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buying a machine

juniemoonbun | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I am helping a young , new sewer to buy her first sewing machine.  I have had Singers- hated them-junk. loved my Phaff and love currently my Elna. thoughts on on a Janome for her? or other suggestions. thanks 


  1. landers04 | | #1

    Hi Juniemoonbug -

    What about a Kenmore?  I've read some good things about Kenmores.  They are made in Taiwan by Janome at the Janome plant, so I'm told.  There is a model on sale for $200 that has 21 stitches, drop in bobbin, needle threader, auto buttonhole, thread cutter, and comes with 6 feet, plus it's light and easy to carry. 

    If anyone else has experience with the new Kenmores, i'd be interested to hear about it.  I am buying a machine too, and I also looked into the Janome (and Viking) machines. They are wonderful, but i'm hesitant about shelling out a lot of money on buying feet when I don't know how much or what kind of sewing I'll be doing.  Maybe later on, when i'm more experienced and knowledgeable, i can find that dream machine with all the features i like...

    But, OTH, the nicer brand machines really make me want to sit down and sew!  I'm still of two minds about it, truthfully!

    One other good thing about the Kenmore, you can test it out for 2 months and if you don't like it, return it for a full refund.  With the local dealers, you can only trade up (and there's usually a min $ amount you can trade up to).  Anyway, another option for you to think about!


    1. juniemoonbun | | #2

      the very first sewing maching that I bought was a Kenmore - very simple and made of metal- sturdy, but I outgrew it in a few years. just didn't have the precision of the German or Swiss machines. still looking for comments on machines. 

  2. kayl | | #3

    I think this sort of decision has to be at least partly budget driven,

    and partly "what feels right" to the owner-to-be. For instance, Berninas have lovely stitching, and I always feel like all the controls are in the wrong place and backwards for me... even after a couple of weeks of steady use, they just don't fit me. It's like

    trying to walk with my shoes on the wrong feet.

    Personally, I'd help her shop, and show her things to look for in

    stitch quality, ease of setup and use, etc, and let her make her own

    decision. The chapters on getting the most out of your sewing machine

    in Carol Ahles' Fine Machine Sewing might be of use to her when she

    starts evaluating machines.

    If budget is tight, or if she's just not quite sure, perhaps a good

    choice might be a traded in machine of a good make, in good working

    condition. There are some gems out there for a fraction of their

    original retail cost, and she can trade it back in when she outgrows

    it and knows more about what she wants/needs in a machine.

    It's easy to get caught up in wanting the most stitches for your money, or any of a number of possible comparison schemes for competing

    machines -- but as an experienced sewing machine owner, you can help

    her think about things that may be more useful in the long run, like

    adjustable presser foot pressure, or force generated to drive teh needle through fabric, or availability/cost of extra feet and accessories.

    Not a whole lot of help here, I know... fwiw, I'm a Viking person,

    but probably wouldn't say no to a Pfaff... haven't liked the Janomes

    I've sewn on, and the only Elna I've used has been a Lotus, now,

    alas, discontinued.


  3. ChrisHaynes | | #4

    Go to a reputable dealer and get a good used machine.

    The person who is new to sewing should learn what he or she wants before spending lots of money (which could also be accomplished by taking sewing lessons at a machine or fabric store).  There are lots of good basic machines, the trick is finding a good dealer.  I know of a couple of sewing machine retailers within a 5 block area --- one will try to lead someone to the most expensive outrageous purchase with lots of pressure, the other one will actually listen to the customer and try to get them a machine that fits their needs (guess which one I like going to).

    Also, send your friend to this article:

    http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00130.asp ... on what to look for, and how to evaluate a sewing machine purchase.

  4. kjp | | #5

    I am a loyal owner of a Bernina 1530 and an Elna serger.  My first machine was a very basic Kenmore with about 10 different stitches.  It's still in my family & there have been times when I wished I hadn't passed it on!  That being said, the basic Berninas & many others look very good also & then she would have local shop support.  Sears just doesn't measure up where that's concerned  :-)  I think buying the basic machine from a local shop with good support is the best way for a new sewer to become comfortable with their machine. 

    1. SewNancy | | #6

      Years ago I took French couture sewing lessons at a shop that sold Viking.  I loved sewing on them and when it came time to replace my Kenmore,  thats what I bought.  I just replaced that 20 year old machine with a Viking Platinum 750 and I couldn't be happier.  The curse factor as my husband refers to it has gone down.   Knowing what you need in a machine is really important and I agree that features like needle up or down and adjustable pressure are more important to everyday sewing enjoyment than hundreds of fancy stitches.  I also love my needle threader as my 54 year old eyes really need it!  If you are going to make denim jeans or sew any heavy duty fabric the stronger motor is certainly a necessity.  But, there are a number of great brands out there and it really boils down to the best dealer who will be there for you if you have a problem and who gives the best machine lessons.  My Viking dealer retired and someone opened up a new shop and I couldn't be happier.  She is nicer and more responsive than the old on ever was.  What a pleasure.


      1. Kiley | | #7

        Nancy that's great. I love to hear when someone is happy with their machine. I brought home an Elna 744 serger today to add to my sewing machine family. I hope I am as happy with my purchase as you are with yours. Have fun sewing.

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