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Author Topic: Any tips for sewing machine shopping?  (Read 10828 times)  Share 

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KatiePillow

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Any tips for sewing machine shopping?
« on: 26 Feb 13 / 03:29 AM »
I've been given money for birthdays and christmasses for about 3 years and I haven't spent any of it (rarely buy myself stuff), but what I've kinda earmarked the money for is a new sewing machine.

I currently have a Jones machine which only does straight and zig zag, but it holds its tension quite well, so it's nice. I previously had a 1970s Frister Rossmann, so I really have no experience of more current machines.

I know there's a lot of people into sewing on this forum so I thought I might as well ask a few basic questions to get my search started. Bear in mind my budget is about 200-300 if I can get a good one for that price!
What makes do you recommend?
what machine do you use? Have you had good experiences with it?
Would you go for front or top loading bobbins? (I can see it both ways, front loading you can change it without disturbing your machine too much, but top loading you can keep an eye on it easier..)
Any other tips?


I basically just want a machine which is well made - I don't want it full of novelty stitches etc and for it to break in a year. If anybody has any recommendations based on usage then my main 'wants' are:
Button hole stitch setting, straight, zigzag, decorative stitching would be a plus but really not necessary, ability to put the feed dog down & ability to do free arm quilting would be a bonus because I'd like to get more into that sort of thing (although I think that's just tied in to the feed dog issue/getting a walking foot)
 

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Re: Any tips for sewing machine shopping?
« Reply #1 on: 26 Feb 13 / 08:59 AM »
I used to sell sewing machines as well as having sewn for about 20 years, so I have quite a bit of insight. :D

First off I can tell you, don't buy a Singer. They sell off the name of the old machines, but they've been owned by someone else for something like 20 years and they're really not all that great anymore.

Definitely aim for the 299+ machines. Under that and they're likely to be belt driven so you are far more likely to knock the timing out, meaning a repair trip (unless you know how to fix the timing! I wish I had learned that off the repair man when I was working at the sewing machine shop). So look for a gear driven machine, they won't slip, so are better for heavier fabrics. Really, the best machines are going to be over 6-700, but 300 is good for a budget, but they'll never be the absolute workhorses like the old singers. Treat them well though and try to keep down the layers of fabric you're putting through it and you should be fine.

Personally, I like Janome. The 3050 is a good budget machine. Looks like it's exclusive to John Lewis now. http://www.johnlewis.com/janome-dc3050-sewing-machine/p231340611 But they have so much clout with Janome now as they sell so much through them, that they're likely to get a very good machine exclusively. I used to do a lot of sewing with it in the shop and it was definitely one of the better ones.

Janome tend to change branding on the machines, so it's hard to give any of the newer ones as I don't know them so well. They're very often exactly the same as the older ones, just with a different casing and maybe programmed to do some different stitches. There's nothing sneaky about it, it's just their way of branding even though it is a bit odd.

It's easier with other brands as they don't do these branding changes!

The Pfaff select 2 is good http://www.gursewingmachines.com/pfaff-select-20-sewing-machine-4045 Unless they've changed it, you have to get used to the backwards threading, but that's fine. But it's a good solid machine. The Hobby 1142 is quite nice too http://www.gursewingmachines.com/pfaff-hobby-1142-sewing-machine-261 The Pfaff's sell very well with quilters too. I would say, on this budget, the Pfaff is going to be the closest in feel to an old Jones or Frister + Rossman (good machines, I have a soft spot for Fristers!)


The Husqvarna Viking Emerald 118 is also good. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Husqvarna-Viking-Emerald-118-Machine/dp/B002VQH9QO  for the price and http://new.husqvarnaviking.com/en-GB/Machines/EMERALD-trade;-118 for details. The manager of the sewing machine shop had this one and loved it. Husqvarna now own Pfaff, but both companies are well known for good quality solid machines. If you can stretch further price wise, the slightly higher priced ones are made in Germany/Sweden still. But honestly, the cheaper ones are definitely still well made.


