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Best machines for HS Costume shop?

momcat50 | Posted in General Discussion on

We are in the market to buy a sewing machine and serger for our high school costume shop. I am the mom in charge of researching. We figure in the neighborhood of $200. for the sewing machine and the lowest priced serger with the best value. Any ideas? I have the Babylock Imagine at home – no can do financially for the school. We need the best price and reliable machine. The kids 15-18 years that are part of the costume committee are just learning to sew with us. They are not offering sewing in our schools any more. If they have an enjoyable experience, they are the sewers of tomorrow.

Please – give me your thoughts on good machines for our price range.



  1. hera | | #1

    I am the mother of a 16 year old drama student. Four years ago I was able to donate a Bernina model #1008 to the school she attends specifically, for the drama department's use. Her school has no home ec or other sewing program available to the students.

    I chose this model primarily because it was mechanical, SAFE, and because many of the schools in my state use this model in their programs. Moreover, I was able to obtain a very good price from the dealer. The reason I mention the date of purchase is that the machine has suffered a great deal of abuse from the students who are impatient and have no prior sewing experience. The machine has held up beautifully, as in no problems at all. Moreover, the dealer and her service personnel have been available at any time to help with questions, problems, or to suggest better ways to do things. Although I'm very pleased with the machine, I'm even more impressed by the support we (the school and the students) received.

    I was eventually able to arrange for the drama dep't to acquire a serger, through the same dealer. I think perhaps it's been even more useful in the drama dep't.  Hope this was helpful. "Soup"

    1. momcat50 | | #2

      Thank you very much. I appreciate your input.


  2. Crafty_Manx | | #3

    Pfaff has a fully mechanical line (I think it's the Tiptronic, but I'm not sure...it's on their website though).  My sister has one of the mid-range ones, and it's a good machine.

    Otherwise, I would advise trying to buy used as you will not likely find a decent, durable machine in such a low price range.  If you can get by without a serger (use the machine's zigzag instead) you could budget that money towards the sewing machine, and hold off on the serger until next year.

    My recommendation on a used machine, if you can find one in good condition, is a Pfaff 1471.  Mine has taken me through 4 years of sewing flags and uniforms for my high school colorguard and costumes for over 20 college dramatic productions and is still ticking.  Not bad for a machine that came out 15ish years ago!  I am convinced that nothing can kill this machine.

    Good luck in your search and your sewing.


  3. skyrocker1 | | #4

    I can't say enough about the simplicity of Pfaff. A machine like the

    Hobby 1016. You will have a choice of three straight stitches, Zig Zag.

    They handle a variety of material. These are very forgiving machines, can stand up to abuse by inexperienced students, especially in a costume shop setting. They are all prices under $200.00 Other machines of this price range may have more bells and whistles, but then thats where you get into trouble, changing settings, etc.

    I like using the K.I.S. approach. Keep it simple, yet functional.

    Doc Ferguson

    1. betsy | | #5

      I'm excited to hear that others are as happy with their Pfaffs as I have been. I, too, sew costumes, and have had many inexperienced students and moms use mine with few problems. My 27 year old Pfaff 1222 still performs beautifully. I'd get a used one similar to that,  if at all possible. My new (4 yr. old?) tiptronic is also great, but would take a few more bake-sales to purchase.

      Some schools have been able to use technology funding to purchase computerized machines; you might want to see if that is possible. Another option might be to see if a local sewing machine store would give you a price break in exchange for top billing/advertising in your play program and/or a patron poster in the lobby of the school. Do you have a local new paper that would do an article commending the store for supporting such a worthy donation? I don't mean to sound sarcastic; I think that the local, independent stores that do this sort of thing should be recognized and given all the good press they can get.

      Good luck!


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