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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sewing Machine S.O.S

Here is MY Gold Standard
Bernina 830 Series
But alas... My Pocketbook does not allow such an indulgence.

My Dear friend, Celina, owns this little jewel and she allows me to come play anytime I want.  Isn't that a good sewing friend?  BTW, Celina became a new Grandmama for the very first time!!  Lots of baby goodies will be sewn on Miss Bernina 830!!

Now for my dilema.  I need your input.  I am in the market for a sewing machine.  I do not mind buying used if it's in good condition.  Remember, I have Champagne taste and a beer pocketbook.
Here are some of the features I'd like to have (or Think I'd like to have):

Large Harm space (space to the right of the needle).  My Brother Machine has about a 7 in. harm space...too small.
Knee Lifter:  
Automatic thread cutter (optional, but nice)
No vibration when sewing
Good for FMQ
Embroidery culpability if possible.

Right now, I'm sewing with a $200 Brother Model from Wal-Mart.  It actually sews quite well and I've had no tension problems so far.  Me and sewing machine tension have issues! 

I want to know what you sew with and the features you like/dislike and what brand/model of machine you think I should purchase.  I have a budget of between $1000-$2000.  I realize that I may just need to purchase a separate embroidery machine in order to get a good quality sewing machine in my budget.

Ok, friends, you have been given your Mission...If you Choose to Accept, please send your tips on purchasing a sewing machine ASAP to Grandmama's Stories!



  1. Janome 6500. Absolutely a dream. Thread cutter which I thought I didn't care about and can't live w/o now,perfect stitches, large throat..I've quilted many quilts on it. Does everything perfectly. There's a newer model of it out..6600? I think is the no. The best machine I've ever owned and I've owned several. And it's cream and purple too.

    Another retired teacher

  2. Good luck! I sew on a 35 year old Kenmore and wouldn't trade it for the world!

  3. I love...LOVE, my Juki 98Q, however, it is only a straight stitch machine. Its fast, has a large area right of the needle (harp?? neck??) , perfect stitches, thread cutter, knee lift, and the feed dogs drop. I've used it for over two years with zero issues. And I have put in a lot of hours on this machine. A LOT!

    Have fun shopping!

  4. Jane I love Janome machines...have had several over the years and they are all wonderful. I have the Janome 11000, which does embroidery, but it is over your budget unless you can find a used one. Even at that you would likely have to pay over $2000. Right now I'm really wanting to add a machine or trade machines and if I do it will be the Janome that's made for quilters. I'm not sure of the number but it might be the same one referred to in your first comment. It has the wide throat bed that's good for machine quilting. I don't do much embroidery any more and would sell my 11000 but would never get back enough to make it worth while. But I would buy another Janome for sure! blessings, marlene

  5. I have a Singer Quantum L-500, "Queen Lolita", and I love it. I got her in September last year so she is just about a year old. ~11" of Harm Space (I had never heard that term before).

    It has all of the sewing features you want and with the darning/quilting foot and the feed dogs retracted, it quilts very nicely too! One feature that I would not have ever guessed would be on my favorites list is an on machine "go button". When quilting, it is a godsend. No need for the foot pedal, just push the button and it gradually speeds up to whatever speed you have it set for and then stays there. Speed adjustment is also right there and easy to change.

    401 built in stitches with a stitch card attached to the machine making it easy to change between stitches.

    The only thing you mentioned that it does not do is embroidery. But considering you can pick one up for about $1,000 (or less), you can pick up a small embroidery only machine the remainder of that $2,000 budget!

    Whatever you do, try to actually USE whatever machine you settle on before you buy. If you're anywhere near Columbus Ohio, you're welcome to stop by and mess with the Singer any time!

    Good Luck.


  6. I`m looking for a new (newer) machine too. This is going to be interesting and I will be watching closely. I have always liked the old machines with metal gears but I need to get over that. My favorite machine is my 1959 Singer 99. I agree with you about more space to the right of the needle and I`m ready for a change too.