If you can stretch further the best Bernina is this http://www.sewingworld.co.uk/Bernina_1008_Sewing_Machine.html the 1008 is based on a machine they have been making since at least the 50s and still made in Switzerland I think. It's a true work horse and has that lovely sturdy feeling it's tough to get with modern plastic machines. That's not to say plastic is bad, but it definitely helps if the inside frame is metal based at least! I once had a super light machine as I only had 70 to spend. The machine was so light, when I attempted to sew a large piece of fabric, the machine fell in my lap!! Unfortunately, the price tag is high. The cheaper Bernina's aren't bad. But you'd be better off with Janome, Pfaff or Husqvarna. I seem to remember I worked out the cheaper Bernina's were Janome's with a Bernina casing but more expensive than the Janome. My guess was they're made in the same factory or sold to them by Janome. Might as well buy a Janome!

I don't really like cheap brothers. I'm about to buy a 9000 embroidery machine (serious heart flutters when I type that price!!!) for working, so it's obvious I like the expensive ones. But I don't like the cheap end. But that can be a personal thing.

There's others, but those are the ones I worked with mostly.

The best piece of advice. Go to a sewing machine shop and try out as many as you can. Don't just let them sit and demonstrate at you. Get your hands on it. If they look like they're going to do that, just ask if you can try it too, but most will be happy with that. If they're not, they're probably an a***hole and don't buy from them! Take along bits of fabric you might use on it. Especially if you want to sew curtains and denim! See how it feels with four layers of one of those. If you see any panic in the eyes of the sales person, don't buy that machine lol Having said that, I'm sure you know this, but always slow right down over thick layers, the needle getting jammed is the most likely reason for the timing going out which can happen to even the best machines.

This is my machine http://content.janome.com/index.cfm/machines/sewing-quilting/mc6600p Looks like it's been discontinued now. I was lucky enough to get it half price while I was working at the sewing machine shop. It's solid and big and I love it! It's semi industrial, so it's fast too :D It's aimed at quilters, which I do, but I got it mostly because it's the closest thing to an industrial.

If you want to do more free arm quilting, look for one that has an extension table because that makes it a LOT easier to manage.

After years of front loading bobbin machines, I do definitely prefer top loaders. Can't really tell you why, but ease of use certainly up there.

Do NOT buy a sewing machine on this site if you go for an online purchase http://www.sewingmachinediscount.co.uk/ I ended up speaking to the owner on the phone once (Coopers Sewing Machines in London, he's also sold machines on QVC in the past too) and after mouthing off about my boss, he called me an f*****g c**t! My boss... maybe he deserved the mouthing off, but I didn't! He's also well known for ripping people off and not fixing faulty machines.

Phew, I didn't mean that to turn into a novel, it just all started coming back to me as I was typing!
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meeshybop

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Re: Any tips for sewing machine shopping?
« Reply #2 on: 26 Feb 13 / 11:34 AM »
I have a janome! When I get home I'll find out which one it was, I know it was around £250 on offer and it runs like a dream still! That's down to servicing it when it wants it :)
Deffo try out the machines if you can, and ask in the shop if they can do discounts if you service it with them etc. Keep it clean and oil it every now and then when it needs it and it will serve you well!
edit - found mine!! Here it is
http://www.janomesewingmachines.gur.co.uk/janome_mystyle_2522_le-2586
its still working after being thrashed for a year during college, and another 3 years during uni. I was doing quite heavy weight stuff on it like corsetry and it held up well, still works perfectly. Also you can get feet for like £5 On eBay for it too :)
 

Mindi Kellaway

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Re: Any tips for sewing machine shopping?
« Reply #3 on: 26 Feb 13 / 04:24 PM »
I have a Toyota sewing machine (can't remember the model name) and a Janome overlocker (Janome Mylock 644D), and both are good sturdy machines that have served me well for quite some time.  I've had the overlocker for about 10 years and with regular cleaning and servicing (which I do myself), and regular oiling, it's still going strong and a very good machine.  I think I paid about 300 for it, so it would probably cost a bit more now with inflation, but not a bad investment for the amount of time I've had it!  The Toyota cost around the 300 mark as well, and it's been used alot, both on standard weight fabrics and heavier items like corsetry, and again, with regular cleaning, servicing and oiling, it's still a very good, reliable machine.  My advice would be to spend as much as you can afford to, and get the best quality you can for what you can afford to spend.  Not everyone can afford to spend thousands on a machine (Janine - I wish I could spend 9000 on a sewing machine - I am so jealous!), so buy the best that your budget will allow, and always read the online reviews of all the models you're considering.
 

