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Thread: Contemplating a New Machine

  1. #1
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    Contemplating a New Machine

    My current machine is a Brother Easy-to-Use sewing machine. DH bought it for me for Christmas so I could try quilting/sewing. He paid less than $50 for it, and I spent another $15 or so buying a walking foot for it. The idea was for me to learn how to use it, see if I really liked sewing and then move up to a better machine.

    Well, it turns out I love sewing and quilting. I have three quilts and several small sewing projects under my belt. I really like the Brother. It isn't fancy but it certainly does its job. Unfortunately, the no-name walking foot I bought without knowing any better has literally been eating through the screw on my machine that holds the needle in. It still works, but not well -- when I'm using the walking foot, I have to stop every 8-12 inches to re-tighten it as it keeps juddering around and getting loose (and all the while building a pile of metal shavings as it continues to eat my machine).

    A proper walking foot costs $30 or so, but since the entire machine only cost $50 DH now thinks maybe I should just go ahead and buy my nicer machine now. I don't even know where to start, and I'm hoping you all can help me narrow it down. My needs are:

    1. Less than $1500
    2. Heavy enough not to move around while I'm pushing a quilt through (my biggest complaint about my machine)
    3. A relatively large throat
    4. Accessories (walking foot, quilting foot, etc) either included or not too expensive.

    Extras like a needle threader, automatic needle raise (is that what's it's called?) and the like are cool, but not required. I also don't need a machine with a million embroidery features, because I don't embroider (and am not really interested in starting).

    What else should I be looking for? I plan to keep quilting and would love to learn to FMQ. I'm also making purses, clothes, etc. I've priced out some machines and Berninas look to rich for my blood; some Janomes look like they'd work and there's also an upgraded Brother. I'm just not sure how to choose among them.

  2. #2
    Super Member alleyoop1's Avatar
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    About the moving around problem - I keep a piece of shelf liner (that rubbery stuff they sell in Walmart) under my machine and it doesn't creep around anymore.

    If you want a high end machine for less than $1500, then I suggest you visit your local sewing machine stores and see if they have any gently used machines with warranties that you can buy. You will get the bells and whistles you want at a fraction of the price of a new machine.

  3. #3
    Super Member ontheriver's Avatar
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    The brother 1500 has a 9in throat, comes with all the feet (FMQ and walking, plus others). Costs under 700.00. But is only straight stitch machine. Does great piecing and quilting. Has thread cutter and needle down features, also knee lift and small extension table. Have mine on a frame for quilting right now, have used it on table and it does not move. But later you may decide you want some fancy stitches or just a zig zag for basic machine appliqué which this machine does not have.
    Jeanann

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  4. #4
    Super Member nabobw's Avatar
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    I agree with this statement. I trust the dealers I go to and have gotten 3 good used machines. If you want a high end machine for less than $1500, then I suggest you visit your local sewing machine stores and see if they hav e any gently used machines with warranties that you can buy. You will get the bells and whistles you want at a fraction of the price of a new machine..

  5. #5
    Senior Member cizzors's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ontheriver View Post
    The brother 1500 has a 9in throat, comes with all the feet (FMQ and walking, plus others). Costs under 700.00. But is only straight stitch machine. Does great piecing and quilting. Has thread cutter and needle down features, also knee lift and small extension table. Have mine on a frame for quilting right now, have used it on table and it does not move. But later you may decide you want some fancy stitches or just a zig zag for basic machine appliqué which this machine does not have.

    Ditto on this one. It has your '1-4' requirements. Also thread cutter. pressure foot adjustment and a metal walking foot. It is the Brother PS1500. My favorite feature is it can sew up to 10 layers at a time. I've done 7 layers so far and it was like butter. Got mine for $600 withe free shipping. You won't be disappointed.
    Never outsmart your common sense.

    Karen

  6. #6
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    Needle down is a big plus for me. If you are going to try FMQ, you want a machine that will lower the feed dogs. Zig zag is alway good. I rarely use the fancy stitches but ocasionally I use a couple. As for the machine moving, like alleyoop1, use a piece of rubber shelf liner. Or I have seen someone use one of those small cushiony bath mats. This can be used as a pin cushion while you are sewing. Singer has some decent machines at the price you have in mind. Check with your fabric stores to see what they have and watch for sales.

