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I am planning to replace my 28 year old sewing machine. I read all
the archived messages about sewing machines. They were very useful
for getting started and now I have some questions from a slightly
1. If you don't do fancy stitches, are the computerized machines worth
the extra money? They do seem to have features which would make
sewing less a chore, like exact needle placement for tight corners and
automatic tension regulation. (Or am I just hopeful?)
2. Are the computerized machines fairly reliable? I'd hate to be on
the ''bleeding edge'' of technology.
My sewing consists mostly of tricky mending and cloth doll making
(tight curves; sewing in tight places) with a few super-simple
projects like large pillow covers. Some zigzag stitches but
I just replaced my old mechanical sewing machine with a computerized
machine (I chose a Janome 6260). I don't do embroidery so I wasn't
interested in fancy stitches. What I do think a good computerized
machine has given me is much greater control over the finer points of
my sewing. For example, the needle up/down function keeps me from
having to add a stitch to move the needle down (or up). Also, I can
lock a seam by having the machine automatically reverse a couple of
stitches or I have another function that automatically stitches a few
stitches in one spot (another way to lock the end of stitching).
Another thing is the greater choice in needle position (goes far to
left or right). So, yes, for me I have more control and less
frustration with a computerized machine. My machine is still new so I
don't know about repairs, but I read a lot on the internet (try
sewing.patternreview.com reviews for lots of reviews of various
machines) and chose a model that people seemed universally happy with.
I am dying to learn to sew simple things like curtains and duvets. I don't want to
spend too much on a sewing machine in case I hate it or am terrible at it. BUT, I
don't want to buy a piece of crap that will fall apart in 30 seconds either.
Any suggestions for a solid and inexpensive beginner (i.e. not hard to use) machine?
I have an Elnita (made by the Elna company). It's nice, because it's
very solid, but doesn't have a lot of complicated, super-fancy
stitches and stuff to learn, just the basics. And it's relatively
inexpensive. I've had mine for 10 years.
I just bought a used White brand sewing machine from A1 Vacuum and
Sewing on Park St in Alameda. It was only $90, is made from metal
parts (it's from the 70s) and has been reconditioned so it runs
perfectly. I broke down and bought a well running used machine because
the plastic Singer I bought from Target was a frustrating piece of
crap. I highly recommend A1 Vacuum and Sewing. The guy who runs the
place is very smart (although a little grouchy), services all the
machines, will give you free lessons on how to operate the machine and
charges more than fair prices on his machines. Don't bust out the big
bucks on a Bernina or Pfaff until you know what you're doing and don't
buy a plastic Singer!
i have liked my kenmore that i have used for about 9 years. it has been
good to me and seen me through a variety of projects (quilts, baby
clothes, dresses, and curtains). it has the horizontal bobbin feature i
find essential. that was always my biggest problem using other
i recently inherited my mom's sewing machine and was getting ready to
post my kenmore on craigslist for $40. if you would like it, i have a
lot of the extras that you need to go with the machine, too. drop me an
email if you are interested or just want more tips on how to get
I would like advice on the purchase of a sewing machine. I am not a sewer,
but would like something for the Halloween costumes and hemming projects.
The curtains in my bedroom are going on year 3 without being hemmed to the
proper length. I highly doubt I would take up making my own clothes,
however. I would like the machine to be functional and compact ( if
I bought a Husqvarna-Viking ''Huskystar'' about a year ago for about $150. I chose
their most basic model, as my objective in sewing was about the same as yours. I have
been VERY happy with it. They actually have a trade-in program, which basically gives
credits your purchase price to an upgrade within a year of original purchase, in case
you decide you want more features after all. JoAnn stores in Concord and Dublin have
sales reps (I think JoAnn rents them the space or something), and there may be other
In case you are considering buying anything off Ebay, etc, I would discourage it. I
had terrible problems with the Singer I bought from Ebay and had no one to go to for
Choosing a sewing machine is like buying a car. First, you need to try it to
determine whether you'll be comfortable using it. Second, if you purchase from a
sewing machine dealer--and I think that's better than getting a Target special--the
price is negotiable. If nothing else, ask the dealer to throw in a few spools of
thread and a pack of needles.
