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Thread: Machine Suggestions

  1. #1
    Member Koda1021's Avatar
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    Machine Suggestions

    Hello everyone! I am hoping that I can get some guidance and advice regarding choosing my new machine.

    I am new to quilting and embroidery, and will confess that I love using a machine for both (I'm a tech nerd, sorry). My current machine is a Janome Memory Craft 400E. At the time, it was the only machine available to me that I could finance. I was not familiar with the different machines, etc. so I went for it (bought it in March).

    I can't say that I don't like it. It does what it needs to do, but now that I was bitten by the quilting and embroidery bug, I know I want to move up. The Janome does good work, but being older it is not super fast and it doesn't have as many options as newer machines.

    My home office doubles as my craft area so space is at a premium. I just finished creating an entire wall to wall corner workspace area. But, because I also have things like a Cricut cutter, etc. I don't have the room for the Janome and a sewing machine (so I'd like to get a machine that does both).

    My trouble comes in that I am totally confused on brands, where to buy, etc. Being in a more rural part of the state, I don't have many sewing stores nearby (closest is about 45 minutes). I have a Joann's right up the street which has a Husqvarna/Viking gallery within it, so I went in there one day. I'll confess that the machines made me drool. It was a Sunday, and there was only one person working at the gallery, and she was teaching a few people the Premier+2 software. She looked up and asked if I needed something. I apologized that I was disturbing their class, and that I was just looking at the machines and wasn't sure which one interested me. She told me if I had questions, to ask.

    So, after a few minutes walking around, I realized none of the machines had prices on them. So, I finally apologized again for interupting but said I had a few questions. I started by saying "I have a Janome Memory Craft 400E" and she made a face and just sneered "oh". Ok, not off to a good start hehe. I then explained I wanted to move up to a sewing/embroidery combo and pointed at some of the machines. She gave me a quick rundown of these being the best machines, etc. I asked about prices. She provided a few. I then asked if they have trade ins or any program wherein I could somehow use my own machine towards the purchase. She said that with offbrands such as mine, that no, dealers can't use my machine so they won't take it on trade. So, that more or less ended my trip there. The only thing I came away with, was the understanding that the only reasonable machine was the Topaz 50.

    I did go to two other sewing stores. At one, the gentleman was very nice. He said he could take my Janome as a trade, and actually gave me a fantastic trade in amount, but it was only towards a new Brother machine. I don't know the specific model, but it was gorgeous. Lots of bells and whistles. Even with the fantastic trade in, the price was going to be in the 5k range. He did have a floor model Pfaff Creative 4.5 that was a good price that I liked. But, my trade in could only be used towards the new machine. I visited one other store, where they had lots of machines on display, but they told me they keep very few in stock and I would have to order. They also didn't do trade ins.

    So, at this point I am lost. Looking online, the brochures for Viking and Pfaff and Brother all seem great. But I would love insight into those that you all have used and which models/brands you like. I like the metal hoops that now seem prevalent with some of the brands. The Pfaff really excited me based on features, but again, I don't know their true quality or reputation.

    My last question, too, would be this. I've listed my Janome for sale at nearly half off the retail price. I'm hoping to at least get a few dollars towards a new machine. Do I maybe just go back to the one shop where he offered such a great deal for the trade in, and go for the new Brother and just do it on layaway? Most of the retailers that have financing, use a specific company, which isn't very generous insofar as credit lines or increases. We were approved for a small amount which is nowhere near what would be needed for one of the newer machines. Or, do I go with the Topaz 50 at Joann's? While not cheap, it is something I could afford if I manage to sell the Janome.

    Sorry for the long post. I appreciate any insights and opinions!!

  2. #2
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    Hi & Welcome to the wonderful world of machine embroidery. It has become one of my favorite hobbies of all time. Here are some suggestions. I would not want to do business with someone who down talked my machine...how unprofessional.

    You want a dealer that offers support and classes. Our LQS teaches machine classes for free.

    Visit the stores again and get scheduled for a demo or two. Look on-line at the machine sites. Lots of reviews available. Do you have a local guild to ask the members about their machines?

