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What Sewing Machine Do You Use?

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960

As the Administrative Assistant for Threads and SewStylish magazines, I receive many phone calls and emails from readers who want to buy a new sewing machine. They seek our advice. Their questions are difficult for me to answer, because I have only had rare opportunities to sew on machines other than my own. I can read sewing machine literature, just as they can, but sometimes first-hand information is the best.

I once read that most sewers become dedicated to the sewing machine brand they first used extensively. This is definitely true for me. I learned to sew on my mother’s Singer-a top-of-the-line machine for her day. When I went to college, I purchased my own machine, and Mom advised me to buy the best machine I could afford. Mom’s thought was that once I bought it, I would continue to use it for many years without upgrading to a better model. It was a huge stretch for me, but I paid just over $300–a lot of money in 1968 for a college kid! She was correct. I had that machine for over 40 years, and it worked beautifully for all my sewing needs. It stitched all kinds of garments and home décor items for me, my family, friends, and charity. It was a sad day when it broke (because I unknowingly allowed a straight pin to slip between the gears), and the part required for repair was no longer available. My new machine is also a Singer, and so far, I love it equally as much.

My colleagues at Threads have their favorite machines as well, and it seems that each of us favors a different brand!

My theory is that all of the machine brands today are in many ways comparable. Each brand offers several high-end models that create even, smooth stitches, sew on heavy fabric, have a good range of stitches, and offer plenty of “bells and whistles.” Each brand also has cheaper models, and if you used one of these, you might not be so impressed with the brand in general.

What brand and machine model do you sew with, and would you recommend it to someone ready to buy a new machine?


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  1. user-2315379 | | #1

    I have industrial sewing machines for production work, but I have a Bernina 930 Record that I absolutely love. I have used many different machines over the years, but like the Bernina best.

  2. aaswinehart | | #2

    I am blessed to have a husband that allows me to have a few machines. I have a Bernina 1130, Viking 1+, Designer 1, Singer 6835, Kenmore and a treadle machine. I also have two sergers I am a Master Clothing Educator for Ohio 4-H and have my own club with 5 members that sew. Of all my machines, I love my Bernina 1130, no one uses it unless they are extremely good.

  3. SuzSews | | #3

    I am so lucky, because my grandmother gave me her Bernina 930 record (from the 70s) several years ago. I love it! Although I think it would be fun to have an embroidery machine, I can't imagine liking any other machine more than my Bernina. And I'm sure I wouldn't be satisfied with anything other than a Bernina.

  4. LaBoheme | | #4

    I have a Viking Designer Diamond, and my back up is a 1+. I have a Viking S21 serger. I've always been a fan of Viking machines!

  5. User avater
    nu624 | | #5

    I learned to sew on my Mother's Singer 306 (which I still have) and continued to use Singers for about 20 years. I switched to a Bernina 1630 over 12 years ago and it's still sewing strong. From time to time, I have thought of upgrading to a newer machine, but just can't seem to justify it when I consider how well my 1630 sews. If I ever had to replace it, I would likely look for another 1630 or a different, older Bernina before considering a newer model.

  6. user-2418800 | | #6

    I learned to sew on a treadle and inherited my mother's Adler and used it for many years. It was put in storage while we lived in the south and sadly it rusted all through it. Now it sits with its surface cleaned up, in my sewing room just for memories. I now use an Elna 730 and have an older version of this same Elna as a backup. My husband is also generious for my sewing needs (wants) but I just can't justify a newer,fancier or other brand. This machice is dependable and easy enough to use that I taught my 8 year old granddaught to sew on it this summer. It sews beautifly on the finest silks and readily handles free-motion quilting.

  7. LaBoheme | | #7

    As a former Viking trainer I can testify that your mother's words were wise. This question comes up over and over again on the sewing pages. And so here is the advice I always offer.

    No matter which brand you chose, buy the best machine you can afford. Try to stretch to the next level that you think you need because your skills will undoubtedly grow. This will help prevent outgrowing your machine quickly. In the world of computerized machines, it helps hedge against inevitable obsolescence.

