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Thread: Sewing Machine Recommends for Beginner?

  1. #1
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
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    Can't afford top of the line right now, but I want one that works and won't break easily.

    -- all I really need is one that does the basic stitch, though other stitches would be nice
    -- good quality so it doesn't jam or break easily
    -- should be able to use a quilting foot (so does that mean it has to be able to do a quilting stitch as well?)
    -- prefer not to go over $300, prefer to pay $200 or less, if possible
    -- MUST BE NEW. I don't care how good a used one is, I don't want used.
    -- will be used for regular sewing and maybe upholstery sewing as well as quiltmaking

    I'm in no rush. I can take time to research and wait for sales/deals. Seems like a good idea to start my research now, though.

    What do you use? How do you like your machine?
    What do you recommend for me, given my requirements above?
    What should I stay away from and why?


  2. #2
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    All I have ever used is a simple Singer, cost about 100.00. Never any problems.

  3. #3
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
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    Thanks, marsye. How long ago did you buy your Singer?

    I remember when they were the name in sewing machines, but I've heard so many people say their quality has really declined.

  4. #4

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    Lisa...I bought my first 'real' machine from Hancock's...a Janome 3022 and it is still perfect. Very basic for I didn't want all the bells and whistles just wanted to sew, sew, sew!:)I even quilted on this w/several of my quilts....which took a good deal of talent in rolling the sides of the quilt to squeeze it in...but, it did a great job. I still love to piece on this one and now have to fight the kid over it sometimes:)I picked it up on sale there for $299...sounds like your kinda price:)And it's a toughie:)Skeat

  5. #5
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Here is mine
    http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...sewing+machine
    I've had it for a year and a half now, and it is sweet - needle up/down, stitch in place to lock edges, and lots of fun stitches. I got it on sale for a little over $200, but they raised the prices afterwards.

    I like the threader, and how quiet and well-behaved it is. The Janome tag on it would make it the Red Machine.

  6. #6
    Super Member Darlene's Avatar
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    I think any basic Singer or Brother would do you well Walmart has some nice machines and not too fancy. I got my new Brother there for $130. It has 50 stitches and is electronic. I love it. I still have my older Singer which I bought accessories for quilting. You can usually buy accessorites for most machines on line.

  7. #7
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    http://www.consumersearch.com/sewing-machines

    Check out some reviews - that's what I did when I bought mine.

    I have a low-end Brother to lug around. The gals at work have Janomes and they love them.

    It sounds like you have a list of requirements.

    Happy shopping,

  8. #8
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    [quote=Lisanne]Thanks, marsye. How long ago did you buy your Singer?

    I've had this one about 9 years.

  9. #9
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Whatever you get, I would highly recommend one that has infinitely variable stitch width and stitch length adjustments. If you ever get into invisible machine applique, you will thank me for that recommendation! Basically it just means that you have a dial available to adjust width in as small an increment as you want, and another dial available to adjust stitch length in as small an increment as you want. Avoid machine that give you fixed stitches with unadjustable length and width.

    Needle-down is a feature that most quilters really like, but I don't think you can get it in your price range.

    You might be able to get some needle positions, though -- meaning you can adjust the needle to the left or right of center.

    I'd probably go to Sears for the type of machine you are looking for.

  10. #10
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your answers!

    The salespeople I've spoken to make it sound like low-end machines are made so poorly, they'll break right away. How much of a difference in quality have you noticed with machines with plastic vs. metal parts? Bobbins for example.

    Prism99, your suggestions of features I might really want is very, very helpful. I don't need every fancy stitch, but I do want a certain level of functionality. Your info is a great guide!

    MadQuilter, thanks for the link. Those reviews will really help.
    It's not that I have a list of requirements. I'm trying to keep that to a minimum because I do have a price limit. Mainly I want a reliable machine. Once I know what I'm doing on a basic machine, then I'll probably have that list of requirements.

    marsye, thanks again! Nine years works for me.

    Darlene, I'd love to just get one from Wal-mart. Years ago I got one for $99 from a Wal-martlike store and the thread immediately tangled in the bobbin area and somehow broke something... I thought it was my fault, but too many people have told me over the years that that is common with cheap machines. I'm trying to avoid that happening again. Though your post and marsye's are reassuring.

