Need advice on a New sewing machine

Calling all seamstress Dopers.

I sewed a lot 15-20 years ago, but haven’t done much besides mending since.
The last time I tried to mend something I reached final frustration with my machine. I have a then-state-of-the-art Husquevarna which was purchased in 1978 or so. It is/was a great machine but has always been temperamental. I could get it tuned-up, but the last time I did, about 8 years ago, it cost me $80. With inflation figured in, I think I could buy a new mid-level machine for not a whole lot more than what that would cost.

SO…my question is: what do you consider to be the best machine on the market for an intermediate seamstress who wants to do basic mending and construction sewing?

Any opinions would be very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Oddly enough, a clean and tune should still cost about $80.

I’d go with keeping the Husqvarna - you say it was top of the line 30 years ago? Mechanically, it’s probably still right near the top of the line vs today’s machines as long as it hasn’t been left to rust. In 30 years, the mechanical act of punching a needle up and down through fabric and spinning a hook to catch the thread and join it with the bobbin thread is unchanged. What has changed is how the needle is positioned when it comes down - side to side and back and forth - to do things like zig-zags, button holes and decorative stitches that you’ll run off a few inches once just to see what it looks like and never use again.

Unless there’s something actually wrong wth the machine, “temperamental” is usually something that can be adjusted out, especially if you can tell the shop that the machine has a habit of snarling up the bobbin, dropping stitches or whatever.

We’ve got a crazy array of sewing machines at home, ranging from a couple old Singer Touch And Sews on up to computerized things that do everything but cut out the pattern. There are times that the 40+ year old Touch And Sew is better than the computer machine.

Out of curiosity, what model is your Husqvarna?

FWIW, entry-level machines that are worth looking at will be starting at around $350. Any much less than that, and you’re looking at utter junk that will drive you completely insane.

Moving thread from IMHO to Cafe Society.

I’m pretty happy with my Bernette 90e, though now I’m sort of wishing that I’d saved up a couple more months and gotten a machine with fancy embroidery (pictures and letters) options. Bernette is made by Bernina, and mine sews like a dream. I paid about $600 for it. The only frustration that I’ve had with it is that I accidentally put the bobbin winder in “wind” position when I was trying to sew, and the machine will either sew OR wind a bobbin, but not both at the same time.

The 90e is the top of the Bernette line. If you don’t want or need the fancy embroidery options, and you feel comfortable dropping several hundred bucks on a sewing machine, I recommend it. I got myself this machine as a reward for losing 100 pounds, and it’s been a lot of fun.

There are machines that sew and wind a bobbin at the same time? Cool!

I just bought a new machine, but it’s not top of the line. It’s a Brother, model CS60001. It cost $183 new, through Amazon. It has computerized fancy stitches (which I’ll probably never use) but no embroidery. I use it for making quilt tops – just straight stitching – so I don’t know how well it would do for inserting a zipper or making buttonholes.

The machine had mostly rave reviews at Amazon, from sewers who are using it for everything.

Apologies for hijacking, but since there are sewers here, I’d like to ask a question. The new machine has a really quiet motor, but it clicks when the needle goes up and down. When I watch Alex Anderson and Eleanor Burns sew on TV, their machines don’t click. Do you think I’m doing something wrong, or is this clicking a “feature” of cheap machines?

If I could afford it, I would have bought a Husqvarna or Bernina – those are what I see on the quilting programs.

If you have a Husquevarna, this might be a little low-rent for you, but I got a Janome made for Sears for less than $300, IIRC. It is great. I make dolls and Halloween costumes, do mending, and some simple purses and clothes on it. I’d had a Singer from the 70’s, and lots of people talked about how they don’t make 'em like they used to, and that old machine would be better made, blah, blah. But the Sears machine kicks its ass around the block. Maybe I won’t still have it in 30 years, but for a few hundred bucks, who cares?

gotpasswords , Lynn Bodini and AuntiPam
Thank you all for your answers. Looks like just what I was expecting; the answers are all over the place. I suppose I’ll just have to make up my own mind.
I’ll start with getting a quote on the clean and tune. If that’s become exorbitant then the $600 Bernette sounds like a good compromise, though I haven’t lost 100 pounds to deserve it. Congratulations Lynn Bodini - well done! I’m envious.
AuntiePam I’m afraid I can’t help you with your clicking question, though it does sound normal to me. Then again, like I said, my machine has been a pain for 30 years!

gotpasswords what part of the SF Bay area are you in? I’m in the South Santa Cruz foothills. Would you be interested in engineering a trade for one of your ‘crazy array’ ? :smiley:
AND looks like I should have taken the time to check on the spelling of Husqvarna rather than guess. Durn! :smack:

I hated my Bernette–I think it was a lemon–but I love love love my Bernina. However, a Bernina is probably a little too fancy and expensive for you. My SIL just got a nice Janome for about $600, and she loves it. Much better than the Brother machine she started on.

Your old Husqvarna is probably still fine, though. It probably has a lot more tough metal parts than most modern machines, which are largely made of plastic and don’t last as long. If you’re only looking for basic functions, it will be cheaper to get your machine serviced for several more years than to buy a good-quality machine (as opposed to the cheap junk out there).

Thanks to Unathorized Cinnamon and dangermom as well.
I’ll try to take everyones opinions into the mix when/if I make up my mind.
(It’s not something I’m good at!)


I can never pass up a chance to recommend this.

YES!!! That’s it. That’s the one I was thinking of. THANKS gigi :smiley: