Alright so I am the kind of person who needs to look everywhere
before buying something and find all the information I can before I buy. I looked on Craftster and did find some useful stuff, but I would have liked more, and so I'm posting this is share what I found out and what I discovered in the process of buying a new sewing machine.
I decided since I was moving away to college I would need a new machine (couldn't use my mom's anymore). I asked for a serger and a cheap vintage machine from Goodwill for Christmas. I wanted something that ran well and that would last forever. So I looked at a few places, was impressed by the Pfaffs, but overall didn't like the plastic, cheap-looking machines. I got a pretty seafoam $20 Singer from Goodwill that just did basic straight, zig-zag and reverse. I soon realized that it wasn't going to work; it ate up my knits and sheers and couldn't handle many layers of fabric. It worked beautifully on basic fabrics, but it just wasn't enough. My mom's Kenmore could do overlock and other nice things, but the oscillating bobbin and older technology still didn't allow for beautiful stitches on sheer, stretch or thick fabrics.
So I decided to look some more, and decided that I probably wanted to go with a higher end, nice machine that would last me before purchasing a serger. We looked everywhere. I saw a $600 Brother that sewed a million stitches and embroidered, but it was so big and bubbly and plastic, and it didn't sew so nicely. I tried a $1000 Bernina that didn't do nearly as much, but that sewed extremely well over a multitude of fabrics. I tried many others, but those were the ones most considered. And then there was the Pfaff 2046, and for only $800! Beautiful machine with so many stitches and it sewed like a dream. It could handle so much more than the vintage machines, and it had so much more to offer. But at that time I hadn't seen all the other machines, and didn't know how great a deal it was.
I looked around some more and came back to buy it, as it was just perfect and worth the splurge, but it was gone. The Pfaff 2029 for $700 was gone, and another (perhaps 2036? I can't remember, I was too entranced by the 2046) was also gone. I was devastated, but they did have a Babylock Ellure ESL that had many stitches, didn't look all huge and plastic, and it could embroider-- and only $670! After all my looking, I decided it was the best one. I bought it.
That night, I couldn't sleep. I was tormented with the thought that I didn't get a good deal, and that I didn't get a Pfaff. And I had paid $670 and still didn't have a serger! Ooh times were tough.
The next day I sewed a t-shirt and it handled the kntis wonderfully. I had a nice overlock stitch that was even and beautiful; it looked nearly serged! Very professional. But it still wasn't as smooth as the Pfaff, and I didn't even want the embroidery. If only I'd gotten the 2046!
When I came for lessons on my new machine, I snuck glances at the used table to see if they had a Pfaff-- any Pfaff-- and I never had much luck. Nothing. But I was determined to get one. We (my mom and I, let's not forget her immense dedication to my plight!) called around and found that one store had a Pfaff 7570. Oh the things it could do, and only $699! It could do 500 stitches and embroider, and it was a Pfaff, and I could exchange for it! But it wouldn't be ready until tomorrow. We went to another store (same chain) and looked at another used Pfaff - the 2022 (LifeStyle). It's the older model of the new Classic Style 2023, 2029 and a few others-- the very first machines I'd looked at. It was $600, though, and it did so much less than the 7570 for only $100 more! They had a 7550 in, though, which was basically the same, and we were advised not to buy it since apparently it was made before Pfaff was bought out by Viking (I think?) and none of the parts are available anymore. Plus, it didn't run beautifully like the mid-range newer Pfaffs. It was quite beat-up with an array of impressive stitches, but did I really need all that?
And then somthing caught my eye. A Pfaff 2036! It just had slightly less to offer than the Quilt Expression 2046, and it looked so pristine and beautiful, and it was used, so I should get it pretty cheap! Unfortunately it was $1099. Ugh! It was lowered to $999, but he said he really couldn't go lower. We tried walking out, and never got a better offer. $200 less than the 2046 we missed, and it did less! Oh the agony... but it was the machine I wanted. I'd tried dozens and dozens and it was The One. We mulled it over for about an hour, weighing the pros and cons, and eventually bought it to end the agony of the search. Perhaps the cheaper store WOULD get a nice used Pfaff that would offer similar power (better than the 2022 and consequent ClassicStyle line, which are still fabulous machines), but I didn't want to pass up on The One again, and I would soon run out of time to exchange my Ellure for full price.
So we bought it. I just got it home. I haven't played with it yet, but I'm eager to start. It took long enough to get me to this point, but I've learned a lot and I know so much more about the various brands and machines.TO SUM UP WHAT I LEARNED:
- It's better to get a good machine that can do all you want than to splurge on a serger and be unhappy with your main machine. A good machine will be able to do a lot on its own, and if you're just making things for yourself, and stretch overlock stitch with a triple-stretch stitch on top will be much the same and require less thread (not 4 whole spools of the same color just to make it match), just more time and it won't be quite as nice or easy.
- Don't buy the first thing you see, but be weary that the perfect machine could pass you up quickly!
- The vintage machines are nice and certainly much cheaper and more attractive (with a lot more charm), but the new technology on almost any of the new ones makes them superior in a lot of ways, depending on what you want to do.
- DON'T BE FOOLED BY ALL THE BELLS & WHISTLES! Ask yourself 'do I really need all this?' I didn't need embroidery, it just seemed like such a nice bonus. I don't need a bunch of decorative stitches; I just want something good quality that will last.
- Used machines are much better deals.
- Pfaff and Bernina are really the way to go! Janome is a great cheaper alternative, as well.
- Buying a sewing machine is a long and arduous process, but worth it in the end!
Whew! Such a long post! But hopefully some just starting out the buying process will find this helpful