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Thread: Help for a Newbie

  1. #1
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    Help for a Newbie

    I'm not sure that I am posting this in the right place. I'm new here.

    I'm new to quilting and I have an older, inexpensive model Singer sewing machine, that I just don't think is cutting it. I have major problems getting accurate seam allowances because of pulling. Plus my foot pedal has no finesse. It's either all or nothing. Could anyone recommend a good beginner sewing machine I can use for accurate piecing, ditch quilting, and possibly some free motion quilting in the future? I really appreciate it!

  2. #2
    Super Member Deborahlees's Avatar
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    First question...How old is your machine ....depending on their age, they are worth their weight in gold.
    Have you had it serviced, your pedal could just need servicing or possible replacement. I know the 'new' machine look so nice and shiny and new....but the lower end ones (IMHO) are made to be disposable. Find a Sewing Machine service center, take your machine in ask questions, ask questions, ask questions....How much for a simple service, repair of pedal or replacement ( I just replaced mine on my Brother for $50) but I am guessing it just needs to be taken apart and cleaned. You can go on the Singer website and age date your machine, so you have some accurate
    information in your head.
    Yes that is a real picture of my hometown Temecula, California. We feature premiere Wineries, World Class Golf Courses, Pechanga Indian Casino and Hot Air Balloons

  3. #3
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    It will help if you post a price range to narrow down the choices. You could get a beginner machine at Walmart and try it out? Each of the major brands have lower end machines Janome, Pfaff, Bernina, Brother etc but they are more than money than a basic machine.

  4. #4
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    You will get as many opinions as there are people on this board.

    The firs thing is to establish your budget. Do you want new or would you be okay with used? etc. etc. etc.

    If you search this board for "new machines" or "beginner machines" you will see the many, many discussions on this topic.

  5. #5
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Personally, I would buy a new machine. The old one can be fixed up as a backup.

    When shopping for a machine, the very first thing you need to do is decide on a price range. If you are limited to $300 or less, then I would check out machine dealerships near you. Often a good used machine will give you more bang for your buck in terms of quality of machine. Deciding on a price range *first* will narrow down the choices to a manageable size.

    In my opinion, you ***really*** want a needle-down option and at least a standard harp size (area underneath the arm where you need to squish a quilt for machine quilting). Judging by your post, you also want either a sensitive foot controller or a speed control on the machine. Another ***must*** on my list is the ability to adjust stitch length and stitch width yourself; do not get a machine with only pre-set stitches, as it is too limiting. Stick to brands such as Janome, Pfaff, Bernina, Babylock, Brother. (I personally would skip Elna, Bernette, Singer.) An advantage of going to a dealership is that you can sit down with your own fabrics and try out the machines before purchasing. (Do not use only the dealership's fabrics; they are different than quilting fabrics and do not always show up tension problems.) Be sure you understand the dealership's return policy before buying. I don't know about used machines, but usually dealerships will *not* take a return on a new machine unless you upgrade.

    If you can't find something you like used at a dealership, then many people are happy with basic machines sold at Walmart. Just be aware that sometimes the harp size is small, and typically these machines do not have quite as strong a motor for machine quilting. Also be sure to understand the return policy if you try the machine and are not satisfied.

  6. #6
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    I have a Model 384.13012000 Singer a Sears exclusive model. I don't know how old it is. I did a google search and didn't find much information. The Singer website isn't much help, because technically it's a Sears-Roebuck. I do know that I have had it for about 10 years. I bought off of ebay for around $80 then. It really wasn't used for much until recently. I have not had it serviced yet. The closest service center is 40 miles away and they told me it was a minimum of $100 to look at it. Since I didn't know how much it would eventually cost I didn't think the machine was worth that much.

    I would be fine with a used machine. My budget would be about $400, including all the feet, seam guide, etc. that I would need for quilting. The only dealerships near me are Singer, Janome and Bernina. I'm pretty sure a new Bernina is out of my price range at this moment. I have not read good things about new Singers. I don't really know much about Janomes except that they all have drop-in bobbins, and I think I read that isn't a good thing. Of course, that's why I'm asking you guys advice. Thanks for any help you can give me.

  7. #7
    Super Member Deborahlees's Avatar
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    OK...so let us rethink this....I agree with that added information it is not worth getting serviced, for the price you paid and the cost of service (outrageous !) you would be behind.....

    I agree a new Singer would not be the best of choices, not like the oldies but goodies.

    There is Phaff (?) Janome, Bernina, Brother and Viking, and I could no more afford to buy a new machine either. But these dealerships should have fully serviced good working trade-ins for sale....I agree with your thought of a drop in bobbin. I have one machine of each and when I am quilting and my bobbin runs out on my Bernina, all I have to do is reach under everything and change it. On the Brother with the drop in you have to take every thing off the surface to replace the bobbin, if you are just doing general sewing or piecing not a big issue. I do like the option of needle down in both my machines, that really helps when pivoting a corner or just straightening out your fabric. I personally don't think you 'need' any type of stitch regulator, just another thing to go wrong. Something that are 'nice to have' but not necessary is a needle threader and a thread cutter, especially if you do a lot of sewing, that darn needle eye gets smaller as the day gets longer.....and yes you do need feet, a general foot, 1/4", and a free motion foot....after that they are all special like for ruffles, piping, pintucks, picot edges, zippers etc.

    I hope this helps a little
    Last edited by Deborahlees; 10-05-2012 at 10:53 AM.
    Yes that is a real picture of my hometown Temecula, California. We feature premiere Wineries, World Class Golf Courses, Pechanga Indian Casino and Hot Air Balloons

  8. #8
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    The Bernina dealer does not have any used in my price range. What are your thoughts on buying a used one from Ebay?

  9. #9
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    They do have a new machine that is under $400... a Bernette 15. Does anyone know anything about it?

  10. #10
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    I just got a Janome hd 1000. It does not have a drop in bobbin and the snap on feet from my Singer fit, even the walking foot. I really like it, it was $299 on Amazon. It's a workhorse and the body is metal. I'm a newbie too...less than a year quilting and it really meets my needs.

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