Author Topic: Advice on sewing machine  (Read 8207 times)

Thegoblinchief

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Advice on sewing machine
« on: December 14, 2015, 09:07:03 AM »
We're interested in getting a sewing machine. It will be for making cosplay costumes and some clothing (probably a couple nice outfits a year, since I'm well aware making your own clothes is NOT a money saver). DW is interested, I'm sort of interested, but both our girls (9, 8) have expressed a huge interest in learning to make clothes.

Something easy to use, reasonably durable/reliable, but not so much upfront cost in case this is a disaster which goes down in flames. They've worked with a friend of ours on a set of costumes before, but due to time constraints and the fact that we didn't have a machine of our own, our friend did most of the work just to get them done on time.

We have 4 different teachers available (my mom, sister, and 2 of our friends).

Amazon has sewing machines on sale today. DW sent me this link but I know so little I can't even form an opinion:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005HR1JMO?ref_=cm_sw_r_em_awd_lCUBwbAHH98JP

I generally trust the guides at The Sweethome. They recommend something that's significantly more up-market ($250):

http://thesweethome.com/reviews/best-sewing-machine-for-beginners/

Thoughts?

Longwaytogo

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2015, 09:45:25 AM »
I can't speak much to the model but both my mom and wife have Singer sewing machines. They are both very old and reliable from all I can tell.

The one you quoted was originally $250 pre-sale so hard to say if the one sweet home recommends is actually better quality or not.

DW has made a bunch of the kids Halloween costumes and a couple dresses/skirts. She enjoys it as a hobby. My Mom actually taught home-ec for like 15 years so shes a pretty good sewer and taught my wife.


Knitwit

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2015, 09:50:08 AM »
I personally don't sew, but I have several friends that do. I have heard nothing but good things about the Brother CS6000i: http://www.amazon.com/Brother-Feature-Rich-Stitches-Auto-Size-Buttonholes/dp/B000JQM1DE/

GeneralJinjur

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2015, 09:59:37 AM »
I've sewn 35+ years now. Made everything from diapers to bras to my wedding dress.  I have a computerized Pfaff 6270 that I adore and will use until it dies, but I bought my daughters a used Singer 503 to learn on.  Unlike my fancy machine, power doesn't affect any settings, which I think is perfect for beginners.  It also has little cams that you place in the top to do decorative stitches, which has been a very popular feature with my youngest, now 11.

The old mechanical Singers have all metal gears and far surpass their late 1960s and future replacements.  If I were shopping now, I'd get an old Singer 400 or 500 model from Craigslist, oil it up and go to town.  The one I bought my girls was $67 including shipping on Ebay.  There are plenty of blogs with information on how to get the most out of these machines. 

Also, if your girls want to make clothing, the old Kwik Sew for Children book has basic t-shirt, pants/shorts, dress patterns with great pictures and instructions.  I used those toddler and child patterns for years on my kids.  The book was $20 new.  There's also youtube, which is a wealth of info.

Sibley

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2015, 10:03:47 AM »
I'm learning to sew myself, for basically the same reasons. Goal: historically accurate Elizabethan era court gown. I'm starting with pj pants, cause they're easy, and help me learn basic skills. Currently, I'm using my roommate's mother's machine. It's a good machine, except its incredibly complicated, fancy, does everything under the sun, and insanely finicky. Pain in the butt overall.

I'm actually getting a sewing machine for the cost of 6 pack of beer. A coworker has an old Singer, one of the types that come in a cabinet, and he's giving it to me (I'm giving him beer). My mom has one similar, but not as old. I'll evaluate this one, but may end up just using it as a table. We'll see, its from 1924 so I'm not sure if it's really going to work for me. Some of the old ones are workhorses and with some basic care never die, but I don't know about this one yet. I know it runs, but needs some repair to be functional. The cabinet alone is probably worth it for me though.

Ideally, I want a machine that does a variety of functions, not everything under the sun, but is relatively simple to use. I don't want a heavily computerized one. I want it to grow with me, not me have to grow into it. I also don't want to out grow it in a year or 2. Does that make sense?

I googled sewing machines for beginners. All of them looked like they're mini-models, so their usefulness is limited, and possibility their durability as well.