    I visited the same dealer 3 times before deciding. I started with the BL Spirit (embroidery only), then the Crescendo (sewing only in a couple of years. Later the Ovation serger and then the Dream. In 5 years with these machines no issues.

  3. #3
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    I am a Pfaff person. Have my second one now which I wanted for the larger throat space and the good lighting. I believe Pfaff is a high quality machine and worth the their price. I didn't start quilting until I was 60 yo. My first Pfaff was on a close out price due to a new model coming in, so it was a fair price. And no, I don't think most stores can do a trade in when the price is reduced, but the one you saw was probably a better buy than one with a trade in. Especially if that store will be there to support you with classes. My first machine came with embroidery capability even though I wasn't interested in that at the time. I never did get bitten by the machine embroidery bug, but went to a few of the shops free classes, so used it some. Anyway, if I were wanting an embroidery and sewing machine, I would sure get a Pfaff.

  4. #4
    Member Koda1021's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhonda K View Post
    I would not want to do business with someone who down talked my machine...how unprofessional.
    You know, I was a bit shocked over that. Again, I'm no expert, and I certainly didn't go in acting like one. In fact, I even said I'm not an expert and really would like guidance. You'd think they would view that as an opportunity to sell me on a good machine! Another store I went to, which was huge (and had a great selection of fabrics, etc.) the woman couldn't answer my questions about software (I specifically wanted vector based software or software that could import vectors rather than using tracing tools). Then when I inquired which machines they had in stock (they had nearly 30 on the floor) she said only 1 or 2 (the most expensive ones).

    There is another store about an hour and a half away, and it has good reviews online. I may pay them a visit just to say I've checked out all the options.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by suern3 View Post
    I am a Pfaff person.
    The Pfaff Creative 4.5 that I saw made me drool beyond belief. The throat space was fantastic, the features fantastic and from what I saw online, it seems like a great machine. I am still debating taking that deal because as you said, even if I can't trade in, the floor model deal is a really good one since he wants to bring out new models.

  6. #6
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    I have the Janome 15000 and it is a fantastic machine.....sewing and embroidery combined, uses WIFI to send designs from your computer or Ipad to your machine. There are also 5 Janome apps that work with Ipad that do amazing things as well. Does a very good job with in the hoop quilting as well. Maybe check out what Janome has to offer and most dealers I know would give you a trade in on your current Janome. I got full price trade in on my 350E when I bought the 15000. The 15000 is the current top of the line Janome and costs $$$ but they also have several other quilting/embroidery machines at lower price options.
    https://www.janome.com/products/software/acu-apps/

  7. #7
    Senior Member juliasb's Avatar
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    Wow! First off you are right around the corner from me!! I too go to the White Lake Joann when I go. I live on the boarder to White Lake and Waterford. We must meet up sometime soon! I know what you mean about this store. we don't have a lot of options for sewing machine shopping in our area since the Universal Sewing Center closed a few years ago. I understand there is a sewing machine store in both Royal Oak and Ann Arbor that might be a better choice for shopping for a better machine.All that being said, the JAF near us does not have the friendliest persons in the sewing machine section. I have had much better experiences buying on line only after trying someone else's machine. Or having a demo of a machine in the shop. One thing I just recently did was check at the local repair/vacuum shop. The repair person gave me some good advise on what machines might be best for what I wanted and said he would keep an eye open for one that came in the shop that someone decided not to get repaired. I could make and offer and get it repaired for far less than a new one. That to is a thought.

