Sew, What's New?

Curating sewing and quilting talent, techniques, and tutorials, since 1997.

Hi All,
I had a really poopy brother machine for about $100 a couple years ago. I was disheartened when it jammed and consequently died. I have renewed urge to begin sewing again (spawned from all these beautiful textiles I bought along my travels in asia) and I'm back in the market for a machine! Any advice on something around the $250-$350 range for entry level? I'd love to have a computerized one but that is expensive, I know. I'd love the ability to tie off and have a sewing on/of buttom vs just a foot pedal. And any machine that promises to be jam free! I don't need anything fancy, really. Just good enough for altering clothes, easy buttons, maybe some light quilting (but no embroidery), shams & sheet & pillow sets, drapes..... I looked and Janome, brother, bernina but now it seems I'm even more confused then ever. Have pity on this beginner and offer some good advice! (-:

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Comment by Sunshine America Clay on July 23, 2009 at 10:07am
I also had a poopy Brother, which frustrated me to no end. There is nothing as awful as being a beginner at sewing and wrestling with a terrible machine. When I gave up on it, finally, I bought a Husqvarna Viking Huskystar. That was 2 years ago and I have been very pleased. Watch the sales - this one was supposed to retail at $400, but I got it for $200, and this kind of deal is not unusual. My mom has a really nice Elna, which prompted me to look at the Scandinavian companies vs. the others. I know that almost all the "lower end" machines are manufactured perhaps in China, and not in Sweden, but there is something about the strength of the brand. The MOST IMPORTANT THING, though, has been mentioned by another poster - that is DO NOT BUY FROM A BIG BOX STORE!!! When I had a tension issue with my machine, I just brought it in to the shop I bought it from and they adjusted it for me - the machine has a five year warranty that they will honor - it is not you on your own hassling with Singer or whomever about having to send the machine here or there. Also, use good thread, keep the machine oiled and replace your needle; you will be amazed at how many problems you will avoid by doing these very simple things.
Comment by Cathy on July 23, 2009 at 9:33am
You are looking at the right machines. Have you sewn on these? I tell everyone to sit and sew and play on the machine. I have a Viking and love it - I was looking for a machine for an aunt of mine not too long ago and I talked to friends about their machines then did some searching on-line and then went to the machine stores and looked and learned a little more then did some more online looking at the models. We made the decision and my aunt is so proud of her machine. She bought a Baby Lock and has continued to brag about. There are machines that Brother makes for Baby Lock that almost look the same except for color of trim- These would probably fit in your price range and I think you will be pleased with these.
Comment by Carolee on July 23, 2009 at 9:04am
I think the advice others are giving - look for a good, second hand machine from a high end manufacturer - will be your best choice. Good sewing machines last for years, but many sewers decide to 'trade up' for newer features even though their current machine still works fine.
Comment by Sharon L. Hudson on July 23, 2009 at 9:02am
I guess I will put in my two cents for what its worth. I own a Janome DC5030 and it has compurtized decorative stiches plus needle up and down and needle threader. I realy like this machine It has worked well for me had it sence 2005 but i got it when it first came on the market and I think the prices are much better now. The only thing is I don't use it when making my heavy purses it has a tency to bulg down like the moter isn't heavy enough. I like all the dec. stiches you can do so much with them even make your own quilt blocks with them. I also agree with that check sewing machine repair shops and reg sewing machine shops and look around and ask about warrantys and if you can return if you are not happy. I hope we have all given you some good advise and I hope you find the machine for you . Good luck (-:
Comment by marywallis soetebier on July 23, 2009 at 9:01am
I agree with person Busia. Take the time to visit your local sewing machine dealers which are usually a Fabric-shop, quilt shop, or a local or close by sew-vac store that sells refurbished machines. You could look up the chapter of the American Sewing and contact the chapter-or neighborhood chairperson in your area and she could maybe give you more local information. You do not have to join. I have only heard good things about Janome. They use them in our high school here for teaching in home ec.
classes as they can tolerate inexperienced sewers
Comment by Mrs.Carol Mattice on July 23, 2009 at 8:40am
From my experience of sewing you may just have to go up the ladder a bit in price. I have a Janome Excel 5018 and I had it for 15 years. I sew six days a week in the business that I am in. When it started to go I thought I am going to buy the same machine again. I truly enjoy it and it is a strong machine that can go through 8 layers of jeans with a size 18 needle. It has many features. But at the price you are looking at maybe you can get a second hand one that has been traded for something higher on the line. Just a thought. Hope you get what you are looking for in the sewing world. All the best.
Comment by karenotto on July 23, 2009 at 7:54am
i'd be surprised if Bernina was in that price range. I nearly fainted when I saw their prices.
My DH brought a $100 Toyota machine home for me a few years ago, and it has been perfectly servicable, except the feed dogs won't lower, so quilting is out except for the easiest straight stitch.
However, I would not hesitate to look at some Toyota machines with more features, or a Janome.
Comment by Ann Salem on July 23, 2009 at 7:01am
I have a machine embroidery/sewing machine, but it was a pain in the neck switching back and forth. I went to a Janome dealer and saw the DC3050 it is a gorgeous sewing machine not too sure though on the price it may have been a little more than what you want to pay. I had initially bought a cheaper machine but it was a pile of junk so I sent it back and bought the Janome, I would at least check it out. Good luck.

Ann S.
Comment by Busia on July 23, 2009 at 6:54am
Most important, DON'T BUY FROM A BIG BOX STORE! (example, Wal-Mart, Sears, etc.) Go to a local Sewing Store and tell them your budget and the features you want. And go from there. The advantage of a true sewing store is they will repair your machine, know your machine and it's a human to talk to! To get more machine for your buck, consider used. All the used machines sitting in the store were probably trade-ins for people who were buying UP. Women who sew a lot, take loving care of their machines, even the ones they have traded in. Also, the owner has serviced the used machine so you know it works. One problem you might have been having on your first machine was using poor quality thread! I know that sounds stupid, but cheap thread jams your machine, skips stitches and breaks. So be sure and use good quality thread when you get your new machine. I personally love the Janome and have traded up 3 times, all Janomes. Good luck and happy sewing!
Comment by Nancy Mattison on July 23, 2009 at 6:49am
Sorry. Need coffee $250-$350. Sigh.

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