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Thread: general sewing machine question

  1. #1

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    Hi, everyone. I am relatively new to quilting, and actually have three sewing machines, though all were gifts or hand-me-downs. I'm trying to educate myself about the different brands, but find that reading reviews online is only just so helpful. What do you guys know about the different brands? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each? What are the reputations of different companies for quality, service, and longevity of their products? I know that this is a big question, but I don't really know anything at this point, and would like some general info to get me started on my quest to find a company I might one day purchase a machine from myself. I'm not as interested in specific machines, as general knowledge about the various manufacturers and the quality and value of their products. Any help you can provide would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Mattee

  2. #2
    Super Member Melinda in Tulsa's Avatar
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    Go to http://www.patternreview.com

    Lots of good info on choosing a machine and reviews.

  3. #3
    Super Member lalaland's Avatar
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    Choosing a machine is a very personal thing and we (not the machines) all have our quirks when we try a new machine out. I like Brother and Brother, Janome and Kenmore all share the same manufacturer. But I also really like the Bernina Deco embroidery machines (they are the "starter" model), I love my Juki, Singer, Elna and Hobbylock sergers mostly because they are all dependable machines and I've never had a problem with any of them. I love my Janome Platinum, it's the machine I take to classes. I'm not fond of Bernina sewing machines and I find Pfaff to be too uptight, when I sew on those machines I get nervous and tense.

    So....what I'm saying is, you need to try machines out at your local dealer and when you find one that makes you feel good while you're sewing on it and it has the features you want, then you know it's right. Buying from a dependable dealer is also really important because you need their support to learn your machine and also if any problems should arise.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ncsewer's Avatar
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    Take a trip to several quilt stores if there are some in your area. Test drive the different brands. See what dealer you like the best. Many give free classes to learn your new machine. Whatever you get, enjoy the process.

  5. #5
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    Bernina, Pfaff and Janome are probably the biggest name-brands these days. Many also like Brother.

    In general, it's probably a good idea to stay away from Singer and Elna new machines (although their vintage machines can be wonderful).

    I'm a Bernina person, but mine is an older model Bernina (1230).

  6. #6
    Power Poster sueisallaboutquilts's Avatar
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    Hi Mattee, Welcome to the board!! You may want to check out the Sewing/Quilting Machines in the virtual section. There are many people on the board who knows a lot about all kinds of machines.
    Good luck!! :D

  7. #7
    Super Member lalaland's Avatar
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    Yes, do stay away from the new Singer machines. They are putting plastic parts on metal gears and the plastic parts are disentigrating. Especially an issue with the reverse stitch lever. It's unfortunate.

    However, the older models are great!

  8. #8
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    I'm a "Pfaffer" although many other brands are now starting to have features I require. My must haves are a built in walking foot (Pfaff had the first one) and since I haven't test driven other brands that have them I can't speak for them. Auto needle threading is now a must but wasn't when I purchased :-( , auto up/down needle control is important to me, multi-directional feed (I have patched many jeans), etc. The list is really long. I keep a spreadsheet because I'm a little anal when I shop.

    All I can say is research, look at warranty service (very important), does it come with classes to teach you how to use everything on your machine (with complex machines this can be really important). The classes that came with my machine taught me so much. There were things I never knew were possible that I could do with the included basic feet (I'd been sewing for 15 years at that time and it wasn't my first sewing machine purchase. Classes rock.) At the place where I purchased my machines I became an automatic member of the sewing club. We meet once a month and learn new techniques and patterns. It is a great little community.

    I think your list of wants should be need driven. If you are only going to piece on the machine then straight stitches and quarter inch placement is important. If you plan on sewing other things that list is going to grow longer and longer. You might want to start with price range because that might be the deal breaker. I saw a beautiful machine set-up the other day that I'd love to have taken home. Unfortunately it cost as much as my car. I'm not ready to do that again...yet. Maybe after my hubby buys his next toy.

  9. #9
    Super Member Joanie2's Avatar
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    I have a Babylock, a Janome and an Elna -- all computerized machines. I like them for different reasons. The Babylock was my first real computerized machine. Having used a Singer and a Kenmore for many years when I was ready to step up I looked at many brands, test drove and even borrowed the demo tape to study in my own time. Decide what features you want, just like a car -- do you want a "rabbit" feature that will allow you to learn and go slowly as you get started? Is automatic needle down or push button cutter on your list? Do you want an automatic threader? Do you plan to do a lot of embroidery with it? Is more stitch options better? Do you have any quilting or sewing friends who would be willing to let you borrow their machine for a few hours or more? It all comes down to what kind of sewing you plan to do, what features you want, how much you
    want to spend and very importantly what kind of customer service your dealer gives. You want to be able to go back should you have any questions or problems. Good luck and happy sewing.

  10. #10
    krlowe's Avatar
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    It really depends on what you want the machine to do. I learned to sew on an old cast iron singer that my mom had. It was a work horse and did great for straight sewing. I took sewing classes in school so she thought we needed a "better" machine. It had a foot peddle and, decorative stich option by use of "cams" It was okay but had a very sensitive tension so was a bear to work with. Then she bought Brother machines at Costco. I never had any luck with them. They were always breaking down. In 2000 I bought a cheapo Janome Harmony ($125) made specifically for Sears. i learned to quilt on it mainly SID and just lines. but it is also my goto machine when I have heavy duty sewing to do (outdoor furniture cushions, etc.) However, I must say my dream machine has been my Bernina 440 Quilters edition that I purchased in 2000(?) It took to me a while to justify buying it because of the cost ($3000) but I love this machine. It does everything I need or want it to do. I am learning FMQ with the BSR foot. Very easy to clean and learn on.

    My advice is to really think about what you want to do for the next few years with the machine. Try them out at the stores. Make sure it is in you budget. Then go for it.

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