Author Topic: Sewing machine recommendations?  (Read 4238 times)

Runny

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Sewing machine recommendations?
« on: September 29, 2014, 10:42:35 PM »
I am a complete newbie when it comes to sewing but would really like to learn it. I already checked Craigslist and there seems to be nothing out there at this point. Do you have any recommendations for a good solid sewing machine that would take me from beginner level to more advanced projects? I was looking on this site http://www.walmart.ca/en/appliances/small-appliances/sewing-machines/N-172. From a translation side gig I still have about $150 sitting in my paypal account that I could potentially spend on this.

If you have any recommendations, I would really appreciate it!

deborah

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2014, 10:51:24 PM »
Buy from a shop near you where the people selling the sewing machine have the right attitude.You are not actually buying a sewing machine, you are buying assistance to get you from beginner to novice. Preferably buy a second hand machine that they recommend for a beginner (and guarantee will work), and are prepared to assist by giving you as many lessons as it takes for you to get better.

If you get on with the staff, and get support, you will soon be able to sew well.

Exflyboy

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2014, 11:31:25 PM »
older machines that are not made of plastic are usually going to last longer and perform better than the new stuff.

I have two plastic Singers, they are ok but not great. They do OOK for normal light weight fabrics.

I also have an industrial machine that quite honestly scares me to death..I have not used it yet, but now I have some experience on the lightweight machines I think I can safely use it now..:)

Frank

GizmoTX

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2014, 11:49:19 PM »
I own a Bernina machine, Swiss made & probably more than you are looking for. Its dealers have great shops & support. See if they have any reconditioned or entry level models.

A basic Singer or Brother should be OK as a beginner machine.

A free arm feature is good if you can get it. Don't bother with fancy embroidery attachments at this point -- basic is best.

Dicey

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2014, 12:01:31 AM »
Wow, what timing! I worked on a sewing project for my city's annual Community Service Day this past Saturday. I got to meet some very experienced sewers. One of them who teaches sewing classes says she is always asked to recommend sewing machines. She says the best thing for a newbie is to go to Costco and buy whatever they have. She says Costco does a good job of vetting the machines (i.e. they don't sell crap) and that the machines have a surprisingly high level of features for the money. Later the same day I got the latest Costco circular, which features a Brother machine that even has a self-threading feature (Nice!) for about $135.00. This ad hasn't started yet, but should be good for most of the month of October. If I was in need of a sewing machine, I'd take her advice in a heartbeat. Hope this helps!

deborah

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2014, 02:45:44 AM »
Having taught people sewing, I have met many people who have been put off because they have received no assistance, that is why I think it is best to choose a shop that will support your sewing efforts, rather than a supplier of appliances. Also, I agree with exflyboy that secondhand machines that have been properly serviced and checked (such as you can find in any good shop that supports your sewing efforts) will be as good or better than a new machine.

theadvicist

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 03:33:13 AM »
I started sewing on a basic Janome, which was fine for simple home dec and beginner dressmaking. I upgraded to a Pffaf (very expensive, but of course I bought it used and got it for a song) once I decided it was a hobby I was really sticking with.

Now I have a Janome in my house which cost about £150 3 years ago, and according to Ebay, it's basically worthless. So that makes me think that your best bet really is ebay. Seriously, my perfectly good machine was being listed for £10. I'd send it to you if I wasn't in the UK!

Also, put the word out that you'd like to learn sewing, and I wouldn't be surprised if friends or relatives will 1) offer you a lesson 2) offer to lend you a machine or 3) offer you their old machine like I would. Don't be shy, learning from others is so good because you can ask questions. If you don't any sewers, I'd recommend YouTube, and blogs that focus on your interest (dressmaking, home dec, quilts, whatever). Have fun!


starbuck

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2014, 05:45:14 AM »
I started sewing on a basic Janome, which was fine for simple home dec and beginner dressmaking. I upgraded to a Pffaf (very expensive, but of course I bought it used and got it for a song) once I decided it was a hobby I was really sticking with.

Now I have a Janome in my house which cost about £150 3 years ago, and according to Ebay, it's basically worthless. So that makes me think that your best bet really is ebay. Seriously, my perfectly good machine was being listed for £10. I'd send it to you if I wasn't in the UK!

Also, put the word out that you'd like to learn sewing, and I wouldn't be surprised if friends or relatives will 1) offer you a lesson 2) offer to lend you a machine or 3) offer you their old machine like I would. Don't be shy, learning from others is so good because you can ask questions. If you don't any sewers, I'd recommend YouTube, and blogs that focus on your interest (dressmaking, home dec, quilts, whatever). Have fun!

This is very good advice. I bought a cheap Brother machine on Amazon as my first machine, and it was TERRIBLE. It was awful to sew with, and I wanted to throw it out the window half the time. But I kept sewing with it for a few years to make sure that I actually LIKED sewing, even with a crappy machine. I upgraded to a (brand new) Bernina and I cherish it.