  7. I sew with a Pfaff Expressions 4.0. I LOVE it! I got it a year ago Mother's Day and haven't had any real problems with it.

  8. Boy, I can't help you as I have two 45+ yr machines (given to me) and one $300 machine which rang up at $75. You will get as many suggestions as comments. Best thing is to go out their and try them out. You have your 'must need' list - add service and dealer location to that list. Good luck.

  9. I sew on a Elna Quilter's Pro and I love it. I bought it used from a quilt store that was closing. It was their classroom model which was barely used.
    It has a large throat and push button auto thread cutter, up/down needle, auto lock, and start/stop right on the front of the machine. It has a speed adjustment and the usual features (reverse, drop feed dogs, etc.)
    Since it is designed for quilter's, it comes with a quilt table and walking foot, 1/4" foot and darning foot. It has some fancy stitches but doesn't embroider.
    It has a knee lift which I never used since it has the push button feature.
    Yep, I love my Elna but I think Sharon gave some good advice to make sure dealer and service locations are convenient. Have fun!

  10. I too am in the Market for a sewing machine with more room.I have a Bernina Aurora 440 Quilters Edition.It is too expensive to go to Bernina for a machine with more room.I went today to look at a place that sell both Janome and Pfaff.The woman I talked to recommended for me to go to Pfaff that it was more like my Bernina.I am leaning towards the quilt expression 4.0 because of the features like automatic presser foot lift,automatic thread cutter.Floor model here in Canada was 2069-- 2299 if I didn't take the floor model.But check them all out.I didn't decided today because I don't want to make a decision I will regret.

  11. I too, would LOVE a Miss Bernina 830. I feel your *pain*.
    I own a basic Bernina 1008 - lovely machine, but quite basic - not computerized, but sews beautifully.
    I have owned Brother and Babylock sewing/emb machines, and they are great! They are user friendly, and sew, and embroider well. They come with many more goodies than the Berninas.
    I also have a Pfaff 2170. I wouldn't buy a Pfaff ever again. The Pfaff is NOT user friendly. It doesn't wind a bobbin nicely, doesn't make a decent buttonhole, and I can't tell you how many hoop screws Ive been through in a year, (and I'm not one who embroiders a lot.). It has lots of other issues, too. Even the dealers know it has many failings. Just saying.
    One of the most important things abougt buying a machine is the dealer. How long do they take to make repairs/tune-ups, and can they do them well; are they able to teach and educate you about the machine; does your dealer love the machines they sell; do they care about making you happy about your machine????? Do they have classes and clubs?
    Try the different machines out. Take them for a test drive, and when you do take your own fabric, etc. Try making buttonholes, fancy stitches, tension, dense embroidery designs, etc. Oh! And, if you can get a sewing/emb machine get one with the largest hoop you can afford. (You'll never regret a large hoop.).
    Also, many times you can get a great deal on a used machine with a warranty, (buy from a good dealer only!!), right after the new models come out. Many use their current machines as trade ins for the bigger, newer ones. (My DDH used to be that way about cars. LOL)
    Have a ball!!!!

  12. Hi Jane I have an Elna Q7200 and it does everything Pins and Needles said hers did but it doesn't embroider. I got it for about $1200 and really love it. It is made by Janome and I had a Janome before but it didn't have quilting foot's etc. I really love it especially the fact that I can slow the stitching done and there is a stop-start button on front. Go out and try a few are you near any sewing stores? Hugs Sandra

  13. Oh what fun....I'm going to keep coming back and reading these suggestions. Maybe one day I can go shopping! LOL
    I alternate between a 40 year old Kenmore and my newer Brother model E2000. I have an old Singer "knockoff" from the forties, but I need to get it refurbished. It will be interesting to see what you decide on!

