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Moving to England!

patience | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hello all,

I am new here and I have a dillema. I am moving to England with my husband, we’re Navy. And I would like to buy a machine NOW (can’t wait til March) and I would like to start an e-biz making patchwork clothing (hippie style to be exact) and also, I would like to be able to do a little embroidery as well. What if any, machine could I buy that would be under $900? I want quality and durability and excellent customer support even in England. Thank you so much for your help!



  1. GhillieC | | #1

    Remember that in England (and the rest of Europe) we use 240v. electricity instead of 120v. You will need a machine that will convert to use either (maybe some Husqvarnas?). While using an external transformer is a possibility, many people have posted to say this does not work well and may wreck your machine.

    To be honest I think you need two machines, a US and a European one. There are some very cheap machines on the market here, but $900 does not sound enough for a durable machine that is going to do some embroidery. You could consider buying second hand.

    Customer support will depend on exactly where you settle. Most areas have decent sewing machine repair services, and will support all the major brands, but classes and the like are not very common.

    Do you have a market for the clothes you intend to make?



    Edited 2/2/2004 5:21:15 AM ET by Ghillie

    1. patience | | #2

      Oh man Ghillie,

      You are so right...I couldn't bear to buy a nice machine and have it be ravaged by the volt difference...I do have a market for my clothing, thanks for asking. You gave me something to chew on...I'll be back with what I decide to do...


      1. GhillieC | | #3

        Have you considered an 'industrial' machine? They are usually mounted on their own tables and are pretty basic, solid, and extremely fast. A second hand Brother or Bernina looks good value to me. You would have to look into the embroidery side separately.



        1. patience | | #4

          Thanks for your speedy reply. Just got off the phone with the local dealer. She said she has the Pfaff 2024 that DOES convert to the European voltage...for $899, and she has a Viking Iris for $899 (just had to mention that to see if you think this is reasonable pricing) and she also said she has a 4 thread serger from Janome ( a floor model) that she would sell me for $299 if I bought either the Pfaff or the Viking with it. What do you think!?!?

          A dealer across town wanted to sell me a Bernina 125 for $799...are these good prices? I am so frustrated with not knowing what a "good" deal is on these machines...


          Edited 2/2/2004 11:15:51 AM ET by Patience

          1. carolfresia | | #5

            Patience, I can't advise you on whether any of the machines you mentioned will suit your needs (although an industrial or semi-industrial would probably be excellent for making patchwork), but I just wanted to point out that the Bernina 125 is a slightly smaller machine than their top-of-the-line machines.  You should take a good look at it to see it the smaller size--which of course makes it very nicely portable--will be an advantage or a liability. Good luck with your move and your new enterprise--it sounds like lots of fun!


          2. patience | | #6

            Hey there Carol,

            Yes, you're right, it is smaller. I won't get the Bernina...it's either the Pfaff, or the Viking.

            Hey listen to this: A dealer one state over from me said he's got a lady coming FROM England who wants to convert her machine to US voltage...he said he could take the board out of her machine and (when I buy mine) take the board out of mine, give me a new warranty, and we would just swap! He has a Bernina 980...what do you think about that? I dunno, my first impression is...I shouldn't do it. He said all this would be under $1000 ( i told him that's my budget)


          3. carolfresia | | #7

            You know, that could be a wonderful opportunity...or something very strange. I personally would be a bit nervous about it, because what good is a warranty from him going to do you if you're living in England? But it depends entirely on the people involved, etc. Some manufacturers won't honor their warranty if you so much as unscrew the housing of the machine, let alone go in and stitch out crucial parts. You'd probably want to do some careful research before agreeing to this.


          4. stitchmd | | #8

            I really think you need to get a machine in England, for the reasons stated. Maybe you can find someone rotating back to the US who will sell you their used machine, or a dealer of used machines there.

          5. patience | | #9

            I can't possibly wait. That is why my screen name is Patience...I am constantly searching for it, because I have none. The Pfaffs are dual voltage and I think that is my only choice in a machine right now...does anyone here own/love a Pfaff?

          6. SewTruTerry | | #10

            I understand your rush to get going on the machine because you want to be ready to get up and going as soon as you unpack. Or perhaps instead of.  Something that noone esle has mentioned here is durability.  After all you are going to be doing some major sewing on this machine.  Some manufactures will not honor warranties on machines that they deem "abused" in other words if you are actually going to be using them for 8 hours a day 6-7 days a week some of them will not hold up.  Also that lower end Viking although it may fit your budget you may want to look into the Designer 2 which you can purchase the embroidery unit seperately. But by the time you get it all you could have bought the Designer 1 for the same price.  I have both the the Viking Rose and the Designer 1 and have been running my sewing business for over 5 years now and the only reason my Rose has been in the shop is the presser foot sensor went out on me, and on the Designer 1 it got too much gunk in the bobbin sensor so the bobbin would run out without warning.  There is a major market in England of Viking dealers and whether you buy it here or there you can always transfer your dealership warranties and Viking warranties along with you.

            Good Luck I know there is a lot to think about.

          7. patience | | #11

            Phew! You got that right...my head really hurts now...


          8. GhillieC | | #12

            There is a Pfaff 'fan club' over here. Does the model you looked at have the differential feed? this is a unique Pfaff feature which is much neater than using a walking foot.

            Pfaff is now owned by Husqvarna (which you call Viking). There seemed to be trouble with spares a while back, but perhaps that has been cleared up now.

            I would definitely go for a machine that is designed to handle dual voltage rather than start swopping boards about. Who knows where that might lead? what if you need a spare part, such as a pedal? I think the English lady in the US would have been better advised to trade her machine over here and buy a new one in the US.

