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Thread: The little sewing machine that could.... or not

  1. #1
    Junior Member rubia's Avatar
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    I wanted to sew. I had limited resources. I purchased a machine from someone on Craigslist. My expectations were that I'd make a few dresses a year for my daughter, maybe a couple other things, but that was it. Then I realized I like quilting. Trying to sew the thickness of quilts knocks my needle out of alignment and each time I take the machine in for a once-over, it's $90. I might as well buy a new machine for the amount these tune-ups are costing me!

    I have a Brother CS 100. The little sewing machine that thought it could. LOL

    Am I asking too much of my machine?

    Also, once my husband graduates in May and gets a good job, I want to upgrade. What machine would you recommend?

  2. #2
    BlueChicken's Avatar
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    I had the same problem, I had a very old sewing machine I used hardly ever, then I discovered quilting and it just wasn't up to the task.

    Lucky for me, my partner works with tools and builds things, so he knows the importance of having the right tools. I have a Brother NX-200 which is great.

    I'd love a long-arm machine at some point, of course. :-)

  3. #3
    Super Member mary quite contrary's Avatar
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    Janome seems to be a good machine for the money but the service behind the machine is really important. Also, does it come with classes?

  4. #4
    mamatobugboo's Avatar
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    i really love my Janome. I have the 1600P DBX, which is a straight stitch machine with a 9 in. throat. I have a little kenmore that I've had for about 5 years which is my "fancy" stitch machine and the one I take to my quilt nights because it is lighter than the Janome.

    I would recommend you think about what you want your machine to do for you and go for the most you can get for the money, without sacrificing quality!

  5. #5
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    I love my elnas. You can get a good elna for under $400. I don't know the price range you're looking for. Also check around at yard sales, thrift stores and auctions. You can get some great buys. If you plan on machine quilting, make sure you can drop the feed dogs.

  6. #6
    Power Poster RedGarnet222's Avatar
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    I had my first bernina machine for over thirty years. It was the top of the line and did everything I asked of it. I have every foot they made for it and learned to use them all. That is one great machine to this day.

    Hubby got the bright idea to get me a new janome three years ago. It is a mid range one and I have bought every foot that is made for it. It is a good little machine and I learned to use the computer built in like I had always had that feature. (So easy t learn) And I agree it is a good machine.

    But I missed my bernina quality. So hubby got me a new mid range one last fall. I had never played with the embrodery module before. It is way cool to make custom designs. and to put monograms onto gifts.

    I suppose what I am trying to say is, look around, take your time and get all you can for the price. Even though you don't do something now, doesn't mesn you might not want to do it in the future.

    Often they put machines on sale in the fall in preparation for the new year's models. Sometimes if you get to know the dealer's well, they will let you know when a sale is going to happen. Also, that is when many people trade in thier machines. That might be an option for you to concider??

  7. #7
    Senior Member rismstress's Avatar
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    I have always sewed - since I was 4 years old. Clothing, draperies, slip-covers, quilts, you name it. I had some brother something or other that was fair but caused me fits and it really wasn't what I needed for all the sewing I do.
    11 years ago I took the machine to be fixed. The only repair shop was at a bernina dealer- they took the machine, said they'd give it a decent burial and introduced me to a 10 year old traded- in bernina. Well, that machine does what I want, all the time, and except for fancy attachments, it's great. Get something good even if it's used. I swear by mine and if I ever buy a new machine, I'll look at bernina first. I'm keeping the old one.
    Cheryl

  8. #8
    Senior Member borntoquilt's Avatar
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    I have an OLD Bernina 830 (which I LOVE and can pratically service myself) an OLD Bernina Nova (next step down from the 830), a 1948-50 industrial Phaff that I make sail (sailboat) canvas covers (I had a hand crank put on it so I don't need electricity when repairing canvas out on the water), and an Old Singer feathweigth. The machine I like the least is, ironically, the newest being abt 3 years old. It is a WHITE Quilters Machine. Sold @ JoAnn's. It is kinda "tin-ey" and "seams" hang up on the bobbin case cover. I NEVER use it anymore. Guess I should sell it. Not bragging on these machine but I love them all. NOW! let me tell you abt my measuring cup addiction.... lol!! roll on floor! heh! heh!

