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Thread: Machine Brands Rating

  1. #1
    Moose's Avatar
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    Greetings,

    I am full of questions -- still agonizing over making a decision to buy which machine :)

    How would you rate the following brands from best to worst and could you give me a reason for the top 2 and the on at the bottom so I know it's not arbitrary?

    Thank you so much

    Viking
    Bernina
    Brother
    Janome
    Pfaff
    Singer
    Baby Lock

    PS If you know of a place that has this info and is reliable, I would appreciate if you could give me the link as well as rate them yourself :)

    TIA

  2. #2
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    these are all very good brands that make low end, moderate end, and high end machines.

    i've always found it easier to decide by first figuring out what i want to use the machine for and what features do i need the machine to have in order to maximize said use.

    then using the brands you've listed find the models that have those features and compare number of features to price and test drive the models i'm interested in.

    finally i'd settle on 2 machines and i'd start a price war between the stores to get the best deal and service contract.

  3. #3
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I think it's important to decide on your price range. That will eliminate a lot of machines.

    I like http://sewing.patternreview.com/sewingmachine/ for reviews of specific models because they are written by people who have actually used them. You have to join (it's free) in order to see all of the older reviews as well as the new ones. Most consumer places don't review the latest models and have different priorities than I do, especially in terms of quality, so I do not trust them as much. Personal reviews give more information about specific pro's and con's, so you can decide which quirk is likely to annoy you and which feature is going to float your boat.

    I would personally rate the Bernina and Pfaff as the two highest. The Bernina purrs and is all-around totally solid on stitches, tensioning, and probably has the best quality machine quilting stitch. Pfaff is incredible for piecing because of its built-in walking foot.

    Unless you buy their high-end machines, I would probably rate Singer and Brother at the bottom of the list. They have churned out a lot of low-end models that, for me at least, don't delivery quality. Some of their high-end models are loved, however. That's why I said at the beginning that you really need to establish your price range early in the process.

  4. #4
    Moose's Avatar
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    kluedesigns,

    thank you for the reply which will come in handy when I have the rating as well; I still would like some opinions on the brands. I have looked at machines with the same features that were $500 apart... most of the time, what you pay for is what you get. So I don't pollute the opinions, I won't post which brands gave me such prices though.

    Thanks again

  5. #5
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    Price is number one for me. Thats why I do not own the Bernina with stitch regulator.
    I have a Viking and love it. The 10 in throat is so important.
    I dont own a bunch of machines so cannot judge them.

  6. #6
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    The way I decide what machine to buy is decide if I want to pay big money for a machine that cost so much it would have to be my machine for a very very long time. I buy lower cost machines that sew great and I don't mind upgrading to a newer model every so often that has new features. I have a Singer Featherweight and nothing ever goes wrong with it and it's perfect to take anywhere. It is my will keep forever machine. The others I have no big investment in so don't mind getting rid of them and buying another when I find a great deal. Many members of my quild have the top of the line brand machines and they all admit they seldom if ever use all features of the machine that they paid so much for.

  7. #7
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo
    Many members of my quild have the top of the line brand machines and they all admit they seldom if ever use all features of the machine that they paid so much for.
    That's so true! There are a few embroidery stitches I enjoy having (especially the feather stitch), but most of them I will probably never use, including the alphabets I thought would be so important.

  8. #8
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    you might want to check out consumer reports. they have a rating system for sewing machines based on function (garment, quilting, general purpose).

    i agree with the previous poster about tons of bells that never get used. i have a machine with tons of fancy stitches, embroidery module, etc and i hardly ever use them.

    i'm in the market for a new machine in the next year and now i want a straight stitch, very fast, side loading bobbin, thread cutter, needle down - thats it.

    i'll be considering Brother, Janome, and Juki

  9. #9
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I have two Pfaffs and a Brother and I like them all for different reasons:

    My work horse is the Pfaff ?7530? and I love it because of the built-in walking foot, needle down position, the low bobbin indicator, its smooth operation, and the stitch-in-the-ditch foot. I would not want to trade that machine.

    The Brother is a low end that does nice decorative stitches (particularly the button hole for applique), it has a drop-in bobbin, and it does not mind being cartet around.


    Then I got the Pfaff GrandQuilter - a mechanical straightstitch quilting machine with a large throat opening and amazing speed (control). Not too keen on it yet. I'm not sure I would buy that machine again.

    I personally do not like the way Berninas handle from assorted test driving experiences. It is a fabulous line - just not for me.

    Many of the quilting ladies I know have Janomes and they are in love with their machines as well.

    When comparing machines in the same price category, I think a lot depends on what features are important to the buyer, how well does it handle, and which dealer will give the best deal (cost and support).

    As the others said: check the reviews.

  10. #10
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I have two Pfaffs and a Brother and I like both brands for different reasons:

    My work horse is the Pfaff ?7530? and I love it because of the built-in walking foot, needle down position, the low bobbin indicator, its smooth operation, and the stitch-in-the-ditch foot. I would not want to trade that machine.

    The Brother is a low end that does nice decorative stitches (particularly the button hole for applique), it has a drop-in bobbin, and it does not mind being cartet around.


