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Thread: Need input/advice on a basic sewing machine

  1. #1
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    Need input/advice on a basic sewing machine

    My college student grandson is interested in learning to sew. Hes a closet clothing designer and tries out things on my daughters machine when home on breaks. She/we are looking for a basic machine for him to take to school. Would like to hear your reviews,opinions, and advice, especially more recent experiences. Were considering the Brother for $89 at Costco or possibly the Singer Brilliance, but are open to any recommendations. TIA.

  2. #2
    Senior Member tscweaves's Avatar
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    Personally I would recommend a vintage machine such as a Singer 401a or a 15 or one of the many Japanese 15 clones. These are durable, metal machines with no electronics to fry, easy to maintain, and sew beautiful stitches that have a host of attachments.
    Theresa -
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  3. #3
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    Many of the big box machines are fine. But keep in mind, if something needs fixing, most dealers will not fix them. They are made as throw-aways.
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  4. #4
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    What does he need? Does he want to use decorative stitches or straight sticking? My first thought was getting a used refurbished Singer from the 40's or 50's. I love my 1950 15-91. It was the one I learned to sew on and I made most of my clothes on it when I was in Jr. and Sr. High.

    They are total work horses and easy to take care of. Not to mention, you can find them for a fairly good price.

    My sister did buy the Brother sewing machine from Costco about 20 years ago - it was about $150.00 then and is still going strong today.

  5. #5
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    A machine from Costco is fine since the return policy is so liberal, but you say he sews already. What machine does he use at home? if it's a fancier machine he may not be happy with such a basic machine. I would skip the Singer. Maybe look for after Christmas specials at a Brother or Janome dealer, they may be looking to unload what's left of the machines they brought in for the holidays. I know most Brother dealers also carry Jukis, they have some good low end machines.

    Cari

  6. #6
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    I would go with a Brother rather than a Singer. He might need some with some other stitches in addition to just straight sewing. You could go to a sewing machine dealer and ask to see refurbished Brother or Kenmore. Kenmore stopped making sewing machine 2014 but the were made by Janome...with metal parts.

  7. #7
    Super Member cashs_mom's Avatar
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    I do a lot of clothing construction and in my opinion, if he's doing clothing design he will most likely need zigzag, buttonhole and some basic decorative stitches. I wouldn't really recommend a vintage machine. While they are awesome for piecing, I think there are better choices for clothing construction. Again, in my opinion, there is nothing like a Bernina for clothing. That being said, I made a lot of suits, dresses, pants and wearable art on an 80's New Home. It was just a lot easier when I got my Bernina. I've never used a Brother, but I wouldn't hesitate to get a Janome for him.

    You might be able to get a good deal on a used Janome that has been refurbished by the dealer. And I, too, would skip the Singer. The new ones aren't worth much.
    Last edited by cashs_mom; 12-30-2017 at 08:51 PM.
    Patrice S

    Bernina Artista 180, Singer 301a, Featherweight Centennial, Rocketeer, Juki 2200 QVP Mini, White 1964 Featherweight

  8. #8
    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    Oh, check out Eversewn Sparrow machines. They are great machines made with Bernina spec at a super low price. My next machine will be the Eversewn Sparrow 30.
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  9. #9
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Too basic (at least when talking about new machines, not vintage machines) usually means tension problems, which make sewing frustrating and unenjoyable. Since your grandson is at college, something portable that can be put away when not in use is a good idea. Janome Gems are nice machines, but a little pricey. Here is the machine I would recommend because it has been on the market for years and generally gets good reviews on Amazon and from quilters here on the QB:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000JQM1DE/

    Walmart has it for about the same price, and Walmart has a generous return policy if your son doesn't like it. I would stay away from Singer. Brother and Janome are better brands.

    Edit: Oh, yes, I forgot about the Eversewn machines. They are newer, but get good reviews from people who have tried them. There are 3 versions. The only thing is, they (and the Janome Gems) are more expensive than the Brother I linked above.
    Last edited by Prism99; 12-30-2017 at 09:28 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by heronlady View Post
    My college student grandson is interested in learning to sew. He’s a closet clothing designer and tries out things on my daughters machine when home on breaks. She/we are looking for a basic machine for him to take to school. Would like to hear your reviews,opinions, and advice, especially more recent experiences. We’re considering the Brother for $89 at Costco or possibly the Singer Brilliance, but are open to any recommendations. TIA.
    On his way to Viet Nam, my brother became the owner of a vintage machine, with which he did mending and alterations for his Marine buddies. He said most of them played poker and he swept up their winnings with his machine. Growing up, he never showed any interest in sewing. We come from a long line of mechanics and farm blacksmith families that learned how to keep everything working, so I always figured he was entranced by the gears, etc. Since then, I don't think he has even sewn on a button.
    As for that Brother machine from Costco, you might want to ask Cari's advice on a Brother. My sister in law bought one to use when doing charity sewing of pillowcases, and she said it was very hard to get it to sew over seams when hemming the cases. I don't think she had ever used a sewing machine before that.

  11. #11
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I just want to add that the low-cost Singer machines are notorious for having finicky tension issues with the thread. Even if you manage to adjust the tension, the machine does not hold the tension setting when you sew. Probably not all of their machines, but enough to keep me away from them. Tension problems are the last thing I want to worry about when sewing!

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