    So, this "buy the very best you can afford and take care of it" is my motto for just about everything I buy. Today's marketplace is loaded with disposable machines and furnishings of all kinds. With a life-span of not much more than 5 years, by the time you have bought it over and over you've paid much more, and filled the land-fill to boot!

  8. user-531590 | | #8

    I bought a Viking 1+ because it would accept all the extra feet I had purchased for the Viking 500 I traded in to get the 1+. Don't know what I'll do when I buy my last machine, as there is no longer a Viking dealer in town.

  9. swedelady43 | | #9

    I have a Singer 401, 403, 160, 9960, Bernina 1130, a vintage Necchi, 2 vintage Kenmores, a little Brother, two vintage Vikings, and two sergers. Am I crazy? Yes! I do have to sell some of these. The Viking 6440 is new, hasn't had a garment made on it yet, just tested out. It's from new old stock from the seventies.

  10. User avater
    auschick | | #10

    I agree with your theory. I learned on my mother's Bernina and when I got married I bought a Bernina too. It was pricy but after using a friend's Brother, I could tell a huge difference in quality.

  11. User avater
    thepkl | | #11

    I learned how to sew on a Singer Futura and I liked it just fine but it flat wore out after just three years. I then bought a Bernina 830 which is the love of my life. When my pedal broke I bought another Singer which I use now and again but my son came up with a way for me to use my Bernette serger foot for both the serger and the sewing machine so I am back to mostly using the 830 again. In the 30 years I have owned this machine I have never had an issue with the tension. It is always perfect. It purrs beautifully and after all these years it is still an amazing machine. In 1983, I think, I paid $1,200 which was more than we had paid for our car at the time. I think the same would still hold true today. But you buy one and you never have to buy another.

  12. User avater
    travelchik | | #12

    I learned how to sew on my mom's old White machine. My grandmother, who sewed on a Singer, won a basic White machine and gave it to me. I sewed on it through high school. In college, I bought a Kenmore, which I used for a few years. Then I bought a Bernina 900, which I still love. But my main sewing machine is a Viking 1+. I like the way it sews. I also have a Pfaff Hobby which I use as a travel machine. I like both my Bernina and my Viking. I would consider purchasing either brand.

  13. user-1146583 | | #13

    My main machine is a Viking #1+ and I love it. I also have several vintage machines, a Singer Featherweight, Singer 15-91, Morse Fotomatic, and several others. I love them all but the #1+ is my workhorse.

  14. BeverlyT | | #14

    Learned to sew on my Grandmother's Singer. My father bought me a Singer when I was in Middle School. When I got married my husband bought me a Singer. I liked them - made my wedding gown, and kids clothing on those machines. Then I learned of an "automatic buttonholer". I bought a Pfaff because I wanted all my buttonholes the same! Well I was taught how to use the "override" feature because it wasn't what I expected but I did learn to love the built even feed feature on the Pfaff. About 15 years ago I traded for another Pfaff with a much better buttonhole system and still the even feed feature - that's what I like the best and I don't even quilt but it is always there when I want it!

  15. JoybyRobin | | #15

    I started with a Singer Touch 'n Sew and was always frustrated with the bobbin tension. When I could afford to replace the machine, I purchased the machine I always wanted … a BERNINA. I now have the BERNINA 830 Embroidery/Sewing machine and love it!

  16. User avater
    LuvThreadsMagazine | | #16

    I'm a Kenmore, White, and Singer owner. Euro-brand lust is something I don't want to dwell upon (it sometimes turns to envy, but I reassure myself that my machines are doing right by me).

    Most of my machines are vintage, but my Kenmore from the 90s (model 385 17824090 - bought it new) works beautifully and is my "go to" machine.

    A vintage straight stitch should be in everyone's collection (ode to the Singer 201).

    Quality never disappoints, and that's doubly true with sewing machines. Test drive what you can, and you will just know the right machine(s) for you almost immediately.

