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Anyone here sew?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I used to sew when I was a teen and really enjoyed it. Back then I always borrowed machines, or went to an arts and crafts center (why don't they have those here?) to do my stuff. Now I'd like to get back to sewing again.

Does anyone here know of good websites for sewing resources? Also if anyone can recommend a good machine to buy. I'd like something that could carry me through the basic and intermediate sewing levels, and serve as a functional tool for most projects. Also, is it better to buy a machine from a specialty shop, or a big retailer? Online or in the store?
post #2 of 17
I love to sew!

I have an ancient Singer sewing machine that was my Mom's and was bought in 1962.

I would recommend buying a Singer because they are built to last. And they have built their reputation on quality machines.

The singer site also has some free projects that you can do too.

Another good brand is Pfaff.

No need to buy any of them online. You can find them in most stores, especially stores geared towards sewing supplies. It's best to go and look at them and try them out and ask questions anyway.

So far as online stores with sewing notions. Surely you must have fabric and/or sewing stores in your city?

If you are just getting back into sewing, it's best to go to a fabric store where you can pick the brains of those who work there. People who work at those usually know something about sewing and fabrics etc. and can be a wealth of information helping you to not only pick the right patterns, but also the proper material and the right notions such as zippers and threads etc. Some will even give you sewing tips too!

I remember years ago when I was first getting back into sewing I had no clue even how to lay a pattern. I had totally forgotten all that I had learned. I really needed shorts for physiotherapy and figured I'd make some. The girl at the store helped me pick a pattern, the material and thread etc. She showed me how to fold the material so I could lay the pattern. She even opened the pattern and explained what it all meant. I went back to see her about 3 times after that, each time dragging my shorts along with me, and she helped me work through the problems I was having.

I would also suggest looking for sewing shows on television. Usually Home and Garden or PBS has sewing shows. Mostly on the weekends and in the mornings during the week. One show that I really enjoy is "Sewing with Nancy". For several years I faithfully taped every show and have a large catelogued library of VHS tapes. She taught me a great deal too. She explains things very well, and it's easy to understand. Here are her websites.

Sewing with Nancy

Nancy's Notions

I notice at her site that you can also watch her online from her site too.
post #3 of 17
AS for websites with supplies... er... not quite sure. My store has some, but not everything on their website. I've never done JoAnn's website (I consider them one of the Evil Empires, simply because they come in, take over/close down mom-n-pop fabric stores and then sell more crafts then fabric... esp. good quality fabric), but for notions and such, try them...

As for machines... unless you're really hurting for cash and can't afford more than 150 for a machine, don't get Brother or a Singer. The newer (as in past 20 years) Singers are junk, as are pretty much all Brother machines. You might do well with an older, basic machine. Older Singers are built like workhorses and may not always look pretty, but they are infinitely better machines.

Go to a sewing machine shop. A repair shop preferably. They'll have refurbished older machines that'll give you more bang for your buck. That way, if anything goes wrong, or if you need help, you can go back to them... they'll actually HELP you, as opposed to handing you an 800 number for service. Don't buy machines at JoAnns, or Walmart/Target/etc. You're scr**ed in terms of service or new owner classes. Many smaller shops here offer 'new owner' classes when you buy a machine.

If you have the $$ to spend: Bernina, Pfaff, Janome, etc. Lots of excellent machines out there... I've played with them... but in the end, I can't afford a new machine yet. I have a 20-something Singer... from their transition of good machines to cruddy machines.

Good luck!! Any questions, feel free to ask away...
post #4 of 17
Originally Posted by Natalie_ca View Post
I love to sew!

I have an ancient Singer sewing machine that was my Mom's and was bought in 1962.

I would recommend buying a Singer because they are built to last. And they have built their reputation on quality machines.
Their older machines were excellent... truly built to last... and the machine you have in certainly in that category, but their newer machines are junk. They, like certain big cat food companies that have 'junked out' in recent years, have gone downhill, and their newer machines are presenting with mroe and more problems practically out of the box.

If one wants a Singer, hunt for an older one... don't bother with new ones... any respectable sewing machine salesguy will steer you far away from the Singers and Brothers.

Another good brand is Pfaff.
Now THAT I can agree with.

post #5 of 17
My hubby bought me a Kenmore for Christmas about 10 years ago, and it's perfectly suited to beginning/intermediate sewing. And it's not so computerized that I can't figure it out, LOL!
post #6 of 17
Well gosh... I have a little $99 Brother, and it's done fine for me. But then, I'm not trying to sew any fancy fabrics or do buttonholes or anything, so maybe I just haven't found its limitations. I gave up on my old 1972 Singer because the timing just would not stay fixed.
post #7 of 17
I have a shark 384 by euro pro... it was just a cheap machine I picked up at target to replace my brother machine (had two of them, they both died) It's probably not the worlds greatest machine.. I really don't know because I'm no sew-pro or anything But I will tell you it's gotten me through clothing, slipcovers with upholstery weight fabric, curtains and a slew of pillows... so hey, I'm happy with it. I really just wanted something that could do upholstery weight/denim fabric, so as long as it did that I was happy. Denim was what killed my brother machines - and it wasn't even heavy denim!

I think it ran me about $75 give or take... so for the price, it was an excellent deal
post #8 of 17
I have a Brother too. It's never had any problems in the 13-14 years or so I've used it. Then again, I'm not much of a clothes maker and usually like making things with lighter fabrics like satin and meshes.

