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Question for those who Sew . . .

PostPosted: Jan 14, 2005 11:42 am
by JaneG
I purchased my current Kenmore sewing machine 26 years ago at age 15 with my own hard-earned babysitting money. :D It has served me well over the years.

After years of lusting over the shiny new models, I've decided to spend my bonus check on a new sewing machine!! :D :D

Here's a question . . . which machine should I buy???

I have a great dealer locally who carries Bernina and Husqvarna-Viking, both of which seem to be very good quality. What other machines should I consider? I will be purchasing one of the higher-end models.

I do a variety of sewing . . . clothing, home dec, crafting, quilt piecing, etc. So I need a machine that can do fine fabrics for a blouse as well as heavy upholstery for a seat cushion.

With my current machine I can't do machine quilting, that's a requirement for the new machine. I think I'd like to get the embroidery kit also.

If you have experience with these machines, let me know what you think. Or if you absolutely LOVE your machines, tell me about it!!


PostPosted: Jan 14, 2005 2:30 pm
by Mary Ann
My mom had a Viking and I loved sewing with it.

My old Necchi is plenty good enough for the little sewing I do. Once, the seams on my son's pop-up camper came apart and he mounted my floor model machine onto a dolly perched up on the pick up truck in his yard and he slid it along while I sewed up those flaps. Only a veteran seamstress like yourself would appreciate this engineering feat. :roll:

PostPosted: Jan 14, 2005 3:03 pm
by janet
Hi Jane, I have an older (1989) Husqvarna-Viking and I would get another in a heartbeat...if someone would just give me the funds (I've been "needing" a Quilt Designer for over a year now. :???: )! It has done everything...mend torn jeans and horse blankets, sew doll clothes, baby clothes, my skirts, curtains, quilts (piece and quilt), reupholstered a sofa bed, lots of Halloween costumes...and all without complaining.

This is a never ending question at several of the quilting forums that I visit. Viking and Bernina are the two most often mentioned if money is no object. The key to the whole question is the have to have a great dealer, IMO. To find one that sells both those brands is unusual...kind of like a Ford/Chevy dealer. :lol:

I don't think you can go wrong with either Viking or Bernina. Try them out at the dealer and see which feels better...or try to test drive them at home. Most dealers know it is a major purchase and are after your continuing business (classes, accessories, etc). Most are pretty agreeable folks.

I just bought my daughter her first machine...a Kenmore. I'm glad to hear yours has done so well by you. Good luck with your search...I am SO envious!

PostPosted: Jan 14, 2005 3:44 pm
by Kas
Hi Jane,

My first advice would be to not trade in your old machine when you buy the new one. That is, unless it doesn't work anymore or you absolutely hate it. It doesn't sound like that is the case for you like it was for me. I had to take my old Singer in for service after every single project and sooner if it was a big project. The bobbin CASE would actually pop out of the machine. So when my dad and hubby traded that sucker in for my new Pfaff, I wasn't sad at all. The reason I say not to trade in the Kenmore is that you might find it is more reliable on the straight stitch or something else.

I noticed on the Berninas I have tried out that every tenth stitch or so on the straight stitch kind of does a little jig to the left. I found that to be very annoying. My Pfaff does a nice straight stitch, but tends to pull to the left. I really have to concentrate on keeping my seams even.

But the Bernina is like a dream in the free motion quilting arena. Wow! The latest Bernina I tried was the Alex Anderson quilting edition. I haven't ever tried a Viking, but have heard good things. The same with the Janome and the Brother.

Also, when you are out looking at machines, take one of your own projects and the thread you will be using to sew with. Any old machine can sew like a dream with the heavily starched sample fabric the dealers use.

Bottom line is I love my Pfaff, but wouldn't mind having a Bernina, too, for my quilting. I don't know if I would use it for my piecing or not. My sister loves hers. I don't think you can really go too wrong with any of the new machines. Just take some fine, silky material along with some bulky stuff and really put them to the test. Have fun!


PostPosted: Jan 14, 2005 4:32 pm
by JaneG
Wow, thanks for the info everyone. Yes, shopping has been fun, but I'm getting nervous about making a "final" decision.

:lol: MaryAnn :lol: You gave me a great mental picture!! I haven't used mine outdoors yet! BTW, somewhere along the line I picked up an old Necchi, no manual, only a few of the accessories. I don't think it was one of their better machines, but it's handy to have a second machine when a project is set up on the other machine.

Yes Janet, the Quilt Designer is one I drooled on while shopping! :D Surprisingly, this one shop carries both and prices them very competitively, has classes, etc. They offered to let me use them both, so I plan on trying them side-by-side.

Kas, there's no way I'm getting rid of my Kenmore, too much sentimental value . . . like when it was only a year or sold old and I picked it up to take it to a class and dropped it down the entire staircase!! Thank goodness it's so old it's made of steel! By the time it landed at the bottom the whole thing was slightly 'twisted' and I was in tears! The local warranty guy just scratched his head, Sears shipped it off to Chicago and 2 months later I got it back. It's still not completely "square", but sews perfectly!

