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Thread: Sewing Machine Question...

  1. #1
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    I am thinking about investing in a new sewing machine. Right now I'm working on my first quilt which is an English Paper Pieced Grandmother's Garden Hexagon hand stitched quilt. I've been working on it for 2 years, only taking a break now and then to do other things, not quilting. I currently have a Kenmore, basic model, I was 21 or 22 when I bought it. I'm now 54. It's never been serviced and it runs like a dream but it only has basic stitches and my ex took all of the attachments and owners manual when we divorced, lol. I can't find an owners manual anywhere or the attachments online or anywhere else. I even tried some older repair shops and they didn't have them either. My machine doesn't have a blanket stitch, only a few decorative stitches that some I can't figure out how to use. I've done alot of cross stitch and crochet before but I've haven't quilted anything on my machine, yet. I'm wondering if there is a particular machine that you all use and one that works well for you. I had my eye on a Singer but now I'm reading bad reviews and that alarms me. I've noticed that over the past week alot of the fabric stores, Walmart, Sears and JCPenney all have that machine on sale for almost 40% off which is telling me that they are trying to get rid of them. I happened to be in a well known fabric and craft store one evening and a lady was trying to return a machine and the sales lady gave her a world of grief over returning a sewing machine. After the lady with the machine purchase finally got mad and had to get ugly they agreed to take back the sewing machine. Then when the lady who had just returned the machine left the store another sales person ask her what she was going to do with the machine that was just returned, she stated, "repair and resell. WOW!, I thought. Now, I'm back to square one. I tried asking the fabric store that I frequent mostly but they are pushing a certain brand this month and the sales lady tried to talk me into buying one right there on the spot but when I went home and looked it up, that machine had alot of bad reviews AND the return policy on a sewing machine once you've taken it out of the box and set up to try, it's like pulling teeth to return it if something isn't working the way it should. So that's my dilimma. Can anyone give me a few pointers on what to look for and the best places to buy a machine or even what make and model to buy? I know sewing machines just like anything else in todays economy have a wide range of prices. I am willing to pay a descent price but not cut off an arm and a leg. I'm on a budget but I am willing to take a part time job in order to pay for a descent machine. I know that sounds a little weird but Hey! now days, you get what you pay for, sometimes, and I want to invest in a machine that will last for a while. My current machine has a metal outer body and I haven't seen too many now days that's all metal. The knobs are metal, everything on it is metal, very sturdy and rugged. This poor machine has been half way around the world and back. My ex was in the Air Force and the machine went everywhere I did. LOL....I'd greatly appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks so much!..........Babs

  2. #2
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    Wow, it's amazing how long a post can get once I get started, lol. Sorry all for the long post. I forgot to ask, what features should I look for on a new machine? Thanks again! ..............Babs

  3. #3
    Super Member tomilu's Avatar
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    Are you looking for a new machine or would you like one of the trusted oldies? The oldies with all metal parts like the early Singers or others would serve you well and be much less expensive. There are folks on this board who could help fix you up with one of those.
    Tommie

  4. #4
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    What is your price range? I love my Bernina 440 QE but I know that is beyond what some people can pay. Mine cost about $3000.00 with the Bernina Stitch Regulator (Free Motion Quilting.)

  5. #5
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    Well, check reviews and post questions in the sewing machine section of PatterReview.com. Any model you consider, you can look up non-commercial (unpaid reviews) there and comments here. Good luck!

  6. #6
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    I cannot tell you what machine to buy, but I suggest thinking about what features you want/need. I can tell about my sewing machine journey. The first SM I got was a Singer 401 which my husband bought for me from a co-worker. It was 35 years old when I got it. Wonderful machine, I love it-a workhorse. It is in a cabinet, heavy, not very mobil. Years later, when we bought a house, a flyer came in the mail about new machines being sold at a hotel near us- advertised as a school home-ec overstock sale. The brand is Taylor. We went, looked, loved and bought. My machine repair man said the Taylor is a Singer produced in Poland. Terrific machine and I would not have gotten another except I stared quilting and learned about "dropping your feed dogs". So about 10 years later for my 50th birthday my husband bought me the machine of my choice. This turned out to be the Viking Quilt Designer- love this machine. It does everything I need and more. My last purchase was a Singer Featherweight
    because I wanted something small and lightweight to take back and forth to classes and guild workshops. So there you have my journey. Again, think about your needs, what the machine can do for you. Ten years from now you my need/want another.

