Welcome to the Quilting Board!

Already a member? Login above
loginabove
OR
To post questions, help other quilters and reduce advertising (like the one on your left), join our quilting community. It's free!

Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: general sewing machine question

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    601
    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
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Posts
    4,493
    Blog Entries
    62
    Go to http://www.patternreview.com

    Lots of good info on choosing a machine and reviews.

  3. #3
    Super Member lalaland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Yakima, WA
    Posts
    2,481
    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
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    757
    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
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Western Wisconsin
    Posts
    11,882
    Blog Entries
    1
    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
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    17,462
    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
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Yakima, WA
    Posts
    2,481
    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
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    High Entropy Zone
    Posts
    1,250
    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
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    American Canyon, CA
    Posts
    1,133
    Blog Entries
    3
    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
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Escondido, CA
    Posts
    66
    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.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Aunt Doggie's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    From WI then Denver then Houston and now Hainesville, IL
    Posts
    317
    I have a Husqvarna that I absolutely LOVE! It is the Sapphire 830. I also have a Kenmore(Janome) that is lightweight and easy to take to classes. Great for piecing.
    I have a Singer redeye Treadle and a Baby Lock Emore for embroidery.

    My cousin has a Bernina and she is scared to try the fancy features!! So I would say research, find ones with features you are looking for, and then go try them out at the dealerships.

    Between everyone here, they can give you help with just about ANY machine you decide to buy!!!
    Happy hunting!

  12. #12
    Super Member jayelee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Chaumont NY
    Posts
    1,174
    I have two Husqvarna and a singer and also a brother quilting sewing machine love them all I also have my grams and my great aunts now that she has passed

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    601
    Thanks for all of the input, guys. I know to test drive machines before purchasing, and of course if and when I am actually in the market for a new machine, I would have a list of specific features I want. However, I would rather not visit a dozen different types of dealers; I would rather narrow down my list a bit. That's why I'm curious about the reputations of the various companies, such as knowing that Singers aren't what they used to be, or if some machines are generally considered overpriced, or others are considered great deals, or if some are known for not lasting long, or having particular problems, etc. Thanks also for the info about some machines sharing manufacturers - I didn't know about that.

    Please keep the comments coming! I'm interested in your opinions on the different manufacturers.

    Thanks!

    Mattee

  14. #14
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Front row
    Posts
    14,661
    Blog Entries
    2
    The high end Singers are great. You won't find them at Walmart. I have the Singer Quantum and have abused this machine to no end and it still sews like new. Even dropped it on the asphalt from the roof of the car. Bernina is excellent quality as are the high end Janomes, Elnas, Babyloc, Pfaff, Viking, Kenmores, Juki and Brothers. The low end machines are a hit and miss with quality. I have a Singer 301 and it's my favorite machine. It's the best made of any machine I have ever used. It has no bells and whistles but it sews with no frustration for me at all using any thread I want. It's better at free motion quilting then my Brother 1500.

  15. #15
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    High Entropy Zone
    Posts
    1,250
    With Singer you need to say Singer before ....date and after...Old mechanical Singers were good machines. Then came the change in parts (plastic, yuk) and Singer was just never the same after that.

    Kenmores are the same thing. They are always manufactured for Kenmore by someone else. Who makes what depends on the year. Takes a little research.

    Even the "good" brands can have a real dog on occasion. That is where your relationship with your dealer is important. I list dealer/warranty high on my list of must haves (I find a dealer with a great service record and then look at the machines. Saves heartache in the long run.)

    I walked away from a dealer who represented OK machines because they didn't know how to make a buttonhole with the one they wanted me to buy. I had to teach THEM how to make the buttonhole. They were sure the machine was broken. To me, that is a sure indicator that this was not the person I was going to go to for any problems I might have on a machine later on (it had been on the market for a while so there was really no excuse).

  16. #16
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    rural Maryland
    Posts
    1,566
    So much depends on what you want to do with the machine. I fell in love with Berninas when I worked for a dealer. She made her bread and butter by doing alterations and custom dressmaking. I used the machines everyday when I worked in her shop. I now own 4 Berninas and a Singer Featherweight. I found that the more things the machine will do such as decorative stitches and embroidery the less stable the basic straight stitch. I purchased the Bernina 1260 16 years ago because while I did garment sewing I was basically a quilter. The straight stitch on that model was rock solid. I prefer using a seperate machine for embroidery mainly because it allows me to do that while I am using my other machine for something else. I am also a little lazy and hate using a machine I have to change plates or disassemble or reassemble to do other tasks. I spent a little more for my serger as it can switch from regular to rolled edge with the push of a button. Changing throat plates etc. was not something I wanted to mess with on a regular basis. I love my 1260 but it is an older machine and mostly metal. I purchased a newer less expensive model Bernina in the last year because it weighs almost half the weight of my other model. It allows me to take the newer one on retreat without having to lug that heavy machine.

  17. #17
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Grays River, WA.
    Posts
    203
    I started out with an old metal Singer. Started quilting and bought a Featherweight to take to classes and on trips as it is so small. I LOVE Babylock as it is the most user friendly sewing/embroidery, whatever. I have 7570 Pfaff and an old 1222 Pfaff. They have the IDT or walking foot, great for quilting as it keeps the top and bottom fabrics feeding at the same pace without slipping. The new Pfaffs require intensive learning curve. I had an old Bernina, all metal but I wouldn't buy one now that the matriarch retired four years ago or so.
    She was quality control. I took over two years and did sewing on old machines and went to sewing shops to try machines over and over again. For me that meant driving 50 to 120 miles one way once a week. A gal on the first page talked about the features, critical in my opinion, try them. I would go for the quality of the stitches if I were starting and use for a year and trade up if you think you would like to do embroidery.
    Do the embroidery at the shop but think about practical applications. How much would you use it. Think about trade in value, how well will your machine hold value? Buy used if you can get a good warranty from your local dealer. DO NOT BUY SINGER no one is servicing. I'd stay away from Jamone too, lots of issues with the new machines.
    Good Luck

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.