  8. #8
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    I run a home Dec shop and just went through this when purchasing new machines. I agree with the other ladies......go and try the various brands and models out and see what you feel comfortable with. Some people love Phaff.....me not so much and got rid of the machine and repurchased at the time Vikings. Let me say this......they are Not what they use to be. I am getting ready to close up shop and move to AuTrain, 45 minutes from Marquette. When making my resent purchase I had to take into consideration if I could find a dealership locally that I could service quickly the equipment and take classes. Support is extremely important. Originally I was considering a Babylock, but the nearest dealership was in Travis City, 5 hours away. I ended up purchasing 2 Janomes......9400 and a 500E. I Love both machines but as soon as they are paid off I plan on getting something that has a much larger hoop than my embroidery machine offers. Good luck with your hunt!
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 08-01-2019 at 07:27 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  9. #9
    Member Koda1021's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juliasb View Post
    Wow! First off you are right around the corner from me!! I too go to the White Lake Joann when I go. I live on the boarder to White Lake and Waterford. We must meet up sometime soon! I know what you mean about this store. we don't have a lot of options for sewing machine shopping in our area since the Universal Sewing Center closed a few years ago. I understand there is a sewing machine store in both Royal Oak and Ann Arbor that might be a better choice for shopping for a better machine.All that being said, the JAF near us does not have the friendliest persons in the sewing machine section. I have had much better experiences buying on line only after trying someone else's machine. Or having a demo of a machine in the shop. One thing I just recently did was check at the local repair/vacuum shop. The repair person gave me some good advise on what machines might be best for what I wanted and said he would keep an eye open for one that came in the shop that someone decided not to get repaired. I could make and offer and get it repaired for far less than a new one. That to is a thought.
    I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't feel welcome there (well, I'm not really glad because they will lose sales!). I'm no spring chicken (I turn 50 in October) but I got the distinct sense they felt I was too tech-centric (which I'm not). They kept saying things like the way "quilting has to be done". I politely explained that I am experimenting with a lot of different things and while I am not disrespectful of the old ways, I enjoy exploring the new technology and ways to do things.

    Plus, what I don't get is that they don't keep the same hours as the store. The store is open until 9, but they close at 7 on weekdays. On the weekends, they aren't in until noon and leave before closing. Why be in a store if you aren't going to be there at the same hours. Some people (such as me) work and can't go out until after 5. If you are already closed, I can't buy!

    I did go to one shop in Ann Arbor. It was a nice shop, had lots of machines. But then was told that they only keep a few in stock. I asked about software, and she didn't know much (which is fine). She just didn't seem interested in selling me, more like chatting. Normally I wouldn't mind, but we'd driven 40 minutes and I really wanted to figure out a solution to get a new machine.

  10. #10
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    First off, Janome isn't an off brand...

    I've run into a lot of snobby retailers in the sewing world. I had a cheap Brother I bought at Costco to take to classes. I went to a store the next town over that is an authorized Brother dealer. All I wanted to do was to buy some correct bobbins but the Costco model had it's own ID so it wasn't as easy to find the correct part number. They basically refused to help me, because they didn't deal with "disposable machines". It's a Brother. You have a catalog. I'm there to buy your over-priced Brother bobbins which you have in stock.

    Well, good-bye to you! Don't need the attitude, won't ever go back no matter how much money I may have at the time. Figured out the issue on my own and bought the correct bobbins from Joann.

    In my local town I have two sewing machine shops, unfortunately the one that handles Berninas is the one here I don't like because of prior bad/snobby experiences. It's not like they do their own repairs anyway, they box it up and send it out and I can do that myself without giving them any money for the privilege.

    PS/Edit: Trade-in values are usually only given for new machine purchases. Gives you an idea of how much profit they make when they can offer you 3k or some other huge discount!
    Last edited by Iceblossom; 08-01-2019 at 07:23 AM.

  11. #11
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    I'm a Pfaff girl!! I have had a Pfaff for over 25 years and love the brand. The machine you are looking at is a wonderful machine. I love mine for the large throat and the beautiful embroidery it does. You won't go wrong with Pfaff.

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    Hi there. So sorry for the rude person - not the best way to do business. I have done machine embroidery for 15+ years and definitely have a favorite machine - it's Brother all the way. The Viking machines were great when they were made in Sweden (and I had the SE) but not so good now being made in China. Several friends own Vikings and they are in the shop more times than not. One friend has the SE, Diamond, and now the Epic. The Epic in the shop a lot. I have had the Brother Dreamweaver (bought used at dealer as trade in) and now have the DreamMachine2 and am astounded at what it can do. Bought a show model (open box) at half off the price and traded in my Dreamweaver. Again, very important to have a dealer near you for any questions you might have - and those free lessons! Good luck.

