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recommend a sewing machine


UmMusa
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I don't mind spending up to $200 but will happily spend a lot less. ;p

 

My daughters are itching to make stuff for their stuffed animals, and I dream of learning how to hem pants. 

 

When I read reviews on Costco.com, a lot of them seem to break easily.  There's no WalMart nearby, but I have Joann's, Michael's, and a local sewing shop (who is willing to take my old, busted Necci and let me buy a good machine at a 'discount' whatever that is).

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This is what I have.

http://www.amazon.com/Brother-Feature-Rich-Built-In-Auto-Size-Buttonholes/dp/B000JQM1DE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400195341&sr=8-1&keywords=Brother+sewing+machine

 

It has way more features than you will need, but it is easy to use and works well. I sew quite a lot and it has held up to that. One thing I like about it is that it has a speed setting so that you can set it to slow and even if you "floor" the pedal, the needle will still go slowly. This has been very helpful in teaching my daughter to sew since she has a tendency to put full pressure on the pedal.

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This is what I have.

http://www.amazon.com/Brother-Feature-Rich-Built-In-Auto-Size-Buttonholes/dp/B000JQM1DE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400195341&sr=8-1&keywords=Brother+sewing+machine

 

It has way more features than you will need, but it is easy to use and works well. I sew quite a lot and it has held up to that. One thing I like about it is that it has a speed setting so that you can set it to slow and even if you "floor" the pedal, the needle will still go slowly. This has been very helpful in teaching my daughter to sew since she has a tendency to put full pressure on the pedal.

I bought my stepmother that one nearly 4 years ago. She sews quilt squares quite a bit and loves it.

 

I would avoid the cheap machines at JoAnn's. The Whites and Singer entry levels are pretty awful, and they have NO return policy. That section of the store runs separately and seems scammy. I accidentally bought rayon thread instead of poly. I asked for poly. The sales lady pulled it for me. I got about three steps away and looked in the bag for the receipt to put away, realized it was rayon, and they wouldn't switch it! I can't imagine being stuck with a machine that way.

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This is what I have.

http://www.amazon.com/Brother-Feature-Rich-Built-In-Auto-Size-Buttonholes/dp/B000JQM1DE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400195341&sr=8-1&keywords=Brother+sewing+machine

 

It has way more features than you will need, but it is easy to use and works well. I sew quite a lot and it has held up to that. One thing I like about it is that it has a speed setting so that you can set it to slow and even if you "floor" the pedal, the needle will still go slowly. This has been very helpful in teaching my daughter to sew since she has a tendency to put full pressure on the pedal.

 

That's the one my DH bought me for Christmas. So far so good, but I've only owned in 5 months. It's super easy to use.

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If you're just beginning, a $150-200 plastic wonder will be fine.  Brand is irrelevant as they're really all the same.  

 

I'm on my third of the exact one linked, but I only use it on rare occasions for fancy stitches.  While it works, it works fine.   :)

If you do a LOT of sewing, you'll wear it out as all of the working parts are plastic and what happens to plastic when it rubs on other pieces of plastic?  

 

My recommendation would be to watch eBay, thrift shops, etc. and find a good, old, all-metal Singer.  Something older than about 1965 or so.  It'll be ugly, it'll have more limited stitch functions, but it'll be solid and nearly impossible to break.   Despite what people seem to think, they're really not rare or valuable.  You should be able to find something perfectly serviceable for $50-100.

 

After my second plastic wonder fell apart a number of years ago, I went to vintage machines and have never looked back.  

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I'd get decent quality thread. Cheap stuff breaks and is frustrating, plus it lints up the machine more quickly. I like Gutterman that JoAnn's carries in the regular part of the store. Buy some extra bobbins, but make sure you get the right size for your machine. A bobbin holder is useful--there's one that looks like a little plastic donut. Get some pins and a magnetic pin holder. Good scissors and use them only for fabric and thread. Seam ripper. If you have a smartphone, JoAnn's has an app with coupons. You can also google and print them. They take competitor coupons and you can use one of each in one transaction. The "notions wall" goes on 40% or 50% off periodically. You might want to wait for a sale to buy extras. :)

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Avoid the cheap plastic things. I'd suggest buying a used model of a better brand. Most dealers have used models for sale and some might even come with a warranty. Pfaff, Bernina, Janome, Viking are all good brands. Brother is popular, but I didn't like how clunky it was--personal preference. Thread does matter. Stay away from the cheap Walmart spools--go with Guterman or some other better-quality thread. The cheap stuff breaks easily and will mess up the machine after a while. 

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DO NOT get the thread in the bins, usually all white or all black. They usually sell these spools for cheap. Basically the thread is very uneven in quality, mill ends- etc. I like to get the thread that matches my fabric composition- ie, 100% cotton fabric= %100 cotton thread. 

 

I also ditto what Erin said above, an old machine will have solid metal parts. A little oil and you are good to go. You should be able to check you local classifieds for machines like that or a sewing machine shop. An old school machine will be going strong for years to come....

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I might be an outlier. I much prefer very old metal machines. They go for a hundred years with little wrong that you can't fix yourself. My favourite is the Singer 201-2. It's at least fifty years old and runs like a dream. The only problem is it's not a treadle. Also no zig-zag.

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I already have an old Necci brand, but after a lot of effort and youtube-ing, and taking it in to a sewing shop, it isn't worth repairing.

The sewing shop said it would cost $70 minimum just to send it out for repairs... so I might as well get a brand new one.

 

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I highly recommend Janome machines. They have three different machines that all sell for under $150 at our local quilt shop (the 3128, 2212 and 2206). You do have to purchase through a Janome dealer, but I would think that wouldn't be hard to find. 

 

 

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I already have an old Necci brand, but after a lot of effort and youtube-ing, and taking it in to a sewing shop, it isn't worth repairing.

The sewing shop said it would cost $70 minimum just to send it out for repairs... so I might as well get a brand new one.

 

If the Necci is a good solid one, then repairing it may be the better choice.  $70 for a good tune-up is a reasonable price.  What is wrong with it?

 

If you choose not to repair, seriously consider that your money will go much farther if you buy used.  Local independent dealers often have second-hand all-metal machines from the '70's and earlier for less than $100.  They are high-quality machines that were designed to last a woman's lifetime and beyond.  To buy that kind of quality new would cost closer to $1000, if you can find it at all.  Don't be tempted by the array of fancy stitches on the newer cheap machines.  You can do darned near anything with a straight stitch and a zig-zag.  Save the other $100 towards a serger, which you will most likely eventually want, and which will cost much more than your regular machine.

 

I enjoy sewing, and do it fairly regularly.  My serger was bought new; the street price is over $1500 (though I paid less), so you can see that I take my sewing seriously.  And yet for my regular machine, a vintage Kenmore someone else was throwing away does an excellent job, and I have no yearning for anything new and fancy.

 

Get the most for your money - Go vintage!

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This machine is wonderful! I have dozens of machines, ranging from solid, old, metal tanks to delicate, complicated machines. This is the one I bought for my kids to learn on and we now have two of them. It has speed control (which is AWESOME) for those just learning how to sew. It is easy to thread, super easy to use.

 

I recommend buying high-quality thread. I use Mettler or Gutermann thread. The cheaper stuff can cause all kinds of headaches with the bobbin and with it breaking in the midst of a sewing project.

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