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My wife needs a new machine

Sphere | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hey y’all, first visit here from my “home” at BT and Knots..yeah, it’s me Duane.

I fixed an old Singer for the DW ( dear wife) about 5 yrs ago..she reported to me today it is TU..( uhh, I mean dead)..sorry.

She does custom wall art..hangings and such..( never sews Carhartts so far)..so she needs some kinda gizmo that doesn’t have to perform all the “fancy” stuff, like sewing my carhartts or the holes that buttons actually go into without a few straggler threads that get confused, and swallow the button ( like my carhartts do)..

I want to allocate..( sure ya do, yeah right) about 250.00 for a basic, sewing machine..I have repaired many Singers and Kenmores…I can handle it..but I want to get her a new one, not a new problem..

Ought I peruse a used? or just go to Sears and get a Kenmore?

BTW, she does have a say in this, and is looking at a Janome L-344…but to me, it reeks of cheap, begginer type stuff.

Any help is welcome.

Like I said, maybe y’all can recommend a solid machine without me having to keep fixing it?

Thank you , Duane

  Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks

Money don’t talk, It Curses

(the other Bob)


  1. sarahkayla | | #1

    Unlike used cars, used older machines are often your best deal for the money. new lower end machines are often made with more plastic parts and are not as sturdy.

    I my experience, low end machines are often poorly engineered making working with them to be a less than pleasant experience. Often sewers will think that they are having troubles because they are bad at what they  are doing...when in fact they are working with a poor piece of equipment. I recently had to rescue a neighbor who had purchased a singer from walmart. what a horrible nasty machine. everything about it was unpleasant to use.

    what you need to find is an excellent reliable repair person. after you locate someone who is really good you can look at something like craigslist or your local pennysaver or yard sales for a machine. be aware that new singers are not such hot machines. An old singer or kenmore  or Pfaff or necci or bernina  or pfaff  or morse may be a really terrific piece of machinery that will give years and years of loyal untroubled service after a competant cleaning and tuneup.  Often perfectly wonderful machines have long careers sitting in closets and can be put to good use.

    Please be aware that all repair people are not alike. my local guy is quite terrible and has been known to deliberately break machines or to not repair macnines and then charge a premium price for doing nothing.I have to travel for a true sewing machoine doctor.

    talk to other people who sew...ask your local alterations store, people who sew professionally,  or people you know locally who they trust to repair their machines.


    in general a used machine is a good  value...you just  have to be a smart shopper.

    1. Sphere | | #2

      Wow, what an eye opener!  I thought the same thing. I thank you for reaffirming my gut instinct.

      Being a woodworker and roofer, I know a bad deal when it smells bad as far as tools go..and for her, it is a MAJOR tool.

      I will happily follow your thoughtful lead in this endeavour...glad I posted this here.

      Thanks again..if ya need any home help questions answered, I'll be happy to reciprocate.!

      1. sarahkayla | | #3

        glad to be of help.. a nice machine just feels lovely to use. Often machines just need a thorough oiling. a good machine has a lovely purr ( different brands have different sounding purrs...a student of mine had a 1940's pfaff that sounded exactly like my 1980's pfaff)

        a bad machine goes clunkety clunk..even after a good overhaul, cleaning and oiling. In my experiece kenmores have more shake to them than my purring pfaff. you can get used to the vibration..but i find it disconcerting.

        let us all know what you end up doing...you may need to find an older man to repair your machine..this is not being sexist or ageist..but you want experience and love of machinery



        1. Sphere | | #4

          All good points. I will report back with the final outcome..do you sew Carhartts? LOL..

          1. sarahkayla | | #5

            No --I don't sew carhartts'...but I used to wear them. I make Jewish ritual art in fabric

          2. Sphere | | #6

            How did I know that?


            My wife's work is shown all over KY, and she is getting more and more attn. Maybe y'all need to hook up..if she had a link to NYC, and you could facilitate that, you both could enjoy the benefits?

            If you want pics of recent work just say so, and I will direct her to this thread, she is not real crazy about the 'puter type stuff, I do the photos and 'puter things for her.