  17. knew | | #17

    I went from numerous singers to Viking. I love the features on the newer Vikings. I now own 4 Vikings. #1+, D1. Quilter. & serger. Always buy a level up if you can afford it. As you sew you will need the extra features and you will fall in love with them if you will just be brave and try them!!I learned to sew on a treadle singer - so if you take chances and try you too can go beyond your wildest dreams!!

  18. User avater
    Ree65 | | #18

    I currently have four machines I use in my sewing room in Massillon Ohio:

    Singer Model 15 (1947)<-- My favorite, owned for 23 years now... Singer Model 128 (1952)<-- Just purchased 2 weeks ago $40... Singer Model 774 (1970'2) <-- Inherited from hubby's Mom... Bernina 2000DE <-- Bought used in September $175 and love! All four of these machines have their good qualities: The models 15 and 128 are powerhorse vintage machines that will easily stitch through leather and up to 8 layers of denim. I also love the many attachments that go with these machines from rufflers to button hole attachments.... I like the model 774 for the various stitch selections and flip down panel that allows for easier stitching of sleeves and tube shaped items. The two step built in buttonhole option is a nice step up from the bulky buttonhole attachment the 15 and 128 use for the same process.... The Bernina... well all I have to say is WOW. Since I have used vintage machines my whole life, I just love this machine for making strong joints and edging fabric before sewing hems & zippers and such. Gives a nice professional look for stitching that will be visible to the end user.

  19. User avater
    Annemari | | #19

    I am a PFAFF believer :) My machines are Performance 2056 and Coverlock 4.0. I like stability and good performance whatever thick or slippery the fabric is. 9 millimetre stitch width means both wider feeding dogs and presser feet, what gives much greater stability. It could seem a bit difficult to maneuver your fabric pieces at first, but after a little practice it is easy-peasy to sew curved seams as accurate as you want. Upper feeding is very convenient as well.
    Once you'll know that your main interest is just sewing, PFAFF will be very good choice with adequate range of well-performing special presser feet. Their machines have plenty of room to grow into :) and give proffessional result for just average-skilled home sewer as me.

  20. LillianBlessing | | #20

    Bernina 830 - I have two - nothing complicated just reliable. . I have serger too.

  21. Nitewindz | | #21

    I love my Babylock Symphony!! But the "right" machine depends on the user and use, that's why companies make so many different models.

    I think it's important to get a quality machine no matter how limited the budget. A cheap machine with lots of bells and whistles might look cool, but if it sews poorly or breaks often or requires coddling and coaxing, it won't be fun to play with. A better choice is a quality machine with the features you will actually need and use, and a gently used machine (like my Symphony) can be a smart choice.

    My other machines are:

    Kenmore Model 27, from 1932 or so. It was my grandmother's machine. It does straight stitch only, but the guts are steel and it sews through anything. I still use it on occasion.

    Singer 503A, from 1960 or so. It sews great. And looks so cool, the nickname Rocketeer really fits.

    Singer 6233 from 1987 or so. My husband bought it for me as a surprise. It was my primary machine until this year

  22. User avater
    jane101 | | #22

    I've used some good machines in the past like the computerized SINGER Fashion Mate,but for now I like my Brother XL2600I.

  23. CallaFerg | | #23

    I have a Necchi Supernova that still runs great and a Juki HZLf600. I adore my Juki…no complaints for the price.

  24. user-1115389 | | #24

    Started young with my mom's Singer with cams for decorative stitches. Husband bought me a new Singer for wedding gift. Eight years later, purchased a Singer Athena 2000 and sewed lots of clothes for our 3 kids. Around 10 years ago, when the Athena's computer pooped out, I bought a Bernina 1260 and it's absolutely my favorite for dependable perfect stitches and bunches of accessory feet. Shortly after, added a Bernina 2500 DCD for serging. Never had any repairs or trouble with either and would buy them again in a minute.

