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computerized vs non-computerized machine

nmog | Posted in General Discussion on

I am considereing purchasing a new sewing machine, since the Singer I have has seen better days.  I’m not sure whether to get a computerized machine or not.  I’m skeptical as to whether or not they are better because I haven’t heard anything either way.  I am an intermediate level sewer who makes clothes, winter jackets, quilts, duvets, etc.  I don’t think that I would use many (if any) embroidery stitches.  Any suggestions?  Thanks for your help.



  1. Bernie1 | | #1

    So much is a matter of personal taste but if you go with a non-computerized machine I'd recommend you check out the Pfaff 1540 which has lots of nice stitches plus the IDT which is a real bonus for quilters. I have the Viking D1 and the 1540 and while the D1 sews much more smoothly and tends to do better buttonholes I can't say anything bad about the 1540 so far. I would say look at the various Pfaff machines closely since with the IDT (integrated dual technology or IDF integrated dual feed) it's a favorite of many quilters.  Computerized models tend to be more quiet and there are many other features you might like. My dealer tried to talk me out of the mechanical because she said after using the computerized machine I wouldn't be happy, but that's not true. It's a little more complicated to do all those settings by hand but it's also lots of fun. Best wishes in your search.

  2. FitnessNut | | #2


    I agree with Bernie that it really is a matter of personal taste. I have both a mechanical (Elna Carina, dating from 1984) and a brand new Bernina 180E. I use both machines, although I wasn't sure I was going to when I bought the new one. There are pros and cons to each. Because I sew for others, I was very much interested in some of the features of the computerized machine, especially the buttonholes. I don't use all of the decorative stitches and probably never will. But I do use some of them...the monogram feature is nice to have, IMHO. I love both of my machines and wouldn't part with either.

    I suppose that doesn't help you a whole lot, but maybe this will. Take samples of fabrics you normally sew on with you when you go machine shopping and "test drive" the machines you are considering. Use fabrics that YOU sew with, not that stiff stuff they provide for testing. You will find out what you are comfortable with. Don't rush into making a decision. Remember that there is a learning curve with any new machine, but it will probably be longer (higher?) with the computerized one.


  3. GhillieC | | #3

    It may sound simple, but being able to stop with the needle either up or down, as you choose, is invaluable. Being able to progress at half a stitch at a time or else to sew very, very slowly is also great.

    I am not sure electromechanical machines can do these things.



  4. Elisabeth | | #4

    And be sure to bring a heavier type of fabric such as denim to test drive.  My machine knows to push a little extra to get the needle through a thicker piece.   

    1. nmog | | #5

      I'm really glad to have posted this. I never would have thought of bringing my own fabric, but it makes so much sense! Hmmm. Apparently I miss the obvious. That's why I post here. Thank you for your help!


      1. edgy | | #6

        Since you've been working w a non-computerized machine for a long time, it shouldn't be difficult if you go and really spend time on the computerized machines, to see which features are really super time-savers for you, and which wouldn't really save time.

        I recently upgraded to a used computerized machine and am finding that needle up-down and winding the bobbin while the machine is still threaded are great for me. After reading the latest Threads article on Dream Machines and viewing the video at their website, I'd want a "self-threading" feature, but I don't embroider, so don't see any time advantage to feed dogs that go 16 directions. I think it takes just as long to push a button to change feed dog direction as to turn the fabric. I don't want a presser foot that goes up every time I take my foot off the pedal, but would love a knee lift.

        Would like to hear others opinions on the features. I also wonder whether more features means more can break down. That certainly seems to be true w cars and major kitchen appliances, so it would seem logical to apply to machines. But I'd love to talk to a repair person about it!


      2. SewSimple | | #8

        There's been some good suggestions here, Nicole, but one advantage of the electronic machines over the mechanical ones is that they are very low maintenance.  Most are designed not to need to be oiled (for up to five years). I've had my Janome for almost three years and have only put two drops of oil in the bobbin area. I sew three or four days a week for two-eight hours at a time. You still need to clean the lint out regularly though!! The other feature I absolutely can't live without is the auto-tension. (not found on mechanical machines) When it is set on auto-tension you can go from silk to wool to denim and never adjust the tension as the machine automatically adjusts. Of course, you can set it manually for when you are doing free-motion embroidery or darning.

        Electronic machines are much smoother & quiter than the mechanical.

        Happy Hunting.


        1. nmog | | #9

          I've started looking at some machines, and I think that I will go with an electronic one. I like the needle up/down features as well as sone of the neat gadgets that they have. I'm torn between the heavier duty Pfaff 2046 (given all the repairs my Singer has needed after only 3 years), the Janome memory craft 4800 and the Babylock crafter's choice. I prefer the price and some of the features of the Janome and Babylock, but I like the wear and tear the Pfaff can put up with.