Honestly, check second hand sources. This could be a fad, in which case it wouldn't get a ton of use long term. You're better off getting something cheap, or borrowing from someone until you know better what long term use will look like. If you end up with dedicated sewers, then having a backup machine is a good idea anyway.

Sibley

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2015, 10:05:45 AM »
I've sewn 35+ years now. Made everything from diapers to bras to my wedding dress.  I have a computerized Pfaff 6270 that I adore and will use until it dies, but I bought my daughters a used Singer 503 to learn on.  Unlike my fancy machine, power doesn't affect any settings, which I think is perfect for beginners.  It also has little cams that you place in the top to do decorative stitches, which has been a very popular feature with my youngest, now 11.

The old mechanical Singers have all metal gears and far surpass their late 1960s and future replacements.  If I were shopping now, I'd get an old Singer 400 or 500 model from Craigslist, oil it up and go to town.  The one I bought my girls was $67 including shipping on Ebay.  There are plenty of blogs with information on how to get the most out of these machines. 

Also, if your girls want to make clothing, the old Kwik Sew for Children book has basic t-shirt, pants/shorts, dress patterns with great pictures and instructions.  I used those toddler and child patterns for years on my kids.  The book was $20 new.  There's also youtube, which is a wealth of info.

Jinjur, the machine I'm getting is a 1924 Singer, model AA589866 per what my coworker told me. Any insights?

mikedom

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2015, 10:07:57 AM »
My wife recently bought this: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003VWXZQ0?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00. It's the Singer 4423.

It replaced a 1950's White that we had been using for a few years. The older machines don't do stretchy fabric as well (as the fabrics weren't around when the machine was made). She loves the new Singer and has already done curtains and was happy with how much fabric the machine was able to get through with no trouble.

pbkmaine

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2015, 10:13:03 AM »
Check Freecycle, craigslist and thrift stores first. Also get the word out among friends. Many people have sewing machines they do not use.


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GeneralJinjur

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2015, 10:22:27 AM »
Jinjur, the machine I'm getting is a 1924 Singer, model AA589866 per what my coworker told me. Any insights?

That's actually the serial number, but I looked it up.
http://ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/serial-numbers/singer-aa-series-serial-numbers.html

It's a model 66, which is a great straight stitching machine from all that I've heard.  I don't believe it will go in reverse, but there are techniques to work around that.  What do you plan to sew?

Shinplaster

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2015, 10:23:38 AM »
Check Freecycle, craigslist and thrift stores first. Also get the word out among friends. Many people have sewing machines they do not use.


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+1

I see requests for sewing machines on my local Freecycle all the time, and the followup "received" posts usually just a few days later.

We bought a machine for our son years ago - it's an old Brother, and metal, so it weighs a ton.  But it is the best machine - easy to use, and powerful enough to sew leather.  We bought it at a sewing machine store - they take in trades all the time, and you can find some real bargains.

I have a Sears branded plastic thing - hate it!   I know Mr. SP spent some serious money buying me that, but the bobbin jams all the time, the tension goes off, etc.   It's a major PITA, and I'd much prefer to use my son's Brother any day.  Unfortunately, he took it with him when he moved out.

use2betrix

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2015, 10:37:46 AM »
I have a Singer that has always worked well. I just use it to hem certain clothes to fit better.

You don't find many early 20's males getting sewing machines for Christmas and actually using them :)

neophyte

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2015, 10:47:28 AM »
Unless you think you really want 250+  different fancy stitches, I agree with the recommendations for an old machine with metal parts.  I find I really only use about 2 or 3 basic stitches for the bulk of my sewing.

TrMama

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2015, 11:51:37 AM »
Ditto the advice for an older machine (1950-1970 era) that has all metal "guts". Many of the cheaper modern machines have plastic moving parts on the inside, and they're obviously less durable and more finicky. Especially since you plan to have your kids use it (which is a great plan!), they will be harder on the machine. A metal machine will be able to take this abuse. Check Craigslist and any local sewing machine shops. Often local shops will carry used, reconditioned machines.

I have an old Bernina Record that was a wedding gift to my mom in the 70s. I learned to sew on it and now I'm teaching my kids on it. It's a workhorse that will never die. I've done everything from horse blankets to swimsuits to formal dress pants and tons of other things on it.

