Friday, September 14, 2007

Which sewing machine to purchase?

I was just over at Whip-Up where they allow readers to submit questions and someone asked what machine to purchase. After typing up my comment in reply, I realized it's a question I answer frequently. So I'm re-posting my comment here.

My advice is to buy from a sewing machine dealer!

You can find all sorts of cheap, unreliable, and unpredictable machines from Target or Sears or Jo-Ann Fabrics or Costco. That's not to say that all of them are bad, but most of the machines under $250 simply aren't worth buying.

I see a lot of different machines when I teach, and the least expensive machines I endorse are the Huskystar machines made for Viking. They are made in China, so not the highest overall quality (compared to machines made in Europe), but they are good machines. They currently have four models of regular sewing machines, of which two are mechanical and two computerized. The mechanical models are fine, but have very few features. The computerized ones have speed control, a drop-in bobbin (making them quieter), and are very simple and easy to use.

By purchasing a machine from a dealer, you can take the classes they offer. I really recommend these, so that you learn the ins and outs of how to care for your machine properly and you can develop a relationship with the dealership so you can fearlessly have your machine serviced there when needed. Those folks will know your machine really well and can teach you all the tricks!

If you buy a Bernina, the dealer will likely offer Bernina Club, which is an amazing resource of monthly classes, each month teaching a new use of the machine. My mom has been sewing for 45 of her 55 years, has taught sewing and fiber arts classes for close to 30 years and attends Bernina Club down in Eugene and still learns new things (and has a lot of fun!)

Once I have daytime child care (aka preschool), I will totally go to Bernina Club!

I have a Bernina 1080 that I have mixed feelings about and a 1970s Elna that I also sew on. Both have great features. You just have to find the machine that you like and can afford!

Things to consider shopping for:

-Speed control (especially handy when doing small work quilting)
-One-step buttonhole (see the demo to confirm it really is one-step)
-Walking foot attachment (for quilting and for working on specialty fabrics)
-Symmetrical zipper foot (most machines have these, but low-end ones don't always and an asymmetrical zipper foot makes zipper application much more difficult)
-Portability (if you'll be taking a lot of classes)
-Large work surface or a table that fits your machine to increase the work surface.

Locally, the places where I have had (or witnessed) good service are:

Montavilla Sewing Center (NE Portland)
Sewing Center West (Beaverton)

Aloha Vac and Sew (Aloha)
27th Street Fabrics (Eugene)

Happy Sewing!


Karin said...

Hi, great post! I totally agree that the best thing to do when shopping for a new machine is to go to a dealer and try the machines. I bought a Pfaff 8 years ago, and I love it. It gets used very frequently and still performs like new. Sewing becomes more enjoyable when you really like the machine you are using!

studio wellspring said...

wonderful post ~ when i have some extra cash i will definitely be buying a new machine so i'll keep this post in mind when the time comes. thanks so much!

knitxx0r said...

I'm glad I finally got to read this post (just working through the RSS build up after our vacation). I've been thinking about buying a new machine ever since we moved. I imported the old one, using the proper plug-shape and voltage converters -- but it acts weird. It used to be variable speed, but now it's just fast! I was wondering what you know about the Husqvarna brand? There's a dealer near me. My dad had a Husqvarna chainsaw once, but other than that... I'm at a loss.

Dr Felix said...

we want to buy some items that we will be using
for our garment manufacturing industry such as Lining, pocketing, Gum
stay, waistband, zippers, etc and used garment making machines ranging
from tapping, cutter, Ironing, button hole, sewing and weaving
machines etc. We want to buy them from any European dealers so incase
if your looking for one let it be from Europe.

I hope to hearing from you shortly.

+234 8033 749 369