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Need advice on buying a new machine

bethcohen | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I’m thinking of buying a new sewing machine to replace a 20 year old Kenmore.   The ones I’m considering are Elna 6001, Bernina 125, Pfaff Select 1530 and Viking 425.  Does anyone have any comments or experience with any of these? Suggestions of other comparable ones?  I’d like to stay under $900.





  1. teebie | | #1

    I don't have any experience with any of these machines.  I am also looking to replace a 28 year old singer.  I was wanting an embroidery machine and had thought about the Baby Lock Ellure' it is on sale through May for $999 and is suppose to retail after that for around $3500.  If that is truly the case then this is a real deal.  It is a new machine from what I understand and therefore I don't know of anyone that has used one.  I was looking to stay under $1000.  What are the different features of the machines you are looking at.


    1. bethcohen | | #2

      None of these are embroidery machines.  The Viking Freesia 425, Elna 6001 and Bernina 125 are computerized.  I don't think the Pfaff 1530 is.  I don't know that I need a computerized one.  An Elna sales person said they may need to be repaired more quickly (she was very positive about the computerized and the mechanical - but preferred the computerized).  It does seem more convenient since it automatically adjusts the to the best width and stitch length (these can be altered by the touch of a button).  They computerized ones have 20 - 60 stitches.  They all seemed to work well.  Elna has 1 step button holes and Bernina has 4 step. Bernina had an adjustable bobbin tension but the others didn't.   I read somewhere that 1 step buttons may not come out as nicely on some machines. 

      They all stitched through at least 4 layers of denim.  Pfaff machines have a special feature so fabric is fed from the top and bottom for even sewing.  I sew mainly crafts, pillow covers and curtains and don't know that I would really notice the difference.  Any of these are so much fancier than the one I have that I'd probably be happy with them all.  I want to make sure I get one with a good warranty and reputation.  Viking and Bernina have a 5 year warranty on the commputer card.  Elna's is only 2 years. 

      1. teebie | | #3

        I went yesterday to look at some machines.  I looked at a Janome 3500 it is a computerized machine and has lots of stitches.  I am not sure of the number, It also has two built in alphabets for labeling and monogramming.  I do mostly sewing for my daughter who is not quite a year old and so the decorative stitches and heirloom stitches are a plus for me.  I also looked at a Pfaff machine, just briefly, I think they have some good features, but are overpriced for what I need and can afford to pay.  The other machine I am considering is a Brother CS8072 this machine can be purchased at Wal Mart.  It is a computerized machine and seems to have several of the features of the more expensive machines.  The needle up down feature, several decorative stitches and automatic buttonholes.  The thing about this machine that has me interested is the price is just $288 and I was considering it for a temporary machine until I can save more money, and or decide exactly what I want before I spend that much for something I may decide I don't like in the end. 

        I am also like you any of these machines would be better than the one I have now, So let me know what you decide

        About the embroidery I was considering a separate machine because the embroidery takes some time to do and that way I could be sewing and embroidering at the same time and also I think I would come out better on the price in the long run.


  2. user-222038 | | #4

    I have the Viking 425 and love it.  I think it's the low end of the Viking computerized models.  However, if you plan to get into machine embroidery, this one doesn't have much.  It's made sewing lots easier and more fun for me.

    1. bethcohen | | #5


      I looked at the Viking 425 yesterday and really liked it.  How long have you had it?  Any problems?  Does it require any special maintenance.  It's on sale for $799.00 but that's pretty close to the price I saw it at in another state and they said it was their regular price. 


      1. user-222038 | | #6

        I've had the Viking 425 for just over a year now.  I've had no problems with it.  It seems pretty tough, too--I broke two needles (my fault) and the timing wasn't affected at all.  As far as maintenance goes, all I've ever done is brush out the fiber particles.  They even tell you NOT to oil it, so it's fairly maintenance-free.  Viking also has a zillion attachments you can buy, so you can do everything from rolled hems to ruffling.

        The price sounds heavenly--I paid over $900 for mine.

        Good luck in your search!


  3. Hansi | | #7

    Hi Frog,

    I test drove the Elna 6100 2 months ago.  I thought it was nice and have been dreaming of it ever since.  At the time the shop was having a sale and compined with trade-in they were willing to sell it to me for $899 + tax.  So your $900 thing sounds reasonable for that machine i.e. the shop can let you have it for that price and still make a little money.

    I sew on a 40 year old Singer and it was driving me crazy today, which is what sent back to this board.   Let us know what you end up buying.


    1. bethcohen | | #8

      Hi Jay,

      After doing lots of research I ended up buying a fancier machine than I expected.  I bought a two year old Bernina 150 for $899.00.  I never considered buying a used one but this one belonged to the shops granddaughter and grandma wanted to give her an upgrade.  So far I haven't had a lot of time to play with it but when I did use it it was great.  There are a lot of features to learn about.  Frog

      1. Hansi | | #9

        That's interesting.  It's great to get something nice for a better price than new.  I'll have to think about the used possibility as I shop.

        Buying a sewing machine certainly is a complicated decision.  I'm going to try to make some phone calls today.  I wish I knew exactly what I wanted so then it would just be an apples to apples find the best price kind of decision.