Thanks for the tip about bringing my own fabric and thread to test with. I hadn't thought about what tricks they may use to make the test drive go really smooth.

Anyone else care to chime in???

PostPosted: Jan 14, 2005 5:20 pm
by janet
And just to confuse the issue, you may or may not know that Kenmore and Janome are sisters (like Mazda and Ford), Viking makes White machines, Brother makes Babylock, and Juki makes some Singer machines and the Bernina sergers. Some people claim that ALL sewing machines are made by one factory (the Happy Sewing Machine Factory) in China. :wink: I'm sticking with the one manufacturer who also makes's the gardener thing to do! :lol: (and they've been in business since 1689)

PostPosted: Jan 14, 2005 6:14 pm
by JaneG
:lol: :lol: :lol:

PostPosted: Jan 14, 2005 10:17 pm
by Old earth dog
I usedta liketa peddle my mom's old Singer machine for her when I was a kid. :eek: :eek:

PostPosted: Jan 14, 2005 10:50 pm
by pretends_to_garden
Here's Consumer Reports recommendations. I don't know how to do a link, but the Quilt Designer that you are drooling over is top rated :wink:
I tried to copy and paste the ratings, but they didn't show up right on the page.
I could email them to you if you would like, unless someone would want to tell me how to do a link?
Hope that helps! Theresa
January 2005
Sewing machines, plain and fancy

You don’t have to spend thousands to get a handy, versatile, and durable sewing machine. You can see that clearly in our Ratings. The chart features the best of the best--newly tested machines that proved very good or excellent and some standout machines from an earlier test.

• Mechanical machines. The Kenmore, a CR Best Buy at $180, sewed very capably on a variety of fabrics in single and multiple layers, and it was good on denim. It’s also relatively lightweight, and it includes an automatic buttonholer, needle threader, and five presser feet. The Brother, $325, was slightly better on corduroy and zippers. It also has a longer warranty than the Kenmore (1 year vs. 90 days).

• Electronic machines. These typically have pushbutton controls, an LED screen, the ability to make many decorative stitches, and other features. The most affordable ones are the Brother, a CR Best Buy at $500, and the Singer, also $500. The Brother is quite impressive. It includes a superb automatic needle threader and 49 selectable stitches. The Singer doesn’t sew as expertly but lets you program in letters. If price is no object, consider the Husqvarna or Bernina. These excellent electronic machines sell for $2,800 and $1,400, respectively.

For complete Ratings and recommendations of appliances, cars & trucks, electronic gear, and much more, subscribe today and have access to all of

PostPosted: Jan 15, 2005 11:49 am
by hostanquilts
Hi Jane,
I have a Janome Memory Craft 4000(New Home). Janome came out with a quilting machine also, but it is very pricey. Jones Sewing Machine on Prospect in Peoria is my dealer. He also repairs them & had Baby Lock & Elna, possibly Necchi too. I can't remember all the brands that he carries, but he services about all makes. Everyone that I know that has a Bernina loves them. I've never had one, couldn't justify the price for the one that I wanted. My daughter has a Pfaff & really likes it. Like someone else said, take several different types of fabric that you sew on & try all them out. Jones also has classes. That's where I first found out that I could sew quilts with a sewing machine instead of by hand.
Jan in Central Illinois

PostPosted: Jan 15, 2005 7:36 pm
by JaneG
OED, I have one of those . . . but it's all refinished and for display only, no peddling allowed!!! :lol:

P-T-G, thanks for the update. I subscribe to Consumer Reports Online, I checked back in early December and the information was from 2001! I'll have to check them again for the updated info!

Jan, I just checked the Bernina website for dealers and they mentioned a place on Prospect, I plan on going there this week. Quilt & Sew Dreams in Dunlap carries Husqvarna, but they price them ABOVE the suggested retail price. The Sewing Studio in Normal carries Bernina and Husq. and prices them competitively. Thanks for the report, I'll check out Jones.

PostPosted: Jan 17, 2005 6:09 pm
by hostanquilts
The quilt shop in Washington also carries the Hasquvernas (sp). Im not real sure how the new owner's are doing it, but they used to.

PostPosted: Jan 22, 2005 9:23 am
by wishiwere
Just a note, but if you want a better machine than you can afford, check the viking/Husqvarna dealers for machines that were traded up with? I just got one before christmas for 1/2 what a new one was. Someone had traded up which you can do with husq. if it's within a year :) And even though mine is 5-6 years old, it included a 5 years service warranty which includes and annual cleaning/adjusting and the one year to trade up for what I paid for it! SO far I love it and everything I've learned on it!

WHEW! Just hope I can afford the trade up in a year!

It's got a lot of whistles and I'm still learning all of them, but it's so much easier to use than the j.c.penney machine i had for 20 years (don't sew much :) Mom's had her kenmore for 40 years and loves it! Like someone said, you can damage it's metal!

My old singer is great for '39 tudor car upholstery that I did several years ago, but then I am hoping this new one will do that also if the need ever arose.

