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Sewing Machine Shopping


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Can we discuss buying a new or used machine?  Thoughts, ideas, things to avoid? 

I've got a machine - $6 find at a rummage sale - but it's temperamental at times and I'm thinking it will need to be replaced at some point.  And I'd rather replace it before I have to, if you know what I mean. :)  Don't want to be in the middle of a Halloween costume or class-play outfit when it decides to implode at midnight or something.  Right now, I've got a White brand, probably from the 80s.  I lucked into finding it dirt cheap, and I've gotten $6 worth of work out of it, not to mention the bobbins and thread and elastic it came with (those were probably worth $15 anyway).  I don't need or want anything too automated, I figure it's just more possibilities for breaking down.  I wish I'd bought one of the old machines that the Home Ec department was getting rid of, way back when I was in high school, but I didn't. 

 

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I have a Bernina that I got in 1984 and it's still going strong. At the time it was nearly top-of-the-line but by today's computerized standards, it's a dinosaur. Fine by me, it does just what I need it to and frankly, aside from the straight and zig-zag stitches, as an apparel and home dec sewer, I almost never used the other stitch modes. In fact, I don't think I ever met anyone else who used them either. If apparel and home dec are what you're into, I'd say to look for the best quality basic machine you can get for your money and leave the rest alone. If you're into quilting or embroidery, then look for models specifically geared towards those. I don't think there's any machine, no matter how pricey, that's a one size fits all for every kind of sewing. The more bells and whistles a machine has, the more likely those feature are to gather dust because they can't do the same job a dedicated machine can. I'd also recommend looking into a serger for home dec and apparel in addition to a regular machine. When I was still sewing a lot–I hardly do it anymore—I also had a 5-thread model that got constant use but I sold that a while ago.

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I bought a Brother last year that I've really enjoyed. The machine I had before that started acting up badly (I'd had it since high school). I was taking a sewing class and mentioned my tempermental machine to the teacher; she asked how long it had been since I had had it cleaned. My answer was :ABON: "They need to be cleaned?"

  Ahem. 

Needless to say, I'm cleaning my newish one.

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I have a Janome and I adore it. I sew a LOT and it's really a great workhorse machine. (I have the DC-2012, which has been replaced with a model with more embroidery stitches.) I previously had a Janome Gem Gold picked up for $40 on Craigslist which got me through almost 2 years of fairly major sewing- I liked the brand enough to stick with it. Before that I had an antique singer that finally just couldn't be refurbished any more. 

THe higher end Brothers get good marks; but the budget ones I would not bother with.Ditto Viking. 

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I bought a Brother last year that I've really enjoyed. The machine I had before that started acting up badly (I'd had it since high school). I was taking a sewing class and mentioned my tempermental machine to the teacher; she asked how long it had been since I had had it cleaned. My answer was :ABON: "They need to be cleaned?"

  Ahem. 

Needless to say, I'm cleaning my newish one.

:LOUCHE:wait...they need to be cleaned??? FML another thing I'm doing wrong. Thanks mom. lol Guess I'm looking up my model and doing a little cleaning tonight. le sigh

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My birthday gift when I was 16 was a Singer 16 stitch model that has been a real workhorse for me for years and years. I have loved that machine and worked it until I thought it was dead - it was having trouble with tension and motor issues, etc. I had it serviced through The place mom bought it but they felt it was a lost cause.  My wonderful husband bought me an amazing Bernina embroidery combo machine a few years ago to replace my old Singer and I love it but I found that I sort of needed two machines at some point (I know, I know.....). So, I took my old Singer to my mechanic who services my embroidery machine and lo, and behold, it is as though I have another new machine!!!! I was thrilled.  Like I was 16 again. I would try finding another thrifted machine and a great mechanic through your local (great) sewing shop. (And it didn't cost me a ton of money - it wasn't $6 but the parts in this machine are sturdy - I know because I have seen them for years!!!)

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Yeah, honestly, the most complicated thing I can imagine doing would be buttonholes.  Maybe.  Buttonholes would mean that I'm sewing actual clothing, and right now, I'm not even ambitious enough to tackle knits, much less something with sleeves and buttons (especially after the way my Home Ec clothes turned out).  :mindblowing:  The $6 Wonder supposedly does buttonholes, but I haven't tried that yet.  Hardest thing would be hemming jeans, so something that can handle 4 or 6 layers of denim without blowing a gasket.  I made a felt playhouse a year or so ago, and 3 layers of felt was as much as the machine could handle, and even that was iffy - mostly the thickness, and the fuzziness of the felt snagging on things.  The pile of jeans to hem keeps getting put off because I'm not sure the machine can handle it.

This one is a White, a brand I've never heard of, old enough to be non-computerized but new enough that most of the innards are plastic, not metal.  Not sure how much it was used before I got it.  It works okay for the most part, but has occasional hissyfits.  I was sewing the Kid's Halloween costume Saturday, and it suddenly started having problems with thread snarling.  Seems the spool tension had spontaneously gone loose, and I hadn't touched or changed anything except ending one seam and starting a new one. 

