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Topic: First Sewing Machine - Opinions Needed  (Read 704 times)
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bunnicula
« on: December 25, 2007 11:51:13 AM »

I'm considering buying my first sewing machine. I have never sewn before (aside from in Home Ec. class), but it is something that I would like to learn. I am looking for an inexpensive machine that will be easy to use and that will have everything that a casual sewer might need. While I don't anticipate ever using the machine a lot, if I end up liking to sew, I would like to be able to grow a little bit with the machine. I have read some of the buying tips on here and I think that I would like to get a Kenmore machine. The problem is that I haven't the slightest clue as to which model would be best for my purposes. What do you guys think?


Here are some crude pictures of model descriptions (taken from the Sears catalogue):

Kenmore 4 and 8 stitch (this is currently on sale for 159.99 Cdn):



Kenmore 12 stitch:



Kenmore 27 stitch (this is currently on sale for 229.99 Cdn):





Though it is not a Kenmore, there is also a cheap Brother on sale at Walmart. I don't think that I would want this machine in the long run, but it might be okay as a learning machine:




Any opinions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
« Last Edit: December 25, 2007 11:51:40 AM by bunnicula » THIS ROCKS   Logged
marypoppins
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« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2007 12:38:51 PM »

My first machine was a Kenmore.  I have been very happy with it.  It has sewn many different types of material without balking.  My only complaint with it was the 4 step buttonhole.  I always have trouble getting my buttonholes to look right.  So when it got ruined by a burst water pipe, I knew I wanted a machine that did a one-step buttonhole.    So for that reason I would recommend the 12 Stitch Kenmore.

Of course, if you ever have the chance to get your hands on an older machine (1960's and back) get it!  The older machines don't have all the bells and whistles but they are made with all metal parts and will last you a very long time.
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« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2007 02:37:32 PM »

Hi Bunnicula!

The woman I work for (in a sewing studio) just wrote up an email about choosing sewing machines to send out to our database. It's now up on her web site, so here's the link:
http://www.glitzkrieg.biz/schedule/sewing_machine_advice.html

She's also a Kenmore girl - there's one she mentions in the email that I think was $199 over the holidays (at Sears) that she's in love with. Has ooodles of features and is still easy to use (also has a turtle-to-rabbit speed control). Her recs are based on years and years of constant sewing. Hope this helps! Have fun! Smiley
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olive_juice
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2007 02:42:03 PM »

The only machine i can personally vouch for is the Brother, although i've had a little experience with kenmores. I have the Brother model you're looking at, and it's not a bad machine for simple sewing and stuff. It's louder than some, but i've never had any real problems with it at all. It performs just fine for my needs, although a one-step buttonholer would be dreamy... Oh well, poor college kids gotta act like it! At the moment, i'm pledging my allegiance to Janome cause I'm at home for break and get to use mum's sewing machine that she NEVER USES ANYWAY. grumble grumble grumble....
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« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2007 06:14:00 PM »

My first(and only) sewing machine is the Singer Simple..
I knew how to work it after the first day
(Good for those who get frustrated quickly and throw things)
It's a good sewing machine Cheesy &it's not SUPER expensive.. only $90

http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=4698205
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« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2007 07:41:53 PM »

Just my two cents Smiley  I have a very bare bones basic machine - a 13yo Kenmore which I use for everything - sewing, repairing, quilts, clothes, costumes, bags - you name it.  My personal recommendation is that any machine should (with the right attachments) do whatever you need unless you need fancy stitches, or embroidered designs.  If you are essentially planning to sew pieces of fabric together and occasionally need a decorative stitch any new basic level machine at Target or Walmart should work. You can literally spend thousands of dollars on souped up machines that will do all kinds of funky stuff but the question is do you need it? 

I would say to start out if you're not sure how much you'll use it and for what - your best bet is to go to St. Vincent de Paul or Goodwill and buy a used machine for $15.  So long as the machine works - you should still be able to get parts / attachments (especially Kenmores).  Many a good machine has been donated when a parent stops sewing or dies because the children don't sew.  If it's older, the most you might need to do to get it in fine order is to have it tuned up (usually $25-$35) - they recommend you do this every so many years - I'm overdue I've never had my serviced.  Any local sewing / fabric store should be able to direct you to a service person.  My local Jo Ann stores in two states offered a service where they advertised a drop date and you could bring your machine in and the service guy would pick it up, and bring it back w/in a week serviced.  Made it easy.  With a used machine - you can also find out what you really need / want in a machine before you invest in an expensive one.

Attachments and feet can often be bought at the local sewing store from other manufacturers for different machines.  If you bring in a foot from the machine you buy - and show the store personnel how it attaches to the shank you should be able to find a different brand foot that works on your machine.  I've bought at least 3 different brand feet (non-Kenmore) for my Kenmore machine that work fine (often fancy feet for quilting and sewing that Kenmore just didn't make for my machine). 

The other cool thing about an older machine is that overall they're tougher.  I had an old black Singer (in the cabinet electric) that was tough as nails.  I'm so sorry I let my parents sell it after they bought my existing machine for me.  That Singer could punch holes in metal - it sewed through multiple layers of leather just like it was butter.  My newer machine isn't quite as tough.  It squawks when I ask it to sew through 10 layers of fabric.  It's great for every day but not so good for some of my more recent attempts at foam padded laptop cases and stabilizer reinforced bags. 
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anneland22
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2007 10:05:07 PM »

I have used kenmores, whites, vikings and brothers.

OF those, my very favorite one left standing is a brother. Very sturdy hard working machine. I sew tons and like to fancy myself a professional. I think that my computerized brother is just as great as the very expensive Vikings and it is only slightly better than its predecessor, the machinized brother that I keep as a fall back.

One thing - which may or may not be clear from my follow description - I have discovered that a drop in bobbin (the one that sits on the faceplate of the machine) rather than the separate underneath compartment has a great limitation - you cannot do smocking with elastic thread in the bobbin - you know the effect that is used in tons of cute summer cotton dresses and tops, sometimes to make it a tube top or to add extra fit to the back.


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SpottedFrog
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2007 08:13:23 AM »

my opinion on sewing machines is here Smiley

http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=214760.0
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« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2007 09:21:03 AM »

You might want to go to PatternReview.com http://sewing.patternreview.com/SewingMachine/Reviews
and look at the machines reviewed there.  There are a whole lot of reviews posted and you should be able to get some good ideas.

For what it's worth, I have the Brother LS2125, I bought it in Europe so it is for 220 volt, and it doesn't like to go through multiple layers of batting.  I tried to make a quilted jacket and it was balking.  It's fine for normal clothing sewing, but if you're looking at coats, jackets, or home dec, I suggest you think about what the previous posted have said about a used machine.  I only needed this one for fitting and making soft things like lingerie, so it's worked out fine for me.

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bunnicula
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2007 12:08:01 PM »

Thanks for the help. I just bought the 12 Stitch Kenmore. Now I just need to find a place to put it.
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