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Topic: Are there cheap sewing machines that aren't going to die on me?  (Read 2859 times)
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« on: July 01, 2007 10:55:32 AM »

[I know this has likely been asked before, but I went back a bit and couldn't find anything terribly recent, so I hope it's okay.]

I'm in college and--yeah--I'm broke as anything for the next four years. I REALLY wish I had a sewing machine around, though, and I know I've seen a few models around for <$100. I'm (rightly?) suspicious of a machine for less than $100, but it's tempting.

I definitely would not want to go over $150. Portability and small size would be very nice, considering I'm in a dorm during the school year and apartment over the summer (and have limited room in both).

I live in Chicago, so I have just about any brick-and-mortar store available to me except Wal-Mart (not too bummed about that, anyway). Shipping will probably be painful, so I'll browse online but would prefer to go pick the thing up myself.

I've seen the Janome Sew Mini and this one, too, and would especially like to hear about anybody's experience with either of those.

I probably won't be using it too extensively on really hard-core fabrics--maybe the occasional fleece, denim, or felt--but multiple layers of cottons and such may be inevitable.

Really, I'd just love a machine I don't have to spend a month's rent on that will last me for as many years as possible.

"Look, I've shrunk it! BY THE MAGIC OF XEROGRAPHY." -my sociolinguistics professor

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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2007 11:10:04 AM »

I think generally, you are better off investing a little bit in a machine that will last for a long time. I received a used one one for x-mas a while back which had been tuned up and it is really good quality because it has worked really well ever since.
it is old and very simple (singer), not computerized or anything but it can do whatever I want it to.

hope that helps you... but, yeah, spend a little and you'll be better off in the  long run.

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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2007 03:02:36 PM »

A mini or 3/4 sized machine isn't going to save you that much storage space over one with a decent size arm (the space between the needle & the vertical portion of the housing). Stick your hand in that space if you look at one in the store, make a fist & rotate- if you whack your knuckles you will hate the machine fast...

My sewing machine repair guy actually reccomends the Janome machines- they are a great starter in that they are very simple with good gearing. He like "The Jean Machine" best- it has metal gears.

Don't be afraid to look for used machines too- you could get a much higher quality one for your $100.

Add $25-$45 for cleaning & tune up if you buy used, but if you get a 3 year old machine that retails for $350 you've done well.

Good Luck in the search!
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2007 07:51:17 PM »

I'm in almost the exact same situation!  (Cheap college student wanting a small-ish machine that won't break down.)  I've done a little sewing before on my aunt's singer and have been researching online for forever, looking for the perfect machine.  I'm hoping the splurge at the end of this summer.  I don't know what you're planning on using your machine for, but here's what I've figured out so far.  I'm hoping to use my machine for relatively simple garments and maybe the occasional quilt.

The main features I was looking for:
*small/light so it could travel between home/dorm
*free-arm (for possible quilting and sleeve cuffs)
*zipper-foot availability
*relatively dependable
I also would prefer the machine to be able to stitch blind hems.  I figured I wouldn't really need alot of fancy decorative stitches or an automatic needle-threader.

The Janome Sew Mini has been repackaged as the "Hello Kitty Blue" Sewing machine.  When I saw the adorable Hello Kitty version, I almost bought it right away.  Available at Target for $60.  I've seen it w/o Hello Kitty on it for as low as $40.  It gets generally good reviews from people who use it as a second machine for traveling, or just occasionally for hemming but since it doesn't come with a zipper foot or a button hole feature, I ruled it out.  Also, the sewing only has one speed.  I thought that the slow speed would get annoying after awhile.  (There is also a green hello kitty machine which does have a button-hole feature, but it also only has one speed.)

Another machine I looked at was the Janome Gem Gold.  It was recommended by a couple different sites as a good beginner machine.  The price ($200) was higher than I was really willing to pay but I thought it might be worth it if it was a machine I could "grow into".  However, I read that there are only 3 stitch lengths and that the machine was a little noisy.  Those things and the price were enough to make me decide against the machine.