All you need for the kind of sewing you want to do are: Straight stitch, zig zag stitch and the ability to make a buttonhole. You'll also want a few different feet (zipper foot, buttonhole foot and standard foot).

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2015, 11:59:46 AM »
I'll echo others and say an older used sewing machine with all the parts that hasn't been abused too bad will work wonderfully. If you get one of the newer computerized ones you'll find you rarely ever use any of the fancy stitches other than on scraps to go, "cool.. I have no idea why I would ever use that"

We just got a newer Singer for our wedding it was ~$200-250 on sale earlier this year. It's very nice, but probably overkill for someone who just casually sews like me. I wouldn't hesitate to get the one you linked if you can't find or can't be bothered to go looking for a used one.

In addition to my new one, I've used my mother's ($3000 top of the line Singer 25 years ago - or so I heard), my grandmother's (Older singer no idea the model or year) and my sister's basic modern Singer (~$75) and have been happy with all of them. For basic sewing as others have said you'll use two or three stitches which all the basic models can do just as well as the more expensive ones.

Allie

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2015, 12:13:13 PM »
In high school I was on the smaller side, so I sewed my own clothes to have nice outfits (dresses, skirts, etc.) that weren't from the kids section.  I used my grandmother's old singer.  It lived in a cabinet, was heavy, and had almost no features...straight or zigzag, fast or slow, forward or reverse were your choices.  But, it was a really solid machine and I was able to do just about anything I needed to do with it.  Just to second the sentiment that an older machine with just the basics can do just about anything.

I now have an inexpensive janome almost exactly like the one you posted...but a number of years older.  It was a gift from my mother because she didn't want me taking her old machine.  :-).  It has had to be repaired a couple times, certainly not as sturdy as the older machine, but gets the job done! 

Honestly, I'd start with putting out the word you need a machine and seeing if one comes to you to see if this is a hobby that sticks.  I have plenty of friends who have beginner machines who would happily release them to kids who want to learn, either because they have given up the hobby or because they have gone all in and upgraded. 

Sibley

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2015, 12:47:23 PM »
Jinjur, the machine I'm getting is a 1924 Singer, model AA589866 per what my coworker told me. Any insights?

That's actually the serial number, but I looked it up.
http://ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/serial-numbers/singer-aa-series-serial-numbers.html

It's a model 66, which is a great straight stitching machine from all that I've heard.  I don't believe it will go in reverse, but there are techniques to work around that.  What do you plan to sew?

You're awesome! Right now, I'm doing pj pants, but have a goal of a historically accurate Elizabethan era court gown. I have a dress pattern I'd like to try, so that might be the next step in my education.

If it won't go in reverse, I suspect it won't work for me, but the table alone will be helpful. I've been working on my round dining room table, and it's a nightmare to keep the fabric where I want it. I'll be picking it up tonight, so will take a good look at it then.

mm1970

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2015, 12:52:11 PM »
I'm going to ditto the older machine, if you can get it.

I quilt and sew.  My friends generally have very high end machines.

From what I've heard, the newer singers are not the best quality.

That said, for a very long time, I sewed on a Brother that was my mother's.

Now I have a Kenmore from Sears, and it was around $250 to $300.  Been using it for years.

I'd say if you cannot get a really old singer or brother (mostly mechanical) - then a Brother or a Kenmore would be better. But that's just my experience.

I do occasionally like the fancy stitches for my quilting.

GeneralJinjur

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2015, 12:55:32 PM »


If it won't go in reverse, I suspect it won't work for me, but the table alone will be helpful. I've been working on my round dining room table, and it's a nightmare to keep the fabric where I want it. I'll be picking it up tonight, so will take a good look at it then.

I have to tell you, I never use reverse for sewing clothing.  As long as you cross the seam with another seam, the ends are secured. 

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Sibley

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2015, 12:59:46 PM »


If it won't go in reverse, I suspect it won't work for me, but the table alone will be helpful. I've been working on my round dining room table, and it's a nightmare to keep the fabric where I want it. I'll be picking it up tonight, so will take a good look at it then.

