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Topic: Sewing machines, a buyers guide  (Read 46311 times)
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Idle Hands
« Reply #60 on: March 21, 2010 06:52:35 PM »

I read through the reviews and comments on this thread in hopes of getting a pretty good idea as to what machine to buy.  At the very least it got me thinking of what I want to lean away from in terms of name brands, what features are important to me, and what is in my price range.  

That being said I started out with driving 30 miles to the quilt shop as they are an authorized Janome distributor and repair center.  From the store selection it was either a Magnolia 7312 clearanced to $130 or their $400 quilting machine.   I got a lot of information but a lot of inconsistent information from the store owner.  She claimed the machines are all the same except for features.  To me the bobbin case are two completely different styles and was a huge deciding factor.  The Magnolia had the old time vertical race and bobbin case under the "table" that I've had lots of problems with jamming on my prior 2 machines.  The $400 quilting machine was a top loader.  The final straw on the Magnolia was out of the box it had major tension issues that the store owner couldn't fix and it would not sew straight.

I also went to the JoAnn Fabrics around the corner and demo'd the Singer 7463
http://www.joann.com/joann/catalog/productdetail.jsp?CATID=cat3199&PRODID=xprd687323 which has many of the features the $400 Janome had (and all I could think of using) but at 1/2 the price.  At that point I needed time to think. Singer has the recent reputation for not holding up but I couldn't justify paying twice the price for what I considered to be an equivalent machine. The Singer model I looked at was neither the Jo-Ann's bare bones nor was it a Wal-Mart toy.  I also knew with demo-ing the Singer that I would not be happy with my 40+ year old Kenmore as I had been spoiled with how smooth the Singer works and the features that my minimalist Kenmore could only dream of.  It was down to either replace the old machine or give up the craft.  

My concerns after leaving JoAnn's was the quality and ability to get the machine repaired.  I found out there is a Singer repair shop less than 10 miles away that my BF bought a Singer machine from 20+ years ago for his Mom and now himself uses.  Second, there is a 10 day return policy for JoAnn's on defects plus a 90 day upgrade policy.  

After finding the repair and return information on the Singers, I could not pass up the sale for $200 (reg $300) on the Singer machine.  I can only hope this is the beginning of Singer trying to redeem their name and have built a quality product again.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2010 06:56:03 PM by Idle Hands » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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1lasthope
« Reply #61 on: March 23, 2010 10:09:42 PM »

I'm buying my first machine, is this one good?

http://www.sears.ca/product/kenmore-md-horizontal-sewing-machine-54-stitch-functions/200316554?campaign=rr

It says it has 54 stitch functions but it doesn't explain which ones it has?
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« Reply #62 on: March 26, 2010 08:25:44 AM »

This tread has been very enlightening.  I have been researching machines for about a year now.  What I've decided to do is find an older/vintage machine and learn as I go.  I haven't sewn a stitch for 5 years and my only other experience was in HS home economics classes. 

I really want to do art project with paper, screen and other non fabrics.  I think it's going to be okay if my machine isn't pretty or light.  I want something I can learn and work on.  Maybe in a few years I'll invest in a new machine.  I do some weaving and take my projects to professionals because I don't sew.  Maybe with practice that will change.

Thanks to everyone who has shared their experiences in this post!
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Idle Hands
« Reply #63 on: March 27, 2010 10:47:22 AM »

I'm buying my first machine, is this one good?

http://www.sears.ca/product/kenmore-md-horizontal-sewing-machine-54-stitch-functions/200316554?campaign=rr

It says it has 54 stitch functions but it doesn't explain which ones it has?
What I like about the machine is it has the horizontal bobbin instead of the older vertical ones with the bobbin shuttle, race, and case that all had to be disassembled if there was a jam.

As for the stitch functions, I'm guessing they are considering variations of the 12 stitches as additional "functions".  I'd still consider it to be a 12 stitch machine.  Depending on what you are considering using it for the 12 stitches may be enough.  The most common I use are straight, zig-zag, blind hem (having the blind hem foot helps a lot!), and now the finishing type stitches with my new machine.  Decorative stitches are nice but not necessary.  If you have a Sears store nearby I would ask them to demo the machine and explain the functions.

