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Thread: Mechanical vs. electronic sewing machine

  1. #1
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    Mechanical vs. electronic sewing machine

    I am at the point where I need to buy another sewing machine. The machine that I have is mechanical, very simple Singer about 12 years old. It is a good little machine that never had a temper tantrum. But, If it dies I will be in a pickle. I have never worked on an electronic (digital) sewing machine before. What are its pros and cons? I do not like overly sensitive machines that throw a fit if I use a thread that is not high end. I would be using the machine primarily for piecing and occasionally for quilting small projects. I have my Bailey for bigger quilts. The options that I like but do not have are automatic threader, thread cutter, dog feed lowering, and maybe a few decorative stitches. My budget is small, about $400. What are your thoughts - stick with the devil I know and buy a mechanical or join the 21st century and buy a digital machine? Help!
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  2. #2
    Super Member slk350's Avatar
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    Can you even find new mechanical sewing machines ? I got my daughter a Brother sewing machine at Cosco last june (2011) for under $200. Nice little machine. She's just learning to sew & quilt. I just got myself a HV Topaz 20, but that was $2000. I was also using a very old Kenmore (30+ years old), but can't kill it. There are some Singers also that are pretty reasonable, don't know how reliable they are. Maybe buy a used higher end machine. Sometimes people trade them in for a better one or there is Craigs List, E-Bay and Sew & Vac repair stores sell used machines. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I have both, but prefer my electronic, they make things easier for me. My brothers have never been fussy about the thread they use. Do you want it as you main machine or backup. for your price range I recommend the brother PC-420 off amazon. Its higher quality, more metal, and has a lot of nice features that you will love and not find on your mechanical, knee left, needle threader, thread cutter, pressure adjuster, lots of neat stitches
    Brother XL-3500i, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D, Juki MO-2000QVP

  4. #4
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    I have 2 old singers that I can maintain and fix myself (not electronic) I have 2 Bernina electronic machines that go to the shop when the notice comes up on their screens. My Berninas are middle of the price range and have worked well for me. I have had my Activa for over 10 with only 1 small part needing replacement. I bought my Bernina 440 about 2 years ago and I love it. Go try a few brands out from dealers in your area. Good support and customer service are the biggest advantage when buying a new machine no matter which brand you choose.

  5. #5
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tashana View Post
    I am at the point where I need to buy another sewing machine. The machine that I have is mechanical, very simple Singer about 12 years old. It is a good little machine that never had a temper tantrum. But, If it dies I will be in a pickle. I have never worked on an electronic (digital) sewing machine before. What are its pros and cons? I do not like overly sensitive machines that throw a fit if I use a thread that is not high end. I would be using the machine primarily for piecing and occasionally for quilting small projects. I have my Bailey for bigger quilts. The options that I like but do not have are automatic threader, thread cutter, dog feed lowering, and maybe a few decorative stitches. My budget is small, about $400. What are your thoughts - stick with the devil I know and buy a mechanical or join the 21st century and buy a digital machine? Help!
    Something you may want to consider------------the electronics MAY die in an electrical storm. Now, if you don't sew 24/7, that may not make a difference. At any rate-----------keep the old work horse for times when it's rough outside.
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  6. #6
    Super Member sewbeadit's Avatar
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    I have sewn and I own both, and like them all, they have each their own qualities. Go try some out. I have my electronic machine on a good strip protecter and have never in 15 years had a problem with it.
    Sewbeadit
    W. Washington

  7. #7
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    I would take the $400 and buy the best mechanical refurbished machine I could. I received a 401 Slant-O-Matic Singer for Christmas in Original case with original manual and original box with feet and accessories for $198. Just think what you could buy with $400!!! Go to a 2nd hand store or a sewing machine store that deals in used machines!!
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  8. #8
    Senior Member rush88888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcrow View Post
    ...Go to a 2nd hand store or a sewing machine store that deals in used machines!!
    my local vac and sewing machine repair place always had a few sewing machines for sale. you might want to visit them, too.

  9. #9
    Senior Member mommessy's Avatar
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    I have both. Really love my old Singers for just plain sewing. They are so reliable. But the new computerized machines are awesome.

  10. #10
    Super Member Sandygirl's Avatar
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    I would not buy a car without power steering...would you?