That said, if all you want is a machine for hemming, look at getting a used portable
machine for under $100. Otherwise, ask for a low-end Janome/New Home. Having a good
tool makes all the difference. I'd stay away from anything new by Simplicity or
Brother because I don't think they're made well. The new Singer Featherweight is OK.
If you do end up enjoying sewing, you can do other things besides make clothes and
there are several fine quilting shops in the area such as Qulit Fans that teach
If you don't sew often, avoid machines with zillions of stitches. You will never use
For day to day work, hemming, and halloween costumes, you'll use straight stitches and
zigzag. Every machine since 1950 has these.
Look on Craig's List - search for Sewing Machine. On any day, there's several dozen
for sale, one or two for free.
A dad that does the family sewing
I purchased a Kenmore sewing machine from Sears. It can do various types of stitches
and buttonholes, but I use it mainly for making curtains, pillows and hemming. (I do
very little sewing of clothing anymore.) It works quite well for basic sewing and
can stitch thru denim pretty well. I bought it about 3 yrs. ago for about $150.
Unfortunately, it doesn't come with a cover so I just put an old pillowcase over it.
I've been sewing for 40 years(!) and love it much more than my old Singer.
like my Kenmore
You probably would do just fine with a basic Singer machine that can be bought at
Target or other big-box store for around $100. Or find a used machine on Craig's List
eBay, etc. For the type of projects you're describing, which are pretty simple and
straightforward, I wouldn't pay more than that.
I'm a beginning to learn how to sew. I took a class at Stone
Mtn. Daughter and loved it, but found their machines too
expensive for me to afford. I'm living on an extremely limited
budget and would like to buy an affordable simple machine
to start with. Someone in the class said she has a
Simplicity that she baught at Walmart and loves it. Any
recommendations? Chiara (510) 652-6205
My mom gave me her EuroPro Model 7130 recently. She is
an expert sewer, I am an advanced beginner. My projects
have come out great, including button holes. The machine
is great fun to use.
my daughter has been taking a drama class which employs a seamstress to make
the costumes. i myself have been interested in learning to sew, so i asked her what
she recommended for a beginner like me (in my 40's) or even for my daughter to
start to learn on (she's 8, but excellent dexterity). She showed me the machine she
bought at Costco for the drama program and told me why it was so great as a
beginner machine. Check out the Costco website -- It's the Brother machine for
$179. If that's beyond your budget, they have other options, some less than $100.
One great thing about Costco is that you can bring back anything for any reason,
any time -- just keep your receipt. And I'm pretty sure you can return an online
purchase to any of their stores (double check this). Good luck.
Hi! I take a sewing class in Lafayette from a teacher who also
teaches at Stone Mountain & Daughter. Anyway, I wanted to be
sure you checked out Janome sewing machines. I've had one for a
few years (had an Elna before) and adore it. Check out their
website at janome.com to compare the different models.
I bought my sewing machine from sewvacdirect.com and had a
great experience with them. They sell the machines cheaper than
anywhere, free shipping, and no sales tax! Very responsive to
questions on the phone. Very professional. They sell Janomes
ranging from $1700 to $140. Hope that's within your price
range. I have heard the reliability of the new Singers &
Simplicity machines is poor, & would hate for you to put your
money towards something that won't sew well for you.
Good luck finding something!
I would highly recommend the Sewing Machine Shop in Walnut
Creek. They have 2 great beginner machines, the Pfaff 1020 (for
about 200 bucks) and the Pfaff 1040 (for 300).
The big advantage, as far as I'm concerned, of going to a
Sewing Machine Shop, rather than a dept. store or Costco, is
that they will A) give you free lessons in how to use it and B)
Trouble-shoot (also for free). In the past, when I've had
trouble, I'll just bring my machine in and someone there will
help me figure out the problem.
Can anyone recommend a good, durable, easy to use sewing machine
for a novice who wants to learn how to make clothes? Something
that will last the years and doesn't weigh a ton, but isn't made
of plastic parts (am I dreaming?)? I'm not interested in
anything programmable because i am completely clueless in that
department. Thanks in advance!