Next, I looked at a whole bunch of Brother machines.  They're are alot of them online at Overstock.com and Amazon.com.  At those sites they are marked down alot and you can find some that are refurbished.  Since I usually think that buying refurbished is a pretty good deal, I thought that this might be a good route for me.  I looked at the Brother 2230, which is $75+$3shipping at overstock (refurbished).  I decided against the Brother 2610 b/c it was pink and seemed to be more expensive and not very many more features.

So, right now I'm leaning towards the Brother XL-2600i b/c it has a one-step buttonhole feature (the lower models have 4-step buttonholes).  Its available for $90 at Amazon.  But I'm still looking around b/c I don't really know the general brand quality of brother sewing machine.

Here are some links I've found:

Anyway, whew, that was a long post.  Sorry for rambling.  I hope this was helpful and that you find a great sewing machine!
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2007 08:20:51 PM »

tinytuna, thank you SO much--that was extremely helpful. I saw the Hello Kitty (green) machine at Target--it's good to hear it's actually a well-crafted machine, because I thought it was a nice size and had fairly good features for the price. (By the way, Penlowe, I have really, really small hands--a kid's machine is totally fine.)

I've bought other things by Brother and have found that their quality exceeds their price--perhaps not extremely so, but enough to give a good starter machine.

I think I'll narrow my searches to the lower-end machines in both those brands, then. I would go for some kind of used machine, but so far my craigslist searches have been fruitless and I don't think I trust ebay with this kind of thing--I'm a little worried about getting ripped off.

"Look, I've shrunk it! BY THE MAGIC OF XEROGRAPHY." -my sociolinguistics professor

« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2007 05:38:06 AM »

I'm in the same boat -- and i don't know much about sewing.  Grin I've been looking at getting a used machine and I'm not sure how much to expect to pay or what to watch out for.  Does anyone have any advice?
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2007 08:54:45 PM »

I wound up getting a once-used Kenmore Sew Mini off of craigslist for super cheap. It was a good enough deal that if i hate it and have to get a new one in a few years I won't be heartbroken--and so far it seems to work really well! Hopefully I can get to Joann tomorrow so I can start an actual project Smiley

"Look, I've shrunk it! BY THE MAGIC OF XEROGRAPHY." -my sociolinguistics professor

« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2007 04:34:50 AM »

I wouldn't get anything "mini".. all in all, they're not that much cheaper, and they're pretty much guaranteed not to last long.
I've been sewing for 20 years, and basically stick to my favorite brand Husqvarna. I can't even tell you how many other machines I've been through, I've run them all into the ground. However.. (and this is true!) There's only been one machine that I've had this whole time that has never broken on me or needed a repair, and it's my cheap little singer.  I know singer has a really bad reputation, but honestly... it's been the only one I've owned that has stood up to everything. And it was cheap. I don't even remember how much it was, but I'm sure that I wouldn't have spent more than $100 on a sewing machine at the time.. lightweight, portable, etc.. I think it was called the "school model" as it's the kind most schools would buy to teach sewing.. hope that helps!
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2007 08:33:00 AM »

Well, considering I only paid $15 for this one, I don't feel like I have a lot invested in it--it works for what I need it to for now, and I'll keep my eyes open for a better one I could save up for or ask for for Christmas.

My mom has a Husqvarna and it's had more problems than any machine I've ever seen, so I'm a little wary.

"Look, I've shrunk it! BY THE MAGIC OF XEROGRAPHY." -my sociolinguistics professor

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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2007 02:26:26 PM »

I recomend buying second-hand. I have two second-hand machines that were both under $50 each, and they are much more reliable and can sew on a wider variety of fabrics (denim) than most new machines that you'd be able to get for less than $150.

By the way, those Hello Kitty machines generally are garbage when it come to heavier fabrics, like denim and courdoroy.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2007 02:29:29 PM by darkdaughter » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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