          3. Sphere | | #7

            Hi Sarah~

                Duane shared his correspondence with you and suggested we connect.  I would love to chat with you.  My e-mail is   

            [email protected]     

            If you have time, drop me a line.   Thanks   Rosie

          4. SueL | | #8

            Finding a good repair man is so important. Finally found one to repair my old Viking. He made me promise to leave it to him in my will--says they just don't make them like that anymore. He also advises to stay away from Singers.

          5. Sphere | | #9

            She scored a Jenomi, seems all set and happy so far.

          6. joress | | #10

            Janome machines are terrific. Congratulations!

  2. GoldenWreckedAngle | | #11

    LOL- Fancy meeting you here Duane! Shhhhh... you didn't see me, and I didn't see you alright?

    Hi folks, I'm another Breaktimer on a forum sabbatical of sorts. I had to do something to get the posting addiction under control. This is my first trip back into the Taunton forums in a while but it's for a good cause.

    It's my wife's birthday tomorrow and she is getting a sewing machine shopping spree as the main attraction. (Actually, the hand painted apron from my 4 year old son that says, "My Mom cooks, as good as she looks" is probably going to be the real main attraction but I'm hoping to come in a close second)

    Anyway, she used to sew quite a bit several years ago but hasn't been at a machine in a while. According to a local dealer, both of her machines ( a low end Singer and another off brand I can't remember) are in need of more repair than they are worth.

    The one local dealer that we took them to for repairs pushed a trade-in for a Janome with fewer stitches than the Singer for about $180 "after trade-in."

    My questions: 

    1) Are trade-ins on low end machines in this business legitimate or is it more like a discount shell game where we end up with a standard discount we could have negotiated without the trade?

    2) I'm giving her a subscription to Threads and pointing her to this forum. Are there other resources I should get her plugged into as she revives this long lost hobby of hers?

    1. Sphere | | #12

      Ah HA!  Kevin, you sneak you!  Fear not, my lips are "zipped" LOL..How aya been?

      1. GoldenWreckedAngle | | #13

        Doing great! How about yourself? The last thread discussion I remember having with you it was of the surgical kind. Did everything end up back where it belonged and stay put after your impromptu attempt at amateur stair acrobatics?

        1. Sphere | | #14

          All healed and doing fine...been busy as can be with a 70sq copper roof..see the pics under "copper roof in progress" in the photo section when ya get back to BT.

          Not that I'd be trying to tempt you to relapse...LOL

          1. GoldenWreckedAngle | | #15

            LOL- maybe just a little peek wouldn't hurt... I do like those copper roofs.

          2. Sphere | | #16

            Scroll away, we went on a few tangents...it is spectacular. And a miracle we got it done. It got real HOT this summer.

          3. VeraK | | #17

            LADIES!!!  Do you SEE what's happening here???

          4. Sphere | | #18

            Sorry ma'am...I'll get back on the roof, and Kevin will go draw more pretty pictures of houses that are impossible for me to roof.

          5. VeraK | | #19

            Oh - it's ok.  You can stay. ;-)

    2. Elisabeth | | #21

      Yeah, reminds me of buying a car, that trade in thing. If the old machines are truly useless then it is a good way to get rid of them and not send them to a landfill. The dealer will probably use them for parts. If one of the old machines still works without being repaired first I would consider keeping it as a back up. Maybe the repair is something you could do yourself especially if you are going to trade/junk it otherwise.Fewer stitches isn't necessarily a bad thing. Unless one wants to get into embrodery of any type, all that is really needed is straigth and zigzag stich which will include a buttonhole, plus a nice stretch/edge-finish type stitch which most simple machines have these days. I have a number of "decorative" stitches that I have never used on my older Viking. Computerized is nice, not essential, but very nice. You get pleasant features like the needle stopping in the full up (or down) position when you take your foot off the pedal instead of somewhere halfway into the fabric. I suggest http://www.patternreview.com , especially for garment sewers. It is a great place to check out honest sewing machine reviews for starters.