Singer makes basic machines that won't break the bank. I
upgraded from mine only 2 years ago -- I had it since I was 10
years old! It had some plastic on it, but lasted and was
durable. I have a friend who has found good working vintage
(heavy) singer machines in 2nd hand stores. She takes them to
a sewing machine repair shop and gets them serviced and they're
good as new. That takes more shopping time, but they are
beautiful too! You may check out some repair shops that also
sell machines. They may have used ones for sale.
While it is true that all you need is forward, reverse and zig-
zag, my life is so much better with the programmable machine.
Though I've been sewing for a long time, I'm not very good at
it! My machine makes buttonholes for me -- something I never
mastered with my bare-bones machine.
happy with the bells and whistles
I purchased a janome from a wonderful store - Lafayette Sewing
Center. Plastic is pretty much what is used - the bigger
question is whether to get a machine with a computer chip.
What is great about the Lafayette store is you can try a
machine for - I think its about 4 months but confirm with them-
and then upgrade if you need to. This is what I did. Cannot
reccomend them enough. Worth the short drive thru the tunnel.
Check out Sears for a Kenmore. Basic. Reliable. Good value. you
can also try Viking. With my machine, the most important
features are: straight stitch & zig zag. The rest I rarely
use. It's imporatnat to be able to back up easily; it's nice to
be able to remove the footplate & just stitch a free straight
stitch (to repair a hole w/o a patch); it's nice to be able to
remove some of the base so that you can insert a sleeve, and sew
around it w/o trouble. Ease of threading needles, threading
bobbins, changing needles, changing stitch width (for zigzag)
and length is important. Mine also has a little built-in
storage tray for things like other needles & bobbins.
I am looking for a recommendation regarding a good sewing
machine for my teenage daughter. She is very interested in
designing and sewing her own clothes, making craft projects
etc. I would like to get her a machine that would be easy to
use, but sophisticated enough that she would not be frustrated
Any suggestions about what I should buy and/or where I should
I recommend going to Sears and getting a Kenmore machine. A
relatively inexpensive on would be perfect. I spent about $150-
(maybe less) on mine about 2 years ago (just like your daughter
i love making & fixing clothes and making crafts) and learned
how to sew by reading the SIMPLE directions it came with. I
thought I'd have to take a class but those Kenmore instructions
are very easy to follow. Mine does pretty basic stuff, but also
has some neat zigzag stitches.
I think that would be great, and you can always get her another
one as she progresses & have her take a class. The first nite I
taught myself to sew I made a simple bag for myself!
Check with Kathy Osborne at the Sewing Machine Shop in Walnut
Creek. She ''wowed'' me with her knowledge and was a good
salesperson without being *overly* pushy. They have machines
there from $199 up to $7000 (yikes!)925-937-7575, 1661 Bothelho
Drive. It seems like a great resource for serious sewers,too.
- Former seamstress
You can't really go wrong. The basic way that sewing machines work
has not changed much in the last century; I have sewed quite
successfully on an ancient machine powered by a treadle! There
have been some innovations in the way the bobbin threader works in
newer models. Buy something used or get a cheaper model (Elna,
Singer, and Kenmore are fine makes) new. Don't spring for the
bells and whistles. If you're still at sea, I suggest you go to a
non-chain fabric store (Stone Mtn and Daughter or Poppy Fabric are
two East Bay institutions) and ask for a recommendation. My
machine, incidentally, is a Kenmore made by Sears; I learned on an
Elna when I was in 4-H 20 years ago.
I am interested in buying a sewing machine and need some advice
about what brand or model would be best. I would like a somewhat
basic one, but as I plan on improving, I would need one that
extend beyond the bare-bone features. I am willing to pay more
for one that will last some time. Also, and advice about where I
could take reasonably priced sewibg classes. I am especially
interested in learning to sew clothes, toddler and adult. Thank
I recently purchased a pretty good sewing machine at
Sew Images, that specializes in Bernina machines,
located in 4172 Piedmont Avenue in Oakland (510-601-
8739). They also have classes there, although a bit
pricey. I heard you can attend cheaper classes
(approximately $40 per semester) at the UCB night
school. But you would have to wait until the spring
This last weekend, after extensive research, I bought a
Janome 4623 LE Plus at the Sewing Machine Shop in
Walnut Creek (http://www.sewingmachineshop.com). The
list price for this machine is $699.00, but they sell it if for
$439.00 plux tax (about $465 total). It's a great machine for
clothes and quilting. I'd been using a basic Singer for the
last 22 years which I finally wore out and this one was
recommended to me by a number of sewing professionals.
