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Which Machine is for Me?

spregitzer | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Okay, Friends, I need serious help with this one.  I used to sew all the time, made all my own clothes, sewed for my kids, theatrics, horse shows etc.  My husband bought me a very nice moderately priced machine shortly after we were married- an Elna.  That was 27 years ago!!!!  I haven’t sewn for three or four years now, because my machine is fried.  Just totally worn out.

  Despite having 3 kids in college, he wants to buy me a new machine.  YEA!!!!  We are both professionals with very busy days, and have little to no time to ‘shop around’. We live an hour’s drive from any sewing machine shops, so that limits my ability to shop as well. I know that I will enjoy test-driving new machines much more if I have some idea of which ones I am serious about.  We can spend between $1,000 and $2,000.  Less would be great too.  This will probably be the only machine I buy for the rest of my life,  I want a really great one that I can do lots of things with and really have fun.

Any suggestions?


Edited 1/24/2004 9:12:16 AM ET by daisy

Replies

  1. Bernie1 | | #1

    I tried to post this earlier but it didn't go through. I would recommend you do an Internet search for the various brands and call the dealers listed on their sites for information on pricing (if they will share that), warranties, service and trade-up options. Each brand has its own followers and you certainly got enough out of your old Elna that you might look at another (though the cheaper models are no longer made in Switzerland). The machines I know are Viking and Pfaff. If you want to embroider, take a look at the #1-plus (used) and the Rose (new). The Platinum series has some very nice features but I think they may be more than you want to spend. You might also check out a good used machine in any of the major brands. Here's what I would recommend. Once you do your search, take a whole day and visit dealers with your own fabric swatches. See which machines you're most comfortable with and which dealers offer not only the best price but service.  Ask about trade-up options. Check out some of the Threads articles on machines for guidelines that might help you narrow the features you want but consider buying more than you might think you need as you'll quickly grow into the machine. Your last machine, huh? Unless you're 95 I don't believe it - that's what I said about my D1 and I have since bought a Pfaff 1540 and am eyeing a 2035.

    1. spregitzer | | #2

      Thanks Bernie, for your ideas.  I spent last weekend looking and was attracted to a Janome 9800. (?)  Of, course, I was pretty impressed by them all!  WOW!!!  I rarely see info on Janome brand in the articles.  Do you know anything about this brand?  The machine was about $2500. with unlimited private lessons and very good service. 

      Because it was so much, I am really thinking of just getting a regular machine for all my 'normal' sewing--there seems to be a wide selection of very nice models for 1000-1500$.  Then, in a few years I could get a machine to do the embroidery.  I really want one that is computer compatible, one I can download new designs into.  What do you think?  My daughter is getting married in July, and wants me to make her dress.  I couldn't possibly do it on my present machine.  I need to get something new now, so I have time to learn it before the project, but my funds aren't very expandable with the big event coming up. 

      1. moushka | | #3

        Bernie's advice re buying a used Viking #1+ is excellent. I'm looking for one now. It's a real workhorse and will let you dip your toe into the world of embroidery. I think you could find one for about $1200. If that is too much, the Viking #1 is the same machine without the embroidery capability and used, it would be within your budget. There is a used Viking Lily 540 on ebay right now (Item #2376835400) that is an excellent mid-line machine, starting at $400. It would definitely sew your wedding dress beautifully and fulfill your need for a machine to sew on while your embroidery machine embroiders. Don't forget, you can buy a new dedicated embroidery machine for under $1500. Combined with the used Lily, a dedicated machine would give you the embroidery option without tying up your regular sewing machine. Aren't the choices we have today fabulous? Happy shopping.

        Moushka

        1. spregitzer | | #4

          Thanks for the good ideas.  I didn't even think of e-bay.  My son knows all about that.  I'll put him onto it.

      2. Bernie1 | | #5

        I don't know much about Janome. They used to be New Home. The people who own them love them. I always say buying a machine is like falling in love. You'll know the right one when he comes along.