  9. #9
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    I've had a Sears Kenmore for 22 years, a Janome MC3500 for 8 years, and a Babylock Esante for 4 years, and I love them all. I have had good experiences with them all and (knock wood) not had any problems, other than my own oopsies.

    I suggest you go to a dealer and sit and sew for awhile. I sat at the Babylock dealer's for 4 hours before I decided to purchase it, but I usually have a panic attack if I want to spend over $50. Luckily I have overcome that with fabric, lol.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    Junior Member rubia's Avatar
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    I'm really hoping to find a machine that I can keep for a very long time. I plan on being very picky about it. I know I definitely need a machine that has a wider throat.

    But when it comes to how "heavy duty" a machine is, how can you measure that really? This machine is a good little work horse for simple seams but it just can't handle layered materials or heavy materials (like the puppy dog costume I made for my son for Halloween).

  11. #11
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    I love my Bernina 240, but I didn't take to it right away. It was after using it for about a month or so that I realized it is just fantastic and can't even tell you what it was I didn't care for after I purchased it. (Might have just been buyers remorse because they are expensive.) I also love by Babylock Choice Pro, it is a single stitch pin-fed quilter, nothing fancy but a workhorse. I just wish both machines had larger harp areas and I would never need a long-arm machine. These machines are both so smooth and even, I have no tension or bobbin issues, just the occasional operator error. :lol: The basic model Viking and Janome machines I use at the LQSs classes are nice but not as smooth running and they are noisy and rattle, now that might just be because they are communal machines that get way too much use and not enough care.



  12. #12

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    Think long and hard about what you want in a machine. What is must have, what you'd like it to have, and then your wildest dreams it would have. Once you have that list shop outward from there. You can find amazing machines that will do all the things you really want, need and desire and within whatever price limit you set for yourself. You can always double check the reviews at patternreview.com as they have lots and lots of reviews on just about every sewing machine.

    I have two, a little Elna that can sew anything and does (the current entry level model). And a 9 year old former top of the line Brother, that is my dream machine that turned out to have all the bells and whistles and a price tag that was only a little more than I wanted to spend. I would recommend both.

  13. #13
    Power Poster sandpat's Avatar
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    You've been given good advice so far. I have 2 old 1970 something model Singers that run really well and do piecing just fine. I can actually quilt pretty well with them also. I decided that I wanted more types of stitches and a stitch regulator.....so I found a used top of the line Bernina last summer and I've never looked back. Now if I can just stop buying fabric long enough to buy a couple more of those expensive feet :roll:

    Just make sure you sit and sew to test drive BEFORE you buy..my dealer let me bring the Bernina home for a few days to try it out. I thought that was a really good sign of a good dealer.

  14. #14

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    Well, I know they haven't the best ratings but I grew up sewing on Singers. I will admit that the recently manufactured(last 10-15 years) basic models leave something to be desired. But I purchased the Singer HD 110 from the Home Shopping Network(HSN.com) a few years ago after being bored one day and tuning in to their sewing show. It's not pretty, it's not light-weight, and it only has 10 pretty basic stitches BUT it is a work horse.

    The main reason I got it was for the price,only $299, and it came with a great acrylic extension table. And those babies are close to $100 on their own. And it's fast. It's description states 1100 stiches a minute which is comparable to my serger speed. The body is all metal, which makes it not a light-weight, but so are all the moving parts so it will probably be quite a while before anything wears out. It's sturdy,fast and probably a little noisier than average but it can sew through layers of denim or fine chiffon. I have made quite a few quilts from flannel,cotton and denim and it can handle it all.
    I don't mean to sound like a Singer commercial but I've been very satified with this model and if you go to the Singer web site they have several machines in the "Heavy Duty" and "Commercial Grade" models.

  15. #15
    Junior Member rubia's Avatar
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    I checked out that Singer. Are you really able to get your quilts around and under there? It seems like a small area to fit all that quilt through when you're turning the quilt to all four sides.

  16. #16
    Power Poster sewnsewer2's Avatar
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    I have only had experience with kenmore, bernina and singer. I do not like the singers. The others I love!

  17. #17
    Power Poster RedGarnet222's Avatar
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    rubia,
    I think the nancy's notions catalog (or was it clotilde?) has a little quilt frame that glides aroung on two plastic side bars. It looked really interesting to help with the quilting by a standard machine. Around a hundred dollars. Now I haven't used it, but if I hadn't gotten something else, I would have. It looks like it would do the job.

