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Recomend Machine for Newbie on Budget?

pamici | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hello,

I want to join the 21st century but I’m not sure where to start!

I’ve been sewing regularly for a month or so and have completed about a dozen projects on my *very* basic 10-year old machine (only straight and zig zag stitches). I’d like to upgrade but am bewildered by all the options out there.

I might embroider someday, but right now I’m more interested in sewing garments for my two young daughters and myself, while learning and improving my skills.

Can anyone suggest their preferred line and/or ones to steer clear of? Even which functions are most useful (i.e. button-hole, overlock, etc.)?

I’m on the bottom rung here …

Replies

  1. Elisabeth | | #1

    My personal favorite is Viking. I have two, one 20 year old computerized and one even older mechanical. They both sew very well. Viking is a good proven brand (I'm not affiliated in any way). You could possibly enter sewing heaven with today's lowest level computerized Viking. They also have mechanicals for less but I'll bet the helful ease of the computer bit will charm you. That's just my opinion though.

    I suggest you test drive machines of the top brands in a serious way. Take plenty of samples of fabrics that you normally sew on with you to use and discuss thread with the salesperson too or bring your own favorite thread. A good salesperson will be helpful and have enough models for you to test drive to your heart's content without pressuring you. The actual brand you end up with is often a matter of "feel", it needs to feel right, feel like your machine. Other top brands are Pfaff and Bernina.

    You can do an awful lot with a straight stitch and zigzag and it sounds like you already are doing a lot! Nice features to look for in an upgrade might be a good buttonhole, a useful stretch type stitch, and something like a three step zigzag or something that loops over an edge a little bit for finishing seams. Most important is stitch quality. Does the machine sew nicely and neatly without having a tizzy every other seam? If your 10 year old one sews politely consider keeping it instead of trading it in if you do decide to get a new one. It is really nice to have a second machine around.

    Have fun test driving!

  2. suesew | | #2

    I want to second everything Elizabeth said. I would also suggest you buy from a dealer rather than off the shelf at Walmart. A dealer will teach you how to use it and stand behind it if anything should go wrong. (I am not a dealer) I also really like the computerized machines -even the low end ones are a big step up from the mechanicals. Happy hunting.

    1. mimi | | #3

      I agree, do not buy a machine from WalMart.  If it is not what you expected when you ordered it you have to send it back to WalMart.  They will not accept a return at the local store.  What a waste of time and money!

      mimi

  3. SewNancy | | #4

    I can't say enough about having a good dealer. If you are a new sewer they will be there for you if you have problems and they always offer a course to get you started.I too have been sewing on Vikings for more than 20 years. Buy a computerized machine if you can afford it, even the bottom of the line computer. I have some embroidery stitches on my Platinum 750 and never use them. I was more interested in being able to have diffferent buttonhole styles and the ability to repeat them exactly. I bought my first Viking 22 years ago because I had been taking a class where I used them and it was like night and day from my Kenmore. I bought a second one when the Platinum series came out. I also have a Viking serger which I like.
    Happy hunting.
    Nancy

  4. JustLaugh | | #5

    The first Machine I bought was a Riccar. For a basic machine this is the one I reccomend. This machine has all metal parts and will run forever with very little maitenance. There are several models so you can choose how many stitches you need.  And they are very reasonable priced. Do a search on google for riccar and you come up with the web site to find a local dealer.  Good Luck!!!!

     

    1. karenb | | #6

      Consumer Reports rates "Brother" sewing machines the highest.  I don't know if that is true, but I usually read that publication before I buy anything expensive.

      If you decided on a computerized "Brother" machine, I noticed there are some listed at "overstock.com" for pretty good prices. They are factory-reconditioned, though. You may want to read about that first. Also, as several people have pointed out, there are real advantages to using a dealer. Still, if money is an issue, the overstock site might give you another option.

      I don't have any affiliation with overstock.com, "Brother" sewing machines, or Consumer Reports. Nor am I advocating that particular machine. Just telling you what I read.

