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HELP! Novice Needs Advice on Machine

ShellyV | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hi Everyone,

I’m so glad I’ve found you all!  I want to learn to sew and have been doing a great deal of research regarding a new machine.  I am currently considering the purchase of one of the following:

a) Viking Lena

b) Bernette 80e

c) Brother NX-200

The Viking is mechanical and the other two are electronic.  I’m trying to stay around $400 or so and I don’t want to buy too much machine.  OTOH, I don’t want something ultra, ultra basic.  I’d like the machine to be user friendly and reliable.   I plan to sew clothes for my little girl, make Hallowe’en costumes, sew craft-y items for the house and maybe some duvet covers/pillows.  I don’t quilt and don’t anticipate taking it up as I am also a knitter and have an unbelievable stash of yarn. 

For what it’s worth, the Viking and Bernette I’m looking at are new.  The Brother is used, but essentially new.  I have a Viking Husqvarna 6030 that I bought at a yard sale for $35.  I took it to the repair shop and they said it would be at least $200 to repair and they didn’t recommend going ahead with it.  Any opinions on that?

Thanks for any and all advice you can provide!  I’m psyched to get started, but I don’t want to make a mistake and buy the wrong machine for my needs.

Shelly on Bainbridge Island, WA


  1. MOMPEA1 | | #1

    Hi Shelley,

    I would recommend that you test drive all the machines you can. Go to a real sewing machine store and try out the different brands-some are going to fit and others won't. What may have been perfect for your best friend might feel horrible to you. It's the little things that make the fit perfect for you. Make a list of what you want the machine to do, the essentials, and then make a list of the extras that you'd like it to do. Prioritize your wishes as you may have to do a trade off because of the price issue. And then visit as many stores as you can. Also note how you are treated, because if you need service this is where you'll be getting it. Listen to how they treat another customer that has brought a machine for repair. Six months down the road that might be you.

    I bought a Janome and I love it.  It fit my needs and it fit me. I also was stupid and bought a lightweight machine to take to quilting clubs I had planned to join- knew people in the group and thought it would be a good fit. WRONG! After I bought the machine and I turned up at the meeting place I couldn't get in. It has 1 flight of stairs to the front door and I'm in a wheelchair. I've had the machine for 2 years now and I think I've used it once. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I could have spent the money I paid for the machine on more material, threads, accessories, etc.  Oh well, live and learn.

    Look at buying your new machine like buying a car. Test drive every model in your price range and buy the one that you like and meets your needs.

    Good luck!


  2. Kiley | | #2

    Shelly, you mentioned that you liked the Lena and I wondered if you have seen the new Viking Scandinavia's? There are 3 models and the least expensive is the model 100. My dealer and Joanne's has it on sale for $488 and it has some nice stitches. The 2 higher priced models are the 200 and 300. They are computerized and the 300 does embroidery. Sears also has some machines in your price range. They have several new Janome Kenmore models. I also suggest that you test drive a machine to see which one you are most comfortable with. There is such a difference in feel of the machines besides the differences in features.

  3. Beth | | #3

    I spent about $200 on repairs to my 6020 Viking a couple of years ago and it is still going strong. I have used it quite a bit, making a variety of things, clothes, slippers, and home dec items. I find that having a great variety of presser feet and the original instruction book are most helpful.

    If your Viking is otherwise complete, repairing it might be a good idea.

  4. joanna | | #4

    Viking makes a computerized machine called the Interlude which I believe is in the $500 range. I have had 2 computerized Viking sewing machines and two Viking sergers (if you really get into sewing, a serger is well worth it). I have loved all four machines. Computerized sewing machines are well worth the extra money. Over the years, I had four different mechanical machines. Even the best ones can be very frustrating. Computerized machines have much better stitch quality and the tension hardly ever needs adjusting. Nopt to mention all the other features that a mechanical machine doesn't have.

    Anyway, my two recommendations are Viking and computerized.


    1. Kiley | | #5

      I love my computerized machine with the many stitches, features and programming and the stitches are beautiful. But my mechanical Pfaff midline machine with the IDT is outstanding. Before buying a machine I do suggest trying a Pfaff with dual feed. You will find the same difference in stitch quality using a Pfaff with dual feed as you would using a serger that has dual feed and one that does not. I originally bought my Pfaff as a back up when I returned a computerized machine that had computer problems. I did buy another computerized machine for deco work to set up with my embroidery machine but I use my Pfaff for everything else daily. I really do love both machines but they are very different. I also have a Jem Silver and 3 sergers. I never thought I would have more than one machine and one serger..go figure

      Edited 11/10/2004 4:27 am ET by Kiley

  5. user-227714 | | #6

    Beore you buy.  Check out the Janome 10000, ets.  It's fabulous.  Less expensive too.

    Sew Cute

  6. mem1 | | #7

    I have both a mechanical Bernina and a computerized Janome . The Janome has about 400 stitches and two alphabets which are useful for name tags for childrens clothes.The Bernina is 20 years old and a superb machine . Whenever i take it to the mechanic he tells me NEVER to get rid of it.It is a very fast machine and is fantastic for big sewing jobs like doona covers and curtains etc. I think that it is fast because it is mechanical . My Janome is great too but it is awfully slow . It has capabilities to slow right down which is good for top stitching .The stitches are great but i really dont use them that much . I would recommend that you check the ease of the buttonhole and features which will make it easy to have all your button holes the same size . The Janome is fine for this the bernina less so.The other thing is the machines capacity to sew through dense heavy fabrics like denim as with children I imagine you will need to do that.When making pants you often have to sew through four layers! Also think about buyiong a walking foot which will give you a duel feed capacity which is great if your are sewing checks or stripes as well as plasticised fabric or very slippery fabric . If you are ona budget and want to get a second hand machine get an old Elna or Bernina as they are extremely durable and tough machines . The computerised machines are nowhere near as long lived.

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