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Thread: Looking for a portable sewing machine

  1. #1
    Super Member jeanharville's Avatar
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    Looking for a portable sewing machine

    I'm looking for a machine to travel with: to take to class, and on vaca. I've been looking at the FW and the little green Singer 185. I do think the vintage machines are cute and I know they sew a beautiful straight stitch. But they seem to run $300 plus. So I'm wondering if I would be better served to buy a lower end Janome or Brother for the same price that would have a few more stitches and other handy features. I would use it to piece quilts, light home dec and maybe children's clothes. Any advice would be appreciated.
    jean

  2. #2
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    Simplicity makes a nice "denim" machine. I can't remember how heavy it is for carrying to class. I picked it out for a friend; from her husband. It was a really nice machine around 169.00 a few years ago. (can find them online) My mom bought a different Simplicity, nice simple machine with a few extra stitches. I bought my daughter a Bernette made for Bernina. It was on sale for around 269.00 several years ago. It is easy to carry and has a variety of stitches. I used it when we camped during the summers. I would suggest you go to a dealer and look at their lower priced machines and then try them out. Take some different types of fabrics with you so you know if they will sew that fabric. Put all those samples in a ziplock with the name of that machine and price. Do the same for each you try and then you will have something to pick from. Good Luck, I love looking at different machines for students I teach. So have fun. Teresa

  3. #3
    Super Member marymm's Avatar
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    I love my small Janomes. I have an older Jem Gold and a Jem Platinum. The Platinum has oodles of stitches and has been a workhorse. I have had no problems with either. I'm not sure of the price nowadays, but a number of friends in my bee have this or similar models and all are pleased. The Jem Gold doesn't have all the features of the newer model, but when I got my newer model I decided to save it for times when a friend (or granddaughter) without an easy-to-carry machine was visiting. It has come in very handy.

  4. #4
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    I would visit different dealers and try out the machines in your price range before making a purchase.

  5. #5
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    You can get a 301 for under $150. It's straight stitch only, though. If you need other stitches I'd go with a Janome Gem.

  6. #6
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    I recently purchased a FW for the exact purpose of taking it to class. I purchased off of EBay and had to work at it but was able to purchase for $200. I love it. A few other ladies asked me to get some for them and again I had luck purchasing in the $2-250 range. I also check craigslist - sometimes local is better - no shipping. Its funny you mentioned the Singer 185 - I had one of those years ago - loved it - saw one local for $35.00. I also purchased 301 - big sister to 221 - love it too - and I got one at Goodwill for $14.95 - so look around and you will find one right for you. The advantge of the 221 is the light weight. Some of our ladies are senior and it is easier for them to carry. hope this helps - and yes I have a problem with buying sewing machines - lol - ask my hubby

  7. #7
    Member Bicycle Hobo's Avatar
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    I really like my Janome made Kenmore and my Janome Hello Kitty 11706 3/4 size machine. The Hello Kitty is smaller than the regular size machines, but it still has the same needle penetration power behind it as my other one. They are both simple mechanical ones with just a few stitch selection.

  8. #8
    Super Member girlsfour's Avatar
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    Hancock Fabrics has some decent Janome's for under $100. Depending on your local store, there are a few models marked down. They are lightweight, easy to use, some have snap-on feet, a few come with a 1/4" foot. Also I know women have purchased the Janome Sew-Mini for traveling. They seem to like them also.

    Good luck!

  9. #9
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    I have the Janome platinum but they're at least $300 or more. If money is an issue i wuld check out the Brother or a used machine from a dealer that has been serviced.

  10. #10
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    If you are looking for vintage, I would recommend either the Featherweight or the 301 rather than the 185. The 185 is a good machine, but for travel you would find it to be quite heavy. I have all 3 of those models and prefer the 301.

    Dayle

  11. #11
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I love my two lower end brothers, got one refurbished on overstock.com and one from walmart, both are great little machines, never had a problem with either

  12. #12
    Super Member jeanharville's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your advice and info. I'm glad to hear the cheaper Janomes and Simplicity are good machines. I certainly don't want to buy one that stays in the repair shop all the time. I have been checking CL everyday, but nothing yet. I'm afraid to buy off Ebay because I want to be able to try the machine out.
    jean

  13. #13
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dolphyngyrl View Post
    I love my two lower end brothers, got one refurbished on overstock.com and one from walmart, both are great little machines, never had a problem with either
    I too am very pleased with my lower end Brothers. I sew on 3 different varieties and they have never failed me. One is almost 10 years old and sews with any kind of thread on any kind of fabric.

  14. #14
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I bought my granddaughter the Janome Hello Kitty 3/4 size machine. It is not a toy and sews like my Janome Jem Gold. Also it is considered a collectible. Save the box!
    Got fabric?

  15. #15
    Super Member wesing's Avatar
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    allbrands.com has an 11# Janome for $119. They recently advertised that they are closing out the American-made Janomes, but I don't know if this machine is one of them.

    Darren

  16. #16
    Super Member DottyD's Avatar
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    No doubt go for a Janome Gem. A brilliant little machine with a big heart -- a veritable little workhorse !! Love mine and even used it very well on a recent free motion quilting workshop !
    DottyD.

  17. #17
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    There is also a Kenmore "featherweight" machine. It is model no. 158.10400, and at 20 lbs. is a bit heavier than a FW, but it has a stronger motor and can also zig zag. You can find them on ebay. They come with a nice case which has embossed roses all over it on the outside. There's also a storage compartment across the front which can flip over once without opening up, to give you a larger bed surface. Cool little machine! Check them out.

  18. #18
    Senior Member leggz48's Avatar
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    If it's for travel, keep the weight as a priority along with sewing capabilities. I have a FW, but it is heavier than my Janome which travels nicely.
    Linda

  19. #19
    Super Member jeanharville's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leggz48 View Post
    If it's for travel, keep the weight as a priority along with sewing capabilities. I have a FW, but it is heavier than my Janome which travels nicely.
    Leggz, which Janome do you have?
    jean

  20. #20
    Super Member jeanharville's Avatar
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    I bought a Janome DC 1050 yesterday and so far I really like the features I've tested. Not the best straight stitch I've seen (the dealer said it is because of the lack of a bobbin hook and he demonstrated with a Janome that did have the rotary hook and it did make the difference) but it will be fine for piecing and sewing seams where the stitching doesn't show. If I need to top stitch I'll use my Pfaff. I haven't tested the button hole attachment, but I will tomorrow.

    I want to thank all of you for your suggestions. I was leaning toward the Janome, but needed some real-life quilters to comment on their experiences.
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    jean

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