      -Karen

      1. User avater
        Thimblefingers | | #7

        I have had the privilege of using (and owning) many different brands of machines.  Viking is excellent, but high priced for even lower end machines.  Only buy the real Vikings not the "made for" Vikings ( or any "made for" of any brand).  I also recommend Brother.  But stick with the "Pacesetter" models.  They have so many models it can be confusing and some of them are just plain "el torro cheapos" (but then every brand has their lower end which I would never recommend).  Brother Pacesetters are excellent and much lower priced compared to other brands with similar features (and they have a great easy to use buttonhole).  Definitely purchase from a dealer - the extra money is more than worth the support.  But don't let them talk you into a higher priced machine with more features than you can afford.  Those fancy machines are wonderful but you really don't need all those things for most sewing.  Straight stitch, zig-zag, elastic zig zag, blind hem, and stretch blind hem with a good buttonhole and zipper foot are the absolute necessities.  Bring pieces of different kinds of fabric with you to try the machines and take the time to do it.  Try them a couple times if you need to.  If the dealer tries to rush you, try another dealer.      

        1. KarenW | | #8

          I have to agree with Nancy buy from a dealer if there's a good one in your area... you may pay more than going to a chain store or buying on the net, but especially for a new sewer it's SO helpful to have them there when you have a problem -- often times to a new sewer a "problem" with a machine can be operator error or just lack of experience in troubleshooting and figuring out what went wrong - if there's no one at the store where you buy to help you with this or you just have to return it and get another the challenge may never get figured out!  Worse, if you send it off for service and it turns out to be a simple problem (i.e. misthreading, bobbin in wrong, etc.) you're out the cost of shipping.Don't discount used machines, many dealers take machines in on trade that are in excellent condition with a lifetime of use still left on them - you can take advantage of the used price yet still get a warranty and classes (at least at the dealer where I work). 

          I like Consumer Reports too but don't rely on it quite as heavily as I used to.  When I saw their review on sewing machines, finally a product I knew a lot about, I thought there were so many models (I know they can't include them all!) or categories in certain brands left out of the review that they were giving incomplete information at best.  It also really irritated me that to go to the URL to "read more" as directed, I found I had to pay to subscribe to the website to read more in depth articles... I already pay for the magazine.  Perhaps the more brief review is a marketing strategy for getting people to pay to subscribe to the info on the site. 

          Good luck whatever you decide!Karen

          1. karenb | | #9

            Karen

            Good point about the "Consumer Reports" review of sewing machines. I subscribe to the website and not the magazine, and I can tell you that you didn't miss much by getting to move further into the article. Like you, I also noticed that they tested a very limited group of machines.

            It did help me, though, as I didn't realize that "Brother" might be a good option for me.  I was very surprised that they tested higher than "Singer", at least among that particular group of testers. Of course, I already know that the upper-end machines are great; I just can't afford them.

            I finally decided on a computerized "Brother". For a beginning sewer like myself, it has been a good choice. I like the fact that the machine threads the needle.  The "slow" speed is wonderfully, reassuringly, slow. Thank goodness.

            Everyone here makes an excellent point about buying from a dealer. I bought on-line, and still can't figure out how the bobbin-winder works. I've been winding them by hand, and I haven't exactly made up my mind whether the $150.00 I saved will be worth it in the long run. I have a feeling that my answer today is likely very different from what it will be after my thousanth hand-winding. Wretched bobbins!

            -Karen B.

          2. pamici | | #10

            Many thanks to Everyone!! You have given me lots to think about and I'm already planning my "research missions." What fun!I can hardly wait to have a decent stretch stitch. I just finished another outfit that included a knit top and it took some pretty elaborate contortions to get the hems to come out smoothly.Funny story ... the first time I made the shirt I used rib knit. Ha! I didn't know it was mainly for collars and cuffs. Boy was that thing "sproingy."I'm not sure how posting works so I'm going to start a new thread with my next question ... Janome machines.Thanks again!
            Pamela

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