    Has anyone used this??

  18. #18
    Senior Member Queen's Avatar
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    When I was shopping for a new machine I checked out this site http://sewing.patternreview.com/SewingMachine/Reviews

    It gives reviews on different kinds of machines from people that actually use them.

    Mary

  19. #19
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    The elna Quilter's Dream has a larger bed than the average, but they're fairly pricey, I got a used one and have been very happy with it.

  20. #20

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    With anything larger than a crib quilt, I roll them up and use those quilt clamps to keep it manageable. I have to admit at first I would get frustrated with so much fabric to manipulate but then I took a tip from a local quilter who said to just relax and take it slow. I've always been a fast sewer and after changing my ways and realizing I didn't need to get it quilted in a day or even 2 or 3 days, it works out fine.

  21. #21
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    I recomend Singer as well. I have one from 2000 something, and it is just fine, but about the same as yours, but I can quilt on it, and 4 layers of demin it does without an problem. Well, not much, if you go slow. My other is also a singer from the 80s. Aside from a speed control problem and it is ridculous to thread, it is my workhorse. Then what I would recomend and you have probaly never heard of is a Riccar. They are really good quality, I have one from the 60s, but I have heard they are really good still. Ready for me to stop talking about my sewing machines yet ;)?

  22. #22
    Super Member wraez's Avatar
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    I have a Janome6500 which I love. On the expensive side, at least for my purse, but I put it on layaway for about 6 months, the dealer was wonderful. Once you have a Janome 6500 or 6600 you get free classes to go to as often as you want or need. First year you get one free servicing.

    The Janome replaced a sturdy Kenmore that I had for over 35 yrs. The Kenmore is still a comfortable friend to have when my grandkids want to sew.

    Oh, and the Janome has a larger throat than most for easier quilting....but not as easy as a long arm, LOL.

  23. #23

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    I had the same problem about 10 years ago when I returned to sewing. I found a web site that had so many sewing machines I wished I wouldn't have found it! But I did contact the site, got Stephen who helped me sort out exactly what I was looking for in a new machine. Support was more than I hoped for from a web site. Shipping was $12 ( I think. Or maybe 10.) www.sewvacdirect.com is the web site. I took a quick trip there just now to be sure I had the address right and there's a link on the home page to Meet our Staff. I don't have any financial interest in the site, just know that overwhelming feeling of CHOOSING! Stephen never once said, " For Pete's Sake! Make up your mind!" Imagine that. And from his picture, he's a man;-)

  24. #24
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    I have a lightweight compuerize Janome that I take to classes and our weekly quiling group when I need to sew. Its a good machine but it won't sew demim or multiple layers . I also want a more heavy duty machine to keep at home. I have an old "Sears" machine that I had been planning to give to my daughter as she does alot of sewing also. Right now I am thinking I may just pull it out and not bother with a new machine. I know it will sew denim.lol I bought my daughter a Singer a couple years ago for 99 dollars and she says it does pretty good for small lightweight projects. What I don't like about the new machines is the fact you have to take them in once a year and spend money to have them "tuned up" Is this something with all machines now. I also hate one of the local dealers here as its sort of a high pressure sale to interest you in a more expensive machine. I also would like to know about a good reliable machine in the 500 dollar range .

  25. #25
    Sara Street's Avatar
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    I agree that you have received tons of good advice! My two cents to add is this: look at the dealer as well! I was equally considering a Husquavrna Viking and a Bernina. I let my guard down and let a super salesman and a willing to buy husband persuade me to buy the Husquavrna. (You know, hubby might change his mind later... so buy now!) It is a super machine and I absolutely love it, BUT the dealer only has a very minimum of classes - take it or leave it. No "extra" classes of any kind, and the sales staff are snooty! The manager that I bought from left the store for health reasons and now they treat me like a red-headed stepchild. On the other hand, the Bernina dealership have lots and lots of classes, a great monthly newsletter, and are super friendly and helpful - even when they know that you don't have a Bernina! (I do have a Bernina Deco embroidery machine...) If I ever get to upgrade again, I'll definitely go to Bernina!

    Just something else to think about!

    Sara Street

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