View Full Version : Anyone Sew? Can you recommend a machine?

08-13-2004, 08:33 AM
I am very new to sewing, I just took the first part of my second class last night. I have been working on pillows...not wearables yet, but I am interested in making some bags perhaps to sell and some vests for me personally. I was looking at the sewing machines last night and there are so many options. I think I want something simple, not too $$$ (under $300) and something that will hold up to upholstery materials well and perhaps do a nice button hole. Not too fancy...don't know what to do with all those stiches...

Any recommendations, and where is a good place to buy one? Can I get a decent one on sale at Joann Fabric, ya think?

08-13-2004, 09:29 AM
I have a Bernina, which I am very happy with. When I was shopping for one (early 2000) a friend who does a lot of sewing recommended that brand or Pfaff. I couldn't find extra feet etc easily for the Pfaff brand near where I lived then, so I went with the other. The Bernina website is www.berninausa.com and Pfaff is www.pfaffusa.com .
If you think you are going to be doing more complicated things in the future, it might be worth getting a machine that is a little more sophisticated than you need right now, rather than buying a basic machine and then wanting a few more features later.
Also come November/ December time they often run holiday promotions, so you might get a better deal. Also some places offer to give free lessons with the purchase of a machine, which can be very useful.
Another option is a reconditioned machine if you have a dealer nearby. Sometimes people trade in and you can get a good deal on one, but you need to make sure you get some warranty coverage from the dealer.
I think a lot of the machines now are very good so you will probably get lots of different views ! Fiona

08-13-2004, 10:43 AM
Here's what I gleaned from Consumer Reports:

Even a modestly priced mechanical machine will be far easier to use than the ones on which many adults learned. Today's mechanical models generally cost less than $500 and easily handle the basics--repairs, hems, and simple clothing and crafts projects. They're what most people buy, usually at big retailers like Sears and Wal-Mart. We evaluated eight portables, priced from $150 to $600. The best of them, the Brother PS-1250, $300, has a top-loading bobbin, a great improvement over the squint-and-fidget front-loading type. The Kenmore 15516, $180, a CR Best Buy, sews a buttonhole automatically, based on a sample button.

Take a test drive. Find a knowledgeable salesperson who can demonstrate all the features. Try out the machine, using a variety of stitches and fabrics. Some independent dealers will let you try the machine for up to a year; if you're not satisfied, you can return it and use the refunded purchase price toward another model.

Meet a good troubleshooter. Get to know a local dealer who does repairs in-shop, so you're more likely to get your machine back more quickly. Repair personnel all over the country told us they'd fix any machine, regardless of maker. The average repair runs about $70.

Maintain your machine. Many repairs can be prevented with regular maintenance. The oil hardens with lack of use, preventing good operation. (Electronic machines have self-lubricating bearings that don't require you to oil them, but the oil can still dry up if the machine isn't used.) At least once every two years--more if you sew a lot--take your machine in for a tune-up. It should run from about $45 to $80.

Use the right equipment. A dull needle--or the wrong kind--can bend. A bent needle can damage the fabric and the sewing machine, so change the needle after every project and whenever you switch to a different fabric type. Old, frayed thread can break while sewing, so use good, new thread that has a smooth surface, free of bumps or fuzz. Know your presser feet; the right foot can simplify a complicated project.

I have very limited sewing needs, so I replaced my old machine with a Singer that cost about $160. I was surprised to find the whole machine is now plastic and is so light that it slipped around on the table top. That's what you get on the cheap at BJ's! It does the job, and I guess it's the modern age. I learned to sew on a treadle machine--wish I had it now!

Good luck,


08-13-2004, 12:17 PM
I've had & recommend a Swiss made Elna Carina for 25 years & never even had it in the shop! I oil it & that's all, sews like a dream!

08-13-2004, 12:59 PM
<snip> I learned to sew on a treadle machine--wish I had it now!

Good luck,


Me too Nolly. I wish my mother hadn't disposed of it. She had a habit of doing that. She never listened to me when I asked her to keep things.

Great and helpful post. Thanks for doing all that research.

08-13-2004, 01:41 PM
I have a 30 year old Kenmore. I was going to get rid of it and the guy wsho serviced it told me to NOT do that. It doesn't do much, but what it does is great. I have no experience with anything really nice and nifty. :rolleyes:


Rose Queen
08-13-2004, 01:49 PM
I don't sew anymore, but I had a Viking Husqvarna for 30+ years and loved it to bits.

100% free webcam site! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=0) | Awesome chicks and it is absolutely free! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=2) | Watch free live sex cam - easy as 1-2-3 (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=4)

100% free webcam site! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=0) | Awesome chicks and it is absolutely free! (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=2) | Watch free live sex cam - easy as 1-2-3 (http://showmewebcam.com/?p=4)

08-13-2004, 02:40 PM
If you want to find decent sewing machines (I do not recommend the Brother or White brand, nor most of the Singer . Go to a second hand paper and look through them when you call find out why they are getting rid of it. Sometimes they are upgradeing to a fancier machine,ask if they will let you sew on it. If you can do it then that is the machine to take home no matter where you buy it. Listen to the machine if it has a nice even hum and very little clacking while it stiches , it's worth looking into. Look at the stiches themselves do they look about the same on both sides. Then the stiching is good.There is nothing more fustrating than to get something home and it does a million things and it will do it for someone else but not you. Stay away from machines that say you never need to oil them. The parts are plastic of some type and use will were them out pretty fast . Like different ones said in this thread, oil and clean your machine it is the life blood of smooth running for furture use. The makes of the machines are the ones that I are recommend , mine is a kenmore and has been going strong over 15 years. I've been sewing almost 35 years . I hope you keep up with the sewing it is a very rewarding talent to have. Deanna

08-13-2004, 05:06 PM
I have a brother that cost around $100-120 It has many options and it has been a great workhorse of a machine and it does do upholstery as well as other types of light and heavy weight material. :) They are easy to find parts for and accessories for as well. My mom has a old old old singer in a stand its all metal and in a wooden stand you can fold it down to store it and flip it up to use it...man she has that thing forever than a day. Probally over 40 years im guessnig ...

08-14-2004, 08:32 AM
Thank yo so much everyone. All this info is very helpful! I have an old machine which is kinda neat, really old, but broken. I don't know if it is worth my time and money to get it fixed or get a new fancy one. I am leaning toward a fancy one. I do like that the new ones are portable (the old one weighs a TON) and have extra stiches.

Well, I have more research to do. Thanks for getting me started!