  7. #7
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    Just my opinion --- I'd go to a dealer to try of the machines they sell if I were in the market for a new machine. Their business is built on the reputation they have developed in fair sales practices and the service they provide for their machines. Department/discount stores do not. Also, the dealer usually offers free lessons and has a trained staff that can point out the pros and cons of the machine and help you find the right machine for the sewing YOU do. Granted, buying from a dealer is more expensive, but my feeling is that over the long haul, the service you receive will be more than worth it.
    As far as the oldies but goodies, I have a couple and I love them. They are reliable work partners. But, the new machines have features that the oldies don't.

  8. #8
    Senior Member quiltingaz's Avatar
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    Go to a local shop and check them out. If you get a new one, make sure you can get service and repair locally. If you get a new one, I would probably go with a little more expensive machine, not Singer or Brother. They are light weight and will not hold up as well as the quality ones, Bernina, Pfaff, Babylock or Janome would be my choice. I have Bernina and Pfaff, really love both, but have moved to a location where I must take them 3 hours away to get serviced and it is very inconvenient because it usually takes 2 trips because I must leave them. Just my opinion.

  9. #9
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Go to as many shops as you need to to try each major manufacturer. Keep a notebook with you. Keep notes on ease of use, features you like and features you cant do without. Try all the stitches and all the features. Ask about training and servicing. Dont discount used machines either. Good luck!!

  10. #10
    Super Member Amythyst02's Avatar
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    Patti, I had a similar question recently, and I was amazed at how helpful everyone was. But, the best advice I got was to go and test out the ones I was interested in, and to take along the types of fabric I would be using.

    I have a Kenmore as well, but a fairly new model, and although it sews beautifully for clothing, it was struggling on thick materials. Thus my reason for looking for a new one, as I want to make quilts and it just will not be able to handle it. It struggled on fleece when I was making a robe for my hubby.

    If you are going to spend a great deal of $$ I would strongly suggest you purchase from a local dealer. Althought there are some excellent dealers online, you will probably need to have some type of lessons, or at least someone to call and talk with about questions you have.

    Best of luck in your search and keep us updated, and let us know what you decide. Also, right now there are some excellent buys going on here at least, they are having Christmas in July. So some very good sales.

  11. #11
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    Thanks so much for your suggestions. My old machine is still running strong. But I wanted a machine just for quilting, one that has the features I would need for quilting, needle down, drop feed, those kinds of things. A dealer is a good suggestion. I'll have to look into those. Thanks again!

  12. #12
    Super Member twistedstitcher's Avatar
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    Everyone seems to have their favorite machine. What dealers are close to you? Go to the various dealers and try out machines and see what feels right for you. Don't let them pressure you into buying something right then and there. Narrow it down to a few models and then check here for reviews. You may have to join the site to read older reviews but it's free.

    http://sewing.patternreview.com/SewingMachine/Reviews

    Personally I'd look at Janome machines. They're user friendly, less expensive than the European machines, and very reliable.

  13. #13
    Super Member Glassquilt's Avatar
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    Ditto going to a local dealer. You'll get support.

    If you do go to several local shops besides taking notes on the machines, take notes on the personal. Hired help usually reflects management's attitude.

    Take note of the stuff on display. Do the bags looks like they're new or have been hanging for years? Something may be wrong if they don't have turnover.

    Ask about classes. My dealer offers classes on learning about your new machine. i can call and ask questions anytime if I need to.

    Do they have a relationship with a repairman? Looking up an unknown in the yellow pages can be risky.

  14. #14
    Super Member ontheriver's Avatar
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    I have a Viking Mega quilter I use just for quilting and I love it, although it is a little pricey. I have had other vikings, brothers, and newer singers and did not like them as well so I started looking for vintage machines. I found an great singer 201 and a 401 and I use those all the time. I like that they are all metal like yours and with a little love and care will be sewing long after I am gone. I like the history in them.

  15. #15
    Super Member grammy Dwynn's Avatar
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    I agree with all the other gals ~ Go to a local sewing machine dealers! Interview the dealer, you will be working with them for years to come. How much support do they give? Do they 'train' you how to use the machine.