  25. AtelierDesigns | | #25

    I learned to sew on my mother's White straight stitch and Grandma's Singer Featherweight. I had Vikings for years, the 9??, 1100, number1plus, and finally the Designer1. I made the switch to Bernina a couple of years ago and WOW! Bernina is pricey and the accessories equally so but I LOVE this machine. I bought a used 200E which had been upgraded to a 730 with the BSR foot. Bernina worth every penny in MYO. Dealers often have sales. I also have a Juki 7500 industrial, Singer Featherweight ( which I also love, all metal parts) and two sergers, Elna and White. I have bought on eBay and never had a problem, but be very familiar with sewing machines if you do so. I don't rely much on a dealer, but if you are new to sewing, buy from a dealer who can give you tech support.

  26. AtelierDesigns | | #26

    I learned to sew on my mother's White straight stitch and Grandma's Singer Featherweight. I had Vikings for years, the 9??, 1100, number1plus, and finally the Designer1. I made the switch to Bernina a couple of years ago and WOW! Bernina is pricey and the accessories equally so but I LOVE this machine. I bought a used 200E which had been upgraded to a 730 with the BSR foot. Bernina worth every penny in MYO. Dealers often have sales. I also have a Juki 7500 industrial, Singer Featherweight ( which I also love, all metal parts) and two sergers, Elna and White. I have bought on eBay and never had a problem, but be very familiar with sewing machines if you do so. I don't rely much on a dealer, but if you are new to sewing, buy from a dealer who can give you tech support.

  27. LeeWells | | #27

    My current machine is a Viking Designer Ruby that I bought about 3 years ago. It is my third sewing machine. My first was a Slant Needle Singer (top of the line in 1968!). My daughter still uses it. (When I gave the Singer to her in 1980 we bought a Sears Kenmore machine for our other daughter; it needs a new belt I think, but after more than 30 years it is not surprising) I got my second machine in 1980, a Viking 6690. (I had not heard of Viking machines at that time so I asked my father and my uncle, who knew about machinery. Uncle didn't know about Viking, but my father said that his father had used Viking for tailoring. excellent recommendation) (Grandfather's machine is now at my sister's place) The 6690 still works, but it needs a new hand wheel (if anyone knows where to find one, I'd welcome the information. Viking doesn't have the part and several repair places came up empty) The other problem with the 6690 was that over the years I needed more light for sewing. The Designer Ruby is an embroidery machine, which I didn't need, but the lights were better than on the less costly machines. I learned at home on my mother's Necchi machine, which was hard to use. It was permanently attached to the desk and used a knee control. I was too short to use that set up. In seventh grade home economics we used Singer machines with controllers on the floor, MUCH better. (I also have a used serger that a neighbor gave me. She had a new one and offered me her old one) I sewed for my children when they were young; my daughters still sew much of their clothing. I sew much of my clothing and all my husband's trousers. A reliable, easy to use machine is essential! Lee

  28. Twohearts | | #28

    Years ago my husband bought me a mid range bernina right after we got married. I had been using a low end brother up until that point. As we had three kids, I was doing a lot of sewing so he thought he would up grade me. I hated it. I don't know if I just got a lemon or what, but it was like a 70's jaguar, beautiful to look at, lots of cool bells and whistles, and spent more time in the shop than at home. I took the classes and everything. On top of all the frustration was the fact that it was a two hour drive one way to take the darn thing in. I finally opened up the 1920's white treadle I had bought at an estate sale, cleaned and oiled it and it sewed! No problems. At my request the dealer found another home for the problem machine and I never looked back.

    Since then, I have also added a beautiful Franklin Treadle and my pride and joy, a Singer 31-16 (a tailor's machine) that sews so smoothly and perfectly that it's like a rocking chair. I have lots of feet and have found both buttonholers (perfect everytime) and zig zag attachments, so I don't feel like I'm missing anything but the frustration of a machine that wasn't working.

    My husband recently found me a couple of orphan Vikings of the vintage variety who's owners had either passed on or were being moved to the nursing home. They are nice, great features. I love the fact that when I have a few of the local youngsters in for sewing lessons I can turn the speed waaayyy down and the machines don't go too fast. I have found it sure boosts their confidence when they don't have to worry about speed. I am currently working a deal so that the Vikings will have homes with them when they finish their lessons. Other electric machines have come and gone (also orphans), but only one a 80's Kenmore has really stayed.