    Then I got the Pfaff GrandQuilter - a mechanical straightstitch quilting machine with a large throat opening and amazing speed (control). Not too keen on it yet. I'm not sure I would buy that machine again.

    I personally do not like the way Berninas handle from assorted test driving experiences. It is a fabulous line - just not for me.

    Many of the quilting ladies I know have Janomes and they are in love with their machines as well.

    When comparing machines in the same price category, I think a lot depends on what features are important to the buyer, how well does it handle, and which dealer will give the best deal (cost and support).

    As the others said: check the reviews.

  11. #11
    Power Poster Ninnie's Avatar
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    I can't tell you about the high end machines, because I only have a Singer that I have had for 12 years and I use it about everyday. I don't machine quilt though only use for piecing and I love it. I have hauled it all over the country and never had any trouble. It's not a fancy machine , just middle of the road. Some day when I am too old to hand quilt, I might look for a different machine, but for now I love my little portable singer.

    Ninnie

  12. #12
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I have the Bernina 440 QE with the stitch regulator and I love it. Friends have Viking and Pfaff and love them too. I made the decision mostly based on having a really good service center for the Bernina nearby, and I bought an extended warranty because I can take the machine in as often as I want for adjustment, cleaning, whatever. I am very happy that I purchased the stitch regulator, but not so happy that I got the embroidery module. It turns out I'm not so interested in doing embroidery.

    It's really important, if you buy a higher end machine, that you purchase from a shop with a good reputation for service. In my case I got quotes for price at the Puyallup Expo, then took the Bernina quote in to the local dealer and he matched it.

  13. #13
    Super Member sewjoyce's Avatar
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    My number one choice is the Bernina. I currently have 2 and I love both of them. One is the 200E which I bought used on ebay and mostly all I do with it is embroidery although it will do just about anything I'd every want. My little workhorse is the 440QE with the stitch regulator. I bought this one new and didn't spend the extra to get the embroidery unit.

    Most of my friends have Berninas -- the service here in our area is terrific. I can call or email them with a question and very rarely have they not known the answer. They are heavy duty and have metal bobbins. If you can't afford a new one, I'd recommend a used one. With the new model that came out last fall, which costs a measly $12,000, a lot of people have been selling/trading their old machines to get this one. So now would be a great time to buy one that's used.

    Viking would be my #2 choice. I had one of those several years ago (can't remember the exact model) but it was also a good little work horse. I had problems with the plastic bobbins warping and the service in our area was just horrific.

    Hope this helps :wink:

  14. #14
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    I can't tell you which is best or worst, I haven't used them all. Plus what I consider best might not be what you consider best. There are some quality brands on your list and some that I wouldn't use as boat anchors. Which one do you like ? If it does what you want and is in your price range, it's probably the best machine for you. Make sure the warranty will cover it for a good amount of time. Does it have a reputation for long life ?

    Shop for the dealer almost as much as you shop for the machine, it's really as important as machine choice. A poor dealer will make your sewing experience worse. If we had to purchase new machines today, we might make a different choice than we did 3 years ago. One of the brand specific dealers for our machines, stinks in the area we moved to. I hate to walk into their store, even if it's just to buy fabric.

    Things I do know, Brother makes quite a few of Babylocks machines just rebrands them. Janome does the same even makes some of Brenina's Bernette line up. The new Singer is just a hollow shell of what it used to be in a better time. Brother makes some good machines and some cheapos how do you decide which is which ? You know that the service notification on a Bernina 440QE doesn't turn on until the machine hits 2,000,000 stitches, pretty cool huh ? Quite a few machines are worn out by then. You do have to oil and clean it after every 180,000 stitches, though.

  15. #15
    Super Member carrieg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99
    I think it's important to decide on your price range. That will eliminate a lot of machines.

    I like http://sewing.patternreview.com/sewingmachine/ for reviews of specific models because they are written by people who have actually used them.
    I found the patternreview site to be helpful also when I was looking. Remember the accessories on some brands are high $$.

  16. #16
    mamatobugboo's Avatar
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    i shopped for a new machine last summer and decided on the Janome 1600P DBX - the industrial single stitch machine with needle down, automatic thread cutter, 9-in throat and knee lift - I love it. I do everything on it (except quilting when I've used basting spray, she doesn't like it). I also have a 5 year old Kenmore, electronic with fancy stitches and a regular throat size. She is my workhorse that I use when I am going to quilting nights or when I use basting spray and then I quilt with her. The Kenmore (5 years ago) cost about $250 with markdowns and my Janome was about $800, which I got as a package deal with the Grace Pro quilting frame.

    I echo the other posts that say to first decide what you want your machine to do and how you will use it, then how much you want to spend. I went with the Janome because I love quilting my quilts and knew I wanted the largest throat size I could afford without fancy stuff.

    Good luck

  17. #17
    Senior Member AtHomeSewing's Avatar
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    I love my Bernina, and I love that it is made in Switzerland and is the only brand that is still a family-owned operation. I love that it seems to actually help me accomplish whatever I want, rather than fight me like my last machine (Singer).

