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Topic: Sewing machines, a buyers guide  (Read 66581 times)
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« Reply #50 on: December 31, 2008 01:29:52 PM »

First of all, since this is my first post, hi!

Second of all, I'm also looking for a machine in about the same ($150 to maybe $200) budget. There's a sewing(/vacuum cleaner?!) store near me that has Janome machines in that price range, with a 25 year warranty. I'm not sure that if anything was wrong they could fix it there, I forgot to ask when I was browsing around, but I just wanted to know... Would it be worth it? I can't seem to find too many reviews of the one I'm looking at (one of the Magnolias). I want mostly to be able to sew clothes and such, and maaaaybe the occasional project for the house (like a couch slipcover). Not too much heavy work, but if I wanted to, say, make a lightweight canvas bag I'd like to be able to do it without fear that the thing would shatter into 900 pieces or explode. The only machines I've ever used: a Singer from the 60s or 70s (I'm not sure) and a Pfaff from the 50s, neither of which in particularly good repair. (Though the Singer was in much better shape than the Pfaff.)

Any ideas?
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« Reply #51 on: December 31, 2008 03:22:32 PM »

Don't get to stoked about the 25 year warranty.  Only certain parts are covered for 25 years to be free from mfg defects.  Other parts are covers for 1, 2, 5 or 10 years.

Take some samples of the fabrics you would like to be able to sew and try the machine for yourself. If it can't handle the canvas, you'll know then.


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« Reply #52 on: January 25, 2009 09:30:07 AM »

Why is this NOT a sticky?! these questions are always being asked. Now I feel like a loser making a new thread when there was this one. D:

Well I read the entire thread, and I am excited looking for a good sewing machine. I consider myself a moderate sewing machine user and I'm doing my research on all the brands listed. the new sewing machine that i will buy will be my 4th machine in the course of 6 years. So definitely am looking for a machine that is going to last a lot longer than 2 years.

And I agree with EVERYONE. Don't buy cheap if you want a good quality. My first sewing  machine was that Euro Pro Shark one and I hated it with a PASSION (it was a gift so i don't feel like i wasted my money). then i got a singer. It was alot better, but then I started getting into more and more creative projects that my machine couldn't handle, so it was a time for an upgrade. So NOT doing my research, i thought, hey! Singer is the only good brand out there! and bought another one. bad mistake. Sure Singer is good for how much you paid for it, but it kept jamming up on me. alot.

So yeah. I need a good machine that is going to handle all my crazy/creative ideas, from the simple to the most complex. lesson learned. I'm waiting before i hop on the "hey its cheap!" wagon without doing my research again.


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« Reply #53 on: January 30, 2009 04:47:16 AM »

i made the mistake of buying a cheap machine, & my dh saved me by getting me a $258 Husq.-Viking Emerald 116, & im about to get my serger outta layaway. i LOVE my machine & felt guilty bout the money he spent on it but like he said in the long run i would have spent more on repairs on the cheepy machine that would total cost of this new great machine!..besides..lol he's gotten several quilts out of it.  i can't wait for that serger now!

Wife to Cary & mom to 5 awesome kids!
« Reply #54 on: February 01, 2009 09:25:16 PM »

Wow!  What a great thread.  Honestly though, this decision is still quite overwhelming for me.  I have a VERY basic Brother that my mother gave me while I was in college.  It is only capable of zig zag and straight stitch.  No button holes or anything exciting.  I make lots of baby carriers, home decor projects and clothes for myself, the kids and friend/family.  I am sewing more and more, and know I need to upgrade machines, but have not been able to make up my mind on what to get.  I have almost purchased a few things on Craigslist or at Target, but my husband encouraged me to do a little more research before making a decision.  After reading this whole thread I am SO glad I waited!

Hopefully this isn't too long and drawn out, but I have some questions that I haven't seen answered.  Based on my research, it seems like most people recommend a separate serger from a machine.  That is great, but I really don't have the room for it.  I'd really like a machine with an overlock stitch included.  I don't want a new, computerized machine...period.  I don't know if I can even find an older, antique machine with this stitch, but have found a few new, mechanical machines that do.  I also want the ability to make button holes since I am sewing clothes.  All that said, what would you recommend?  I live in Fort Worth, Texas (near Dallas), and there are LOTS of antique machines on our Craigslist...but again, it is overwhelming trying to figure out if it is one that has what I need.  Should I just opt for an older machine that does zig zag, straight stitch and buttons AND get a serger?  Or is there a machine out there that would have the things I'd like to have, but still be worth my money?

Thank you in advance for the help.  This thread has been incredibly helpful.