            Warranties would be a problem. Warranties are with the SHOP, not with the parent company. I had a bit of trouble with this with my Bernina which for financial reasons was bought in Ireland. However since it became clear that the problem was totally my fault I paid up gracefully.

            I suggest you get your machine as soon as possible and give it a good testing before it comes to the UK. Then assume that it is out of warranty.



            Edited 2/3/2004 7:04:10 AM ET by Ghillie

          9. patience | | #13

            Well ladies,

            It turns out the dealer who wanted to do all the switcheroo stuff is a shady character. I mean, I called asking about a Bernina and by the time I hung up the phone he had tried to convince me to get a Babylock. I mean, his tactics...too suspect for me. I just want someone nice, who is not out for blood to be real with me and sell me a good machine.

            Well, I called the Bernina dealer that wants to sell me a 1008 for $699 and she is calling Bernina to see if they have any dual voltage machines...

            Y'all, I found a Bernina 830 on Ebay that was selling for $600 and I would have bought it if I didn't have these dual voltage issues...*sigh*

            I just may have to go with the Pfaff...does anyone have any opinions on the Pfaff Life Styles machine?


          10. Bernie1 | | #14

            I tried one and really liked it but it seemed to have little advantage over the next step up which has more stitches. I believe you should take the advice of those who say wait until you get to England and buy your machine there.

          11. delphblu | | #15

            I recently purchased a used Pfaff 7570, it's a few years old but has the reputation of a work horse.  A used machine purchased in the UK and sold in the UK before you return to the US might be an option.  I was lucky when I walked into the sewing machine dealer as I'd researched used Pfaffs, knew what I wanted and he'd recently had a customer upgrade and trade in her machine which she'd bought from him a few years ago.  I thought I'd fallen in a horsey pile and come up smelling of roses... because the dealer originally sold the machine, knew the owner and had performed all the service on this machine I felt safe with my purchase.  I don't know but in my mind it would solve issues like voltage compatibility, damage in transport possibilities-electronic machines can only take so much abuse. 

            One more perspective, Alice

          12. GhillieC | | #16

            Our local dealer, (in the UK) has a waiting list of people wanting second hand Pfaff 7570s. They are 'classic' machines and the two ladies I know who have them love them to bits.

            I have a Bernina 1001 - the forerunner of the 1008, they look identical but I understand that the 1001 has more metal and less plastic in it. It has been an excellent 'no frills' workhorse and I still use it as well as my Bernina Artista 170. I have no idea whether dual voltage Berninas exist. I don't think either of mine are.

            It is easy enough for me to get my Berninas serviced, but classes etc. are virtually non-existent and not all the sales people are clued up about them.



          13. patience | | #17

            Thanks sew much ladies!

            I have decided to wait. I was looking at Ebay.co.uk and the prices for new Berninas are cheaper! (I hope I am not repeating myself) but i don't want to buy off of Ebay...I am so sad, I guess I will just teach myself how to knit while I wait to purchase my machine...


          14. Desiderata | | #18

            Hi, I hope this is not too late to reply.

            Someone on another forum living in the US said she bought a Bernina 170 from a dealer in the UK and imported it into the USA. She said it was way cheaper than purchasing it in the USA and that it had dual voltage.

            We have 220V here and I have lived in countries with 110 and 120V always with my machines and always using transformers/convertors, no problem. Up until recently I was using a transformer with 3 Pfaff computerised machines. All machines are originally 220Vs.

            I do not think you would have a problem using a Bernina 830, which is purely mechanical, with a convertor. This machine is a workhorse and with good maintainence should last you a lifetime.

  2. oldsewandsew | | #19
    Please don't forget that the electricity in England is DC, not AC. You would be well advised to wait till you are there to purchase a machine to use there. The transformers that change the current are not always that efficient.
    1. GhillieC | | #20

      Sorry, but you are totally wrong about the domestic electrity supply!

      All mains electricity here in the UK, and the rest of Western Europe is 240 volts AC. It is much more efficient to distribute AC current than DC and 240 volts is also more efficient than 110 volts in the home, but also more dangerous. You have to be much more careful how you use electricity in Europe than in the States or someone might get killed.

      However the better sewing machines have DC motors and internal transformers. DC motors are more expensive but far more controllable than AC motors. I have two Berninas, a 1001 electromechanical with an AC motor which I can control to within a stitch or two, and an Artista 170, with a DC motor and internal transformer, which I can easily control to a half stitch.

      I don't know about separate transformers. Several people have posted to say that they harm sewing machines, though this is possibly for reasons other than the voltage such as the frequency. However I have a 110 volt stereo system (originally bought in Japan) in my sewing room which has run happily off a transformer for some years. I guess you just have to be careful to get the correct transformer.



      Edited 2/17/2004 5:58:58 AM ET by Ghillie

      Edited 2/18/2004 4:14:15 AM ET by Ghillie

      1. User avater
        sewcraftyuk | | #21

        I was told when I came to England -17 years ago- that using a transformer will burn out the motor. The motors aren't made to take the 240 volt, even if it goes through a transformer. It would be better to get it sorted by a Pfaff dealer here, than to muck about with it there. After all, the older ones (at least over here), were made in Germany, and Europe has the same 240 set up as wel do.

        I think I am one of the Pfaff lovers Ghillie was talking about. I went on a waiting list to get a 7570. It is great. I do all sorts with it, including, costuming, free machine embroidery, dressmaking, puppets, sewing on paper and card, etc. I use it pretty nearly every day, and most times for several hours a day. I have been having so much fun with it as it is, that I haven't got around to learning the embroidery unit bit yet!

        I just found out about this board recently, so this is my first post. Don't know if there is any particular rules to follow...if you have any other questions about moving here from America, just ask. I don't know if you said where you were going to be?

        Sandy in the UK

        Edited 2/17/2004 2:43:07 PM ET by SandyS

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