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Thread: Vintage vs New...

  1. #1
    Junior Member NewbieToQuilting's Avatar
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    Vintage vs New...

    My wonderful hubby said I can buy a new machine for quilting I am very new to quilting (I made my first at Christmas last year.) My question is, should I get a newer or vintage one? I honestly have no clue what to look for in the way of quality, etc. any suggestions? I love the way the old ones look, but are they really good about going through thick layers? I have a Janome Class Mate (model sold to schools) that I got used after only 2 years at a school, so it's still pretty new, but has a hard time going through denim I appreciate your comments!!

  2. #2
    Super Member amyjo's Avatar
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    the older Singers go thru anything. a 201 or 301 are workhorses. The best part is you can clean them yourself so no sewing machine repairman.

  3. #3
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    It depends on how much you want to spend. Any of the major brands are good. I love my Bernina 440 but it was about $3000. It works really well on most quilting projects. The only trouble I've had is sewing through a welt on blue jeans. The dense fabric pulled the needle out of the needle holder. When I sew things like that I switch to my Singer treadle. It only does a forward straight stitch but can handle some really funky fabrics.
    If you have the money I'd buy a modern machine (if it is for most quilting jobs)from a good local dealer with a good warranty. Most offer classes and maintainance. There good older machines but I wouldn't have the experience to know what is a good deal on them. I would also worry about something going wrong with it after I buy it. If you can get an older machine from a reprutable sewing machine store that will warranty it or offer repairs/returns you could see if you like one. Good Luck.

  4. #4
    Senior Member harrishs's Avatar
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    Some will say that I am weird but I much prefer the vintage machines to the newer.......If you are going to do piecing mainly, the featherweight or 301 cant be beat.....but I do love my 201 and the feeddogs can be dropped...if you want to try machine quilting....plus there isn't much the 201 can't sew through with the right needle.....I "loaned" my Bernina to my sister (because I wasn't using it) and she prefers it to her featherweight for piecing. It would be great if you could do a trail...to see what you prefer.

  5. #5
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    NewbieToQuilting,

    I am admittedly prejudiced against the new machines.
    I have a number of reasons to include:
    Plastic gears,
    plastic internal control parts,
    plastic internal cam stacks,
    plastic external body shells,
    stamped metal internal parts,
    lightweight aluminum or pot metal skeleton,
    no maintenance type design (read that programed obsolescence),
    not enough room under the arch,
    little hand room around the needle bar ( some new machines have so little room I cannot change the needles - my hands will not fit under there),
    visibility interference by the bulbous plastic body,
    insufficient weight to keep the machine steady.

    Were I to start quilting (and I have) I would look for an older Singer such as the 201 or 15 or 66 ( with back tack ) or 401 or those mentioned above. So far I've built three quilted sewing machine covers and have used two model 66 treadles and my 201. You don't need a new machine for quilting. As my wife just added, "you can buy an older machine with all it's attachments and accessories for a fraction of what a new machine will cost, and they'll last 10 times longer".

    Do not waste hundreds or thousands of dollars on a new plastic wannabee machine when you can get a better older metal one.

    Just my humble opinion.

    Joe

  6. #6
    Senior Member pinkCastleDH's Avatar
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    No personal experience here (other than playing with the machines) but the one thing SWMBO says she'd miss with the old machines -vs- her Juki 2010 is programmed needle down stopping.

  7. #7
    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
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    You don't say what kind of budget you have for your new machine, but with a limited budget, I'd go vintage...and I'd go for a model 15 or a 15 clone. You have a large throat/harp space, and the vertical bobbin that lends itself to FMQ, along with feed dogs that will drop. All metal, so you don't have to worry about replacing plastic gears after a year or so of constant sewing, and they just look cool!!

    The 201 is a wonderful machine as well, and the dogs drop, but it has the horizontal bobbin that some folks have more trouble with when it comes to FMQ...
    One day, you'll only be a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.

    http://charleeturner.blogspot.com

  8. #8
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    Joe, one thing you did not mention is the computer boards in the modern machines. They do fail. The one thing I do like about modern machines is that some have the needle up/needle down function and self threaders. However, my Elna 7200 self threader is non functioning even after a $160.00 maintenance visit. Aaaarg! That is the one thing that sold me on buying an modern machine.
    Sweet Caroline

  9. #9
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Caroline,

    LOL, I thought about the computer / electronic thing after I'd already posted my comment. As for the needle up / down I don't care for them, and needle threaders .... well, that's me. I've been threading other peoples sewing machine needles for decades cos my eyes were better than theirs.