Oh, and this is my first post.  So, hello!   Grin

ETA:  I've not seen anything mentioned on her about the Necchi machines.  Anyone have any info on them?  A friend really likes her antique one, but it appears the newer ones aren't as good...just like most other machines, I suppose.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2009 09:27:10 PM by krepanie - Reason: ask about Necchi machines » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #55 on: February 02, 2009 03:46:24 AM »

This is a great reference.  Thank you!  I wish I had known all of this before buying my first sewing machine!

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« Reply #56 on: February 02, 2009 05:38:11 AM »

The pre-1965-ish Necchis are nice machines.  They are a little prone to having deteriorated wiring, but with a soldering iron and some basic electrical knowledge that's fixable. Since the vintage zz Necchi's have adjusable needle position, you can make manual 4 step buttonholes.  They are high shank machines, so vintage buttonhole attachments can be tough to find.  The vintage straight stitch Necchi's are low shank, and so BH attachments are much easier to find for them.

The later Necchis began to have plastic parts and, currently, they are no longer made by Necchi, just labled with the "Necchi brand".

The "overcast" stitch on many machines is slow due to the reverse feed involved (much like the "stretch" stitches).  I also find that it lays down ALOT of thread.  This can really bulk up your seams and keep them from laying nicely even after pressing and washing.  If you just want to finish off your seams, pinking, binding, or zigzagging the edges will all work out quite nicely.  You can even trim one side down, fold the other over it and straight stitch it right in the seam allowance.  It's like a mock binding and makes for a neat finish.

Really, you should head down to your local sewing machine shop with samples in hand and try some machines and the stitches.  Try out a serger too just for the experience.


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« Reply #57 on: February 17, 2009 12:15:41 PM »

I have a basic Elna (btw Elnas are Swiss, not German) that I bought in 2000 for about $300.  It has had a couple of issues, but nothing that me actually taking it in to have it serviced regularly wouldn't have prevented.  It has served me very well.

Right now I'm thinking of selling it or trading it in for something nicer - a Husqvarna, Pfaff, or Bernina.  Though, I just bought a Babylock Imagine Serger, so that time might not be for a while...lol.  My Elna can't always handle the thickness of fabric that I would like it to, and I would like a more streamlined buttonholer.  Those are really my only complaints.  If anyone has any specific questions about Elnas, you can PM me and I can see if I can answer them for you!

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« Reply #58 on: June 30, 2009 10:15:21 AM »

I'm getting a machine for my birthday but I'm in a dilemma -
The only thing that's sold locally are Singer and Brother machines and I'm not sure if the nearest John Lewis (almost 200 miles from me) sells other machines.

S&B aren't recommended in this thread, but buying a better machine over the net is out of the question (my mother is terrified about buying things over the internet, hell she's just terrified of the internet).

There aren't any local sewing machine dealers either.
I only really have a budget of around 100 (around $100-150).

Any help?
« Reply #59 on: March 01, 2010 09:32:51 PM »

Hi SpottedFrog,
I just wanted to thank you for the your insight and information that you are sharing with us. This is my first time on the Craftster website/forum. I checked out the first link which gives the car analogy (I like that!) I know this was posted in ''07 but hopefully you or someone else will spot it.

Let me share a little bit about my interest in sewing. I have only ever really sewed once before and that was when I was in sixth grade and I am now 25. I remember being excited to learn but when it actually came time to use the machine I was afraid of the machine''s needle stabbing my fingers or something. I did like hand sewing some stitches and the satisfaction of completing the (one) project I got to do.
Fast forward and I''m still curious and hoping to give sewing another try. I really, really want to purchase a machine and then, hopefully, take a class. I love to watch the red carpet pre shows and browse through fashion mags like InStyle and Vogue for beautiful dresses and dream of making gowns (or even clothes of my own). Ok. Let''s go with the car analogy. I''m kind of a luxury girl so the Mercedes Benz interests me (even though I hear Lexus is better and the high end brand of Toyota''s).

Speaking of Toyota, current problems of the actual company aside, they are truly a reliable and classic brand that always produced great cars. Or a Volkswagon would be great to consider too.

I want something that is portable (it seems that sewing center and anyone that teaches request  or suggest this). I really, really want to get something brand new but if I have to I will consider one that is used. I heard plastic is bad and I certainly want something that is mechanical. I''ve heard that it''s best just to get a straight stitch, that I''ll learn more from it due to limits (force me to be creative or something). I''m not sure if you or anyone wants to chime in with your opinion on that but I''d love to hear your suggestions.

Thank you and I''m glad to have found craftster as well as your thread! 

