wanting to buy a good sewing machine

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by little mom, Dec 13, 2003.

  1. little mom

    little mom Active Member

    Aug 26, 2003
    we do a good bit of sewing now, tired of buying walmart crap
    done had enough of them 5 at least use 3to5 times throw in the garbage
    go get another one, want info on good metal gear sewing machine
    that someone actually uses thinking about the euro machine
  2. AngieM2

    AngieM2 Big Front Porch advocate

    May 10, 2002
    How much are you thinking of spending and are you looking in newspapers or buying new?

    I've had Janome/New Home for the last 13 years. that machine was bought 2 years used, and has migrated to my married daughter and still runs fine.

    I've since bought an electronic sewing/embroidery machine Jamome/New Home used. It runs fine the last 5 years, and I last year bought a mechanical with a little bit electrical Janome/New Home for use when I don't want all the functions of the electrical embroidery machine. (Which gets loaned out to others this time of year.)

    But - 13 years ago, the first machine was $600 used. The embroidery electronic machine was $700 used (and a good deal since $3500 new 2 years earlier), and the brand new mechanical was $430 at the dealers.

    I do have them cleaned and tuned up about every year and clean between major sewing jobs.

    This is probably more than you wanted to know, but I'd think if someone had one listed in the newpaper and you believed them telling you that they had it cleaned etc. You'd be doing well.

    (I've had kenmore, singer, and viking before this. The viking was the best of the other brands that I used.)


  3. ponyexpress

    ponyexpress Well-Known Member

    Feb 15, 2003
    My mom just "retired" her 50 odd year old Bernina. She has sewn everything on it, curtains, dresses, horse rugs, you name it. It was just worn out...
    She bought a new Bernina, one of those that does everything. Very pricey, but she says it will outlast her.
  4. H A F

    H A F Member

    Sep 27, 2003
    I am using a very basic Singer, that I have had for over 12 years. It has been through 6 moves (at least), I have accidentally pulled the electric cord out of it (long story), and have used it for everything from a denim quilt to a satin flower girl dress. It is still in good working order, and I don't hesitate to pull it out for anything.
  5. BetsyK in Mich

    BetsyK in Mich Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 13, 2002
    Wish you were closer and I had known. My MIL gave me her cabinet machine and I tried to sell mine (it was a Kenmore and I used it for many years) in three different yard sales. Finally gave it to a lady from the church that had a group that made quilts. Maybe if you check with the Goodwill type stores and keep an eye out for yard sales you'll be able to pick up an old machine, they are better anyway, so says the repairman who is trying to find me a belt for my moms old machine. Hers is a Signature, made by Montgomery Wards years ago and I prefer it to the cabinet version my MIL gave me.
  6. Ruby

    Ruby Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    If you can find a old black head Singer you will have a machine that will never wear out as long as you keep it oiled. They are very heavy, (all metel gears). I have one I just bought that is in a treadle cabinet. It had been converted to electric. I took the motor off and bought a leather belt and converted it back to treadle. I gave my daughter one this summer that was a singer, one of the first ones that came out with electric motor that was build in. I also have a New Home that is very old electric and all metel. Have a Brother that I use just for light stuff. Mostly button holes because it has a built in buttonholer.
  7. wawa3

    wawa3 New Member

    Oct 27, 2004
    hello out there. I am in desperate need of help. My mother gave me an old nelco sewing machine(model 7057a) and if anyone can help me find a manual or just give me some advice on how it works it would really help me tramendously.

  8. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

    May 10, 2002
    Little Mom,

    all metal gears? what kind of sewing do you do? straight stitching/zigzag? need fancy stitches?

    for a new machine look at the Bernina -mechincal-can be converted to a treadle with lots of fancy built in stitches. It is my understanding that this is being made for the Amish since Singer was bought out by China and it just isn't the same machine anymore.

    for a used machine... Singer Slant-O-Matic model 401 or 500 made from the late 50's -early 60's they just don't stop running. All metal has 27 built in stitches, will free motion stitch (needle plate raises). Has cams for an additional 22 stitches. Look at ebay to see what they look like.

    I sew on new Bernina, Viking and Pfaff machines...they are nice if you have never sewn on a Singer Slant machine! once you do ...you will never go back <smile>

    Also post this question further down on the main page in cooking and crafts.
  9. reese

    reese Well-Known Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    NO VA
    I'll second the NEWHOME/JANOME machines

    I have a Craft Master 5000 and absolutly love it. (it's a Janome machine)

    No matter what you choose, I strongly suggest a 1 step button and a top bobbin instead of a side bobbin.
  10. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2002
    I went on Consumer Reports and Sears Kenmore had good ratings in all the categories.
  11. bub

    bub Member

    Oct 26, 2004
    I just inherited one of my mothers Elna machines >30 years old and it still works like a charm. My mother and I both swear by them. You may only find them used and at quite a price but well worth it.
  12. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 6, 2004
    Michigan's thumb
    The craft/quilt/yarn store I work at sells Brother sewing machines. We don't even carry the kind sold in Walmart. I tell our customers that you are going to get what you pay for. If you are going to do occassional sewing and mending, the Walmart Singer or Brother is probably fine. If you want to make quilts or do production work, you've got to spend the money. If you live in an area where you occassionally get drops in power, a surge protector is not going to help you. If you get drops in power, you will loose the "brains" of the machine and need to order a new card. If you are using only utility stitches, you can save a lot of money by getting the most expensive -utility only- machine. It will have manual operations, no digital. If you only occassionally need embroidery work, have a store do it for you. Why spend from $1,000 to $20,000 because once in a while you want Bambi on a towel?