Let us know what you get! It's so exciting shopping for one, almost more fun than a car hey? :)

PostPosted: Feb 15, 2005 3:45 pm
by kiendu
I have three Kenmores and a Bernina. I don't know why I think I need so many???? But, first you have to decide WHAT you are going to sew, what your interests are, and what is important to you.... AND, of course, what price range you're looking to be in.

I have an older Kenmore that was the top of the line in 1982. (has lots of built in decorative stitches) Still works like a dream and it's heavier duty than my newer Kenmores so I like to use it for heavier things (jeans patching, ect.)

My newer Kenmores are both embroidery machines. I got the 19001 about 5 years ago... and it uses memory cards from both Kenmore and Janome. I got hooked on the embroidery and purchased the newest model (19010) last summer and that one allows me to download designs and make my own. I'm still learning that part though.

I bought a used Bernina just for quilting as they have such a nice even stitch. It has no frills, just a basic older heavy duty quilting machine. (830) I mainly use my 19001 Kenmore and my older Kenmore. I haven't spent enought time on my new Kenmore yet so when I'm in a hurry to finish a project I like to stay with something I know.

Good luck with your purchase.... there's so many choices out there... first decide WHAT you want to sew, and how much money you have to spend. And, most important, go try them out!

PostPosted: Feb 15, 2005 4:44 pm
by JaneG
This is WORSE than buying a car!!! I've now sewed on most of the models TWICE! The gals at the stores know me by name!! :roll:

Today over lunch I went to the home of an acquaintance from work who does a lot of quilting, embellishing and embroidery to look at her sewing studio, 2 high-end embroidery machines and several old featherweights on which she does most of her piecing. She let me play with the cool embroidery machines.

Kiendu, thanks for the advice. My old workhorse is a Kenmore. As for the type of sewing that I do . . . it's a little bit of everything . . . clothing, crafting, home dec, a little quilting (I'd like to do more), and I've never had an embroidery machine but I want a machine that can do embroidery too. I'm looking at some of the high-end combo machines.

I've ruled out Singer (bad reviews) and Bernina (sews a little rough and not user-friendly enough).

Pfaff is in the lead, it has a top feed dog to evenly pull the fabric and you can sew without completely removing the embroidery unit. Lots of nice heirloom and quilting stitches.

Husqvarna Viking has an easy-to-use screen and I can get a good used one with only 2-1/2 hours on it for a good price.

The Brother (same as Babylock) has a nice big screen and easy-to-use controls and does GREAT embroidery. I need to do a little research and find out how it does on the sewing features.

I haven't even looked at Janome.

I've seen most of the models I'm looking at on Ebay, as "new in box", but am leery of making a major purchase on Ebay. Would my local dealers honor the waranty? Would there be a warranty?

There's going to be a big 3-day Sewing/Quilting Conference held locally in March. Rumor has it that all the machines they use in the classes will be sold at half-price after the event is over? Now I have to think about waiting!


PostPosted: Feb 24, 2005 11:11 pm
by JaneG
I DID IT!!!! :D :D :D :D :D

After work today I picked up my new Brother ULT2003D!!! I've filled a bobbin, threaded the machine, put on the presser foot and done a little sewing on some scraps.

I usually jump right in and start fiddling with stuff, but this time I'm reading the manual and doing things the right way! I don't want to screw this up. :eek:

It sews like a dream and seems very easy to use. I has a big touch-screen for selecting your stitch, adjusting the settings, or creating embroidery.

I thought I wanted the Pfaff machine. I'm glad I took my time and went back and sewed on several of them 2 or 3 times. All the machines are awesome and do so much stuff it's incredible.

I'll be busy playing with this for a while!!!! :D :D :D :D :D :D

PostPosted: Feb 24, 2005 11:27 pm
by wishiwere
Whewhew! WTG! SOunds like fun! I just got mine before christmas, so the newness is still there. Love the computer don't you?

HAve fun! But don't forget we're here to witness your first finished project on it! :)

PostPosted: Feb 24, 2005 11:31 pm
by patsue53
Congratulations Jane! :D I'm glad you are enjoying your new baby. I've got the same old Singer that I got for Christmas over 20 years ago. I play with the idea of getting a newer one but I just don't use it enough to justify it.

I also have an old Kenmore (maybe Singer?) that does embroidery by using the little disks that you put into the machine. I bought it for $10.00 at a garage sale. Got it home and it didn't have the bobbin case...had to order one and it cost $25.! :lol: That son of a gun weights a ton. I bought it for my daughters to use but noone ever has done much with it. I should take it to the Goodwill. :lol:

PostPosted: Feb 24, 2005 11:35 pm
by Old earth dog
Jane, directions are for sissys. I never read them with my new camera :oops:......... !!nevermind!! :oops: Congrats on the new machine! :D :wink:

PostPosted: Feb 25, 2005 8:24 am
by Justme
congratulations on the new machine! I would love to have a new machine of my own instead of someone elses handme down. But, I need to start sewing again to justify the $$ :lol: .

O.E.D is right, I only read directions to figure out what I have done wrong :o