    Moonpi, thanks for reminding me about Sears! Of course I was aware that they have sewing machines, and Kenmore is a reliable brand.

    Skeat, I'd never even heard of Janome until a month or so ago, but everyone I talk to who has one seems to be happy with theirs.

    If anyone has other suggestions about features I really need, I'd like to hear them. Also more experiences, good and bad, with your machines.

  11. #11

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    I have had two brother machines. The first I got off of Overstock.com it is a XR-7700, it's on there now for 149. I love it. The second I got from Craigs list, it's a Brother-Disney 270D, I love that one too!

  12. #12
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    For the money you can't beat Sears Kenmore machines being made now. They are made by White who makes Janome. For $300 you can get a Kenmore with more features than any other low end big name machine. I had the opportunity to sew on the high end computerized Kenmore and it sewed like a dream. It will be my next machine purchase if I ever need another machine.

  13. #13
    Moderator sharon b's Avatar
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    I have 3 Brother machines all from Wal Mart. The 1st is I think the 2175 a VERY basic machine, but a work horse. i only paid 75.00 for it. The 2 is the Disney 270D I have only done some machine embroidery on it. paid 399.00 and the last one is the CS6000i, for about 199.00.(I just went and checked it is now down to 179.00) I do almost everything on the last machine . I have had very good luck with my Brothers :lol: The 6000 has needle down, came with a quilting table (?) extra feet, needle left, right or center. Adjustable stitch length, walking foot. Good luck with your machine search, there are a lot of good ones to choose from
    Sharon

  14. #14
    Super Member ScubaK's Avatar
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    If you are serious about sewing, quilting, doing upholstery then I would look carefully at machines and take your time.
    Also, do not rule out used machines...
    Most of us update our machines and our loss is your gain...you get a great running, serviced, loved machine at alot less than retail.
    I would get a machine that you could grow into.
    Maybe a bit fancy for you now but one that you wouldn't have to replace in a year of two because your skills and sewing desires have expanded...
    Buy the best machine you can afford.
    Viking, Pfaff, Brother, Janome, Babylock...and probably a couple of others I can't remember are all very good machines.
    Kirsten

  15. #15
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
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    Okay, so my next question is from Kirsten's post. What features would someone want once their skills grow? Because I'm not going to care about fancy stitches.

    The features prism99 mentioned seem to be things even a beginner would want. So my question is more what features, besides stitches, would a more advanced sewer crave?

    Thanks for the new answers! I'm collecting all these.


  16. #16
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    Lisanne,
    Good morning,
    Welcome to this wonderful world of quilting sisters. Do you live nearby a Joanne fabric store?

    Bettia

  17. #17
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    Never say never. I thought I'd never use fancy stitches but I'm sure glad mine machine has them now. I use them on place mats, potholders, aprons, totes, purses, etc.

  18. #18
    Super Member ginnie6's Avatar
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    I have a Kenmore computerized machine that is about 10 years old now. It was top of the line when we bought it. It is wonderful. I've made clothes, diapers, sewn on canvas toolbox covers for dh, and am now making quilts on it. It has the card that goes in it but I never use it.

  19. #19
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    A large area throat is very important if you quilt yourself instead of sending to a longarmer.
    My first quilting machine was a cheap Brother but it dosnt have needle down which is important.
    My newer machine is a HV Shaphire 830 with everything except embroidery. I love it. It cost 1100 when it first came out.
    My Brother was 129 at Tuesday Morning.
    My quilting improved alot with the better machine.

  20. #20
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
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    Bettia, yes, I'm near a JoAnn's. Why?

    Bella, I anticipate the day when I'll want a high-end machine, but I'd rather get the lowest-price one I can for now, and once I'm sewing regularly and employed again, I'll be more aware of what I want in a high-end machine. So it makes no sense to me to buy a low-end one with fancy stitiches. (One day I'll want a serger..)

    Understand, everyone, I originally posted this in the non-quilting section of the board, because I wasn't specifically looking for a sewing machine to quilt with. It got moved here via the wisdom of our moderators, but I plan to use it primarily for sewing, not quilting.