I have to tell you, I never use reverse for sewing clothing.  As long as you cross the seam with another seam, the ends are secured. 

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Interesting, I didn't know that. Thanks. I'm learning, can you tell? :)
Though I've gotten better - my straight seams are almost straight now!

flyfig

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2015, 01:04:33 PM »
Second the suggestion to use craigslist, freecycle, social network.

I have a machine that I use for casual sewing (clothes and beds for my foster dogs, adopt me vests, etc) that was $40 from craigslist and came with additional supplies (bobbins, buttons, backing, etc). Its a Brother LX2500, is a lightweight and has a good selection of options. Super easy to start with. Light enough to move from my work table to storage in the spare bedroom closet on a daily basis.

Since getting it 8 months ago, I've used it fot PJs and curtains for the house as well. I may start quilting soon. I can't imagine using anything more complicated unless I start doing computerized embroidery.

deborah

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2015, 03:57:27 PM »
Having sewn for many many years, I would agree with the recommendations to buy an old machine. My preference would be a Bernina mechanical machine. They tend to have a very easy thread path (easier to thread), and go forever (most schools around here have them for teaching students). I wouldn't go for anything older than the 60s. I would also ensure that it had a knee lifter and a good range of feet with it, as the right foot can make sewing so much easier.

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2015, 04:57:13 PM »
 Check the thrift stores.  If you give the search a little time, you should be able to get a 60s-70s Singer for $25-$40 including the table. If you have any interest in stretchy fabrics at all, look for one new enough to have a zigzag foot as an option. Other than that, you could go back to the  teens or 20s with little difficulty (though you won't find those for so little usually). I do most of my plain sewing on a 1928 treadle,  and I have one of those late 60s Singers for the zigzag for stretchy stuff – as an added bonus, it's even avocado green!



The metal parts are important, and only available in older machines (and the ones that cost more than my cars).

Thinkum

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2015, 06:10:45 PM »
I was in the same quandary some years back. I wanted to learn to sew and went to a repair shop and talked with the owner. I was interested in getting a cheap machine for under $100, just to learn on. Then I was told that older machines are built to last and have metal parts, not plastic. So I ended up buying a really beautiful restored Viking from the 70's. Weighs a TON, but can sew through anything. I do not use it nearly as much as I thought I would, but I also know that I'll never really need another machine either.




Megma

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #23 on: December 14, 2015, 06:15:17 PM »
Check Freecycle, craigslist and thrift stores first. Also get the word out among friends. Many people have sewing machines they do not use.


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+1

I see requests for sewing machines on my local Freecycle all the time, and the followup "received" posts usually just a few days later.

We bought a machine for our son years ago - it's an old Brother, and metal, so it weighs a ton.  But it is the best machine - easy to use, and powerful enough to sew leather.  We bought it at a sewing machine store - they take in trades all the time, and you can find some real bargains.

I have a Sears branded plastic thing - hate it!   I know Mr. SP spent some serious money buying me that, but the bobbin jams all the time, the tension goes off, etc.   It's a major PITA, and I'd much prefer to use my son's Brother any day.  Unfortunately, he took it with him when he moved out.

I want to echo all the other suggestions to get one used. The older ones are MUCH better than the cheapies you get for a few hundred. If you look on craigslist you can get a good machine (look for something from the 80s or earlier, old is good! and the heavier the better, more metal) for $50 or less. Then pay 50-80 to have it professionally serviced, it will be better than the 150 model from Amazon.

The vintage singers make the most pleasing sound when you sew with them. ahhh, it's heaven.

Sibley

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #24 on: December 14, 2015, 06:32:28 PM »
Well, I picked up my free-except-for-a-case-of-beer sewing machine. I regret to report that I don't think it's going to work. Mostly because it doesn't work. The motor runs, but most of the moveable parts seem to have seized up. Presser foot is stuck in the up position, attachments have corroded, etc.

Oh well. I'll put it out as free on craigslist for parts. Cost $15 worth of beer, and earned some goodwill with a coworker.

GeneralJinjur

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #25 on: December 14, 2015, 06:59:01 PM »
Well, I picked up my free-except-for-a-case-of-beer sewing machine. I regret to report that I don't think it's going to work. Mostly because it doesn't work. The motor runs, but most of the moveable parts seem to have seized up. Presser foot is stuck in the up position, attachments have corroded, etc.

