 has an adjustable stitch length control situated on the column.
Adjusting the stitch length is quite simple. All that is required is to loosen the set screw and sliding the control up or down.
Adjusting the stitch length is a bit of a guessing game, but after using it for a little while, the user will no doubt develop an instinct as to where to set it in order to achieve the perfect stitch length for every single task.
There is always the option of using a Sharpie to mark the gage indicating preferred stitch settings.
I found the placement of the presser foot lift quite interesting. The on board bobbin winding and thread guides were very easy to understand.
But finding the presser foot lift was another proposition altogether. After looking in all the places that I am accustomed to finding the presser foot lift failed, I did what I always tell people to do first… read the owner’s manual.
Who would have thought to look on top of the machine head above the tension dial for the presser foot lift? That’s exactly where it was! Another thing that I found in an unusual place was the on/off switch.
Practically every other sewing machine I have ever seen has the power switch on the right side somewhere near the hand wheel or the front. Not this one. It is on the upper left side of the Alphasew PW 200.
- High tilt walking foot
- Handles Materials up to 1/4″
- 150 Watt, 1.5 Amp, 110 Volt, 60 Cycle Motor
- Built in 1/4″ welt foot High tilt walking foot
- Fits regular portable case or cabinets
- Spring loaded reverse
- Uses 16 class welt foot
- Adjustable stitch length – up to 4 Stitches per inch,
- Sews 900 stitches per minute
- Straight Stitch
Working on the Alphasew PW 200
The thread guides are easy to follow for anyone who is familiar with the workings of a sewing machine. Winding the bobbin is just as easy.
There are no on-board threading guides, however. So, a person who has limited experience working on a sewing machine might be challenged to thread the Alphasew PW 200 properly without assistance.
Adjusting the stitch length is as simple as loosening the set screw and sliding the stitch length adjustment lever up or down until you arrive at the desired setting.
The stitches produced by the Allphasew PW 200 are some of the best formed stitches I have seen in a very long time. The quality is excellent.
The stitches are not only well formed, they are also beautifully balanced, regardless of the size and exceptionally sturdy as well.
- Natural fibers/cotton-linen-wool
- Fine fabrics/silk-satin-taffeta/velvet
- Synthetic fabrics/blends-rayon-polyester
- Reptile skin
- Extra thick fabrics or multiple layers
With the exception of the owner’s manual, all of the accessories that come with the Alphasew PW 200 are contained inside the plastic accessories case.
- 4 bobbins
- 2 Screwdrivers (1 medium/1 small)
- Oil dispenser
- Extra needles
- 2 Felt spool pads
|After each use||Monthly*||Once Each Year**||As Needed|
|Clean race hook and feed dogs|
|Wipe head with soft dry cloth|
|Wipe head with soft damp cloth|
|Service by sewing machine repair professional|
Tying Off The Loose Ends
The Alphasew PW 200 is possibly one of the best portable walking foot machines on the market. According to Brad at Gold Coast Sew and Vac, when I comes to sewing sails, the only machine better than the Alphasew line is made by Sailrite, a company that specializes in making machines dedicated to the marine industry.
Like every other sewing machine built for heavy duty or industrial use, it is noisier than a machine built for home use. It also has a tendency to vibrate as well, but not enough to be a major concern while in use.
The one thing about working on the Alphasew PW 200 that I was uncomfortable with is the placement of the presser foot lift. This is the very first sewing machine I have seen that has the presser foot lift in this position.
Adjusting to that change, especially if you have a sewing room filled with machines with the presser foot lift in the traditional place, might be a challenge.
I don’t know whose idea it was to put it on top of the machine head or why, but it is definitely something that can slow you down when time is a concern.
I like the fact that the Allphasew PW 200 is so easy to care for. Cleaning underneath the head is easier than most machines on the market today.
This alone can save anyone who purchases this machine lots of money because they can clean and service the Alphasew 200 themselves, limiting the amount of time it is out of service because it is in the shop getting cleaned and lubricated.
The fact that the Alphasew PW 200 is built to fit any standard portable sewing machine case is a major advantage, especially since the Alphasew PW 200 is used to carry on board sailboats and other sites where it is easier for the machine to go to the job than for the job to go to the sewing machine.
Although the Alphasew PW 200 doesn’t sew very faster than 900 stitches per minute, I don’t recommend it for use by beginners unless they are old enough to understand clearly that this is not an average sewing machine.
Another advantage of the Alphasew PW 200 is that it is affordably priced, putting it within easy reach of anyone who is in the market for a portable straight stitch only walking foot sewing machine.
In addition to working with sailcloth, the Alphasew PW 200 is a great machine for sewing upholstery, drapery and thick leather. It is entirely possible to use this machine to make bags and small luggage pieces.
In fact, Brad recommends this machine in lieu of heavy duty home sewing machines for the home sewer who is interested in sewing their own leather purses, tote bags and carry- on luggage. It is also great for working with thick leather and suede, fur, canvas and heavy duty vinyl.
With the exception of the awkward placement of the presser foot lift, I have nothing but praise for the Alphasew PW 200.
A brief internet search revealed that it is also available in a zigzag model… the Alphasew PW 200 ZZ. This is great news for those who might be hesitant to purchase the straight stitch only model.
Whether you prefer the straight stitch only model or the model that is capable of rendering zigzag stitches, I believe anyone who acquires this machine will be quite happy with the Alphasew PW 200 and the stitches it produces.
- Needs lots of help – able to sew a straight seam but unfamiliar with most sewing techniques; needsassistance and instruction on basic sewing techniques.
- Competent – can make different clothing items without assistance or guidance, but not good enough to sewintricate projects or to sew without a pattern.
- Expert – can sew anything without instruction or assistance; possesses an expansive knowledge of sewingtechniques and terminology.
- Lightweight portable walking foot machine
- Fits standard portable case or cabinet
- Ideal for light upholstery fabric, drapery, leather, vinyl and canvas
- Straight stitch only