  7. #7
    Super Member quiltinghere's Avatar
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    Sorry to say that $1500 is not a 'high end machine' - I've seen some recently that head up near $5000. I asked if it cooked dinner too!

    Got any major quilt shows coming to your area? Usually all the major manufacturers are there....and you can test drive.

    Used machines could be an option too. It never hurts to have multiple machines in the house!

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    Last edited by quiltinghere; 05-23-2013 at 05:50 AM.
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  8. #8
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    My machine shopping list included: buttonhole stitch for machine appliqué, needle down for appliqué and FMQ, good throat/harp space, some fancy stitches which can all be found on most good brands of machines. A good dealer/ store is important for free lessons, support and maintenance.

    A deal breaker for me was the Bernina Stitch Regulator for FMQ but my 440 cost about $3000 2 years ago? A lot of the 440's are being traded in as people upgrade to newer machines so you might be able to get one a second hand one for about $1500. If you go that route, make sure the shop warranties it.

  9. #9
    Super Member watson's mom's Avatar
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    I sold my 440 because the throat was too small for quilting (for me). I also have a Janome 6600P with a nine inch throat which I love, has all of the above features mentioned plus many more. It has more stitches than I will ever use (I have a few other machines as well) It is a good solid machine and dosen't move around but I have since put it in it's own table. The walking foot is built in so you don't have to buy one and comes with lots of other feet. Don't trade in your Brother whatever you buy because it is always a good idea to have a backup machine. The best advice I can give is "take that generic walking foot off your machine before you ruin it " Good luck with your search and please let us know what you decide on.

  10. #10
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    My Viking Sapphire was $1100 new years ago. A used one would be alot cheaper.
    It has a 10 in throat space. My favorite feature is that when in needle down mode the foot leifts just a little when you stop sewing so you can pivot your material.
    It does not embroidery except for the build in stitchs which I dont use much.
    It has been a great machine with no repairs.

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    Check out Juki and Baby Lock. Fons & Porter now use Baby Lock, as do Eleanor Burns and Jenny Doan at Missouri Star.

    That said, I have a Bernina 440 QE that is my baby, but the throat is too small for me to quilt comfortably. I do like the decorative stitches, because there are times when instead of just doing plain old SITD, I widen the decorative stitches and sew on top of the seams, which makes it more like crazy quilting. I won a Bernina 240 about 3 years ago, and asked what the price was for insurance purposes, and they told me it retailed for $1,400. It uses the same feet, bobbins, etc., as my 440, so I now have spares of everything. Unfortunately, it didn't come with the walking foot, which will run you a pretty penny. The needle up/down feature and the knee lift are both great features, especially if you are doing machine applique. However, I had to learn to use the pedal with my left foot, as I couldn't coordinate the pedal and the knee both with the right leg. I guess I'll never be a drummer, either. LOL

    Watson's mom is right. Keep your Brother as a back up (in case your new machine has to go into the shop) and as a travel machine for retreats and classes. It never hurts to have an extra machine around the house (at last count, I have 12, and only one of them doesn't work).

  12. #12
    RJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by ontheriver View Post
    The brother 1500 has a 9in throat, comes with all the feet (FMQ and walking, plus others). Costs under 700.00. But is only straight stitch machine. Does great piecing and quilting. Has thread cutter and needle down features, also knee lift and small extension table. Have mine on a frame for quilting right now, have used it on table and it does not move. But later you may decide you want some fancy stitches or just a zig zag for basic machine appliqué which this machine does not have.
    I have hours and hours of sewing on my Brother 1500...LOVE it----I also have a high-end brother with all the fancy stitches....but my workhorse is the 1500...for piecing and quilting---it is the best---and the walking foot for this one is 4 times better than the one on my "fancy" machine.

  13. #13
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    Get the brother 1500. It is a wonderful machine. If you need fancy stitches, but a cheapie Brother from Walmart. The cheapie Brother from Walmart will have all the fancy stitches you need and will be easy to carry around for classes. The 1500 will sew through anything you can think of and will let you quilt king sized quilts. You will be able to buy both for well under you budget and have money left for other quilty things.

    P.S. The screw on your other machine is easily replaced. I know because I have a habit of dropping them into unknown places!!
    Last edited by Lisa_wanna_b_quilter; 05-23-2013 at 06:49 AM.