    2. Merryll | | #6

      I'd like to reinforce something you said, Bernie, because I think it's really important when looking for a new machine:  Take your own fabric samples with you when you are testing a machine.  I've rarely seen anything but organza swatches at machine stores, and I've never seen a machine that couldn't sew those beautifully. Unfortunately, what many eager seamstresses discover when they get home with their new prize is that it cannot handle their own fabric as easily.

      You also asked about a Janome.  Although I've never sewn on one, with this discussion in mind, I asked the manager of a well-respected fabric store in southern CT (where many Threads contributers go to purchase their fabric) her opinion.  Bear in mind nearly all the sales women at this store have their own sewing businesses on the side and degrees in some related field. She said in terms of quality, the top three brands are Viking, Pfaff and Bernina.  Janome is among the second tier brands. That doesn't mean you should disregard a Janome.  It may indeed be the perfect machine for you, but if you are spending lots for such a machine, it would be worth it to take a closer look at others before feeling confirmed that you have made the selection that's just right for you.

      1. Bernie1 | | #7

        Hey, Merryll: where's that fabric store in So. Ct.? I haven't found a decent store in the entire state and would love to check it out. I'll travel huge distances for a really nice fabric. I grew up on Coventry and my sis still lives in the area so I do get there and am always on the lookout - when I had to spend the summer there two years ago I went nuts trying to find a decent fabric store.

        1. CarolFresia | | #8

          I'm guessing Merryll is talking about Banksville Fabrics in Norwalk. We do indeed do a fair amount of shopping there, and they have a really nice selection of designer fabrics, linen in hundreds of colors and weights, and just a lot of great rolls of things you don't even think about but then "need"  to have. It's always a treat to go there, although we often swatch shop--the staff will cut swatches of, say, all light bluish-green mid-weight linen and send it to use to choose. Very handy for days when we can't afford the time to drive down there (but disappointing not to go in person, of course).

          Carol

          1. Bernie1 | | #9

            Oh, yeah!!! I am definintely going there my next trip to Conn.  Thanks so much.

        2. Merryll | | #10

          Hey Bernie and Carol, you're right, the store I was referring to is Banksville Designer Fabrics in Norwalk, CT.  It's well known in these parts.  The owner, Larry, has ties with design houses in NYC and goes there to buy end bolts. They do get new fabrics daily. You'll often find current-season fabrics there before the garments are in the stores.  For example, two years ago on the way home from a trip to Neiman Marcus in Westchester, I stopped and saw the exact same RL printed stretch denim I'd just seen at the mall.  The difference was that NM was selling those RL designer jeans for $750, and Larry sold the fabric for $11.99.  The same thing happened last fall, when Banksville had some lush RL paisley wool panels for ~$59, and NM was selling RL coats out of this fabric for $2500.  I made one using three panels. A friend at the store made valences out of them for windows in her new living room.

          Banksville has a great swatch service and a busy website: http://www.banksvilledesignerfabrics.com.  Their phone is: (203) 846-1333. I know I sound like an advertisement, but honestly, it's just a great resource.  Unfortunately, my sewing can't keep up with all the beautiful fabric I purchase there. And BTW, all of the salespeople are knowledgeable.  I usually see seamstresses there with their clients selecting fabric for some special garment.  And Carol, I'm always tickled to spot their fabric on a garment in Threads.

          Merryll

          1. Bernie1 | | #11

            Oh, how I wish I'd known about that store two summers ago. I was spending three months in Conn. at my sister's house while my mom was ill and I was going absolutely crazy trying to find a decent fabric store. The ones people said were "fabulous" turned out to be either a Jo-Ann's or a place that stocked nothing but polyester (it made my eyes water to walk in there so I knew it was a cheeeep fabric store). I should have discovered this site long ago. I''m going to call them about swatch service. Thank you so very, very much.

      2. spregitzer | | #12

        Thanks so much for asking for me.  It is exactly what I wanted to know.  I have never used a forum like this before, and I am finding it lots of fun and very helpful.  Thanks!

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