BUT. This was 5 years ago. If I were to do it over again, I would do what theadvicist is saying. Put out feelers for anyone that's looking to unload a machine, or let you borrow theirs so you can see what you like. Go to a dealer's shop and try the machines out. Then when you're ready to buy, buy a USED one of the brand of your choosing on ebay. Then you'll have an idea of what features you want in a machine, and what you wouldn't use. And you will save so much money.

bonjourliz

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2014, 06:20:17 AM »
For just starting out, a basic model is fine.  I have a brother XL2600i and it has been great for the projects I have done... all with quilting fabric or just a few layers of heavy material (for a tote bag, I sewed through 1 layer of nylon webbing + 2 layers of cotton quilting fabric).  Its a great machine (though - tip! - use the bobbin that comes with it; other bobbins that look the same may not be... Experience talking there).  Got it for under $100 on amazon or Walmart or something.  Friends with similar priced singer models seem to have more issues than mine does.

Also, be prepared to buy not-the-very-cheapest thread.  I am taking a sewing class, and the instructor shared that less expensive machines tend to do best with the "expensive" ($7 vs $4/roll) thread. 

chemgeek

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2014, 07:26:55 AM »
I had an entry level Brother ($100) that was ok for awhile and then had all sorts of tension issues that cleaning did not fix.  I've had good luck with Singers though. Like any other appliance, anticipate that you should be cleaning/maintaining it to keep it in good working order.

If you have NO knowledge of sewing I would highly recommend trying to take a quick intro class or try to get an experienced sewer to sit down with you and go over the machine. Little things make a big difference, like having the needle in the proper position while threading, orientation of the bobbin, correct bobbin type ( like bonjuorliz mentioned), correct needle for the job. These things really matter! And can make the difference between a delightful sewing experience and wanting to smash the machine.

TrMama

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2014, 12:33:12 PM »
Ditto what all the others have said about putting out feelers for a friend's old machine (and assistance), or buying a reconditioned machine from a shop. You could also check local thrift shops. I sew a lot and have always used the old Bernina Record my mom got as a wedding gift in the 70's.  This thing is a workhorse and I'll never get rid of it. If it somehow became unusable, I'd buy another old workhorse.

Even as an experienced seamstress, I really only use the straight, zig zag and buttonhole stitches. Pay more for a fully metal machine (no plastic parts), but not for fancy features. Lessons of some sort are also worth paying for so you can learn how to get the most out of your machine.

I have heard all the cheap Singers are just that, cheaply made crap. Check the sewing machine reviews here, before buying anything, http://sewing.patternreview.com/SewingMachine/.

sugarsnap

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2014, 12:55:03 PM »
I'm a long time seamstress and purchased a new machine from Costco last year.  A basic tune up on a used machine is going to cost $75 at least.

I like knowing I can bring it back as newer plastic machines are more troublesome than older machines.  I have an older metal parts machine but it needs an overhaul.

I learned by reading patterns and trying to figure out what they meant.  These days there are so many great internet resources it shouldn't be hard to pick up the basics.

Señora Savings

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2014, 02:44:25 PM »
Bernina is a great brand.  They have a sister brand called Bernette, machine are in the hundreds rather than the thousands but they are still very high quality.  They don't have the same special features, but they're solid machines.  I lent mine to my least responsible friend and it came back whole.

Runny

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2014, 10:35:33 PM »
Wow thanks for all your answers guys! You can always count on Mustachian advice! Really appreciate it.

Spondulix

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Re: Sewing machine recommendations?
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2014, 11:51:06 PM »
I totally agree with Deborah to go to a sewing machine shop. Go see the machine in use before you buy. Someone at the store will know the details and can demonstrate. You could even take a sewing class to try out some models (stores often will let you use one of their machines). It's like buying a pair of jeans before you try them on - they could look alright and it seems like a great deal, but if they don't fit right, you won't wear them.

One good way to check if a machine is heavy duty is sewing over jeans. If you can fold the jeans over a couple times and the machine can go over the seams, it's a good machine. Cheap machines will strain or the thread will knot up.

Mine is a Brother (Project Runway model) and it is a workhorse - it was about $400, but I viewed it as a long term investment. Before, I had a $20 Singer from a garage sale and put $100 into a tuneup, and after three repairs it still had problems. I would very much avoid used machines (even if it seems like its in good shape) unless it's at a sewing store with onsite repair, and a warranty.

I borrowed a couple cheap machines to try and they were awful. Most of the machines at JoAnns, Costco, etc were too light weight, plastic parts... Not very durable if you're planning on doing any significant projects down the road. If you're just looking to hem clothes and make tablecloths, the machines in the $150-300 range might work fine for learning!