    But when it is time to sew, I pick the treadles every time. Maybe it's a zen thing, but with the treadle sewing becomes something different for me. Kind of like the difference between listening to an old time radio show and watching t.v. I tune in different. With the treadle, I go at a different pace and pay more attention to what the fabric is showing me. Okay, weird I know... but works for me and I actually get more sewing done, which is the point right?

  29. itssewyou | | #29

    I started out sewing on my mom's early Singer straight stitch machine when I was seven or eight making doll clothes for my one Barbie. As a newly married woman my husband "allowed" me to buy on time a Singer with cams (I paid for it). After our divorce I traded to a Ricccar and also got a White serger. The Riccar was a nightmare. Several years ago I purchased a Janome 6500 as a demo machine from a dealer. I now have seven Janomes...the 6500, an 11000, 725 felting machine, a 525S, a 760 Platinum, and 2, yes two Compulocks 888. I still use the old White serger on occasion but use my workhorses the 6500 and the Compulocks on a daily basis. I need to use my 11000 embroidery machine much more. I have been happy with my Janomes.

  30. LadyL5068 | | #30

    My husband and I have four machines in our house. We have three Pfaff's and a Babylock.

    I learned to sew in high school and have been sewing ever since. I was 19 when I purchased the bottom of the line singer. I upgraded two singer machines up from the one I had and after awhile I wanted more stitches. I then went to a Dial and Sew and from there I upgraded to a New Home which I loved but was damaged during a move. From there I purchased Pfaff machines in the early 80's. I now have the 2038 for classes, the Creative Vision embroidery machine and for Christmas my husband purchased the Babylock Cresendo with fantastic lighting which I now need.

    My has the 4510 and uses is when he makes a quilt tops. This was purchased in 1998 and is light enough to take to classes.

    My girlfriend sold me on Pfaff as well as the quality of their stitches. I totally agree with LaBoheme "buy the best that you can afford".

  31. sewsimpleandstraight | | #31

    I have a Bernina 440 sewing machine and a Bernina 1300MDA serger and overstitch machine. I have several antique Singer such as the Singer 15-90, 15-91, 360 and singer 66. My main sewing machine is my Bernina 440 sewing machine and it sews beautifully. I think I am set as far as sewing machines go, but I still like hearing about what type of sewing machines other sew on.

  32. Vaune | | #32

    I have a Bernina 930 (1984), a Bernina 1530 (1994) and a Bernina 580 (2014). I have used many different machines, but find for what I do, Bernina works the best for me. Keep in mond, though, that you really 'buy' a dealer as well as the machine, so make sure you have a dealer that supports their product!
    It took me 2 years to decide on my new machine (580) that I bought this summer. You can check on my blog post
    http://www.vaunessewingroom.blogspot.com under the June 2014 archives, and there are 3 posts regarding the features that I was looking for and the questions that I asked before I made my purchase.
    Some of the top of the line machines are like buying a car, and you would never buy a car without driving it first - think of your sewing machine the same way. Take fabrics, thread, and sewing machine needles that you usually sew with and bring them into the dealer and take a test drive ON WHAT YOU SEW!

  33. User avater
    [email protected] | | #33

    I learned sewing from my Grandma, who loved her Singer, and therefore, my machine of choice was also a Singer. In 1985, I purchased a new Singer, that was a combination sewing and embroidery machine, which was something new for the home sewer! The embroidery was contained in these cartridges that were inserted in the top of the machine. While the concept was innovative, the designs were simple, compared to what we can accomplish today.

    In 1992, I traded my Singer in for my first Brother combination sewing and embroidery machine and quickly fell in love with the brand. I learned to digitize using Brother's PE-Design software and used the embroidery features as much as the built in stitches on the sewing side of the machine for all sorts of sewing and quilting projects. I've owned the PC8200, upgraded to the PC8500, and the ULT2001 along the way, in addition to each new version of the PE-Design software.