    Also check what 'feet' come with the machine, for quilting 1/4" foot, walking foot and free motion foot (aka darning foot.) My Janome 6500 came with those feet, while other brands you have to purchase separately.

    Would you be traveling with this machine ~ retreats, LQS classes or sewing with friends? My 6500 weighs almost 25 lbs, it's one drawback, but I love it.

    Good luck in you search!

  16. #16
    Super Member kathdavis's Avatar
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    I was using an older Kenmore until last November. Everyone kept talking about these computerized sewing machines and I kept putting it off because my Kenmore was all metal and ran well. I purchased a Brother Innovis 2000 (I paid $1350) last November and I fell in love with those computerized babies. They are wonderful. Check out Brother at a good sewing machine shop. I was warned to stay away from the sewing machines at Walmart, and places like that since I sew a lot, but a lot of people on this blog have them and like them. Hope this helps.

  17. #17
    Senior Member MamaHen's Avatar
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    When I was ready to purchase my first computerized machine, I went to a Sewing Machine & Vacumn shop that sold about 10 different brands of machines. I looked at all that was within my price range and tried them all. I looked for one that was user friendly, not a big learning curve and one that I felt would last me a long time. I did not jump in and buy that day, but thought about all the features and what I really needed and what I really wanted. I chose a Elna 6004 and was very happy with this machine (still have it) thinking it would last me forever. Well times change, machines improve, so did I, so started looking for a machine with more bells & whistles, that took me to the Janome Horizon 7700. I'm very happy, moral of story, please go and try the many different brands and models, you'll find one that fits your needs. Stay away from the lower end machines from Walmart, most I have seen have given owners nothing but headaches. Good luck in your search.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for your input. Almost everyone is saying the same thing...to go to a dealer and check out what the have, take notes and take classes or let the dealer work with me. That is all great advise. So, off to a dealer I go. I'm just starting to quilt, hand stitching at this time. My next venture is to hand applique. Seems I'm going to lean more toward hand stitching than machine work but I still want a great machine so that when I am ready to machine sew, I'll be ready. Again, thanks so much. Everyone has been sooo helpful.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Jo Mama's Avatar
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    I too love my Bernina QE. It will last me forever so becomes most affordable. Lots of Bernina dealers have no interest financing. I would check around.

  20. #20
    Junior Member quiltnmore's Avatar
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    You can quilt on almost any machine, but I got frustrated trying to quilt on a double size quilt in the regular sized area. I bought a machine with a larger area (harp) from needle to side.

    My Janome 6500 came with an acrylic table to have a flat surface to move the quilt on. I don't need the table since my old cabinet has just enough room for the machine to fit inside and be lower to my level.

    I agree to go to the dealer since you want more than your old machine offers. You will get great advice here too!

  21. #21
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    I would buy a machine that you have tested out and from a store that is close enough to your home so if you run into problems you can get help. Also some place that offers some training.

    Good luck

  22. #22
    Senior Member Blue's quilting mama's Avatar
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    I bought mine from Sears.....after deciding I wanted a Janome. Found out that Janome makes the Kenmore sewing machines, and it is supposed to be easy to get service, etc. My other thought is that if you get a machine with a lot of goodies, it might be best to buy from a sewing machine dealer that would include a few lessons on how to use all the features, as part of the purchase.

  23. #23
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    Write down all the features you want in a machine, your budget, and take some test samples and go to a reputable dealer is my best advice, there are so many wonderful machines on the market you might get overwhelmed

  24. #24
    Super Member miss_ticky2's Avatar
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    I'm another Janome fan (I have the 7700 Horizon too)and I don't think you would go wrong with a Janome. The Horizon is quite expensive but I don't think there's anything else I would want on a machine for quilting...it has an extra large harp area for fitting large quilts into an a host of stitches, including a few different blanket stitches. I love to applique with mine as well. And I love the built in walking foot.

    But, as suggested, go and try them out and see what might suit you and your budget the best.

    Good luck with it :)

  25. #25
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    those machines that are sold at Wal-mart and other stores according to my sewing repair man they are throw a way machines meaning they can't be fix. as it would if you can get it fixed cost more than buying a new one. my dealer sells machines from $150.00 and up. to a few thousand. but i sew so much i tend to wear out the thread guides. but those are cheap to replace. i like the viking machines. go to a dealer and a lot of times they have trade in models for a very good deal.

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