Do you see rust?  A seized machine can be oiled back to life, sort of like the Tin Man.  You're going to need sewing machine oil, no matter what machine you end up with.  I would get some and give it a try.
http://mysewingmachineobsession.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-to-service-and-clean-singer-66-or.html

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #26 on: December 14, 2015, 07:00:12 PM »
I have a low-end Brother bought new maybe ten years ago (Christmas present). It runs fine, although it needs to be cleaned and oiled more often these days or else it makes giant thread-snarls.

I wouldn't buy one new for the reasons others have mentioned, but I would not scorn a new one if you were able to test it out. For proof of concept, you don't necessarily need your "forever" machine. With a used machine, you don't have to feel guilty if you want to upgrade next year :-).

pmk

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #27 on: December 14, 2015, 08:29:07 PM »
Look for used if you can, I have an older White (not made anymore) that works great. Pfaff is another good one to look out for. My mom teaches sewing to kids, so she has some experience with the low end models. By far, the Janome Magnolia (~$250) has been the best. Its very basic, but smooth and easy to work with. Newer singers in the low range always give her students bobbins problems, etc.

letired

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #28 on: December 14, 2015, 09:09:28 PM »
If you want to sew any kind of heavier fabric (patching denim, etc) the older/heavier machines are a better choice. I have a super old Viking (the mint green '21' model) I got off Ebay for ~$100, and it's a champ. It doesn't have any of the fancy stitches for stretchy fabric, but it does everything else and then some.

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #29 on: December 14, 2015, 09:36:36 PM »
I was in the same quandary some years back. I wanted to learn to sew and went to a repair shop and talked with the owner. I was interested in getting a cheap machine for under $100, just to learn on. Then I was told that older machines are built to last and have metal parts, not plastic. So I ended up buying a really beautiful restored Viking from the 70's. Weighs a TON, but can sew through anything. I do not use it nearly as much as I thought I would, but I also know that I'll never really need another machine either.





That is almost exactly the machine I have, except mine is brown. It belong to my grandmother first. My mom had one as well. Just be careful of one thing. Those kind of Vikings are almost all, but not entirely metal parts. One very important part called the cam stack  is made out of plastic, which over the decades gets old and brittle. It can snap. I just had mine replaced. It's kind of endemic to them. It cost over two hundred all told to get it fixed up, but I couldn't see not doing it. Beyond the sentimental value, it has a lot of great features and a really solid feel that wasn't matched by any modern machine I tried when I looked a new machines.

Cressida

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #30 on: December 14, 2015, 10:35:10 PM »
YMMV, but I've found that the two features I can't do without are (1) reverse, to reinforce ends of seams and (2) the ability to stop with the needle in the down position. Without (2), it's very difficult to pivot cleanly. That said, someone with more skills than I have might not find it as difficult.

I know that's not exactly what you asked. My first machine was a refurbished Singer at about $140. I used it a fair amount with no problems (aside from lacking feature (1) above), and found it less fiddly in some ways than the fancier machine I have now. That said, I'm not sure if it could handle thicker fabrics; I pretty much only ever used it for piecing quilt tops.

I bought both of them from PremierAppliance.com. I know the name sounds a little dodgy, but they've been around for a decent while and I had no trouble. This was back in 2007-08.

deborah

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #31 on: December 14, 2015, 11:57:32 PM »
And I wouldn't get it off the internet. I'd get it from a store, that had serviced it before selling, and were prepared to give you free lessons whenever you wanted them. Many stores will do this, and it is a real bargain for a beginner.

flower

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #32 on: December 15, 2015, 02:04:33 AM »
Getting a used machine would by my suggestion too. In fact, if you just mention to coworkers and friends that you would like a good used machine, you may have people offer you one.

Yard sales, craigslist and freecycle are good sources too.

When I was in my early twenties my mother got me an old used black head singer sewing machine used. I still have it and it still works just fine. Have never had to have it repaired. Once when it had been in storage for a while in a container, I was worried that it was ruined but I bought a tube of Singer brand grease for it and that was all it took.

