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Sewing Machine Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by overedge, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    I have a very sturdy sewing machine that I love, but I am thinking about getting a smaller, lighter one that would be easier to get out for short, simple jobs. Does anyone have any recommendations? I don't need fancy stitches or any elaborate computerized functions. Consumer Reports recommends the Singer 4411 so I would love to hear from anyone who has used it:
  2. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    I have an old Pfaff computerized machine and absolutely love it. Any low end machine from Pfaff would be wonderful and last you a lifetime.
  3. DFJ

    DFJ Well-Known Member

    Pfaff...old or new - they are amazing. I have two - one I bought in 1977 and it still works as though brand new.
  4. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

    I love my two Bernina's. One made in the early 1960's the other from 1983. Both still sew like a dream. I also have an old Singer ... Black, circa 1940 or 50 and it still sews perfectly.
  5. my little pony

    my little pony war crawling into canada

  6. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    If I had to choose between buying a used Pfaff or Bernina vs. buying a new Singer or Brother sewing machine, I'd choose the used Pfaff or Bernina. You won't know it until you use the machine, but there are many things that a quality German-made machine can do that the others can't. I recall helping a friend who was making skating pants from a slippery fabric, and her Brother machine wouldn't feed the fabric right. I brought over my Pfaff, and it did the job like a champ. Ditto for sewing through leather or upholstery fabric. You just can't beat the precision and quality materials that the more expensive machines are made of. My machine is now 35 years old and sews like new. I will never buy another machine in my lifetime. That's why I spent the money up front to make a lifetime investment.
  7. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    Thanks for the suggestions so far. To be more specific, though, I am looking for something lightweight and compact that would be easy to carry and set up for small jobs - I don't have a permanent sewing place in my house, so portability and size are important. If anyone has some specific model recommendations along those lines, that would be great.
  8. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    I don't know much about the newer models, because I've had a 1960's Singer model since I was 12, but how often would you use it, and for what kind of sewing? Pfaffs and Berninas are the gold standards -- all of the costume people I know swear by Bernina -- but do you need one that good?

    There's a Pfaff place that sells other brands as well on Granville and 6th or 7th, and I've read some good things about a place in Maple Ridge called Haney:

    ETA: I just clicked your link, and I don't know of new Pfaffs or Berninas in the $120 (before tax) price range.
  9. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    No, Bernina you are going to need another 0 on the end of that. Even a used Bernina is going to be tough to find under $300-500.

    If you are looking for a mass market machine at an under $150, I recommend this one: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JQM1DE Personally, if I was going for the Walmart level machine (under $200), I'd go for a Brother over the Singer. Singer has name recognition, but I have been really unimpressed with their low level machines.

    Now, Brother has two levels of machines- their mass market, and their dealer level. The mass market machines are not high quality. They are intro-level only; but they get most jobs done. I know a number of people who do garment sewing on this machine and have made wonderful things. I know many people who have pieced quilt tops on this machine and are very happy. It doesn't have much room to do actual quilting though. You can make simple bags on it; but once the layers really start packing up, it will be difficult. You may have trouble hemming jeans, due to lack of power- but if you take it slow, it should be able to do a decent job.

    But if you sew a lot, you're going to need to spend more money. It seems like $400-600 is kind of the minimum to get a well powered, quality machine. Janome will have a few in that range, so will Brother's dealer level machines. My sewing machine (Bernina 430) was over $2000, and was the least expensive full size machine they had (they had 3/4 size machines that were slightly less. Don't bother with their Bernette's in my opinion.) However, since I've gotten it, I've sewed way more than I ever did before, because it makes sewing a joy. And it hems through all the layers of a jeans fold as if there isn't a gigantic bump at the seam. And I've sew a bag that had 64 layers in the seam, had to slow down a little, but the machine didn't even flinch.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2013
  10. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

  11. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

  12. Moto Guzzi

    Moto Guzzi Well-Known Member

    I have a 1973 Kenmore and a 1994 Bernina, both of which do an excellent job. I agree with madm's suggestion about checking with a local sewing machine store. Check with a fabric store, too. They frequently have used machines for sale that come in when customers want to upgrade. They will check out the machine and do any repair work that might be needed. Some quilt shops offer discounts for trade-ins and then sell the trade-ins at good prices.

    I don't have a Singer 4411, but the reviews on Amazon are mostly positive, and it will probably work very well for what you want it for. You may want to check http://sewing.patternreview.com/SewingMachine/, too. They have customer reviews on many sewing machines, and a forum where you can post any questions you may have.

    I bought a 1975 Bernina from a friend of a friend and paid $50 for it. My great-niece is learning to sew and wanted a sewing machine. My brother paid $10 for an old Bernina that was sold at an estate sale.

    Bernina uses more metal in their machines as opposed to some manufacturers who use more plastic. The same is probably true of any high-quality machine, but I've looked only at Bernina since I already own one and love it. It's a pain to lug it to a quilting class, but it's a great machine that sews accurately without a lot of noise and bouncing around, unlike some of the machines I've seen in my classes.

    I also have a 1951 Featherweight that a friend gave me. Some people like to bring these to class because they don't weigh much, but I prefer to use my Bernina. My friend had had the Featherweight serviced at a sew and vac repair shop. I took it to a maintenance class at a local quilt shop that sells Bernina and services Featherweights, too. Their repair person told me the belt the sew and vac shop had put on it was not the right type and was one of the reasons why the machine wasn't sewing accurately. For any sewing machine repairs, it's better to take your machine to a shop that sells your particular brand. At this particular quilt shop, the owner and repair people go to Bernina University each year and are always up to date on all Bernina products.
  13. made_in_canada

    made_in_canada INTJ

    My advice would be don't bother. I use my mom's husquvarna sewing machine all the time even though I have a smaller, lighter, more portable machine. After using a really good machine I just get frustrated with my cheap machine even for small things which is all I do. The hassle of borrowing my mom's is worth it compared to the frustration of my machine. I did buy her a rolling bag for hers so that it's a little more portable. As always though, ymmv.
  14. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    I just re-read the first post, and I agree. I clicked the link and thought this was someone looking for a cheap sewing machine. If you haven't used a good one, they are usually okay-ish, at least for a beginner. Someone who has sewn on a good machine is going to hate the cheap ones.

    Just keep your eyes out for a used machine at a good price. Or look into rolling bags to take your machine to classes.
  15. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    Thanks, all, this is very useful. The machine I have now sews everything, and I do mean everything, so I have an alternative for more difficult tasks - I'm looking for a machine that I can set up quickly and go with if I have a smaller job. I will check out the recommended sources and see what I can find!