As for Kenmore, if I remember right Janome is building the machines with the Kenmore name right now. That might be another question for the store.
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« Reply #64 on: August 29, 2010 02:21:06 PM »

I'm sorry, but I feel almost all of what was said here was very unhelpful and quite discouraging for the beginning seamster.

Today I had someone deliver an old sewing machine in cabinet for $40, and when she left I discovered the plug was completely encrusted with green junk that made me afraid to plug it in for fear of blowing out the electrical in my whole apt.  I have left two messages wanting my money back, but no reply.  In the ad, it said her MIL gave it to her and it worked fine she just didn't sew.  This was obviously kept outside.  I didn't pick it up myself because it's in a cabinet and I only own a car, so I paid her extra to deliver.  

So...no, I don't shop at Walmart or Target because I believe they are destroying our world, but if I want a machine to get started sewing again, I cannot spend more than $100, and I'm already $40 down with nothing but a very heavy old piece of crap taking up space in the corner of my office/sewing room.  

A few people have said they bought a 'cheapo' machine that turned out to be a piece of crap, but didn't give a brand or model number, so that's pretty useless.  Brother makes machines from $60 to a few hundred bucks.  I'm looking at one for $114 new at Walmart (which is out of the question because I WILL NOT shop there) but is available refurbished on Overstock for $90.  It is by no means the cheapest there, but is not the most expensive, either.  It has mostly great reviews and does a ton of cool things, and has a platform arm to support your sewing project.

 It is, specifically, the Brother XL3750 Free Arm Sewing Machine

Maybe you would say I should take my remaining $60 to the thrift store and buy a "granny just waiting to teach me to sew", but it's not like I can try those out, and who says they haven't been in storage for ten years and won't need a $100 tune up?  Some grandmas are way past retirement, nearly blind, and still trying to drive anyway.  Not good.  And what they've taught me today is don't buy used unless you can try it out and you really know machines enough to know if you have a good one or one that is going to cost you $100 in repairs tomorrow.

No, I'm all about recycling, but I feel safer buying new from someone who will give me a refund if not satisfied.

If you can afford Pfaff's and Janome's good for you, but it does no good to tell someone who can't, that they have no option but to buy a used old possible lemon or a cheap new piece of crap.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2010 06:56:00 PM by Aislynn - Reason: Edited to remove off topic information. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #65 on: August 30, 2010 01:10:25 PM »

I'm sorry, but I feel almost all of what was said here was very unhelpful and quite discouraging for the beginning seamster.

Today I had someone deliver an old sewing machine in cabinet for $40, and when she left I discovered the plug was completely encrusted with green junk that made me afraid to plug it in for fear of blowing out the electrical in my whole apt.  I have left two messages wanting my money back, but no reply.  In the ad, it said her MIL gave it to her and it worked fine she just didn't sew.  This was obviously kept outside.  I didn't pick it up myself because it's in a cabinet and I only own a car, so I paid her extra to deliver.  

So...no, I don't shop at Walmart or Target because I believe they are destroying our world, but if I want a machine to get started sewing again, I cannot spend more than $100, and I'm already $40 down with nothing but a very heavy old piece of crap taking up space in the corner of my office/sewing room.  

A few people have said they bought a 'cheapo' machine that turned out to be a piece of crap, but didn't give a brand or model number, so that's pretty useless.  Brother makes machines from $60 to a few hundred bucks.  I'm looking at one for $114 new at Walmart (which is out of the question because I WILL NOT shop there) but is available refurbished on Overstock for $90.  It is by no means the cheapest there, but is not the most expensive, either.  It has mostly great reviews and does a ton of cool things, and has a platform arm to support your sewing project.

 It is, specifically, the Brother XL3750 Free Arm Sewing Machine

Maybe you would say I should take my remaining $60 to the thrift store and buy a "granny just waiting to teach me to sew", but it's not like I can try those out, and who says they haven't been in storage for ten years and won't need a $100 tune up?  Some grandmas are way past retirement, nearly blind, and still trying to drive anyway.  Not good.  And what they've taught me today is don't buy used unless you can try it out and you really know machines enough to know if you have a good one or one that is going to cost you $100 in repairs tomorrow.

No, I'm all about recycling, but I feel safer buying new from someone who will give me a refund if not satisfied.

If you can afford Pfaff's and Janome's good for you, but it does no good to tell someone who can't, that they have no option but to buy a used old possible lemon or a cheap new piece of crap.