    Rose Marie, I undertand why needle down is desirable, but why do you say it's important?

  21. #21
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisanne
    Bella, I anticipate the day when I'll want a high-end machine, but I'd rather get the lowest-price one I can for now, and once I'm sewing regularly and employed again
    Regardless of what you get, it is important that you test drive. Just because it's cheap does not mean that it will make you happy.

    I understand your financial restraints but even in your budget, you can aim for the best machine in that price range. Nowadays, even the low end machines have some bells and whistles. A machine that has some basic necessities will last you longer than a bare bones one you'll outgrow in a month. I played the "I wish it had.." game with an early machine and decided to REALLY do my research.

    We have had a few threads on machines on the QB and one of them may help you identify potentially necessary features

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/posts/list/20538.page

    Enjoy :lol:

  22. #22
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    As I said in an earlier post, my first choice for this type of machine would probably be Sears. Take a wide assortment of fabrics with you to try out on their machine -- everything from stretchy lingerie fabric to denim. You want a machine that will hold its tension and not require adjustment even if you are moving from one type of fabric to another. Take a quilt sandwich with you too. The machine should be able to make a good-looking stitch on a quilt sandwich, top and underneath, with you only having to make the stitch length longer.

    The samples that the store provides you with are usually stiff. Starched/stiff fabrics will always show a better stitch quality. That's why you want to bring your own fabric samples. If you can stitch on a single layer of muslin and then continue on to two layers of denim without having to make tension adjustments, that is a machine that won't drive you crazy with tension adjustments. A stretch stitch foot may be necessary when using the stretch stitch on the machine too.

    Incidentally, the best way to examine stitch quality is with a wide zigzag. When technicians make adjustments to a machine's stitch balance, they do that by examining the zigzag stitch. If the zigzag is good, the straight stitch will be good too. Zigzag on all of your different materials and examine the stitch quality. You can clearly see a bad stitch when the tips of the zigzag are either pulling the bobbin thread up or the top thread down.

    Pay attention to the sound of the machine also. I don't like machines that make loud "clunky" sounds. A decent machine may be noisier than my Bernina, but it won't actually sound "clunky".

    In terms of stitches, these days you really want to have at least one "stretch" stitch (for sewing on stretchy fabrics such as tricot) and a blind hem stitch (for invisible machine applique). Also, if you can get it, you really want the ability to "mirror image" these stitches. For example, the blind hem stitch is great for hemming curtains but you want to be able to reverse its direction in order to do invisible machine applique for quilts. I'm not sure if mirror imaging is available on lower end machines, but you can always ask. Stretch stitches and the blind hem stitch are usually classified as "utility" stitches.

    The one decorative stitch I really, really like is the feather stitch. You can do a lot of variations on it just by adjusting stitch width and stitch length. If you Google feather stitch images, you will see what I mean. I am not as fond of other decorative stitches. Scallops, for example, take a lot of thread and lot of time to sew out.

    Find out what feet come with the machine. See if they will throw in a walking foot for free. (Walking feet tend to be more expensive than other feet.) A darning foot is good for free motion machine quilting, an open-toe applique foot is helpful for invisible machine applique, and the walking foot is useful for both clothing construction and quilting. A zipper foot is helpful, obviously, for inserting zippers in clothing (although you need a different type of zipper foot for invisible zipper applications).

  23. #23
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I checked allbrands to see what they have going on. (Not that I'm a big fan of the company, but they are a great resource to check and compare specs.)

    Found a real nice Janome that has a bunch of features you would need as a quilter. Something worth entertaining IMHO.

    http://www.allbrands.com/products/abp11666-1151.html

    I find it helpful to have a base line.

  24. #24
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    My dh bought me a Janome for Christmas a couple of years ago and I LOVE it. Never a problem with it. Mine is the QC6019 that I got on sale for slightly more than what you want to spend, but they have models that are not that expensive with slightly fewer features in your price range. And you get the support of the dealer...a nice addition.

  25. #25
    Super Member mamaw's Avatar
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    Kenmore offers some great machines with alot of features for good prices under $300.

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