  14. Well, your sister is no help at all. I am still sewing on a like-new Singer featherweight that is probably 35 years old. It is wonderful. The only think I miss is a surger (sp?) and a zig-zag stitch.

  15. Very cute Jane. The 830 is also my dream machine, but unless I win a big lotto I don't think I'll ever be able to get it. Sure seems like that big hoop would be great for machine embroidery projects, as well as free-motion quilting. Plus, so many over the gold standard features to enjoy sewing with. Still, it is good to have dreams.


  16. It seems we all have the same dream! A few years ago I purchased a Janome 6500 P. It meets all the requirements you have listed. It replaced a Singer Touch & Sew that I purchased when I graduated from high school. I literally wore it out.

    I really like my Janome. Check out their website.

  17. I like my new Janome, but it is one of their cheaper models ( beer budget here too). I still use my 1970's Kenmore too-love this machine as it is a real workhorse. Good luck.

  18. My next machine won't be computerized. It makes it more expensive to service and I can't think of any features I use that make the computer necessary.

  19. I have a Pfaff 2140 (no longer made) that I purchased in 2003 before buying a quilt shop in 2004. I love my Pfaff but was a Janome dealer until recently when the company decided I wasn't selling enough machines and pulled my license. I was told I could still get and sell machines but haven't tried yet. Should be interesting...

    Anyhow, I have learned over the years and recommend buying a good sewing machine and an embroidery only machine. That way you can sew and embroider at the same time; otherwise, you're dead in the water while the machine is embroidering unless you have a back-up machine to sew on. The machine that I most often recommended was the MC6600 because it has the built-in walking foot feature that made Pfaff so popular. It has a nice amount of bed space, 9" I do believe, and comes with 14 feet as well as an extension table. It has a nice selection of decorative stitches and does monogramming so you could buy it first and an embroidery only machine later. The Janome 350E (don't fool with the 300E) should be able to handle most anything you'd want to embroider for quite a while unless you want to get into really big projects and don't want to do a lot of re-hooping. The cost of both the MC6600 and the 350 E is about half the cost of a top-of-the-line combo machine. Again, the added bonus of having both is the flexibility you have over a combination sewing/embroidery machine. While I love my Pfaff and have had no problems whatsoever with it (knock on wood!) if I had it to do over again I would go with the two separate machines.

    Sewhappy is quite right about choosing a dealer. I usually equate choosing a machine dealer with getting married. You're going to have to be able to get along/live with them for quite a while and you want to be sure that they are honest, reliable, and have a reputation for doing what they promise you they'll do before you buy their machine. I've heard so many stories about other dealers over the past eight years, most of them not so good. So, in addition to doing your homework on what machine you need be sure to do your homework and find out about the reputation of the dealer that sells the machine you decide on.

    The first thing you need to do is make a very detailed list of what you want the machine to do and add a few things that you might not do now. It's best to buy more machine than you need and grow into it than to buy a make-do machine and then outgrow it only to have to go through the process all over again. That's the more costly way to go anyhow, and on a beer pocketbook you don't want to have to spend your money twice:-).

  20. Ok so I can offer some info here that might help you figure this out. Why? because although I have recently bout my dream machine my Brother Laura Ashley NX2000 (I don't care about embroidery), a good friend has been in the hunt for her machine for a few months. She wants to do art quilts and does not want to have to upgrade in a few years.

    We went to all the local dealers and tried everything available. She didn't care for the feel of the Janomes or the Pfaffs and the Berninas with the bigger harp space were way out of her budget. What she chose is the Husqvarna Viking 875 (10" harp) and at this moment is watching one up for auction on Ebay. The local dealer's price is $2200 new. The other option for you that I've been seeing on Ebay is the Husqvarna Topaz, it does have the embroidery. One sold recently for $2000 but it had extra hoops included, another sold yesterday for $1225. Something like those may be worth investigating.


Blessings to all of you who have taken the time to leave your thoughtful comments. I read each one and hope you will come back often!

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