      1. GoldenWreckedAngle | | #22

        Thank you Elisabeth - And to the rest of you, please excuse the tangent. Sphere and I have shared a lot of laughs and some tougher times as well over the last couple of years on Breaktime.

        Again, thanks for the feedback. I'm off to http://www.Patternreview.com to check out a few machines we looked at yesterday. We looked at the lower end Pfaff and Jenome machines, which I understand are some of the better quality machines on the market, then took a glance or two at some Kenmores that were supposedly made by Jenome. Are these really Jenome quality machines? My experience with construction tools leads me to shy away from the "built for" units. IMHO, there is something about having your reputation on the label that results in better quality.

        One of the difficulties with this purchase is that my wife is just getting back into sewing so it's hard to say what she is really going to end up doing with this machine. She doesn't have any fabric swatches to test or any solid techniques to try out on a variety of machines. The embroidery machines make her eyes sparkle with imaginative possibilities but 150 different stitches don't make a lot of sense to her. I'm also hard on clothes, so touch-ups are a given.

        Computers, graphics and imaginations are tools I use all the time in building design. I have to confess, those embroidery machines made my eyes sparkle with imaginative possibilities too...

        Speaking of computers, there is a Brother 6000B with a bunch of bonus gear thrown in that caught her eye in a local add today as well. I don't think I've read anything about Brothers good or bad. Is this a machine worth considering for a rookie that might or might not get serious about sewing? I gave her a $300 budget, plus whatever she can get for her other machines. The Brother 6000B is under $200.

        I understand there are some real advantages to buying from a quality local dealer, particularly for service, but we only have one local dealer and they took over two months to even get a quote to us for what it would take to fix her Singer 9410. I'm having a hard time justifying paying a premium for that level of service.


      2. GoldenWreckedAngle | | #23

        The other machine my wife has is an old Capital that her mother used for everything from doiley repair to upholstery work. The only problem with that machine, that I know of, is that we haven't been able to find the foot pedal since we moved. Can anyone suggest a source for an out of production foot pedal for an old Capital tank (er... I mean sewing machine)? Have mercy - That machine needs its own trailor for transportation. I think it would make an excellent back-up for whatever we buy. It's certainly proven itself over the years.

        1. DeniseM | | #24

          I have to stick in my 2-cents. A lot of folks on this thread seem to feel that an old machine is the only way to go. I had an old Viking with cams and it was a great machine, but No Way does it compare to my D1. The notion that a machine with plastic parts is somehow going to break down in a couple of years is ridiculous. Companies have been putting plastic parts into those machines for decades and they're still running. I know there are a lot of old-timers out there who think anything new is inferior but that's not so. As for the number of stitches on a machine, your wife will use them as she grows into the machine. She may expand her sewing with a good, easy to use machine. My D1 sews beautiful stitches, much more so than my old Viking, and handles any fabric I throw at it. So does my Bernina 165E and my Pfaff mechanical. A machine purchase is a personal taste. I hope she finds one that suits her.

          1. GoldenWreckedAngle | | #25

            Thank you Denise - She ended up with the Brother CS 6000B yesterday afternoon and all of my son's stuffed animals already have ornately stitched mini pillows to show for her learning curve. I get such a kick out of watching her playing with her new toy like a kid on Christmas morning. I've got a feeling I'd better start saving my pennies for the upgrade machine she is going to be wishing for in a couple of years.

  3. FrancesC | | #20

    This is more a general thought than any kind of a recommendation. However, my 2 machines are both old Elnas (1965-1970) and they are, of course, completely mechanical. Earlier this year, I had them tuned up by a very good repair man and they are running just fine, at the moment. However, before that happened I had been looking at new machines but more or less ignored the so-called beginner machines from the well known makers because I thought I would need something fancier. It finally dawned on me that the beginner machines do more things than one of my Elnas but I had been perfectly happy with it for years so why did I need something more expensive? So I think that anyone considering a new machine should consider the so-called beginner machines. BUT, stay with the good makes - Bernina, Pfaff, Janome, Elna, Husqvarna and the like. I would be downright dubious about some of the other makes but I'm not sure that I should name names here and now.


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