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Which Sewing Machine do I buy?

user-102058 | Posted in General Discussion on

I’m taking up sewing and I want to buy a machine.  I went to a dealer today and told him I am looking for a basic machine…not too many bells and whistles.  My first project is going to be a diaper bag so I need to be able to sew thick canvas and nylon.  I want to buy a good machine but I’ll use it simple projects.  He suggested one of 2 machines

Viking Scandinavia 100 ($400)

Elna 2110 ($250)

I can afford both but I don’t want to spend more than I need to and would prefer to spend $250 if they both meet my needs.  Which one do you think I should get?





  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    Almost all machines will sew heavy and thick materials, if you use the correct needle--####size 14 or 16. The quality of a machine shows up better in the way it handles sheer fabrics, again with the correct needle size (9 or 11).

    If you take some samples of the fabrics you want to use with you to try out the machines, you'll quickly get a sense of which one you like best. Make sure that you get to run the machines, not just watch a salesman, so that you can tell whether it will be comfortable for you.

    Also find out how widely available the bobbins and accessories are for the machine you choose; if they require manufacturer-specific feet or bobbins, you might be limiting your choices unncessarily.

    1. user-102058 | | #2

      Thanks teaf5.  I'll be sure to follow your advice.  :)

      1. Teaf5 | | #3

        Let us know which machine you decide on; I'm sure there are others who are interested in the options, too!

  2. Beader | | #4

    I teach sewing at a technical college and always advise students to buy the best one they can afford. The dealer is very important in making a decision. One that is conveniently located, one that you can talk with and has time and interest in you. Do they do repair on site or send it out. What type of warranty do they offer. Ask other sewing friends. The bells and whistles you mention usually make sewing easier. If I were to buy one for my married daughters is would expect to pay between $500 and$1000. Do sit down at the machine you are looking at and sew with your fabrics. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Look up buying help on the internet. Happy Sewing!

  3. germaine1999 | | #5

    I traded my mechanical Elna in on a computerized Husqvarna, and while I realize that you are looking at the other end of the price scale, I still think a Husqvarna is the best machine you can buy.  I have also used Singer and Brother, but have never been completely satisfied with any machine except my Viking. 

  4. user-108513 | | #6


    Me again, you ought to do a "google" search on sewing machine reviews.  You can learn a lot before you spend any money.  Everyone's advice is good.  It's a hard decision because there are so many choices out there.  I've owned Singer, Elna, Pfaff, Baby Lock...  Remember, you can always trade up if you really get to where you enjoy it and want to do more than you can on a basic one.  I hate to see a really expensive machine sitting in a closet not being used because the owner can't figure it all out.

    Happy sewing!

    Texas T

  5. SewNancy | | #7

    I have been sewing on a Viking for 25 years. My first one I replaced after 20 years because I wanted some more features. The feet were almost all usable on the new machine. I would choose the best machine that I could afford. You will want some of those bells and whistles as you progress with sewing.

  6. solosmocker | | #8

    Google Patternreview.com and check out all of the machine reviews and opinions. Just use the search feature to look for your models mentioned.

  7. user-111776 | | #9

    I sewed on a late-1940s Singer 301 for y-e-a-r-s, after Mom gave it to me. I've had three others since, not cheapies, but never as reliable. The main difference I believe was METAL PARTS. Most newer machines - at least the average and lower end ones - seem to have lots of plastic parts. They don't last as long, and some render the machine irreparable over time.

    I've decided next time I'm wanting to buy a new machine, I'm going to interview folks who repair them: Which brands do they see returning for frequent repairs? Which ones do they rarely have to fix? I figure these people know machines better than anyone.

    1. Kiley | | #10

      I have seen many posts on line in different sewing forums where people have posted that their sewing machine techs have said that Janome machines and sergers are probably the brand needing least repairs. I have also seen where people have owned other brand machines for many years that have never needed repairs and they never even brought the machines in for tune ups. I guess it depends how you treat a machine and the quality of the machine. I own several brands and I do know that Janomes are work horses.

      1. feismom | | #11

        My janome was nothing but trouble both before and after it went out for repair during the warranty period.  It oozed bright yellow oil onto whatever I sewed - I never put oil in it.  The tension seized up.  Replaced it with a Husqvarna and love it.  My 1980 Singer was OK but not nearly as reliable as my mother's old long-bobbin singer.  Hope this helps.

        1. Kiley | | #12

          I used to sell machines years back and gave classes and had a bit to do with repairs. Now machines are computerized with so many more features. I owned some good old Singers and one Husky model in the past but I now own a mechanical Pfaff with IDT and a computerized Janome made Kenmore. I have had both machines for almost 2 years and I am very impressed with both. I love the dual feed on the Pfaff and also the Kenmore with the wide 7 pc feed dog feed system. I use my Pfaff as the workhorse for heavy sewing of odd fabrics and I use my Kenmore for the lovely heirloom stitches, deco stitches and alphabets for the many things I have made for my large family. I could never choose between the two machines because both are entirely different, one being mechanical and one computerized. Even in the same brand and line machines can perform differently. feismom, I'm sorry you had bad luck with your Janome. It sounds like it was a real lemon. Janome has a good reputation and I know there are lemons in all brands. My first 2 other brand computerized machines had problems almost right out of the box and I returned them, but feismom it sounds like you got a prize lemon, one of the worst.

  8. user-115447 | | #13

    Thanks for your question, I'm in a similar situation. 

    I used my mothers ancient Singer for years and still pull it out now and then, it's a classic.  I splurged and got myself one of the first Pfaff 'walking foot' models when my kids were small in the early '80's.  I've used it mainly for piecing quilts and making curtains, purses and baby carriers, and it's held up beautifully.   I love it, mainly because it is an easy to use workhorse, and it's designed for the type of fabric I use most (natural fiber weaves).  It does need a tune-up after every three to six projects.

    My question is, what machine do you all love for sewing with knits and polarfleece? 

    I've made due with my Pfaff, but I'm a new Grandma and wonder if I would make my life any easier with a serger or something like it?  Would that work with the incredibly soft furry polyesters that are on the market now?  I'm afraid of filling my machine up with fuzzzzzzzy lint...those tune-ups are a little tiresome!!

    1. Kiley | | #14

      Congratulations on being a new Grandma. Oh my yes, a serger makes sewing and life easier especially when sewing for the grandkids. I use my sergers as much as I use my machines. As for sewing fleece, I have made tons of fleece throws, rag quilts, pillows, baby blankets and kids clothing with my Pfaff with dual feed and it has done a very fine job. I have also used my serger on fleece with excellent results. The only problem I have had with fleece is when I sewed so many throws for gifts last year the darker colors rubbed off on my machine. The machine cleaned up ok. None of the fleece I have used has caused any major lint problems at all with my machine.

      Edited 2/26/2006 3:23 am ET by Kiley

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