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Advice on sewing machines

orchid_2010 | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hello!  I’ve been sewing for 34 years (since I was 10), and always had hand-me-down mechanical machines that just did the basic straight and zigzag stitch.  16 years ago, I spent about $150 on a new Brother electronic machine from a warehouse store that I’ve used ever since. It still works fine, but I get frustrated at some of its deficiencies.  I sew clothing and doll clothes, for the most part, but do an occasional small quilt, too.  My current machine hates bulky layers, and will never sew a straight seam through bulky fabric.  I have to hand-crank the wheel to get it to push through the fabric.  I often have tension problems, too, which I can fix myself (I’ve gotten pretty good at it) but these problems are time-consuming and annoying. Forget about sewing on denim, organza, or anything else that is either heavy- or light-weight.  I also do a lot of detail sewing for doll clothes, including applying many trims and laces — I need a machine that gives me more control for placement of these items.

I absolutely cannot spend more than $1000 — I have a son going to college in two years!  Can anyone suggest a machine that might work for me? Thank you so much!

Replies

  1. suesew | | #1

    I use 2 Viking 400 - a low end computerized machine at a university costume studio. They are wonderfully user friendly machines, especially for students who have very little experience. I don't think this model is sold anymore but they do have similar ones available. Actually you really need to choose your dealer - then look at the cheaper computerized choices.

  2. Elisabeth | | #2

    Definitely a computerized machine. It will "think" for you when you sew heavy layers and apply more force with the needle. And will sew excruciatingly slowly where you need. A different stitch plate for straight stitches on delicate or small pieces of fabrics is a big help. There is just one little hole for the needle to go down, not a wide gap that eats surprising amounts of chiffon not to mention little dresses.

    The Viking Freesia is one of the first level computer vikings now. It sells for $700 or so I think and I'll bet you can find it used for less. Viking dealers can have a full value trade up policy on new machines for the first year and many people have decided they want more features. Then the dealer sells the barely used machine to someone else. Viking isn't the only brand, just the one I am familiar with, so check out several good brands and see what suits you.

    1. orchid_2010 | | #3

      Thank you!  Do you know if the Freesia has a wide stitch selection? It sounds like a great option.  I'll take a look at the lower-end Vikings.  I would like a machine that is electronic, definitely.

      1. Elisabeth | | #5

        There are two Freesias and it is the one with fewer stitches that I am thinking about. A friend bought one and loves it. The one with more features has 30 stitches I think which includes a satin stitch that you can do your own thing with. I have a 20 year old Viking that is probably the equivalent of the higher Freesia feature-wise. I have had zero problems with it for 20 years, now it has finally broken down poor old thing. I might be able to fix it but I really think I got my money's worth no matter what.The scandinavia 300 is a special edition isn't it? I am tuning in now to what is available being sewing machine-less at the moment. With some embroidery functions at $999 that might be a decent deal. Spend some time sewing on it, bring your heaviest denim and various other fabrics, and your own thread if you use something other than what they put in the machine at the dealer. Put some wear on their test model, see what it can do, watch it put some muscle behind the needle on that hunk of denim you feed it and then embroider something, see if you like the stitch quality. The interchangeable feet and other accessories among the various models in a brand is nice. If you want something additional like a straight stitch plate or straight stitch foot make sure it is available to buy with whichever brand you end up liking.

        1. orchid_2010 | | #6

          Thank you! I can't believe how many questions you have to ask to buy a machine! I will definitely take some of my own fabrics in and play with the machines.   I'll let you know what I end up with!

    2. orchid_2010 | | #4

      Do you know anything about the Viking Scandinavia 300?  My local dealer has them on sale for $999 and I was wondering if you had heard of them.  I also looked at the Bernina dealer today. I was interested in the Activa 240, but after trying it I definitely won't buy it.  It just didn't feel right to me, but it is a lovely machine (just not my style). 

    3. LaForge | | #7

      Actually, Viking no longer makes the Freesia, but they certainly make comparable machines.  For $1000 or less, I would check out the 445 -- it is too good to be true.  The Platinums are a little pricier, but I prefer the 445.  Also, it has a 20 year warranty.  Should be able to get the 445 for under $1000 easily.

       

      Michele

      1. GreyKat | | #8

        I just purchased an Interlude 445 and you're right--it's an incredible machine. A bit more than I had orignally budgeted, but thus far worth every penny. Good luck!
        Greykat

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