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I've never used one, myself. It just does the pleating/gathering for you. All the smocking is still done by hand. 
From what I understand, it's very easy to break the needles, so frequent threading will be likely. Fortunately, I'm good at threading needles. I joke that my stupid Lilly trick is that I can thread a needle in a dimly lit pub. (And I do it fairly frequently.)
I sew a lot, both by machine and hand. I don't smock much. It's generally later period than I usually do, but I enjoy doing it. I don't want to spend a small fortune on a machine that won't get a huge amount of use. 

Gwendolyn
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On Nov 13, 2014, at 5:46 PM, "Mark S. Harris" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Doesn’t sound that much more expensive than a new sewing machine, but yes, rather specialized.
> 
> “less than 15 min task”? Do you have to thread those "The Read 24 Maxi has 23 half space rows. Included are 47 needles.”?  
> 
> With my eyesight, it can take me that long to thread a single sewing machine needle! (I have a 70s vintage Singer, with metal gears. No auto threading of the needle. With my poor eyesight, I have to remove the needle from the machine in order to get close enough to it to be able to see the hole to thread the needle. Then I have to stick it into the machine. With correct rotation). 
> 
> Oh well. Early period garb. No need for button holers or smocking. :-)
> 
> I do wonder if I’d do more sewing than once or twice in 5 years, if I did have an auto needle threader. 
> 
> When did pleating come into use/fashion?
> 
> Stefan
> 
> 
>> On Nov 13, 2014, at 9:23 AM, Eleanor Deyeson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 
>> Having a friend who DOES have one (in Michigan) I know that they are also trixy little machines, and moderately easy to screw up. She won't loan hers out for that reason, because even well-meaning but non-expert users or an accidental drop can cause serious problems.  So it probably would be best if one person bought it, and then charged others a small usage fee, while the owner supervised the process.
>> 
>> I know I would bring several projects to pleat, if someone brought one of these to Clothiers or Bobbin & Weaving. I've seen the magic, and I'm willing to pay for the machine to turn hours and hours into less than 15 min task. (Well, you still need to iron & starch it first.)
>> 
>> Gallazandra does a fair bit of pleatwork, anyone else?
>> 
>> Eleanor Deyeson
> 
> ======
> Mark S. Harris
> Embedded Electronics Engineer
> Firmware, Board and Systems Design
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