    Computerized for me! (Electronic).
    My 2 cents
    s
    Sandygirl

    Janome 9900 / Janome 9700 / Janome Decor 3050 / Janome 1100D serger
    Singer Centennial model (inherited from my late, fav aunt!)

  11. #11
    Super Member Sandygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrannieAnnie View Post
    Something you may want to consider------------the electronics MAY die in an electrical storm. Now, if you don't sew 24/7, that may not make a difference. At any rate-----------keep the old work horse for times when it's rough outside.
    Use a serge protector power strip. Unplug the machine during a storm.
    S
    Sandygirl

    Janome 9900 / Janome 9700 / Janome Decor 3050 / Janome 1100D serger
    Singer Centennial model (inherited from my late, fav aunt!)

  12. #12
    Super Member ontheriver's Avatar
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    I have an old Singer 401 slant o matic that I use everyday for several hours a day, doing all my piecing on it. Love that machine. It sews beautifully and is very easy to maintain, a real workhorse. I bought it at a thrift shop for 40.00 in a cabinet. I have a new brother (electronic) that I use maybe once a week, mainly for decorative stitches or quilting small items. For me the brother has too small an area around the needle and I have trouble getting my hands in there to thread or change feet or needles which is a pain. I just got a hopping/darning foot for the 401 and am trying it out for quilting. My other newer machine is a Viking Mega Quilter I have on a frame for quilting. Love that one too.
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  13. #13
    Super Member lisalovesquilting's Avatar
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    What you are describing sounds like a Janome Magnolia (not sure about the thread cutter). Janomes are not thread sensitive. No, I'm not a dealer. I'm just sold on Janomes.
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  14. #14
    Super Member Weezy Rider's Avatar
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    If you do a lot of garment sewing, sometimes computerized might be better - I do heirloom and my Pfaff does have a decent pin stitch. And I can make up my own decorative stitches. But I can't adjust foot pressure. I can do top tension, and adjust the bobbin (vertical) but can't change the pressure. Pfaff is assuming that IDT will take care of it.

    However, even most mechanicals come with some great stitches which shouldn't limit you. If I can get my hands on a zigzag machine, I can do applique, cutwork, couching, etc. which seems to surprise a lot of people. I look for older books with manual techniques. You can take a continuous quilt stencil and use the bean or triple straight stitch for a good effect on a garment. I use it for quilted sweatshirts from scratch. Just takes more patience.

    I like vertical bobbins anyway, and most mechanical machines have that. You can also adjust foot pressure on some. You can adjust the bobbin feed far easier, too.

  15. #15
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandygirl View Post
    I would not buy a car without power steering...would you?

    Computerized for me! (Electronic).
    My 2 cents
    s
    if it were a sports car, I'd not have power steering nor would I have an automatic transmission. This Mercury Marquis I have now is yet another story!
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  16. #16
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    I would look at the machines that have feed dogs on the top and bottom. I think they are called pfaffs.

    love both types of machines.
    Test Drive them

  17. #17
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ontheriver View Post
    I have an old Singer 401 slant o matic that I use everyday for several hours a day, doing all my piecing on it. Love that machine. It sews beautifully and is very easy to maintain, a real workhorse. I bought it at a thrift shop for 40.00 in a cabinet. I have a new brother (electronic) that I use maybe once a week, mainly for decorative stitches or quilting small items. For me the brother has too small an area around the needle and I have trouble getting my hands in there to thread or change feet or needles which is a pain. I just got a hopping/darning foot for the 401 and am trying it out for quilting. My other newer machine is a Viking Mega Quilter I have on a frame for quilting. Love that one too.
    ohhhhhhhhhhhhh the threading and changing feet. A few more pains down the road, and I'm going to be first classed mess.
    Bad Spellers of the World
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  18. #18
    Super Member OKLAHOMA PEACH's Avatar
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    I myself have been trying to decide whether to buy a new portable, looked at them the other day, the fancy stitches, well my old 60's universal can do those and I don't have to trim my nails, I've been having fits with my Sons new stove with the touch panel. Have never replaced (knock on wood) anything other than the belt, bought some new feet and keep it oiled.