    Joe

  10. #10
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    NewbieToQuilting,

    Charlee mentioned the 15 clones. Look at my avatar, you can get a magnifying glass if you want , it's a HOTHER, a 15 clone my mom bought maybe 50 years ago. She used it and used it and used it and used it then gave it to my wife when she up graded ( or so she thought ) to a ZZ machine in a cabinet. We've serviced it and are still using it. If I had any kids they'd be using it when I croak. They are THAT good.

    Joe

  11. #11
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Miller View Post
    Caroline,

    LOL, I thought about the computer / electronic thing after I'd already posted my comment. As for the needle up / down I don't care for them, and needle threaders .... well, that's me. I've been threading other peoples sewing machine needles for decades cos my eyes were better than theirs.

    Joe
    Yeah, I have "old" eyes. Frustrating! But, I do find it easier to thread the old sewing machines than my Elna as the Elna threads front to back.
    Sweet Caroline

  12. #12
    Junior Member NewbieToQuilting's Avatar
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    Joe, is the 201 electric or treadle? Love the look of a tradle, just not sure if it's for me. Need to find one and try before I buy. I like the idea of going vintage as I don't have a huge budget to work with. Can you easily find a walking foot ans a 1/4" foot for these? Is it straight stitch only? What about repairs? Are they easy to fix? Think I would prefer an electric model over treadle in the long term. Thanks for your thoughts!!

  13. #13
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewbieToQuilting View Post
    Joe, is the 201 electric or treadle? Love the look of a tradle, just not sure if it's for me. Need to find one and try before I buy. I like the idea of going vintage as I don't have a huge budget to work with. Can you easily find a walking foot ans a 1/4" foot for these? Is it straight stitch only? What about repairs? Are they easy to fix? Think I would prefer an electric model over treadle in the long term. Thanks for your thoughts!!
    My 201-2 is an electric machine. It has the potted motor. Very quiet, very smooth. One of the nicest Singers we have.

    Treadles can be a pain in the legs to get the hang of. I had fits! I could not get the darn thing to keep turning the right direction. It wanted to stall then spin backwards. When that happens the thread breaks and you have to rethread it. Frustration was dripping off the walls around me for quite a while.
    Then one day in a fit of "I'M GONNA GET THE HANG OF THIS THING OR DIE TRYING!" I started spinning the hand wheel by hand as I worked the foot pedal. I just kept doing it. My feet couldn't get the hang of it so I just kept on going.
    Then just all of a sudden it was like an epiphany .... POW! it hit my entire system. I pulled my hand away from the hand wheel and I was sewing. From then it took a couple days and I had it. Now the only machines I have trouble treadling is my two Singer 9w-7s because they turn the opposite way. Once I get them going it's OK, but getting them going and starting and stopping is a pain in the neck.

    We paid just around $75.00 for the 201 in a nice cabinet. It needed cleaned and lubed and used.
    I paid under $30.00 for the Singer 66 #2 treadle. Our Singer 66 #1 treadle was $50.00. Both came in useable condition and with some attachments.
    We haven't paid much over $35.00 which includes shipping for most of the e-machines we have. A few were more, and a few we had to go pick up. But with just a couple exceptions all the machines needed was cleaning, oil and being use.
    Inexpensive machines are still out there. You just have to decide what you want, and pay attention to the details.

    If you stick with low shank machines you can buy walking feet and a great variety of attachments and accessories for them from many sources. We try to fit each machine with the basic most used feet and attachments, then put the bigger less used accessories like button hollers, ZZ attachments, walking feet, in a central location for use by which ever machine needs them.

    The 201s, 66s, 99s, 15 Clones, and many others are straight stitch machines. For quilting you'll use the SS more than anything else. ZZ and machines with patterns are great for decorating and some sew good strong SSs too, but you'll use the SS far more than the other.

    Unless we have one of those catastrophic power grid failures like the dooms day fans talk about, or you live in a location where there isn't electricity, I sincerely doubt you'll ever find yourself in a situation where you'll really need a hand crank or treadle. They are really nice to have and I do enjoy mine, but I also love the ease of the electrically powered machines.

    Most machines made up until the advent of plastic gears, if kept oiled and greased, simply didn't wear out. That is why there are just so many of them around. Simple machines, few parts to wear out, and easy to maintain.
    Parts are out there from both aftermarket and donor machines so to me there's no worry there.

    I have many machines that are 100 years old or pushing that point. And they sew just as good today as they did when they were new. I seriously doubt the current genre of plastic and aluminum machines will be around in 25 years, let alone a 100.

    Joe

  14. #14
    Super Member jlm5419's Avatar
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    Yes, what Joe said. To get the most bang for your buck, vintage is the way to go. I can recommend a Singer 15, 201, and 301. I have used them all, and more. For sewing through thick fabrics like denim, the old all-metal machines are the best.
    jlm5419-an Okie back in Oklahoma!
    http://according-to-ginger.blogspot.com/

  15. #15
    Super Member crafty pat's Avatar
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    My 1958 Singer 401A will sew through just about anything, it is a work horse.