          The search continues...


          1. Bernie1 | | #10

            also check out the Vikings - they are still made in Sweden and have a lot of good features compared to some other models. But if you quilt,  you'll probably like Pfaff best.

          2. SewSimple | | #11

            We all have our favorites. It's like buying a car--what appeals to one will not appeal to another. I know Pfaff & Viking have a good reputation, but will put in a plug for Janome. When I was machine shopping, I had a model picked out in Elna, Pfaff, & Bernina. I ended up w/the Janome. Liked the feel of the machine (And the price was way less than the others as well!!) Don't forget about service from your dealer.

            The model 19365 Kenmore is made by Janome and is a good machine also and worth checking out.


          3. nmog | | #12

            I've got a Janome serger and love it! I used to be a Singer girl until I taught Home Ec in Junior High in a Singer sewing room. The machine I'm replacing is a Singer, as I've had to take it for repairs numerous times (in three years). The older Singers seem to work great, but mine may have been a lemon.

            I must say that I'm tempted by the features the Janome has. However, the Pfaff seems to be a workhorse. I was told (by the dealer) that it's the closest to an industrial machine you can get. I'm now debating the difference in price and features (Janome's better) with the "workhorse" feature. Any suggestions?


          4. SewSimple | | #15

            How did we switch to sergers??? If you're asking which is the better workhorse on computerized sewing machines Pfaff or Janome, I don't know enough about Pfaff to be able to answer which is better. I know Pfaff has a good reputation. I just know my Janome is 3 years without a repair. Which one "feels" better to you??

            When I was looking for the Janome, I had a Singer Dealer tell me not to by the Singer because they weren't being well made. Although the older ones run like champs. That's what I had for my first two machines (Singer).

            Sergers I don't know as much about, my Elna L-5 serger is 17 yrs old & in need of replacement, so I'm looking for info on those myself................

          5. nmog | | #16

            I've got a Janome serger 634D (three years old, and runs great). I would recommend it. I paid about $580 (Canadian) three years ago, but I'm a sewing teacher and I got a school price. Now I'm on Maternity leave with our son, and can no longer get the discount. That's why I'm posting so many discussions here!

            I was told, when I was looking for my last sewing machine, that the Singer production line wasn't running as smoothly as it should have been because of new ownership. The dealer I knew had been waiting for parts for fifteen months. However, the ownership has changes again so that the Singer production line is now as reliable as it used to be.


          6. DennisM | | #17

            I have 2 machines, both mechanical, a 5 year old Singer which has auto-tension and a Huskystar which has the needle up (not down) and a automatic button-holer. I use the Huskystar more often as it is easier to use. I'm mainly into garment sewing, not quilting.

  5. kjp | | #7

    Nicole, from the sounds of the sewing you do, I think you would love a computerized machine.  I have an older model Bernina 1530, which doesn't have as many convenience features, but I love the needle positioning for home sewing; the automatic buttonholes can't be beat & the stitch quality is amazing.  I have a lot of decorative stitches (no embroidery).  I haven't used them too often, but my mom (an award winning quilter) uses them frequently for machine quilting & embellishments.  You might not need one of the "dream machines".  I drool over them, but truly don't think I would spend the money!  Have fun shopping!  Karin

  6. Constance | | #13

    I have an early computerized machine (Kenmore 19601, replacing Kenmore 1801 with cams), and am very satisfied with it. I don't do machine embroidery either, since I love the process of creating my own stitches. I've made swimsuits, coats, evening wear, and everyday clothing, done some crazy quilting. It's performed well for almost 15 years. I use my mini-vac after every garment to keep it clean, take it in for a tuneup every couple of years, and I still love it. No breakdowns, the auto buttonholer is awesome, has a nice variety of utility stitches that are uniform every time (100 counting the alphabet). Don't know if I could go back to a mechanical machine, but also don't think a dream machine is for me either.

    Good luck with your search - take samples of EVERYTHING you make with you when you test them and you will find exactly what you need!


    1. edgy | | #14

      What model is your Janome serger and have you heard anything abt the newer ones? I'm looking for my "first", and can't spend too much.



      1. nmog | | #18

        I have a Janome 634D, and I haven't had any problems with it so far.It's about three years old, and I use it on a regular basis (every week before I had our son 10 months ago, now when I get the chance). I spent about $570 Canadian on it, but that was a school price, as I was teaching sewing at that time. good luck with your hunt!


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