        Happy sewing, Frog!  Enjoy your new machine!


      2. user-222038 | | #13


        Sounds like you got a great deal!  Have fun!

  4. RachelMarie | | #10


    I have a Bernina 130 which is very comparable to the Bernina 125.  I've been sewing on it for about 5 years.  It has been a good machine.  I mostly sew quilts, but I've sewn just about every type of fabric.  I have no complaints.

    Quite frankly all of the machines that you are looking at are good machines.  You should think about the dealers in your area.  The Bernina dealer in my area drives me crazy.  Sometimes I wish I'd bought a Viking, only because the dealer has a better reputation.


    1. JeanEsther | | #11

      The dealers are the opposite in my area. The Viking dealer is awful, but the Bernina dealer is great. I bought a Viking serger a couple years ago, and went to the same place fully intending to buy from them, but they acted like used car salesmen. They kept trying to get me to spend $6000 on a Designer when I said my budget was $900. They did a bait-and-switch, too, telling me over the phone they had a particular Elna model I was interested in, but when I came in they didn't have any Elnas and they showed me something else they claimed was just like it. Then the salesman actually yelled to someone else in the store that because I was looking at brands other than Viking I wasn't interested in quality! I saw them threaten to call the police on a customer who was trying to return a machine. A friend of mine just bought a Designer there, and then discovered they had put a used machine in the box and sold it to her as new.  They hardly know a thing about sewing, too.

      On the other hand. the Bernina guy has a family-owned shop that I think his parents first owned. He knows sewing, and he knows his machines. He does push Bernina over every other brand (including those he sells), but he'll also tell you if an accessory isn't worth the money.

      1. user-222038 | | #12

        Yikes!  That's a scary story!  Fortunately my dealer is a "good" one--honest and knowledgeable. 

        Did you report this to Viking?  I don't think they want dealers who behave that way!

        1. JeanEsther | | #14

          My friend is planning to report it.

  5. ane | | #15

    I have a viking 550 and brother pc6000. IMHO, the brother pc6000 is a dandy machine. I think it probably fits in your price limit. It will do everything a basic sewer wants - comes with a walking foot for quilting, has some decorative stitches (sorry, I never use them so don't know much about them), works like a charm, easy to thread and easy bobbin, jim dandy automatic buttonholes, and an excellent manual. I'd like to tell you all the great features of the viking, but it's a poor comparison to the brother (although the viking was way more expensive).

    1. bethcohen | | #16

      Thanks for the info.  I ended up buying a 2 year old used Bernina 150 for $899.00.  It works well and they can switch out some of the stitches for decorative ones that I can choose from a list of about 50 stitches.  That seems like a pretty neat feature.  Frog.

      1. JulieP25 | | #17

        Hi! Congrat's on your Bernina 150. I have the 160. You can change out the 18 stitches if you have the CPS ( customized pattern selection program) installed on your home computer. Yes, it's worth having. I get over 170 stitches with it. You will have to hook up your machine to the serial port  and turn it on.  It will print out a sellection that you've choosen. It's not hard to do just takes time. I bought new and the program came with the machine. If you did not get that with this machine you will be able to buy the program from a Bernina dealer. I think it costs aroung $100.00 but check and see might be less. Enjoy your purchase. I found it to be a great machine which has not dissapointed me. Jules

        1. bethcohen | | #18

          Thanks for the info.  My machine is in the shop right now.  The technician is going to put the new stitches on today.  I don't have the software to do it myself.  The first class was fun.   Frog.

          1. JulieP25 | | #19

            Glad to hear you are getting some classes. If you have a home computer, do plan to buy the CPS software eventually. I'm really glad I have it. Ask the shop tech to show you how to change the stitches over. I also made a stitch sample with the stitch number on a piece of fabric.stapled to paper. I then made a booklet for myself which shows me the stitches with their number as well as a single pattern. I found that this helps in turning corners. For the samples I used the default settings and used the alphabet features of the machine to write the info down. It took a long time to finish all of the stitches but now I have a better reference than just a picture. If you do this each time you change out the stitches, you will end up with a great source too. The piece of fabric was white broadcloth with medium iron-on stabilizer on the back cut to 3x4 inches. I also did a sample of the alphabets and numbers. Enjoy this great machine. Jules

          2. ~~bones | | #20


            i've been reading all of your comments on sergers and I'm wondering if anyone can give me advise on a start up serger.

            I'm a new fashion designer who needs a basic machine that has nice rolled hems and one that stong enough to handle all fabrics. Although I'd love to have a top of the line serger that could do coverstitches and all that, I'm limited by my budget. I'm looking at machines between $200-$500. Can anyone recommend a brand or a machine that they think would be good?

          3. JulieP25 | | #21

            Hi! Threads is going to have serger info in the next issue. I also am looking for a new serger. If you buy a used one don't buy a Singer model. I have one and find it hard and frustrating. Needs adjustment for everything, constantly testing fabrics out to adjust stitching. Rolled hem is hard to set. Hopefully someone else here can give you advice on a better machine. Jules

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