    Fast forward to the present, I'm still in love with Brother, using my Quattro 6000D machine for sewing, quilting and embroidery! The quality of the stitching, for sewing, quilting and embroidery is top notch! Although I've moved from Illinois to Florida, my new Brother dealer is just as fabulous as my previous dealer of almost 20 years! No matter what the project is or fabric I am using, I can count on my machine to produce excellent stitches.

  34. user-3059980 | | #34

    I learned to sew on my grandmother's treadle Singer, which was a great machine. My first machine was a basic Singer Stylist, which worked for ages before I decided to get one that would sew heavy fabrics. I have the Singer Commercial machine for sewing through layers of denim. It works like a dream.

    Other machines I have inherited include Pfaff 230 (an old postwar workhorse of a machine--I'd love to get another one) and a Juki industrial.

    What machine to recommend depends on the level and type of sewing you want to do. I don't think spending a lot on the machine would improve my sewing. My Singers and the Old Pfaff have better stitch quality than many "top of the line" machines. I seriously can't see spending a semester's college tuition on a sewing machine...

  35. dovesong | | #35

    From 1969-1990 I owned Kenmore. Somewhere around 1990 I bought a Viking 990. I have never had it serviced and I still use it at my quilting club. I just leave it there. At home I have Babylock Ellegante II I bought in 2012. I use this as my primary machine for quilting. Love the needle down, cutter, auto threader etc. I also love the large throat space and I use it for free motion quilting. It is an embroidery machine and I use that on occasion. Then I started collecting and people give me machines. I had a Singer 201-2 that I refurbished and sold. Then I bought a Necchi Supernova - this is my favorite machine for heavy duty use. It will punch through anything smooth as can be where my Babylock rats up on the bobbin or struggles with my quilt bindings so I bind on the Necchi. I also own a Singer 301A that I love, love, love. It is so fun to sew on and is really smooth and quite. I was gifted a Singer 15-89 treadle and I use this for piecing scrappy quilts. I love sewing on the treadle and the stitches are the best of all my machines. I was just given a Singer 503a that I cleaned up and tested but haven't sewn anything with it yet. I expect it will be an awesome machine. People know I sew and collect machines so many have given me machines. I clean them up and gift them to people who want to learn to sew. Personally, I love the features on the newer Babylock but the vintage machines beat it hands down for stitch quality and power and they will last forever if they are taken care of. I feel blessed to have the space to have all these wonderful machines. Oh, I also have an Elna 744 Serger that is awesome. Love that too.

  36. User avater
    jackreacherus | | #36

    i am so happy with my embroidery machine. i work with these types sewing machines from 1999. My grandmother use this type of sewing machine. Thanks for your precious post. i like it.

  37. User avater
    mariotroy | | #37

    Thanks for Sharing.... Its really help full

  38. User avater
    oliverliam | | #38

    Done good work..Thanks

  39. user-6950092 | | #39

    I love this thread from threads. I learned to sew on my mother's straight stitch Singer (cams for decorative stitches). In high school (1970) I spent my life savings ($100) for a Singer Stylist with a built-in 4-step button hole. Then about 1995 I discovered the Pfaff 7570. Needle down, integrated dual feed, tap for single stich, embroidery. Wow. More recently I got the Pfaff Creative vision (knee lift, larger embroidery, more computer capabilities). Love my Pfaffs. I also have the Babylock Sashiko (hand-look stitches), a computerized Elna serger (stitch memory!), the Babylock Ovation Serger (knee lift again, and so many features), and an industrial blind hemmer (curved needle) like I used in a alterations shop. And of course, I still have the two original Singers. Only eight machines.

  40. user-7185413 | | #40

    Singer 306W in use for 64 years. Bought a new embroidery Singer Quantum 1000 but it has been in the shop for a tune up twice in the first 2 years. Lives in the closet now and comes out only for embroidery and back to my fav.

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