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    I love my Viking, I have the Diamond Deluxe, and its great for Embroidery and quilting. The latest model is the Epic.
    I have to drive 3 hours for my closest dealer now but it is so worth it.
    Judy

  14. #14
    Super Member Sandygirl's Avatar
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    As someone said previously......Janome is Not an “off brand” ...I own 5 Janomes. If you have enjoyed your Janome so far, look at the other models of Janomes to determine if they have the features you want. There is no “best brand”...the brand and model that you are comfortable using is the best one for you. The Janome website makes it easy to compare models, features and MSRP pricing side by side. Ask for the best price you can negotiate. No one pays MSRP. Ever. The markup on the more expensive models have room to negotiate. Thinking $3,000 msrp and up.

    I find it very helpful to do my research on the websites ...print out the model and features...etc and make a file to take shopping with you. Join Facebook groups that are brand specific. Ask questions, read reviews....have fun!
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 08-13-2019 at 12:08 PM. Reason: shouting/all caps
    Sandygirl

    Janome 9900 / Janome 9700 / Janome 3160 QVC/ Janome 1100D serger, Juki 2020 Mini
    Singer Centennial model (inherited from my late, fav aunt!)

  15. #15
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    Hi everyone!
    Thank you for all the awesome responses, it gave me a lot to think about! I actually had a buyer for my Janome earlier this week. I took a hit price-wise, but we had some unexpected expenses so I needed to just go through with the sale.

    That said, I'm now trying to plan for which machine to get. The info and insights you've all given me is great. But I was hoping to get one more piece of thoughts/advice. Used versus new. As several of you have pointed out, service is an important factor and these machines are something that eventually will need to be serviced. If I'm understanding correctly, any of the major brands (Viking, Pfaff, etc.) if you buy a used machine, you don't qualify for service, correct? If you need it worked on, you have to pay for it.

    I'm not averse to paying out of pocket for service, no different than my car in the shop now and out of warranty. But I'm hoping to see what you all think about used machines. I see a lot on eBay and many are sales by people who aren't dealers. So they don't know the machine history, etc. So, they seem to be trying to get top-dollar without really understanding that the model of machine isn't the only thing that dictates the price. Many of these machines are specifically no refund. So, obviously, I don't want to spend money on something that may end up being an expensive paperweight.

    The only other option is rather than get a used "fancier" machine (i.e. Diamond Deluxe or a Pfaff) is to just buy a brand new Topaz 40 or 50 (although the 40 is more in my price range). Either of these is attainable in a few weeks for me. Anything more than that, and I'm looking at way down the road.

    So, would love to get your input on used versus new. Thanks again!!
    Last edited by Koda1021; 08-15-2019 at 05:19 AM.

  16. #16
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    Many shops will offer service contracts on used machines they sale. Some will have offers for other machines too, but a lot of that depends on if they do the work themselves or not.

    I'd be looking a bit more local than ebay, I'd try Craig's List if you have an active one near you (I know Grand Rapids has one).

    From my friends with embroidery machines, I'd say get the largest hoop you can afford. Talk to the people on why they are changing machines/getting rid of what they have. Not all used machines are equal!

    Edit: I brought up the Grand Rapids Craigs List and while not much right in town, there is what I think a pretty good deal on a Brother in Kalamazoo!
    Last edited by Iceblossom; 08-15-2019 at 06:35 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Quilter 53's Avatar
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    Just a thought....Don't the new models come out in Oct? Maybe by waiting, you could get a floor model at a reduced price. Then you could have more for less and still get a warranty and have a better relationship with the dealer.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iceblossom View Post
    Many shops will offer service contracts on used machines they sale. Some will have offers for other machines too, but a lot of that depends on if they do the work themselves or not.

    I'd be looking a bit more local than ebay, I'd try Craig's List if you have an active one near you (I know Grand Rapids has one).

    From my friends with embroidery machines, I'd say get the largest hoop you can afford. Talk to the people on why they are changing machines/getting rid of what they have. Not all used machines are equal!