  19. #19
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OKLAHOMA PEACH View Post
    I myself have been trying to decide whether to buy a new portable, looked at them the other day, the fancy stitches, well my old 60's universal can do those and I don't have to trim my nails, I've been having fits with my Sons new stove with the touch panel. Have never replaced (knock on wood) anything other than the belt, bought some new feet and keep it oiled.
    Use your knuckle.

  20. #20
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Personally I won't have a machine without needle up/down or the ability to move the needle position. I had a Montgomery Wards 1958 mechanical. It was fine for garment sewing. It was not at all fine for quilt piecing. You couldn't sew a straight quarter inch seam on that machine to save your soul. The needled didn't move over so to sew a quarter inch seam your fabric was on only one feed dog. I bought a Pfaff and discovered it really wasn't me, that I actually could sew a straight seam.

  21. #21
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    ARE there even any electronic/digital/computerized machines under $400, that are any good??

    Look for a vintage Bernina 830 Record or a vintage Bernina 810/807 Minimatic on ebay, craigslist, local paper, thru you guild, or at a dealer where it might have been a trade-in. You can find them for $500 or less occasionally if you take your time to search.

    They will have an extension table for a larger sewing surface, needle up/needle down capability with toe tap, 5 needle positions so you can get a scant 1/4" seam, and a carrying case. The vintage 830 also has the knee lift bar for hands-free raising of the presser foot.

    Remember that 30 years ago this is ALL the machine we had to sew on! The necessary stitches are there, but you won't have decorative ones.

    Can't even tell you how many delighted sewers I've turned on to these machines; I have 2 of my own and use them all the time!

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  22. #22
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    Thank you all soooo much! I like mechanical because there is really not much to go wrong and I can service them myself. That is is One of many reasons why I bought a Bailey 17 - it is a stretched model 15 Singer. Love, love my Bailey. I also upholster our furniture and cannot have a machine that will whine at the sight of thicker, bulkier fabric. Thank you for giving me a wake up call. After all, I did learn how to sew on a dinosaur, 1892 Singer treadle which in over 100 years only needed a belt replaced.

  23. #23
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tashana View Post
    Thank you all soooo much! I like mechanical because there is really not much to go wrong and I can service them myself. That is is One of many reasons why I bought a Bailey 17 - it is a stretched model 15 Singer. Love, love my Bailey. I also upholster our furniture and cannot have a machine that will whine at the sight of thicker, bulkier fabric. Thank you for giving me a wake up call. After all, I did learn how to sew on a dinosaur, 1892 Singer treadle which in over 100 years only needed a belt replaced.
    The reality is no one machine is perfect for everything.

  24. #24
    Super Member Barb_MO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tashana View Post
    I am at the point where I need to buy another sewing machine. The machine that I have is mechanical, very simple Singer about 12 years old. It is a good little machine that never had a temper tantrum. But, If it dies I will be in a pickle. I have never worked on an electronic (digital) sewing machine before. What are its pros and cons? I do not like overly sensitive machines that throw a fit if I use a thread that is not high end. I would be using the machine primarily for piecing and occasionally for quilting small projects. I have my Bailey for bigger quilts. The options that I like but do not have are automatic threader, thread cutter, dog feed lowering, and maybe a few decorative stitches. My budget is small, about $400. What are your thoughts - stick with the devil I know and buy a mechanical or join the 21st century and buy a digital machine? Help!
    I sew on twenty year old Janome, which was called New Home when I bought. It is a dream of a machine. It was the school model when I bought it. It has never been serviced by anyone other than myself. I clean it once in a while and add a little oil. I clean out the bobbin area and put a drop of oil between the bobbin and case at every bobbin change and if I am sewing fast and for a long time I add more oil to the bobbin case. I use any and every kind of thread. I was at a sewing center not to long ago and they had one of these machines in thier shop for sale. I bought it for $75.00 and was glad to get it.

  25. #25
    Senior Member fien777's Avatar
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    As long as you've never had a computerized machine you don't know if you are missing something I suppose.
    I myself am sewing on a mechanical one and bought a second one ( exactly the same but much less used) as a reserve.
    I can sew and eat and sleep with the old one so I don't want to have a computerized, and that is even more easy as I can't effort one that is strong enough as my old one...
    So look at the amount of money you have and find out which machine you can buy with the features you want on it.....and be happy with it even when it's a secondhand mechanic again!!!!
    greetz, fien
    http://quiltfien.blogspot.com/

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