First of all, I'm sorry you got ripped off.  Sad  Like you said, Craigslist can be a skeezy place - I hope you are able to get your money back.  It's always good to go take a look at what you're buying even if you can't transport it yourself to make sure the seller isn't pulling a fast one on ya.

As for the rest of your post, I'm sorry you feel that way.  Craftster is about sharing information and that's just what everyone here is doing.  It's true that you can find a great older machine that will sew wonderfully, but yes, you could also end up with a lemon.  And an entry level new machine may not be as problem free as you are hoping for.  In either of these cases, I think the idea is to let a prospective sewing machine buyer know about these situations and possible pitfalls so they will know what to expect and not be totally crushed when something goes wrong.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2010 07:13:59 PM by Aislynn - Reason: Edited to remove off topic section of quote. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #66 on: August 30, 2010 07:27:34 PM »

Hi, everybody!  I just want to post a friendly reminder for folks to stay on the topic of sewing machines!

Also on that topic, I know, I know, having a fancy expensive sewing machine is something we all dream about, aspire to, and enjoy, but there is something to be said for starter machines.  I've got a Brother LS2125i, which gets bashed in a lot of forums, but truthfully, it's a fantastic little machine!  It does absolutely everything I've ever needed it to do, and I sew quite a bit!  It was a perfect machine to learn on, and I have yet to find its limit.  I think more important than an expensive machine is one that's kept in good condition, with new needles when needed, and kept clean of lint and loose threads.  As dharmaworker learned the hard way, even a good machine can turn sour with neglect.

I'm actually curious if anyone else who's posted on this thread has head good experiences with more basic machines?  I'm sure I can't be the only one!
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« Reply #67 on: September 04, 2010 01:41:53 PM »

Thank you, fraugee728, for your sympathy.  I really appreciate it.  And I kinda need it because...I must have some BAAAAD sewing machine mojo.  Because I got another lemon.

This was a Brother EX660.  Refurbished, from Overstock.  It arrived today and did not work.  More than that though, the plastic parts were so weak and flimsy that I was honestly afraid to even adjust it.  The manual said not to sew with the machine if this part, or this part, or the bobbin case were scratched, and that if it did look scratched, to call and order a new one from them right away.  Nice racket for them, since the plastic is so soft and scratches with a fingernail.  The bobbin case was gouged.

I will not buy a Brother plastic machine again.  I am so very happy for anyone who is happy with theirs.  Aislynn, you really deserve to have gotten a fabulous one because you are both a fabulous person and a fabulous seamstress, and I'm so happy that you did.  As you know, I had high hopes over this little machine.

I have learned a lot over this whole thing:

Do not buy a sewing machine, or anything else off CL, without going over to see it first, even if you are having them deliver it.  Be a hard case.  Try it, ask questions, be shrewd.  Because a lot of people lie on CL.

Do not buy refurbished from Overstock.  A CPU I bought that way also was a lemon.  New, yes.  Refurb, no.

Old sewing machines made of metal at least don't feel like they're going to snap to bits in your hands.  Yes, you can mess them up too...LOL...just ask me...but at least someone can put them right again, and you're not just left with a hand full of plastic pieces.  At least Overstock has great customer service.  They gave me an instant, postage paid refund, and yes tried to sell me a couple of other sewing machines, but they were great about it.

The ladies here who tell you to take your $100 and buy a used one and get a good tune up...are right, in my now adjusted and more humble opinion.  Sorry, ladies, for being so put out by what you were saying.  I still believe we can find more positive ways to encourage new sewists, but I also believe I will be buying used from my local sewing machine guy.  He's got a White Jeans Machine model 1210 for $125 that I'm looking at next week.  Does anyone know anything about that in particular?

So this is me.  Eating crow, learning lessons, living life, and still looking for a sewing machine.
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« Reply #68 on: September 04, 2010 02:30:46 PM »

Aw, that's terrible, Goddessgarb!  Hm, my Brother has metal insides.  Not sure if that's because it's an older refurb, or because of the model...  Something to look into, though, before I purchase my next machine!  I think the trick is to look for a machine in person.  Some stores carry refurbished ones, especially dealers.  It never hurts to ask!
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« Reply #69 on: September 04, 2010 02:43:48 PM »

Wow, yeah, that's very interesting!  Even the bobbin case?  Because this one was crappy plastic.
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