  14. #14
    Super Member Chasing Hawk's Avatar
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    I have a Brother SQ9000 and it came with a walking foot attachment and several other feet. I bought a !/4" foot with that little blade thingy for less than $2.00 on Amazon a while back.

    And it costs around $200.00, you don't need a $1500.00 machine to sew on.....
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    You sound like me.... I have the Babylock Jane. Exact same machine as the Brother PS 5100. It's a simple straight stitch machine made of metal. Largr throat. All feet are included. I spent $800. My apologize for my poor grammer, I'm typing this from my IPhone during my work break.

  16. #16
    Super Member Knitette's Avatar
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    I very quickly 'outgrew' my first machine (a Janome). Luckily I bought it at half-price in a closing down sale and sold it for what I paid for it . I bought a better Janome with needle up/down, auto thread cutter, lock stitch etc (which I love and take to classes).

    A few months ago I bought a Pfaff QE4 purely for the auto-pivot (I do a lot of appliqué), built-in walking foot and larger harp.

    Consider a machine you can grow in to. Just because you think you don't 'need' some of the features now, you might soon! Make a 'wish list' of the features you want the most and try as many as possible. Happy shopping!
    Lang may yer lum reek. (I'm a knitter - hence - 'Knit-ette'. Confuses a lot of people!)

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    Thanks, everyone, for your insight! You've given me a lot to think about. I will definitely check out the Brother and I hadn't heard of Babylocks before. The two shops near me specialize in Janome and Bernina, but I found a shop a little further away that sells Babylock. A used machine also sounds like a good option.

    In the meantime, I'll be picking up a shelf liner today. :-)

  18. #18
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I agree with going to all the local dealers with your price range and want-list and try out their used machines. You will get a lot more bang for your buck that way. As others mentioned, make sure the used machine is warrantied by the dealer. Ask about lessons too (free).

  19. #19
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    I too have a Brother 1500sp and LOVE IT. No fancy stitches but you do not need any for peicing and FMQ or SID. I bought my machine from Amazon for $600 with no tax and free shipping. I guess this is a high end machine because the LQS price was $1200. Go to LQS and test drive machine and get on you like the feel of. I also have a Singer Confidence Quilter from Joann's for $300 which I use to do my fancy stitches and also take to class. It does a nice job peicing but the Brothers is much nicer/easier for FMQ. IMHO A machine may help make you a good quiltyer but the skill still lies with the person!
    "In the crazy quilt of life, I'm glad you are in my block of friends."

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    Whatever you choose to buy, I vote for purchasing from a reputable (sp) local dealer so that you can get to a repair person when you need one, and one that can back up the manufacturer's warranty.

  21. #21
    Senior Member JeannieT's Avatar
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    I have a Brother NX600 that I use for piecing and other things but I LOVE my Janome 6500P for quilting. I have never had to adjust the tensions for FMQ - EVER. Nice throat, lots of extras. But do love my Brother too - it's a workhorse.
    Good luck and have fun in the search!

  22. #22
    Power Poster joyce888's Avatar
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    Something I don't see on your must list. A good instruction book that has some of the most common troubleshooting questions AND answers. The troubleshooting section for my Pfaff is little more than a page and is pretty much worthless.
    Joyce

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  23. #23
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    "Got any major quilt shows coming to your area? Usually all the major manufacturers are there....and you can test drive."

    That's what I did. I purchased a Viking Sapphire 835 for $599 at the Long Beach show last July. They had several "possibly used" from a class that was held at the show. (They said that some of the machines set up for the class might not be used if the class was not full.)

  24. #24
    SSK
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    I just bought a Burnina 710 from a local dealer. I could have gotten one at a discount from my daughter who works at a Burnina dealership in TX (I live in MI) I chose to pay full price and buy here because of the free classes and the support you get when you buy from a dealer. I think it is worth it. Just something to think about.

  25. #25
    Super Member Quiltngolfer's Avatar
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    I can highly recommend the Brother PS1500. I have had mine for several years and it is a workhorse. I also have more expensive machines, but this one is the one I use most often. I piece, quilt, mend, and sew clothing on it. It only does the straight stitch, but it does it very well. It runs about $700. now.

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