The other point about getting a used machine is that if you decide this hobby is not for you, you could probably sell it for what you paid for it (assuming you got one in good working order).

Chranstronaut

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #33 on: December 15, 2015, 07:49:14 AM »
I agree with most people's points about buying an older used machine, and have a few thoughts to add:

Sewing machines can be like cars.  They will feel different and have slightly different tricks to keep them going, but they all perform the same functional job.  You will likely learn to love whatever machine you get simply by using it the most.  If you're not sewing a ton already, you will likely adjust to whatever machine you get.  I wouldn't worry much about which machines are "easier" to use - it's all preference.  I went to talk with the ladies at my local sewing store when I was shopping for a machine and they kept pushing their brand as the "easiest to learn on", and "best for a first machine."  Bullshit, I say.  The best machine is the machine you use.

If you are patient on Craigslist, there isn't that large a price difference between a great old machine and a cheaply made newer machine.  It might be worth watching a few extra weeks to find a $75 old machine with accesories vs. buying a $40 machine at Goodwill with no needles or bobbins.  A cheap new machine might go on sale online for $100.   You can re-sell the used machines for same or more as you bought them for -- can't do that with the new machine.

It was more difficult than I expected to find users manuals for older machines -- some are just not online anywhere.  The machine I bought had it's manual and model number, and I can't find a damn thing about it online.  I can only estimate it's from the late 70's or early 80's based on the clothes pictured on the manual, haha!  I bought it anyway because:

1) It was in great condition.  The carrying case was not cracked (just yellowed with age), the body and internals were clean and oiled and the mechanics sounded good when I plugged it in and tested it at the seller's house.

2) It came with every accessory listed in the manual, including optional ones (a button-hole kit, screwdrivers, cleaning brushes, everything!).  I have a model number for all the parts in the manual and extra needles/bobbins.

3) It had simple but useful features (straight stitch, zig-zag, stretch stitches, reverse, bobbin winder, removable panel for free-arm sewing)

Good luck on your hunt!  As with everything else, patience will help you find a gem and it's always safer buying from someone that treats their possessions as well as you do.  Happy costuming!

Added: I bought a Kenmore and have borrowed two other mid-70s Sears machines.  They are sometimes looked down on compared to the Pfaffs and Berninas, but the older Sears machines can truck!
« Last Edit: December 15, 2015, 07:55:24 AM by Chranstronaut »

Thinkum

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #34 on: December 15, 2015, 08:24:34 AM »

That is almost exactly the machine I have, except mine is brown. It belong to my grandmother first. My mom had one as well. Just be careful of one thing. Those kind of Vikings are almost all, but not entirely metal parts. One very important part called the cam stack  is made out of plastic, which over the decades gets old and brittle. It can snap. I just had mine replaced. It's kind of endemic to them. It cost over two hundred all told to get it fixed up, but I couldn't see not doing it. Beyond the sentimental value, it has a lot of great features and a really solid feel that wasn't matched by any modern machine I tried when I looked a new machines.

My machine is actually brown, just looks darker under the lighting. About the cam stack, you are exactly right about that one issue with this model. The repair shop I bought it from had replaced that and did an overhaul before he put it up for sale. It also came with a hard case and some extra cams for different stitches. I love this machine on aesthetic alone, lol! The feeling of this machine as you astutely pointed out, is very solid. It just feels great and the power is amazing.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #35 on: December 15, 2015, 10:33:04 AM »
Thanks for all the input!

I'm gonna start by getting the name of the local repair shop my Mom uses, see if they sell refurbished machines themselves, and also get a rough idea of what they'd charge if I bought one and it needed a refurb. I'll use that as a baseline for stalking CL/eBay.

NV Teacher

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #36 on: December 15, 2015, 02:07:06 PM »
You might check with a vac and sew shop.  Lots of time they will have older machines that have been serviced and have lots of life left in them.  I'd go for an older all metal machine every time over the new ones that are all made of plastic parts.  I have an old Bernina that is a wonder machine and I hope I die before it does.