amyloud92

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Re: Any tips for sewing machine shopping?
« Reply #4 on: 26 Feb 13 / 05:18 PM »

Do NOT buy a sewing machine on this site if you go for an online purchase http://www.sewingmachinediscount.co.uk/ I ended up speaking to the owner on the phone once (Coopers Sewing Machines in London, he's also sold machines on QVC in the past too) and after mouthing off about my boss, he called me an f*****g c**t! My boss... maybe he deserved the mouthing off, but I didn't! He's also well known for ripping people off and not fixing faulty machines.



This guy is notoriously bad! My mum tried ordering a machine for me here recently, paid about 400 for a really good one, got sent one that was worth about 100 if that! After many phone calls from my dads office (he refused to talk to customers so my dad pretended to be a business client!) and about 2 months later we got our money back!
Royal mail dont send parcels to him anymore, they refuse to as he claims he never received a return so the customer then claims the money back from the royal mail! My dad got a private courier to deliver it and asked them then and then to open it and sign that it was delivered in good condition (he also claims that machines are used when returned and refuses refunds!)

I got a brother machine, about 600 and I love it, by far the best machine I've ever had! Inovis 350 special edition is the model, it had so many stitches (including alphabet etc) can be used with or without a foot pedal, an automatic needle threader, auto bobbin filler (no more over filling!) and a button that cuts the thread really close when you're done =] I love it!
 

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Re: Any tips for sewing machine shopping?
« Reply #5 on: 26 Feb 13 / 05:45 PM »
Yeah, he really is a nasty piece of work! He's ripped off so many people. I remember looking on a review site about 6 or 7 years ago and the list of poor reviews was incredibly long then, it must be massive now.

I've noticed that his site doesn't come up on Google anymore unless you search for coopers. Well, it didn't for me. But it used to be the top result on google ad words. I knew that sewing machine cost about 1 a click at the time, so after he was so disgusting to me, I would spent a while googling sewing machine and clicking on his website to cost him money! Childish, yes. Satisfying, VERY!

Mindi, I'm excited and terrified at the same time to spend that much on a machine. I've never spent anywhere near that even on a car. But, I now have 4 Janome 350e's to do my embroidery and they're time consuming to change the threads and cut the jump threads. This cuts the jump threads and has 10 needles, so none of that! Also, they go at 1000spm, so generally faster. I'd really kill for an industrial, but they're too heavy and vibrate too much.
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KatiePillow

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Re: Any tips for sewing machine shopping?
« Reply #6 on: 26 Feb 13 / 10:46 PM »
Janine -I think I officially love you!
Thanks so much everyone, especially for the warning, because I think I've looked on that site before.
I've only spent 20 on my first machine (my beautiful little frister) and I was really lucky to get a Janome 140D overlocker for 50.. so this is SUCH a huge decision.

I didn't even consider that there were machines with which were driven differently, that's such a great tip! I'll definitely look for a gear driven one.. and I'm a lot more careful with machines than when I was 16 and just starting out, I think that's why I'm willing to finally upgrade :D

Thanks so much for the machine suggestions, I've got about a million tabs open already reading about them.

eee, now I'm all excited.. I am going to go and research ones and try to find a good local sewing machine shop :)((also that first Janome.. looks so beautiful!)

 

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Re: Any tips for sewing machine shopping?
« Reply #7 on: 27 Feb 13 / 01:12 AM »
Quote
a button that cuts the thread really close when you're done =] I love it!

Yes, I forgot to say, that and the stop stitch (the tie off stitch that stitches on the same spot a few times) are the two things in a machine I would not want to do without now!

If you do decide to buy online, message me. I met a few of the owners of shops/sites when I was working in the machines shop and I might be able to point you at a good one.

And that Janome 3050 is a really good little machine. I sold about an average of 6 a week, which is good for a small shop like that. I think I saw one come back from a woman that was sewing leather and denim together. I asked her to show me the leather and it was the thickest shoe leather you've ever seen! Still, we fixed the timing and sent her off after giving her a mild lecture on having realistic ideas of what a domestic machine can do!
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