It has a one-step buttonholer (much nicer than a 4-step)
and it has an overcast stitch which mimics a serger. I don't
do machine embroidery or anything like that, though this
model has 23 stitches in all, including smocking. And it
sews like a dream. If overcast and one-step buttonholes
aren't high on your list, I believe the Janome 4618 sells for
$339.00. They are extremely helpful and knowledgable at
the Sewing Machine Shop and also give lessons; their
website will tell you the price. However, when you buy a
machine from them it comes with a class specific to that
machine and it goes over all the stitches as well as
maintenance and oiling. It's a real workhorse of a machine
which is what I was looking for. And it was worth the trip to
Walnut Creek. Anyway, thought I'd put in my two cents. Hope
I did the same thing a few years ago when I decided to learn to
sew in earnest:I bought a really good machine from a well-
recommended dealer,Cecilia at Sew Images on Piedmont Avenue in
Oakland (one block below the Piedmont movie theater). She sells
Bernina machines which are very reliable and come in a range of
prices. You'll have to decide whether you want your machine to
be computerized or not (I vote for yes!). She also sells some
gently used machines so you could probably get a good deal
As for classes a 3-hour class is included with the purchase of
your machine. By all means take it! Other dealers ought to have
similar offers. I have also taken other classes (day and
evening) both from Cecilia at Sew Images and from excellent
instructors at StoneMountain on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley.
Threads magazine recently did a comparison of sewing machines and
posted their results online along with a tip sheet on choosing a machine.
I think the website is www.threadsmagazine.com.
Well my Singer sewing machine has broken and the man at the
repair shop says it isn't worth fixing. (It wasn't a very
expensive machine, and the repair will cost too much.) So I am
now in the market for a new one. The repair place sells
machines, but only two brands, Pfaff and Brother. I would like
to look at a larger variety. Can anyone recommend a place to go
to see some different brands? How about recommendations for good
brands? I do some quilting,and have occaisionally made some
clothing, curtains, etc., all light weight jobs. But I would
like a machine that I can use when hemming jeans too.
For serious sewers, I'd recommend either a Viking or Elna sewing
machine. They're pretty expensive, but Elna makes a basic
machine, an Elnita, that doesn't have any of the fancy stitches,
is less expensive, but still very high quality.
Another outstanding brand is Bernina. These machines are made in
Switzerland, are very reliable and have an excellent warranty.
While the computerized models are expensive, the line also
includes some non-computerized machines that are supposed to be
equally good. It is a good idea to shop for a dealer who will
give you good service; most dealers include a free class on
learning to use your machine. I bought mine at Sew Images on
Piedmont Avenue in Oakland (one block below the Piedmont
Theater). Cecilia Franklin, the owner, also carries a few used
machines that can be a very good deal.
I did a lot of internet research before settling on my Bernina;
it is worth subscribing to a few discussion groups devoted to
specific brands in order to figure out the pros and cons of
various brands/models etc. I really splurged on my machine but
I have never regretted it; it handles jeans and other heavy
Unfortunately, quality in sewing machine manufacturing has really
gone downhill, so much so that the cheaper brands (Brother,
Singer, etc.) are not even worth buying. While you could get a
Singer in the 1970's which was a great machine, the modern ones
are just junk -- can't handle fabrics of various weights (in fact
will tear up anything lighweight), and don't do well with
stretchy fabrics either making stiches that are too loose or too
tight. They seem to only work on mid-weight flat woven fabric. If
this is all you will ever have to sew, it may be OK. One problem
with the machines is that the cheaper brands don't have tension
controls that actually work. Sewing machines really benefit from
precision machining, as the parts can move thousands of times per
minute, and you really do need even tension control of the
threads if you want a stitch that will not be too loose or too
tight. If you really want a sewing machine, then you should buy a
high-quality brand like a Bernina (for sewers) or a Pfaff (for
crafters). Although I was really nervous spending a couple
thousand on a top-of-the-line Bernina (while I was a graduate
student!), it has actually been the best money I ever spent, such
high quality and I am sure that it will last 30+ years (I've had
it for 10 already, and it's still perfect). There are also much
cheaper entry-level models. There is no point in buying a machine
that is so frustrating that you won't use it. My Bernina is so
easy, even my husband (who is not a sewer) uses it.
