Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sewing machine shopping

It's been awhile since I've posted anything! I have a very long mental list of posts that I would like to make, I'm hoping I get to them soon....
For now, I have a question for the sewers out there: Does anyone have any good advice as to what brand and make of sewing machine is high quality but not too pricey? A friend of mine is on a hunt for a good basic home machine, and I'm sad to say I didn't have a lot of advice for her. Any feedback would be lovely. Thanks!

10 comments:

melissa said...

I just helped a friend test six different "budget" sewing machines for an article a few months ago. We're in the UK, but I think these should all be similarly priced stateside. Apart from what's in the article, my general recommendations are to go vintage if you can (even if it means spending a few bob on repairs first), and never, never, NEVER buy a recently-made Singer. They're absolutely awful, and just trading on the brand name of the fantastic vintage Singers!

Richard said...

I absolutely agree; vintage is the way to go. I do most of my sewing on a Bernina 930 (circa 1984) and while it was still pretty pricey, it has all the goods. I do have others that I occasionally trot out, but the Bernina gets the most mileage.

I'd also highly recommend a Singer 401, one of the finest zig-zag machines they made, and usually not too expensive; they were made in the early 60s, IIRC.

Alyson Clair said...

Have your friend hit up estate sales/thrift stores/craigslist to find one. I paid $15 for my 1956 Fleetwood 6 years ago. Over that time I have paid under $100 for tune ups and repairs. It is a workhorse! I would stay away from anything made of plastic. There is also a great shop in Beaverton that will repair the older ones with care, in the Fred Meyer plaza. Good luck!

hannah said...

Thanks for the information!

RachelMM said...

I completely understand the comments regarding a vintage machine and I have my baby (a Singer 401A) machine, but some people really would not like to mess with an old machine and all the quirks that come with it.

If your friend would like to buy a solid new machine, I would highly recommend the Janome brand. You can get a good starter machine and know that you won't need to mess around with it. Especially if someone is just starting out sewing it's nice not to have to think about the machine working properly.

Sonia Levesque said...

I've heard from professionnals; the heavier the machine, the better it is. Which just plainly states that metal parts are sturdier and much more durable than the newer plastic parts machines.

I wouldn't trust anything under 500$ for a new model. But like people said before me here, older model are cheaper and super good after a basic check-up. 50's models through early 80's would be a no brainer (if heavy... remember). After that, some companies were bought by Japenese companies and the products came down in price and quality.

Don't be fooled by embroidery, computer thingy and 30 different stitches. Unless you use 30% of them regularily, don't pay for the hype.

Also, buying from a place where they do full service makes sense. You can establish a rapport, and not have yourself screwed by super high repair charges... Have fun shopping!

katherine h said...

Although somebody else has recommended janome, I would steer clear of them. My sewing mechanic replaced the motor in my Janome overlocker...which he wasn't very surprised to do. My sewing machine is an Elna...no problems, though I'm sure other brands are fine as well. My Mum sews on a Husqvarna. I wouldn't buy an older Elna...I traded my Mum's old Elna in when the zigzag kept seizing...my mechanic says that this happens on the older Elnas. My advice is that you don't need fancy stitches...straight and zig-zag is fine, and it helps if it does a nice buttonhole. Apparently a bigger notor allows the needle to go throught the fabric more easily...but I would check this with a sewing mechanic.

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elily00 said...

My mother and a few of her friends each have a Janome MemoryCraft which they love (and have had for several years)! They're pricey for a "basic" machine though- $800 or so. I myself sew on a Singer 7470. It is one of the newer ones, but I have found it to be very sturdy and perform really well. I've had it for about a year now and sew with it almost every day. It really does handle all sorts of projects. It also has all the features of the Janomes for about $400 (HSN.com has them)- I do actually use quite a few of the features. I heard a rumor that this model was actually made by Pfaff - although I'm not sure if there is any truth to that. Almost every review I've read of this machine is positive, and the negative ones are usually issues that someone just didn't know how to work through. Check out Pattern Review for my review. Good luck to your friend! I hope she finds what she's looking for!

hannah said...

Thanks again everyone! My friend is getting a lovely sewing machine for her birthday tomorrow and her husband tells me that all of your comments were really useful in making the final choice.