UPDATED 12/ 19/ 07 **Bumping for relevence**

So the craftopedia is down for a bit, but I figure we can start here & when it is ready get our lovely mods to move it.

I do not pretend to know everything about every machine, or even everything about my own machine, I look for good commentary from you other experienced folks which I will incorporate into the original post with proper credit Smiley

I do know how to recognize a good machine, and I'm a pretty good comparative shopper. Smiley

Buying a sewing machine is like buying a car, your level of skill, mechanical needs and budget dictate what you get in your machine. Sewing machines vary in price and quality much like cars. Bernina = Mercedez-Benz, Janome = Toyota, Kenmore = Buick, Pfaff = Volvo, Viking/ Husqvarna = Volkswagon. (Ok, most of the countries didn't line up perfectly, meh)
Knowing the reputation of the brand you are looking at, as well as recent reviews of quality  for the specific model is important. If it's a good machine you will be using it a lot, if it's a poor machine you will not get far fast.

Some people have Hyundais and love them, some people wouldn't be caught dead in them. The middle of the road brands of Singer and Brother sort of fall into the Hyundai category.

So, to use the analogy above, would you rather have a gently used Mercedes? or a brand new Yugo?

Would you buy a car without driving it? Why buy a sewing machine someplace you can't try it out?

When you buy a car from the dealership there is an assurance of staff who can maintain your car correctly, any time down the road, same goes for a sewing machine store/ department within a store. Walmart has no service department, nor does Target. (don't get me wrong, I shop at both frequently, but not for sewing machines).

Like automotive companies, most sewing machine companies have levels or classes of the same thing. Or like Kenmore* & Husquavarna are divisions of larger companies that manufacture all kinds of stuff. Many Sewing exclusive companies have huge numbers of products, accesories and specialized optional components.

* The Kenmore name is owned by Sears, they actually choose products from other companies that meet their standards and make a deal to put Kenmore on the front. It's still good stuff and has the Sears reputation & service to back it up.

So Nitty Gritty:
Never sewn but want to learn how- what should I buy?
This is what you need from your machine:

- straight stitch
- zig zag stitch
- reverseable stitching (most have a button or lever to do this, it's not a setting)
- a light on the machine
- bobbin winder
- foot pedal
- sturdy enough body that if it gets tripped over while sitting on the floor an adult's shoe won't crack the housing
- solid/ well placed footing or base so the machine does not rock or slide while sewing

Sewn some, learning more, want to do knits/ bags/ delicate garments/etc.

You now need all of the above and:
- a stretch stitch
- a zipper foot
- a button hole function
- an applique or other wide foot
- a walking foot if quilting is a goal
- ability to drop the feed dogs if quilting is a goal

Brands that are generally considered good used:
Singers over 15 years old (American built models)
Viking/ Husqvarna
Janome that are less than 10 years old (Japanese built models)

Country of origin & general statistics on service:

Bernina: Switzerland, has US based service company for big repairs. Excellent warranty. Many Authorized Dealers around the US, if you want a new one  it's worth looking into these official stores. Pretty much the Mercedez of sewing machines, parts don't come cheap but they last so long you don't need to buy parts very often. Last sewing machine company world wide that is still owned & run by the original family. Budget line is called Bernette, seen as low as $US 199 on sale.

Pfaff: Germany, does not have US base for  large repair service. Many Authorized Dealers across the US. Excellent warranty. Many put Pfaff in the same category as Bernina, a hair cheaper than Bernina. If Bernina = Mercedez, then Pfaff = Audi. Budget lines are Hobby and Smart.

Viking/ Husqvarna: Sweden. {need more info} Budget line is called Huskystar.

Janome: Japan, does not have US base for large repairs. Many Authorized Dealers across the US. Much younger company than most, but like Toyota and many other Japanese brands, have quickly established themselves as reliable machines. Budget lines are Florals and Gem Gold.

Singer: Until 19XX(eighty something?- need more research) American, still owned American but now produced elsewhere.

White: American. Has been around nearly as long as Singer. Long reputation as being good sturdy basic machines, does not manufacture as many higher end or fancy machines. Does produce Sergers and commercial machines as well.

Elna: German? Less popular in the US, I think more popular across Europe (chime in please, sisters across the pond Smiley ). High quality, non-beginner machines. Harder to find Authorized Service in the US.
{{ will come back to this soon!}}

** So I did some research, no wonder everybody looking is asking about Brother & Singer, that's all I could find with prices attatched!! The market is flooded with Singer & Brother machines, every discount wholesaler on the net has dozens of each! Which really should speak for itself, if those machines were selling in the original stores, there wouldn't be so many at the second tier sales places, right?
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