    Edit: I brought up the Grand Rapids Craigs List and while not much right in town, there is what I think a pretty good deal on a Brother in Kalamazoo!
    That's good to know about the service contracts! Thanks!

    I've been perusing Craig's List, and I think I know the one you are talking about (Brother) but for that listing, you have to buy everything (the table/desk, machine, thread, laptop) the person won't separate out. It's still a good price, but I don't need all that stuff hehe I did see a Dream Machine for a good price. I sent an email but haven't heard back.

  19. #19
    Member Koda1021's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quilter 53 View Post
    Just a thought....Don't the new models come out in Oct? Maybe by waiting, you could get a floor model at a reduced price. Then you could have more for less and still get a warranty and have a better relationship with the dealer.
    With places like Joann's, they have already reduced the prices to move them before the new machines come out. I don't know if they will lower them anymore. The few local dealers I've dealt with (that aren't through Joann's) are sticking firm to most of their discounted prices. One told me specifically that he has no reason to sell at too low a cost. He's better off taking a loss for the full value then sell for pennies. I understand their logic. I guess I'm the issue since I want a lot of features for less money hehe I suppose that's why I go back to thinking that maybe getting a new Topaz 40 or 50 might be the smart thing. Then at least I will have a brand new/under warranty machine and can trade up when finances are better.

    For me, the frustrating thing is that there are limited financing options. Most stores that carry the better brands (including Joann's) have financing through Synchrony and that's it (credit card). Unfortunately, Synchrony is one of those retail cards that if they don't like you, it's hard to get a generous credit line. My husband was approved but for a low amount. It's funny because if you want to buy a big screen television or home theater system or even furniture, there are dozens of finance options. With brands like Brother, Viking and Pfaff you pretty much have one choice

  20. #20
    Member Koda1021's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iceblossom View Post
    Many shops will offer service contracts on used machines they sale. Some will have offers for other machines too, but a lot of that depends on if they do the work themselves or not.

    I'd be looking a bit more local than ebay, I'd try Craig's List if you have an active one near you (I know Grand Rapids has one).

    From my friends with embroidery machines, I'd say get the largest hoop you can afford. Talk to the people on why they are changing machines/getting rid of what they have. Not all used machines are equal!

    Edit: I brought up the Grand Rapids Craigs List and while not much right in town, there is what I think a pretty good deal on a Brother in Kalamazoo!
    I had to follow up to share something interesting regarding CL. I was browsing the various listings last night to see what was out there. Being that my husband doesn't mind driving, I pretty much scoured all the state listings and even into Ohio. In Flint, there was a listing that caught my attention. It was for a Dream Machine. The price was "too good to be true" but I figured you never know. I've had to sell things at insane prices because I needed the cash. So I hit reply and inquired whether the machine was still available.

    I got a response a short time later that yes, the machine was available. The person said they were being deployed and so they wanted to sell it before leaving. For some reason, that made me suspicious, but again I figured I wouldn't jump to conclusions. So I asked when I might come to see it. The response was that she was in Montana. So if I was interested, she would set up a deal via ebay...and that's when I knew it was an attempted scam.

    I responded that "well, if you are in Montana, why are you posting in a Michigan Craig's List site and why aren't you just using ebay directly?" The person only said they were trying to get "more exposure" and didn't want to pay ebay fees. I did a little research and discovered this scam is common in regards to higher ticket items (cars, etc.) because the asking price is too good to be true and people fall for it. I basically responded to the person that they should be ashamed to falsely claim to be military and to try to scam people. Then I promptly reported them to CL and blocked the account.

    I'll confess, though, I got very excited at the thought of getting a deal. But, I'm old enough to know that in some cases if it's way too good to be true, then it probably is.

    I do, though, think I am going to go with a machine I saw on ebay. The seller is local (20 minutes from me), and will allow me to pick it up. She has a Viking Topaz 20 that was only used twice, as well as an unopened boxed version of Premier+2 embroidery software. The asking price is very good. It will get me back into a machine without breaking the budget (our car is being repaired so all the money is going towards that!) and meanwhile, I can start saving for a better machine down the road

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