Recommend Me a Sewing Machine

I’ve been wanting to sew for a long time, but never had the space to do it. Now, I’m going to have my own room for whatever I want, and I want to sew!

I want to be able to make basic clothes for myself first, for example, just get really good at making a basic shell or tank top. Then skirts. Maybe on to altering jeans. I’m sure I’ll do some mending and hemming in the meantime.

I guess I don’t want to do anything too fancy, probably for a couple of years, and I doubt I’ll ever do quilting or embroidery. I do want high-quality and something that won’t get me laughed out of a “BYO sewing machine” sewing class.

More questions about my planned usage are welcome. So, what say you, savvy sewers?

All I can say is, when I got a basic Kenmore, it was jammed and somewhat broken 3/4 of the way through my fist project. Actually, what I’m using now is a seriously old machine, one of the metal ones built into a table that you could kill someone with-- if you could lift it out, which you can’t. Not optimal for a BYOSW class. But I’d avoid the white Kenmores with plasstic casings.

Also, skirts are easier than tops of any sort, in my experience. I would start with a simple skirt, not a shell or tank.

sunflower (mrs. longhair) makes quilts. she spends at least as much time at her sewing machine as i do this computer. her recommendation for a basic machine is the bernina 1024. she had hers for two yers of pretty heavy usage. no problems at all. they have an excellent warranty, and bernina allows you about 80% of the retail on your machine if you trade up. sunflower is now using a bernina activa 145s and is very happy with it.

I have a Janome. It’s a piece of shit. Stay away from Janomes. I’d like it if I had a handcranked ol’ baddy of a sewing machine, since I don’t use any fancy finishes and prefer to do buttonholes by hand, but those are impossible to find with all the parts and functioning.

The Bernina sounds lovely. I’ve only heard good things about them.

I’m a kitemaker, and some kites (especially parafoils and other soft kites) require a LOT of sewing.

I have a Brother sewing machine (model# XR-31), and its worked great for me for many years.

I also have a Brother machine, not sure which one it is but I like it. It works great for me and is easy to use. You can supposedly do embroidery and stuff with it, but I don’t bother.

The best recommendation I can give you is to take scraps of the kind of material you’d like to learn to work with, and try them out on a number of different machines at a number of different dealers. Take your time and look at the features and controls of various models. Some people like the ease and familiarity of electronic controls; others (like me) mutter “one more thing to break” and want buttons or dials that move with nice, reassuring CLICKs, dangit. Some people just want to do maybe three to five basic stitches; others already have plans for an embroidery machine. Get a machine that feels comfortable to you. Don’t pay for a lot of features you can’t picture yourself using.

I have a Pfaff (named Pfredd) which I bought used. Pfredd is a solid, non-electronic model with all the features I wanted but no embroidery capability. According to the clerk at the Pfaff shop, Pfredd was traded in after about six months by a woman who suddenly found herself with a baby granddaughter and an urge to start embroidering everything in sight :smiley: So she traded in Pfredd towards an embroidery machine, and I got a cleaned-up, gently used Pfaff for a good price.

Oh, and definitely start with a skirt. A straight, pull-on skirt with an elastic waist has got to be the simplest garment known to woman, with simple shorts a close second. Tanks and shells are more difficult than they appear - a good choice for a second or third project, maybe, when you’ve gotten used to the machine and have a bit of confidence. Many companies have learn-to-sew patterns, with few pieces and detailed instructions; my favorites are KwikSew patterns, which I find to be very logical in spite of the Kreatiff Spelling thing.

Have fun!

Thanks for all of the tips so far. I will definitely start with a skirt. I have sewed in the past, but it’s been a long time. I’m so excited!

I’m using a reconditioned Brother that I bought on-line for about $200. It’s easy to use for basic stuff and it has a bunch of computerized fancy stitches. It’s been getting a lot of use, going on three years, no problems.

On the sewing programs I watch, it seems like everyone’s using a Bernina, and if/when the Brother dies, I think I’ll try one. The Brother is just a tad noisy.

Have fun with your projects!

I have a Viking, bottom of the line but works good. My first projects after years of not sewing were curtains. Very easy & let you get to know your machine.