    When deciding on a brand, find out how diffecult it is to get parts.
  13. DW

    DW plains of Colorado Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    plains of Colorado
    Buy an old Singer. My electric is a Singer 1949, has zigzag, bought in 1971 for $50 and I sew all the time! I also have a red head Singer treddle paid $25 from a mega dealer in the 70's. My sister bought an old black singer after going thru many others and loves it.
  14. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 3, 2004
    Hill Country, Texas
    Having made a living at repairing sewing machines along the way, in my not so humble opinion the single finest sewing machine ever made (or at least the finest series of machines) are the Bernina 830 and 930. Essentially the same machine with the 930 having more stitches - both are all metal, and will sew anything from leather to finest silk without adjusting the tensions. They have the best feed dog system going and we demo'd that by sewing 2 single thickness pieces of toilet tissue using a wide zig zag. They go for about $450-500 on Ebay.

    Next best is singer 401A and 501. Most don't know that the 501 is a 401 in a futuristic (Ok futuristic by 60's standards) case. great machine, but will cost almost as much as a Bernina 830 and there are way more 830's out there than 401's.
  15. TXlightningbug

    TXlightningbug Well-Known Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Bernina, hands down. My sister says so too!

    TXlightningbug :yeeha:
  16. mamagrrl

    mamagrrl Member

    May 13, 2004
    Well, I've been reading the responses and it sounds like what you need is an inexpensive (you shop at Walmart and seem to have a fair number of kids) but indestructible sewing machine, maybe not a fancy-pants fabric doodler?

    I've got a fancy-pants Singer (well, it was fancy 8 or 9 years ago) and a Kenmore from the 30's (cabinet, electric, knee-control) and a Singer I inherited from my Grandmother (same vintage and style as the Kenmore)...and an old Jones hand-crank.

    Frankly, I like the Kenmore first, the Singer next, the Jones hand-crank after that and the fancy-pants Singer last of all. The first three only do straight stitch, but 95% of the time, that's all I need. A nice set of pinking shears and I almost never have to zigzag. I got the old Kenmore for $25 at a Kiwanis sale, Gma's Singer is beautiful and was free while the hand-crank was $30 at an old furniture auction. The Fancy-pants Singer I pleaded for an Xmas present years and years ago - and it strained the budget at the time. I was a fool. The fancy-Singer's broken down more times than not and the tension is difficult to manage. The other three, a simple tweak and we're good to go!

    Even the daughter's snagged Gmas' singer for her own - refusing to use the fancy one.

    If you don't have to spend a lot of money, then don't. If you're just going to make underwear and shirts, etc, a straight stitch'll do you just fine which means you can go to one of the all-metal indestructible old beauties - which are cheaper for whatever reason.
    Save your pennies, Enjoy and happy sewing!
  17. breezynosacek

    breezynosacek Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2003
    I have several machines. I have an antique Signature ZigZag by Montgomery Ward that is so heavy I can harly pick it up anymore. I runs like a dream and I got it for $8 and the purchase of a belt.

    I got a Dressmaker that was dropped on a parking lot by a man loading stuff into a storage facility. He thought he broke it because it busted the case so he left it there and I rescued it from the rain. It runs great, but again, it is one of those heavy steel models. $0

    I got a Domestic sewing machine and it must be older than I am, which depending on what day it is is very old. I bought it for $50 at an antique store and found the extra feet that went to it on Ebay for $5. because somebody didn't know that those 10 attachments were worth almost a couple of hundred dollars.

    Keep your eyes peeled. The bargains are out there. Keep in mind that although the slant model of Singer is a top of the line machine, you are going to really pay for the attachments, if yours are missing.

    The standard short shank machines and long shank machines are easier to buy replacement feet for if you buy an antique.

    Realize that if you want to do heavy weight denim work, really thick seams, you don't want to buy a short shank machine. You won't be able to get the seams under the presser foot.

    After having said all of that, I wouldn't trade my two short shank machines for anything. I can always find replacement feet for them.

    Also, I have a Bernina serger that I bought used and it is such an old one they didn't offer the manual online for it anymore. Hmm, boy was I surprised. They sent me a photocopy so I could thread and maintain my machine!!!

    I still haven't set it up yet. Probably will this winter. I paid $25 for this 4 thread serger and the lady thought it couldn't be used because the thread rack on the back of the machine had been broken. I bought a new steel pole that clamps onto the table top to hold my thread spools.

    You can buy bobbins for the oldest sewing machines out there. You might have a little difficulty in finding the innards of an antique like the Domestic (should you need to replace something) but the Singers shouldn't be a problem.
  18. missyinohio

    missyinohio Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2003
    A few years ago I read that since most people only did light sewing, ie curtains, hemming and such, that most sewing machines were only manufactured for a limieted number of duty hours. Simply not meant to last.

    My husband laughs at the number of sewing machines I have. But different machines handle tasks differently. The old Singers for example do the best straight stiching, and the buttonhole attachment means that you can make complete idiotproof buttonholes. (Put the right sized cam in the attachment and then just watch a perfect buttonhole form).

    Other machines for zigzag and other stiches. I got an old ('70's) Pfaff at a garage sale for $20, and it's a really nice machine. My mom just got a Brother at a garage sale for $10.

    My primary machine is a Bernina 1003 converted to treadle. It is mechanical, not electronic (obviously!) It has basic stiches, and sews like a dream. Bought new on sale for about $600 back in '00. I've seen them on ebay, and you could probably get one in the $300 range.