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Sewing machines recommendations? Help?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
My mom is wanting to get a new sewing machine, and I have been trying to research them, but dang, there are so many, I don't know where to begin !

She wants a (mostly at least) mechanical (not computerized) machine, that will do the basics and maybe a little more (like one step button holer), and an automatic threader, free arm, and will sew heavy fabrics like denium. Oh, and a portable machine, I believe. She would like to pay under $200, and around $100- $150 would be better, since she will only be using it sporadically (hemming, clothing repairs, occasional home decor...). The brands she is looking at are Jenome, Brother, and Bernina.

Any recommendations, for or against? Thanks!
post #2 of 16
My mom not too long ago had to replace her ANCIENT singer... she got another singer at walmart for a decent price - nothing super fancy (no computer), yet can do a lot of stuff... I know it has an automatic needle threader, I just never bothered to learn how to use it and just thread the needle myself... she basically has it for the same reasons: clothing repairs, dog/cat bandanas, occasional blankets/curtains... she used to make clothes and hair scrunchies for me all the time when I was little... let me root around in her sewing table and see if I can find the make/model number... brb!
post #3 of 16
I purchased a Riccar 20 years ago (my only sewing machine purchase) and it's still going strong. I've made literally 100's of quilts on it, as well as costumes for the local theater....I love it. It was a Consumer's Reports top pick way back then...don't even know if it's still made now days. Some day I'd love to get a Husqvarna Viking, but my Riccar is still going so strong, that I can't rationalize a new, multi $$ machine.
post #4 of 16
Ok, found the manual!

It's a Singer 1120

I really like it for general sewing projects... it can go through denim... I don't know a WHOLE lot about the fancy machines and all, I know this one's pretty simple though

Oh and my mom's previous Singer lasted AT LEAST 25 years (my parents have been married longer than that and she had it before they were married - she got this new one last year)
post #5 of 16
Most modern machines can do denim and the like... I'd steer clear of Brother and Singer, esp the newer ones... they just aren't as good as the old ones.

The problem you're going to find is the mechanical vs. computerized. Nearly every machine made today is computerized. I have an excellent Janome which can do darn near anything (except some REALLY fancy decorative stitches, but it does have several). It's new, and normally retails for about 400-500 (I got it cheaper at the sewing expo)... for the price she wants, a good quality machine isn't doable. I'd be leery of try denim on the cheaper machines, but she can try them out... a reputable sewing shop will sit with you and let you try things out...

All that said, if she's only sewing occasionally, then a Singer may be okay... again, the denim thing concerns me. I don't know how well they work on denim anymore. The nice thing about the computerized machines is that for things like buttonholes, they have options... and my machine is really easy to use... a couple of buttons (up and down) to go between types of stitch, as well as stitch length, etc...

Personally, I'd go with the Janome, of the ones you named... the presser feet are affordable and they're excellent machines... and I just looked at their site, they do have some value machines... how much they are, I don't know... but keep doing your research... I love my Janome, after having an old Singer for many years, which i hated...

Okay, enough with my 'book' of a response... I get very chatty...

post #6 of 16
I have a basic Bernina, I and I really like it. I've sewed denim, fleece, calico, rayon, duck, and lightweight silkies with no problem!
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much! When my mom mentioned Janome, I found a Janome Sew Precise? for $250 when I was searching around that I think will do for her, but she was kinda leery of the price. Maybe I can convince her, and perhaps chip in with my sister for Mother's Day or something to help get her one .

I had to replace my Grandmother's 30+ year old Singer that I have a few years ago too , and got another Singer to replace it, but I haven't heard good things about the newest ones either, which is really disappointing. I will check out the 1120 though, since your mom has had good results with it, Buzby, especially with the denim, thanks . She'll like that it came from Walmart- we actually have one of those in town .

I've never heard of a Riccar *goes to do search*- thanks, I'll check it out, Pookie.

Amanda- haha, don't worry about the "book"- on a health related forum I belong to, I apologize for my "books" in pm responses all the time, and then one person told me not to apologize, that's why she asked me . I'll pass on what you told me, and let her know that you are happy with your Janome. We don't have many sewing places here- one or two Joanne's (I'm talking about a radius of an hour's driving time from our house), a Sewing Machine Mart (but they do Baby loc), and Hancock Fabrics (I don't know about the "try it before you buy it" policy there). That's part of the problem *sigh*.

Catfriend, do you know your model # on your Bernina? Part of my problem is figuring out the model #'s and just what they do (I'm printing out spec pages for my mom to look out) .

Thanks again for your help!
post #8 of 16
Get a Singer or a Pfaff. Stay away from Brother. I've heard not bad things about "Kenmore", but Singer and Pfaff are top quality and will last you years and years with little to no maitenance.

Here is a link to a Singer 411, which is my sewing machine. It goes all the way back to 1962. And in all that time it's only cost something like $65 to have it cleaned and get a new presser foot.


post #9 of 16
My wife has a pretty good Sears sewing machine in a cabinet. I got a basic machine from a pawn shop for $25 that looks like it's never been used. At that price, I can use it until it needs adjusting, then give it to Salvation Army and buy another one!

It's nice to have "new," but a little checking at GoodWill, Salvation Army, even e-bay can probably get you a little older machine for a lot less money.
post #10 of 16
Another place to look would be a sewing machine repair shop. They will often have some machines that were brought in for repair/maintenance, fixed, and never picked up. They will usually have a warranty or guarantee from the repair store.
post #11 of 16
I've got a PFAFF Creative 1475 CD. My granny got it for me and it's the same one she uses. It's really easy to use and can do amazing things. If my granny, from Italy, who lived without electricity till she was 18 can figure it out I'm sure your mom could! My granny is VERY technologically impaired!

In my opinion PFAFF is the best brand.

Ebay has my PFAFF for about $200 brand new, I think, was around $2000
post #12 of 16
Originally Posted by catsallover View Post

Catfriend, do you know your model # on your Bernina? Part of my problem is figuring out the model #'s and just what they do (I'm printing out spec pages for my mom to look out) .

Thanks again for your help!
It is a 1008, but I have had it for years and I don't know if they make it anymore. I also like the idea of picking a reconditioned machine up at a repair shop. Maybe you can get a fancier modle without the extra$$$! I don't know how soon you want the machine, but out here the shops usally have good sales around county and state fair times. (My aunt got a serger for better than 50% off!)
post #13 of 16
I have had a viking husksvarna machine for the past 12-15 years?? It is a pretty basic one and never had any problem with it.
post #14 of 16
I just went in and looked at the one I bought for $25. It's a JC Penney machine, so who knows who made it?

My wife has her mother's Singer Featherweight 222K. It's a free-arm machine, and in good shape is worth a hunk of money. This one needs to be refinished, but it works.
post #15 of 16
My Kenmore that Santa brought me about 10 years ago does quite well. I've only had to have it serviced once. I'd love to buy a Viking, but I don't think I could justify the cost.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hmmm, I didn't think about checking in the "land of left behind sewing machines", lol . We only have one local repair shop, but they do service all machines, not just the Babyloc.I'll see if they have anything, and see if my mom is interested.

I did find a nice Singer at a big consignment sale with the case for $25, but it didn't have an automatic threader (I probably should have bought it anyways) that said "Machine works great; I can't sew" on the tag, lol. Thanks for all the suggestions!
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