    The best thing is to go get your hands on the various machines. How do they feel in terms of operation to you? Pick one up, is there much weight to it? Are most of it's parts made of lightweight plastic or, are the internal parts made from metal? I was nearly set on buying a different brand, until I actually got up close to the Berninas. Once I saw and felt the quality of the pressure feet and the hook mechanism I was sold.

    Was it my Bernina the cheapest machine? Not at all. Is it the best made machine, in my opinion it is. However, in your case the only opinion that matters is your own. A good deal depends on what you are looking for: features/price/quality.

    There are lots of machines out there, go try them. Make up a packet of difficult to sew on fabrics and see how each machine responds. Have each one make a buttonhole for you. Check out how well the needle threader works...or if it even works at all. How much light is illuminated over the sewing area, how easy is it to load the bobbin or change the feet.

    I wrote a review for Patter Review on my machine, and a copy of it is on my Flickr sewing room page, here's a link to the review:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/athomesewing/2720227176/

    Good luck with your search, take your time and you will find the machine that is the best one for you. :)

  18. #18
    Moose's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the replies. Although I am still hoping for you to rank brands since it would really help me make a decision, your answers helped me narrow things down a bit, but I'm not exactly done searching... I have 28 days :P before the show prices disappear in the case of three vendors.

    I'll post in another thread about a machine for which I didn't find reviews, not even at the patterreview.com site since it's doesn't apply to the current subject. :)

  19. #19
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose
    Thank you all for the replies. Although I am still hoping for you to rank brands since it would really help me make a decision,
    Well, I have a Bernina 1230 and still think it's one of the best machines ever made. If I were going to buy another machine, I'd add a Pfaff for the integrated walking foot. My third machine would be a long-arm, but that's a whole 'nother topic!

    One thing I would advise is that if you think you might want to do embroidery one day, buy a separate embroidery machine for that kind of sewing. Don't try to get one machine now that will do everything. With two machines you can be piecing a quilt on one while the other machine is embroidering for you.

  20. #20
    Super Member carrieg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose
    Thank you all for the replies. Although I am still hoping for you to rank brands since it would really help me make a decision, your answers helped me narrow things down a bit,
    I can't rank the 7 brands you're asking about because I only have experience with my Janome! :? So, Janome is #1 because it meets my needs. All the rest are #2. LOL

  21. #21
    Super Member alaskasunshine's Avatar
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    Good morning, I own 3 machines. A Kenmore, age 33 years old. Used it until I got a Janome in 1998. I only got my Janome because my Kenmore was too loud. My Kenmore I keel like old faithful. Never had a single problem. I also bought it as a reposession from Sears. Janome is a nice machine but I got to say I bought a Singer Featherweight in November last year. She was born in 1934 and she is wonderful. I love this little lightweight and steady eddy machine. I take it everywhere with me.

    Did you say what you will be using your machine for? Since I go out a lot to sew I recommend a Featherweight. It really is dependant upon what you will be needing.

    My vote for Singer Featherweight! Just a thought.

  22. #22
    Senior Member motomom's Avatar
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    I cannot tell you about comparisons, I only know what I have and I have not sewn on any of the others.

    BUT I can tell you what I have. My machine is a Pfaff 1229 that I bought in, oh, I don't know, back in the early 80's??? My machine is a FREAKIN' WORKHORSE. I have used it, abused it, and NEVER taken it in for service. I probably blew the dust out of it and oiled it, oh, maybe 10 years ago???

    It has made children's clothes for my 4, specialty items for my grandchildren, curtains and drapes for my house, new cushion covers for my couch, countless boy and girl scout projects, NUMEROUS flags for the drill teams at school, flag uniforms, marching band uniform alterations, business suits etc for myself, comforters, a quilt, even a set of tympani and marimba covers for a local band. Oh, and I recovered the seat of my DH's 65 Chevy pickup, complete with a trapunto Chevrolet emblem in the center of the back. All heavy fabric and sometimes so thick I had to force the thickness under the pressure foot. It is kept out and handy 24/7.

    I wouldn't take a million dollars for my machine. Well, I guess I could take it, keep the dough and get another Pfaff!!!

  23. #23
    Super Member Darlene's Avatar
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    Since I have only sewed on Singers and never even sat down to another machine I have been thinking about a new one myself. Thanks for all of the advice.

  24. #24
    Junior Member roseville rose's Avatar
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    Bernina's were too rich for my blood so I finally settled on a wonderful Brother QC-1000 that does more than I will ever probably use. Price and support are top of the list and then features. I love the needle down, top loading bobbin, automatic needle threader etc!

  25. #25

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    Janome-1
    Bernina-2
    Pfaff-3
    Viking-4
    Baby Lock-5
    Singer-6
    Brother-7

    The reason I bought a Janome 6600 is because of the price and preformance. Bernina is a good machine but to pricey for me.
    I belong to 4 quilting groups (2 guilds) one group there is 6 of us that have been together 5 years and we all have the Janome 6600. One of the quilts where I belong has a membership of 275 and has its own "6600 Club". I feel you get more bang for your buck with the 6600. LOVE-LOVE-LOVE my machine


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