  16. #16
    Super Member ArizonaKAT's Avatar
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    My daughter has a new Bernina and a new Singer, both just came back from the repairman . . . again. I bought her a 201 a few months ago. She loves it. Its the machine she always goes to first. She told me just yesterday that she sat down to sew and it was all messed up. Then she realized that my granddaughter had just used it to repair her blue jeans and had fooled with the tension. So she readjusted the tension (without taking it to the repairman) and off she went back to sewing. So I guess even the baby generation in my family goes to vintage machines first.

  17. #17
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Last week I sold a Singer 301 to a lady who owned a nice Viking. She got the 301 because she mostly straight stitches. The Viking is very expensive to have cleaned - lint gets into the parts you can't clean yourself. She got the 301 because she can clean it herself - she said the 301 machine would pay for itself pretty quickly.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  18. #18
    Junior Member totosmom's Avatar
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    Newbie, add me to the list of lovers of vintage machines. Singer 15, 201, 301 (portable), Bernina 730, 830 Record, 930, Pfaff 130 ... all of them are great machines that will probably outlive you! I would suggest buying your first one from a reputable local sewing machine repair shop. He will have the inventory and probably will let you come in and test sew. He will also be available for repairs and adjustments (if you eve need it) and may even offer a few month's warranty when you buy a vintage one. Whatever you decide, let us know how you fare. We love photos too....
    Dorothy in PA

  19. #19
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by totosmom View Post
    Newbie, add me to the list of lovers of vintage machines. Singer 15, 201, 301 (portable), Bernina 730, 830 Record, 930, Pfaff 130 ... all of them are great machines that will probably outlive you! I would suggest buying your first one from a reputable local sewing machine repair shop. He will have the inventory and probably will let you come in and test sew. He will also be available for repairs and adjustments (if you eve need it) and may even offer a few month's warranty when you buy a vintage one. Whatever you decide, let us know how you fare. We love photos too....
    Then expect to gladly pay more for that than you would if you buy from a yard sale.
    IMHO almost any older all metal machine will be an improvement over a new plastic machine with stamped parts.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  20. #20
    Junior Member totosmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miriam View Post
    Then expect to gladly pay more for that than you would if you buy from a yard sale.
    Oh, absolutely. But for a first vintage machine, buying from your local SMG has its advantage, IMHO.
    Dorothy in PA

  21. #21
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    I just bought a vintage 50's Morse machine. It not only looks cool, but sews like a dream. It has buttons on the front to push for the feed dog position. I also have a Janome 10001. The automatic needle threader worked for about a month, and hasn't worked since, even after several trips to the shop. It does have the needle down feature and I like that and it embroiders beautifully. I use my grandmother's 1919 Singer treadle for tough stuff. It will be working long after I'm dead and gone. For tough stuff, go vintage!

  22. #22
    Super Member barri1's Avatar
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    I wouldn't trade my Singer 66, or 99 for anything. I use them for piecing, and FMQ. The feed dogs don't drop, but I'm okay with it. The only thing that I have a problem with is not having the zig zag for applique. I have a Singer 237 forthat.. That is also a work horse. i didn't pay much for any of them. I've been using all of them for years. I don't think I would deal well with a new machine. They look too fragile

  23. #23
    Super Member deedum's Avatar
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    well not my choice for them, prices are bad everywhere to rent

  24. #24
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    I say buy the best you can afford. I LOVE my Bernina 530 with all it's bells and whistles. I also love my Janome 6500 and 6600 with their computerized features. I know that I do a better job of quilting with these over my many vintage sewing machines. I have had NO trouble with them, so do not believe that all "plastic" machines are nothing but trouble....NOT true.

    When I have to do really heavy sewing I use my 1960s-70s era Kenmore. These machines are beasts! And they have cams for many many decorative stitches. They have a 1.2 amp motor, which is bigger than any of my vintage Singer machines. I have bought/sold/given away quite a few of these machines and have never paid more than $30 for one. Just be sure to get one with low shank feet, that "homes" (goes to the middle for straight stitch) in the middle and you will be able to use most modern feet.

  25. #25
    Super Member k9dancer's Avatar
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    I love the vintage machines, and teach my quilting classes using a vintage FW. I will be teaching a class in the Spring on maintaining your vintage machines. It's really not hard to do, once you know what to do. I agree that trying before you buy is a good idea. Even if I'm just selling a presser foot, I want you to make sure it works on your machine before you get it home and maybe have a problem.
    Good luck with your search!
    Stephanie in Mena
    Stephanie in Mena

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