Sandhills

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #37 on: December 15, 2015, 09:53:23 PM »
I bought a used Singer Sewing machine for $15 as a freshman in college in 1965, and it was one of the best investments I ever made. Saw me through multiple bouts of sewing, clothing design, crafts and theatre costumes over the following years. I kept it well oiled and it never once broke down—just the most solid little workhorse ever. About the only thing it couldn't do was a reverse stitch but that was easily worked around.

In September, I lost everything in Northern California's massive Valley Fire. I want to commemorate my little iron friend, so here is a picture of what's left of my 70-year-old Singer. It was a very hot fire at that point, estimated at over 3000 degree, so the parts are all fused together and the wooden cabinet is long gone. I plan to find another old Singer someday, but nothing can replace the first.

Thinkum

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #38 on: December 15, 2015, 10:04:30 PM »

In September, I lost everything in Northern California's massive Valley Fire. I want to commemorate my little iron friend, so here is a picture of what's left of my 70-year-old Singer. It was a very hot fire at that point, estimated at over 3000 degree, so the parts are all fused together and the wooden cabinet is long gone. I plan to find another old Singer someday, but nothing can replace the first.

So sorry to hear about your loss!

goatmom

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #39 on: December 16, 2015, 09:30:29 AM »
I would buy an older model machine from a sewing machine repair store.   It is costly to get one tuned up - so if you buy one off craigslist or get one from a friend or relative - you might end up having to spend this money.  At least with the dealer, you know the machine works and you have someone that can help you if something goes wrong.

 I love the old singers - 201. 221, 301, 404 just to name a few.  I wouldn't want a machine that did not do reverse.  There are enough options that do have reverse. 

I would not buy a new one off Amazon.  Just my two cents.

Sandhills

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #40 on: December 16, 2015, 10:04:46 AM »
Buying from a sewing machine repair shop is good advice, thanks. Also I'm glad you mentioned Singer model numbers. I think the 201 is close to what I had. Time to do some sleuthing...

Sibley

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #41 on: December 16, 2015, 10:52:55 AM »
Well, I picked up my free-except-for-a-case-of-beer sewing machine. I regret to report that I don't think it's going to work. Mostly because it doesn't work. The motor runs, but most of the moveable parts seem to have seized up. Presser foot is stuck in the up position, attachments have corroded, etc.

Do you see rust?  A seized machine can be oiled back to life, sort of like the Tin Man.  You're going to need sewing machine oil, no matter what machine you end up with.  I would get some and give it a try.
http://mysewingmachineobsession.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-to-service-and-clean-singer-66-or.html

There was some rust, and the attachments in particular had issues. It may be mostly cosmetic, but not an expert! I think it actually needs to be de-oiled first, then re-oiled - lot of hardened oil, the bobbins had semi-glued in thread wound around them, etc. I had to wash my hands after handling it. I know that the machine hadn't been used in 10+ years, and infrequently used before that.

I've rehomed it to someone who appreciates it for it's historical value rather than me who will be disappointed with it. She volunteers for a historical reenactment type thing locally. She's fixed up various old sewing machines and looms for that purpose. My guess is it'll get cleaned up, made functional, and be of educational use, she mentioned that they needed a machine from that era. I'm happy with that.

I'll continue using the machine I've been using, while keeping an eye out for something. I saw a 400 series w/ cabinet and a ton of attachments on Craigslist, but it was too far away for me to get to. I'm not desperate, and thanks to this thread I have a decent idea of what to look for!

hyla

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Re: Advice on sewing machine
« Reply #42 on: December 17, 2015, 08:18:23 PM »
Don't buy a new singer (old singers are ok though).  Modern singers are sad flimsy plastic things that skip stitches and make giant thread knots in your bobbin case.  I used to have one.  I sold it and bought a Bernina that cost six times as much and have NO regrets. 

The cheapest option to get a quality machine is to buy an older machine at a yard sale or craigslist.  Older sewing machines are generally durable and built to last, but of course some are in better shape than others so ideally you could try it out before buying to make sure it sews well and has all the necessary parts.  If you don't know anything about sewing machines, a decent way to evaluate quality is to pick it up and see how heavy it is.  Heavy machines have more metal parts and are more durable, lighter machines likely have more plastic parts. 

If you get a new machine, I've used Janome machines owned by several friends and found them to be a reasonable compromise between price and quality.