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Thread: $600 budget - what machine should I get?

  1. #1
    Senior Member JenelTX's Avatar
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    $600 budget - what machine should I get?

    I'm toying with the idea of getting a new sewing machine. The one I have is the cheapest one I could find about 3-4 years ago, when I wasn't sure that I was going to like quilting. Turns out, I do like it... but I don't particularly like my cheap machine. I don't intend to ever make clothes, and I'll probably never embroider. I just want a good, solid, quality machine that will work great for piecing and for machine quilting. Can I get such a thing for around $600, or is that asking the impossible? And if I can, what machine would you recommend, and what do you love about it?
    Jenel Looney
    Assistant to Susan Mallery
    New York Times bestselling author

  2. #2
    Super Member Christine-'s Avatar
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    Are you willing to look at used machines? You can find some real steals when you buy a used machine. For example, the Bernina Artista 180 sells for about that amount (without the embroidery module). It's a faaaabulous machine for quilting. It has a knee lift for the presser foot, and about 200 decorative stitches. The stitch width can go up to 9mm, which is nice if you'll be using decorative stitches in your quilting. The average machine has only a 5mm stitch width.

    Bernina machines are simply the best out there, IMHO. Make sure the manual comes with the machine, and all the presser feet, etc. The 180 has an extra table that slides on, which gives you a little more bed space for quilting.

    The Artista 180 came out about 7-8 years ago if I remember correctly. They were $3000 new (without the embroidery module, $4000 with the embroidery module). I helped a friend buy a used one on Friday, at our local dealer.
    Last edited by Christine-; 06-10-2012 at 07:49 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Sally J's Avatar
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    Looking for a used machine is a really good idea. But be careful that it really works and you have that type of dealer close to you for any repairs. I'm a Viking person and I just got a 183 as a backup machine for my Designer 1. It is great for piecing and have quilted a lap size on it with no problem. I would check with your local dealer and see what they have in used machines, they sully get some great well cared for used machines as trade in and my dealer makes sure it sewing great.

  4. #4
    Super Member justflyingin's Avatar
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    I was also going to suggested that you check out used machines. Often you can find a great deal for a really good quality machine that you aren't going to find in that price range, new.

  5. #5
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    The new models usually come out in August (check with the dealers and they will tell you when) and they will sometimes have some really nice used machines that folks trade-in when they upgrade. The dealers around my area clean, test, etc the machines and most of the time they come with some sort of warranty.

    A few years ago I really wanted a particular machine and it was way more than I wanted to spend. The dealer called and said she had a used one so I went and bought it for less than half of what a new one would have been. Someone hadn't had it too long but wanted to upgrade when they saw the new fancier models. They gave me lessons along with a warranty.

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    http://tinyurl.com/7l8ntca is a straight stitch only machine. I ordered one last week and should get it today. I am so so so excited about it. I have 2 other machines (one that does a lot of stitches and one that does straight and zigzag) so this brother will be my quilting machine. I did a lot of research to make sure that this machine isn't just a cheap version of http://tinyurl.com/7tbhdan

    I have also looked for a used machine with a nice harp size and haven't had any luck finding something in that budget. One of my machines is about 30 years old and it is 7.5 inches from the needle to the arm, so don't discount an older machine. She was a well-loved Pfaff that we found at an estate sale for $50. My other machine is a newer Janome and she is a great sewing machine, but doesn't like to FMQ at all. But she's the one I always go to to repair my son's pants (weekly event!) or do any kind of non-quilting sewing on. I got her at a pawn shop.

    Every once in a while, someone will sell one on this board. And I check Craigslist daily, but haven't seen anything that fits my needs and/or budget except industrial machines, and I don't think I'm experienced enough to handle one!! I also toyed with the idea of saving up for a Bailey or WOW or one of those larger sit-down machines, but really couldn't justify the extra money at this time.

    Being the kind of person I am, I have a hard time spending money on something for me, so I decided to just go for it and ordered the Brother. It's not the biggest out there, but for the money, I think it was the best deal for me now. I may still save up and buy something bigger (I want a Sweet 16 so bad!!!) or this might satisfy my itch!!

  7. #7
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    You can buy a used Pfaff for about $400, depending on which machine you get. They are great machines because they have dual feed dogs (one for top fabric, too) built in, which helps the top fabric to move at the same rate as the bottom fabric. This helps you match your points easier because fabrics which start out the same size end up the same size at the end of the seam. It acts like a built in walking foot, one which can be used with many specialty feet, as well as the piecing feet. Watch your local Craigslist and ebay. I would also suggest contacting local quilt guilds. Often times members may have an unused machine to sell. Be aware that some of the really older Pfaffs don't have dual feed dogs---they are usually called IDT, so make sure the machines you consider have them. If there are pictures, it looks like a slender black angled piece directly behind the presser foot, and it fits into a groove underneath the presser feet. Good luck, and have fun shopping!

  8. #8
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    I would look into a Janome at a dealer's shop if you have one near you. I love my 3050. I think it sells for about $425. They've come out with another one that is lighter with a nice extension table, too, that one of my sewing friends raves about. This one is around $500 in my area. I did get a straight stitch plate for my 3050 and it seems to have helped the quality of my stitches. (Just have to remember to switch it before I try to zig zag). I wouldn't discount getting a machine with some fancy stitches. I just recently started to use mine and I've had my machine for about 7 years. My quilt guild members are all Janome lovers, just about, but we have a fabulous dealer that treats us right.
    Good luck!

