Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

I’m so confused about machines!

chefre | Posted in General Discussion on

I stopped sewing about 20 years ago because i had so much trouble adjusting the tension and the bobbin always seemed to cause me trouble.  I’ve been thinking about doing some Home Dec projects, maybe some simple quilting etc.  – nothing more than that.  I’ve looked at machines in every store that I can think of – from sewing macine store to local Wal-marts etc.  I don’t want to spend more than $400.00 or so, but I’d like a machine that will not give me problems like before.  Are the horizontal bobbin machines really better?  What about the lower priced computerized machines like the Brother CS-8072 at Wal-mart?  Can anyone tell me about the Janome 8080 and 4052 from Sears?  What about the Kenmores?  Are Singer and White any good?  I know I’ve asked a lot of question but I’d really like to make a decision and get sewing!  Thank you soooooo much!

Confused, frustrated and about to give up!


  1. marijke | | #1

    The August/September issue of Threads had an article about sewing machines. It had some charts to help compare machines.

    Sounds like you are not interested in any fancy stitches, but more in a basic workhorse that works well. I suggest reading that article, then visiting local sewing machine dealers. Don't buy anything on your first trip, so fact-finding first. Ask each dealer to explain how to thread the machine, whether you may test it (bring your own fabric and test machines at different stores on the same material(s)). Get model numbers and prices (write it down). If there are sales or special offers, ask until when those are valid.

    Different people are partial to different brands. I own two older Singer machines that are both pretty basic. Both have drop-in bobbins (horizontal, as you say). They work fine, good stitch formation. I have no experience with the other brands you mention. Husqvarna has the advantage that you never have to oil the machine, but I have never owned one.

    Prices at Walmart are probably a little lower than sewing machine dealers, but the salespeople aren't necessarily very knowledgeable. (At my local Walmart, there are a couple of very nice salesladies, but they don't know more about sewing than I do and I don't see myself as much of an expert.) At a dealer you can expect knowledgeable salespeople and you can expect to get some besic lessons to learn how to operate your machine and to learn its features.

    As a person returning to sewing, the support you can expect from a dealer will be worth the money. If you go with a basic model, it seems to me you should be able to get something in your price range even at a dealer.

  2. Jmars0727 | | #2

    The single greatest advantage to buying a sewing machine, new or used, from a local sewing machine dealer is service.  When I want to sew, I want to sew, not play mechanic.  Likewise, when I learned to sew, I learned how to sew, not how to tinker with a machine to make it do what it should have done in the first place.  Sewing, or learning to sew, or getting 'back to sewing' can be frustrating enough at times, why complicate the frustrations with a machine that won't work properly.  Life is too short, and for many, sewing time is too short, to have to deal with equipment that doesn't do what it is supposed to.  I am positive that you can get a good machine that is within your price range, from a dealership that also will provide service.  If you quit sewing all those years ago due to frustration with your machine, why not eliminate the source of your frustration before you begin -- buy a machine (with a good warranty) from a reputable dealer who can fix any problems before they become major frustrations.  Another idea for reducing frustration, have the sewing machine cleaned and adjusted by a qualified repair person every so often (I have mine done at least once a year) -- think of it as basic maintenance -- just like changing the oil and air filter in a car.

    My first machine gave up the ghost about 25 years ago.  Same problem as yours -- bobbin tension.  (Was yours a Singer, too?).  Had it fixed 3 times, but it wouldn't stay fixed for more than one or two projects.  When I went shopping for a new machine, I also went shopping for a good dealer/repair person -- the machine I bought from them is still going strong. 

    Personally, I would stay away from the lower priced computerized machines -- especially if you are not looking to do computerized embroidery.  If you are looking for a reliable, sturdy machine to do basic sewing, you really don't need the computer parts, and in that sense, they are probably just more things that could go wrong -- more parts to break down.  This is pure speculation on my part, but the way technology is progressing, these machines could be outdated before long.  While that may not make a difference now, it could mean that repair parts might not be available for long.  Just look at how fast computers become 'outdated' -- and a 'low end' computers becomes obsolete even faster.  Personally, I prefer the European sewing machines.  I think they have a better stitch quality.  If Sears offers local serviced on the machines they sell, then I would definitely check them out -- take some of your own fabrics and have a test sew on their machines.  I don't particularly like Singer machines -- their reputation took a big hit about 30 years ago, and I honestly haven't even looked at them since.  Come to think of it, the Singer that gave me such problems 25 years ago was a horizontal bobbin, so I don't think I could say that horizontals are any better/worse than verticals. 

    My advice would be to gather up some fabric and thread (of the type that you plan to sew on/with) and take them out for a test sew at a dealership.  Try them out on the machines in your price range.  When you find one that 'feels' right, ask about service and warranty, find out what kind of reputation that machine has -- what kind of 'repair record' does that model have.  A good dealership should be glad to answer your questions.  If you still have doubts, check with the BBB about the dealership, and also go to the library and see if Consumer Reports has anything to say about the machines you like.  Another good trick -- hang out at a local fabric store and talk to the customers -- find out what other people are using, and how they like it.  They can also be a great source of information about local dealerships.

    Above all, don't give up!  If you have a new machine with a good (written) warranty and available local service, you have all the bases covered.  If the machine doesn't do what it is supposed to do, or starts doing things it isn't supposed to do, help will be close at hand. 

    1. marijke | | #3

      What you say sounds very reasonable.

      I have also found that it helps to clean the machine between projects. I use "canned air" (shop around, some fabric shops charge more than computer stores for this).

      One problem I've had recently (with my old Singer) is that some of the bobbins are defective. You don't find this out until you try to do buttonholes... (they work fine on regular stitching). Do others have this problem? Is it particular to Singer or do other brands have this, too?

      I have been looking at a Husqvarna machine (I'd love the D1 but that's a bit more than my budget allows). I have found a great shop/dealer, except they're a 1 1/2 hour drive (the joys of living in a small town...)

    2. ander807 | | #4

      I am interested in doing some embroidery--but really only initials.  I don't want to do any "fancy" stuff.  I mainly sew fashion and a few home decoration items.  I don't want to spend thousands on an embroidery machine when I only want to do initials.  Is there a machine out there that fits this bill?

      Thanks for all the help, Gatherings contributors.  Over the years, I have logged in and gotten loads of tips!


      1. joress | | #5

        The Janome 4800QC has two alphabets: block and script, upper- and lowercase letters for both. There's a small amount of size adjustment. It also has loads of decorative stitches and is a superb machine. That might fit your need. If you want lots of size adjustments for initials--and lots of styles--you might want to learn free motion embroidery--great fun--or get an embroidery only machine. Happy hunting!

        1. ander807 | | #6


          I shall investigate it immediately!  (I'm a little anxious to get started!)


  3. Stitches | | #7

    Hi, I also am looking to purchase a new machine.  I haven't sewn for about 20 years---lack of time!! Now that my kids are grown, I want to sew for my grand babies, and repairs, mend etc.  I did some research and found that Janome is a good machine and affordable. Now I am tossed as to whether to get the 6125 which is mechanical or the 6260 which is computerized or mc3500.  The computerized machines are easy to use, however I also was worrying about the repairs in the future. I do not do any quilting----but would like to have a machine with various possibilities, and a work horse as well.  I looked at the ones in walmart and was not impressed.  I've been looking on the web since I don't have a janome dealer close to me (2 1/2 hrs away).  If you decide or get any info please share it with me.  I'd appreciate it.  Thanks


This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All


Shop the Store

View All
View More