Correction -- the brands that I recommend are *Bernina* for
sewers, and Pfaff for crafters. I accidentally recommended
''Viking'' instead of Bernina. Sorry to anyone who read my post,
sleep deprivation is ruining my mind.
Can anyone recommend a good beginner's sewing machine for a 7 year old?
My daughter is interested in learning to sew, but I'm afraid a regular
machine will be too big for her to work with, and the ones I've seen in
toy catalogs don't seem like they can really do anything (please
correct me if I'm wrong.) What about these "mini" machines I've seen
that are advertised as being for mending? Might one of these be a good
starting point? Thanks!
I have been sewing for over 30 years and I would not recommend a sewing
machine for any child under at least 12. It is too easy to be injured,
either by having a needle go through a finger or having a needle or
straight pin break and go off flying into the face! When I was a very
young girl I did have a toy sewing machine, but it was pretty worthless.
There are many things a young girl can learn about sewing that can be done
by hand. I learned how to embroider, then I learned how to make doll
clothes by hand. I also remember making small stuffed toys--all by hand.
The first quilt I made (7 years ago) was made entirely by hand. I recently
finished a quilt made of over 1,000 hexagons, all by hand.
You might want to call Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley and see if
they have a sewing class for kids. The Sewing Machine Shop in Walnut Creek
may also have a class for kids. I don't know if machines are involved.
Good luck with your search. Unfortunately, my own daughter has no interest
My son started using our sewing machine when he was 6 and 1/2 to sew straight
seams and has been using it on and off (under close supervision) since.
too big, he used it standing up and that worked just fine.
One person wrote to say that they didn't think sewing machines were
appropriate for children under 12. I disagree. I started at age 9 or so,
and didn't have any trouble. I was never intimidated by the sewing
machine, unlike some other folks I know. I feel that waiting till 12 will
miss that window of learning that children have (they say that kids can
learn ANYTHING more easily before age 10). I would recommend a class,
however, at least to start. Teaching your own child anything can be a
challenge (which is why I admire and wonder at those who are able to
successfully homeschool their kids)! And in a class they will be likely to
emphasize good technique and safety. One of the concerns the other writer
mentioned was having a pin break and fly up into the eye of the child.
Proper technique dictates that the pins be removed right BEFORE you sew
over the seam where they were, which should eliminate or at least
dramatically reduce this particular hazard. It slows you down to do this,
but it is much safer. Good luck
I began sewing on my mother's Singer Featherweight sewing machine at the
age of nine. I started with larger doll clothes and progressed to my own
school outfits by age 11. I remember my mother being very nervous when I
first began, but I sewed all the time and never had any accidents. That
Singer was a very stable weighty machine (despite it's name), simple
straight forward and backward stitch and not overly fast (my current
machine is much faster). I always felt it a perfect basic machine to learn
on. I still really enjoy sewing... I believe those old models are still
around used, although I have no idea of prices....
Someone mentioned the Singer featherweight in a recent recommendation...
we have one that my grandmother first owned- it is wonderful for straight
stitching (perfectly even stitches), although that is all it can do.
Because of this particular excellence, though, old ones are in high demand
by quilters and will probably run around $400. However, I was just looking
at an ad this morning for a Singer factory clearance in Concord, and it
seems that they do make a replica of this machine- for $88 (and I think it
said it could do button holes, too), as well as a newer version still
called the Featherweight. As for when you teach your child, my mom helped
me make a dress for myself at age 5, and then my interest hibernated until
about age 12, when I started sewing using my mom's scraps (hence, I
specialized in baby clothes!). I have been sewing every since and it is
one of my favorite hobbies (which I unfortunately have little time for!).
By all means, if your child is interested, let him/her get started! You
can get electric scissors that won't cut skin which is what I remember
using as a young child. Good luck!
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