Were I to get another sewing machine with more options I've probably go with a Bernina though, they're tough.
post #9 of 17
I have a Bernina. It is a very basic model (no computers or anything) it sews well and is built like a tank! Are you interested in fabric buying sources or insturctional sources?
post #10 of 17
I have a 1954 Singer that is still the best machine I own. Singer created some really junky machines in the 1970's, got better for a while in the 1980's, and their current machines turned back into junk. I burned up a Singer built in 2000 within 2 years and I didn't sew all that much. I also agree to avoid Brother.

Sears machines are good beginner machines but I've heard mixed reviews on them.

I have a Necci that is actually pretty decent. If I were to buy a new machine, it would be a Plaff.

I think a lot depends on what you can afford and what you plan to sew. And I would suggest that you go into a store that sells them and ask to use it before you buy it. Look for things such as ease of threading, how easy is it to oil the machine, change the bobbin, and how it sounds when you sew. I've hated machines that had problems in these areas.
post #11 of 17
Here is a picture of my Mom's sewing machine.

I think it looks quite nice actually. I prefer this look to something that is all white and looks like it's made out of plastic. Mine is quite heavy and made out of some kind of metal, and sits inside a 4 drawer sewing cabinet.

In all the years that my mom and I have had this machine, it's only cost $67.00 for maintance. I couldn't get the tension to stay properly and it was breaking the threads, so the guy from the local Singer shop came and took it out of my cabinet and back to his shop where he cleaned and oiled it, put in a new presser foot because the one I had was worn smooth, and a new needle plate. Then he delivered it back to me and put it back in my cabinet.

I was amazed. My Mom actually had bought the machine from him all of those years ago. When I told him the history of the machine he looked up the old information and that's how I know when the machine was purchased. He told me how much she paid for it too, but I can't remember. I know it was very expensive for that period of time though.
post #12 of 17
I have a Europro 7-layer denim machine, a Singer heavy-duty Dressmaker and a Europro serger. My Singer is an all-metal one, bought from a wholesaler that sells unused school machines. I've had it for about 15 years and, except for a yearly cleaning and adjustment, I haven't had a bit of trouble from it.
post #13 of 17
I would love to start sewing but I've never set up a machine before, my step-mom always did that and even then, I've only done that twice.
Since we're still on a tight budget, do any of you know of an online site where I can look into buying a sewing machine that's under $75? I doubt my husband will understand the logic of buying a machine for more than $100. He needs it though, it's his pants that are ripping!
I can hand sew fine. I have the patience to sew up a Halloween costume I made a couple of years ago. It was rushed though, so it's not that great.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Wow thanks for all the info so far. I feel better now that I've heard about Singer's newer models. I had been looking and it really seemed they were built pretty cheaply. I was initially looking at Singers because my grandmother has used the same one since the 60's, and it still works beautifully. It's one of those old ones that came with a sewing table, and the machine is built into it.

As far as online resources, I'm mostly looking for instructional sites, as fabric is something I want to see and feel before buying. I am open to purchasing a machine online if I already know what to get, and how much it should cost. But it looks like that isn't gonna happen.

There is a really big fabric store (not JoAnne's) that is privately owned, but I have mixed feelings about it. It has a lot of variety, but it looks like it might close down any minute. It's in an area being improved, the place isn't being kept up like all the others around it. It's sort of dingy. Most of the people who work there barely speak English, and they give me weird looks every time I go there. I don't dare ask a question to any of the women, but they have one elderly man who seems to know his stuff, but he really has to be prodded for information. For example, if I ask "Can you tell me about the machines?" he asks me which one I want to know about. I can't be broad about it and tell him what I need it for. I have to point to each one to find out about it and then mentally compare them myself. I'm too much of a beginner for that. Then the worst part is that nothing has prices on it except the discount racks. And it seems every time I ask for a price on something I get a different price.

I guess I need to start looking for another store. I would really like a mom and pop shop where I can actually talk to someone and have experiences like you are all mentioning.
post #15 of 17
I have had my Viking ( Husqvarna) I bet for over 15 years. No problem with it other than me breaking needles by sewing over pins!!
I would recommend going to a sewing machine store and trying them out.
Do you have a technical college nearby as some have open sewing labs (for a class). YOu can see what they use.

I agree with Nancy's notions (a Wisconsin retailer!!) She also has or there are sewing classes on public tv.

I know there are some really fancy machine out there with usb ports to connect to ones computer for special projects.
post #16 of 17
I have 2 Brothers that I used daily in my costume design production. I started with a $99.00 Brother that has 2 stictches...straight and zig-zig. It is still working. A few years ago I found a more complicated Brother with 40 stitches at a flea market. It wasn't working so she sold it to me for $20.00. I took it to JoAnns and had it repaired for about $100.00 (the clutch needed oiling) and it has run with no problems since then. I also have an old Singer that I inherited.

I agree with buying an old rebuilt machine from a shop. They can answer any questions and give you a good buy.
post #17 of 17
I have a Riccar that I bought about 18 years ago (Holy time flies!) I've used it mainly for making quilts, but also for clothing and decorating projects. It's built like a tank and has never needed anything besides routine cleaning/oiling. The thing that sold me on the Riccar was the fact that it had all metal gears. I had an old Kenmore that had plastic gears that were always stripping. Some day I'd like to own a Viking-Husqvarna, but I've sort of slacked off my sewing projects lately, so I can't really justify the expense.
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