Brand-wise, other than Singer, what options are there for a sturdy basic machine that can do zigzag and buttonholes?  Pretty sure the Home Ec classes used Singers, other than that I'm clueless on brands.  If you were buying a used machine, what would you avoid, or check for?  The garage sale machine was a total gamble, I don't even think I plugged it in to test it before I bought it.

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I've been happy with my Janome 3125 Lightweight (only 11 lbs!) I got it in college when I was moving back and forth between the dorms and home, so portability and reasonable cost were my two main selling points. I don't know if that model is still available or if you would want a lightweight- I've never done jeans on it, but I'm sure there are heavier duty ones.

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I've had decent luck with Brothers. I recently got the cheapest one they had ($70 I think) because my nicer one crapped out on me and I'm currently very broke, and I'm liking it so far. Louder than I'm used to, and missing some perks I'm used to, but it works. 

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I have a Husqvarna Scandinavian (no longer available) and now I have a Husqvarna Sapphire (I quilt). I love their products. My mom has a Designer II and the H|Class 100q.

The H|Class 100q is lightweight and does a lot of different stuff without being overly complex. I see they have 2 new H|Class machines with more features.

I love that my feet and bobbins from the Scandinavian feet on my Sapphire and my mom's Designer and H|Class. I believe the Janome line does the same thing with their accessories. Janome has a similar light weight machine.

The H|Class 100q is about $400, and with cleaning it will last a long, long time. My local Husqvarna dealer suggests about once a year based on how much I sew and it is about $75/cleaning.

 

Happy Sewing!! :sewmachine:

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Older Pfaff's are amazing! I have an old Pfaff and it is a workhorse! Still going strong. Just does basic stitches and such. Nothing too complicated.

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My favorites are Italian Necchi machines from the 50s and 60s.  I collect sewing machines and have to say the older ones do such an amazing job.  I have a new computerized brother that is just junk compared to all of my old machines.  I go from 1883-1980 in ages 56 machines now I think.

What kind do you have?  I can probably get you the manual on how to clean.  

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I have a Singer 4452 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine and I love it. I made my daughter's Halloween costume this year and also a pair of fleece pants for my son. I had a basic White sewing machine before this and the Singer is much easier to thread (especially the bobbin) and use. It also has more stitches, including one that closely approximates a serged edge. I'm never buying a serger, so that comes in handy.

Edited by wildcatgrrl
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I have a Singer model 503a from 1961.  My mom bought it used in 63 and it's been mine since I started jr. high in 1970.  It's trendy now (collectors call it the "Rocketeer") so I'm glad I found one just like it at an estate sale.  Now I have parts.

Just to confuse you further, my picky friend tried many, many brands out but settled on a Babylock.  I'd think about it just for the automatic treading feature!:56247955dd693_32(12):

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have one of the new model Elna Lotus machines.  Love it.  It's a garment machine; not quilting.  But for its purposes, it's a dream.  Less features than the comparably priced brother, but it fits my needs perfectly. 

Also have access to a workhorse Bernina 350; one of those late 70s models that weighs about 20kg.  But man.  Beast of a machine.  

Can I throw in the usual - go talk to your local dealer etc..  they can totally talk you through the process/let you trial everything they have/will be available for you to show up and ask questions.   

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a Singer 4452 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine and I love it. I made my daughter's Halloween costume this year and also a pair of fleece pants for my son. I had a basic White sewing machine before this and the Singer is much easier to thread (especially the bobbin) and use. It also has more stitches, including one that closely approximates a serged edge. I'm never buying a serger, so that comes in handy.

So, turns out Jo-Ann Fabrics had the Singer 4452 as a Black Friday doorbuster, and I've got one on the way (early Xmas from DH).  Cross your fingers for me.  There aren't a lot of reviews out there on it, and one of the sewing sites had a reviewer who doesn't recommend it for beginners or youngsters, because it can apparently hit 1,100 stitches per minute (!!).  Not sure if I'm considered a beginner or not.  Pretty sure I won't be going pedal-to-the-metal on this one, though.   But maybe I'll finally try to do buttonholes - I just realized, nothing I made in Home Ec way-back-when had buttonholes, and when I did the costume for the class play last year I just skipped the buttonholes. 

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So, turns out Jo-Ann Fabrics had the Singer 4452 as a Black Friday doorbuster, and I've got one on the way (early Xmas from DH).  Cross your fingers for me.  There aren't a lot of reviews out there on it, and one of the sewing sites had a reviewer who doesn't recommend it for beginners or youngsters, because it can apparently hit 1,100 stitches per minute (!!).  Not sure if I'm considered a beginner or not.  Pretty sure I won't be going pedal-to-the-metal on this one, though.   But maybe I'll finally try to do buttonholes - I just realized, nothing I made in Home Ec way-back-when had buttonholes, and when I did the costume for the class play last year I just skipped the buttonholes. 

Yay! It CAN go really fast, that's true. But I also found that the pedal is way more responsive than the one on my old White machine, so it's easier to go as slow as I need to. Just try it out on some scrap fabric to get used to it and you'll see. I got used to it really fast. I haven't tried buttonholes yet, either, but one day. Once I drop a little weight I want to really start making clothes (because I don't want to have to alter anything I've made due to weight loss if I succeed.)

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