  9. #9
    Senior Member JenelTX's Avatar
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    Thank you, Christine! I wouldn't object to a quality used machine. I appreciate your recommendation and especially the explanation of what you love about it. I'm a relative newbie, so I don't know what I should be looking for. I want something that's going to make me squeal inside.
    Jenel Looney
    Assistant to Susan Mallery
    New York Times bestselling author

  10. #10
    Senior Member JenelTX's Avatar
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    That's a great idea, Sally, to get a used machine through the dealer. I bet they take in some nice trade-ins. Thanks!
    Jenel Looney
    Assistant to Susan Mallery
    New York Times bestselling author

  11. #11
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    I also would recommend a Janome they are very user friendly and the instruction book that comes with the machine
    is very easy to follow. I have three Janome machines and just love to sit down by them and sew. I have two embroidery machines and one is the Horizon for quilting which is very neat to quilt and sew. Good Luck with your findings.

  12. #12
    Senior Member JenelTX's Avatar
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    Oooh, I like the sound of dual feed dogs! Thank you!
    Jenel Looney
    Assistant to Susan Mallery
    New York Times bestselling author

  13. #13
    Senior Member JenelTX's Avatar
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    Thank you! I'll check for Janome dealers in my area. I love the idea of taking the machine for a test-drive at the store. That's what I'm hoping for, so I can find one I really love.
    Jenel Looney
    Assistant to Susan Mallery
    New York Times bestselling author

  14. #14
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    Red face

    If your main purpose is quilting spend less and go Vintage for now. I just bought a Singer 301 for $300. The stitches it makes are better than the mid priced newer machines. It also came with an automatic zigzagger should you need that. But for chain piecing vintage machines are great. You can go slightly newer vintage and get some with reverse. I've sold one 4 year old Viking and will be selling another when I fiinsh a project because I like the vintage machines so well. And they are simple enough you can work on them yourself with help from the vintage section of the board.
    Cheryl Robinson
    http://www.silverneedlestitching.com
    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

  15. #15
    Senior Member JenelTX's Avatar
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    Oooh! I just discovered that there's a dealer within 10 miles of my house that sells Janome, Brother, and Pfaff!
    Jenel Looney
    Assistant to Susan Mallery
    New York Times bestselling author

  16. #16
    Senior Member JenelTX's Avatar
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    Thank you, Cheryl! I must admit, all these newer computerized models seem a lot fancier than what I need. Vintage holds a lot of appeal.
    Jenel Looney
    Assistant to Susan Mallery
    New York Times bestselling author

  17. #17
    Senior Member tngal22's Avatar
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    I also say go to the local dealer. I got a used Janome DC2011, it had all the feet with it, for $225! I could have gotten a free class on how to use it too but I like to learn as I go but he said if I had any questions to call and he would help me out. Good luck on your search of a new machine, I love my Janome!
    Sabrina
    Mommy to a 6 year old little girl, 3 dogs, 5 cats, and 2 fish. lol Life keeps me busy but when I have a moment, I love to sew
    http://ataleofamilitaryfamily.blogspot.com/
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/HugsLove

  18. #18
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I too would recommend a quality used machine. But do get it from a dealer that will give you some warrenty on the machine. People upgrade all the time and prefectly good machines can be had for fractions of the cost of new.
    Do note a word of caution.. getting more machine than what you are comfortable with is not always the best choice... some machine can be very overwhelming to a relatively new quilter. I taught a woman who bought a very expensive machine , she really was confused by all the functions and settings the machine had .. and clearly was afraid of breaking it.. so her reluctance to "use" the screen and change anything was limiting her enjoyment.

  19. #19
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    I love my Brother 1500s. It's a straight stitch only machine with a 9 inch throat. I use my little machine when I want to do a different stitch for applique or whatever.

  20. #20
    Senior Member rrhaigh's Avatar
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    I prefer Pfaffs due to their built in walking foot. I sewed clothing for 40 years on sewing machines without a walking foot, but when I started quilting I found much better results with the Pfaff. I was frustated using my "clothing" sewing machine for quilts. At the end of quilt strips I would always be off (ends not matching). So, I bought two used Pfaffs off EBay - they are the best machines I have ever had - I love them. I got a Pfaff 1475 and a Quilt Edition 7570 - both wonderful. The newer Pfaffs are now made in China, not Germany, so I prefer the older models. All the gals in my quilt friendship group have Pfaffs and would have nothing else. I would recommend going on EBay and seeing what is up for auction. I bought mine using the "Buy Now" method and paid around $600 for each machine. You just have to be patient.
    Robin
    robinsquiltingroom.blogspot.com
    Southern California

  21. #21
    Super Member amandasgramma's Avatar
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    I'm hooked on Janomes......but my advice is to look for 2 things: 1) is the neck big enough to do the machine quilting? and 2) is there a KNOWLEDGEABLE repairman nearby?? It's very frustrating to have to drive miles and miles just to get help or repairs.
    Dee


    "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." by George Bernard Shaw

  22. #22
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    While you are at that dealer, be sure to take a look at the Pfaff Ambition. It has everything found in most more expensive machines and has the IDT (dual feed) that was first with Pfaff. Price should be negotiable to be around 600-700. It is a wonderful machine.

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    Make sure you get something with a needle down button and I like my speed control to.

  24. #24
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    I bought a machine that was a trade in also....I love it. The sewing machine shop that I bought it at is no longer in business...the owner retired and closed his shop. But when I bought it he gave me a warranty for 2 years and if I wanted to trade up he would take my machine back and give me what I paid for it towards another machine. I have bought other machines, thinking I needed more bells and whistles....but I always go back to my first machine. It is not thread or needle picky. Works every time....unless I have done something wrong...going strong for about 7 years now.

  25. #25
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    If i could find a used one I would get the juki f600, supposedly they have one of the most powerful motors and can sew through 8 layers with no problem, but i think they run about 800, but they seem to get great reviews

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