Who loves/hates their sewing machine?

“Hello, my name is xbuckeye and I am a sewer.”
"Hi xbuckeye "
It has been two days since my last fleece project (a sweatshirt). I currently sew on a White 1418 that I picked up for about $100 five years ago. I’ve decided that it is time to move on. When I got it, I planned on covering some pillows, making some simple curtains, and mending things. Well, now I do mostly construction (often with fleece) and quilting. I am in a position to spend up to $1000 or so on a new machine (but would like to spend less if it will get me a decent machine) and am completely overwhelmed by the options. I could give a rip about computer embroidery, but I want (demand) a large harp for machine quilting.

So I turn to you, crafty Dopers. What do you love/hate about your machines? What are they and what did you pay for them? What do you wish you had? What should I get?

Well, I do love my Bernina. But it’s possible you want something a little less pricey? I looked at mine as an investment; I don’t plan to buy another machine until it’s 20–unless I get rich and decide to get a fancy one, which I don’t need anyway.

I have a reconditioned Brother that I bought for $200. All I do is quilting, with cotton – no fleece or Minkee or anything heavy. I don’t even have a walking foot, so I’ve been quilting by hand.

I’d love to have a Bernina or Husqvarna* with a walking foot and a big enough opening/gap between the part with the needle and the part with the motor so that I could do machine quilting.

*These are the brands that I see used on Fons and Porter and Simply Quilts. They’re so quiet! Mine sounds like an alien spaceship is landing.

Good luck with your search!

Bernina is on my list, do you know which you have and what you paid? I am finding that it is very hard to find prices.

I hated my Singer sewing machine with all my heart and soul. It wasn’t me! It hated me the instant I threaded it the first time!
I gave it back to my mother after 5 miserable years together.
I’m glad it’s gone.
I hope it’s dead.
Cyn, bitter, bitter Cyn

Sewing machines hate me too.

My previous Singer was a used model. Whenever things would be going along well it would decide to make a big huge mound of thread on the opposite side of the material and then it would do crazy things with the tension and break needles hoping to hit me in the eye with them. One day I had taken it somewhere and it fell over in the car and the thread guide broke off. I decided to get myself a new one for Christmas, maybe a new one would like me. I got another Singer, probably a mistake. It didn’t take long for it to decide it hated me. It started doing wacky things with the tension and then it stopped working. It will run but the needle won’t go down to the bobbin. I inherited a Singer serger from my mom that I haven’t even tried to use because I have no idea how to use a serger and I have enough troubles with one thread. I am going to take my group of hateful machines to a repair shop some day and see if they can be fixed and then I intend to take lessons because I certainly didn’t learn much about sewing from my mom. Maybe I can figure out why they hate me so.

If I had the money and the confidence I could work it correctly I’d probably go for a Husqvarna. I hear they’re pretty good. whispers Don’t tell me Singers!

Berninas are a bit like cars. You go in and tell the dealer what you’re looking for, and if you’re paying cash or in installments, and maybe you have an old trade-in, and maybe you want a cabinet. Then you work out a price–at least that’s what we did.

So, I have a (Quilter’s Edition) Virtuosa 150, which is about in the middle. The models are different now, and they’ve just developed this new stitch regulator thing that has me drooling. But I traded in my hideous old Bernette for about $150, got a small Koala cabinet, and paid cash, and the whole package came out to $2000. Which makes the sewing machine a bit over $1500, I think (it’s been about 5 years now). It works wonderfully, is quiet and tough, and does everything I want it to do (I do both clothing and quilts, denim too). I’ve never had serious problems with it.

The top-of-the-line machine that does embroidery and everything is about $5000 IIRC, and there’s a pretty large price gap between that and the next one down.

So I would advise you to go into a dealer and have a little conversation, have him write up a proposal or two.

A professional sewer told me that she has her machine cleaned and tuned up every year. I get mine cleaned every five years or so, and it seems to do very well. Getting the machine worked on cost me about $50, which is much better than dropping a few hundred on a new machine. The machine I have now is about 20 years old.

I would like to get a new machine, though. Maybe next year.

I have a Brother PC3000. Sam Stone got it for me for Christmas 1999. He was mostly keen on getting me a machine with an AC motor, which I would definitely recommend – has the power to sew through thickness without needing lightning speed (or in fact much speed at all). I think it cost about 1200 dollars – it came with a quilting foot, stitch guide foot, and free walking foot. I’ve used them all, mostly in quilting as I recall. I’d love to get the side cutter foot for it, so I can serge with the thing. Dreamy! A good buttonholer is important, I personally need a needle threader, but a lot of features come down simply to personal preference. I haven’t had call to use any embroidery other than the quite limited stuff my machine does, but my machine’s retailer permits use of their snazzy CD embroidery machines for customers if need be.

I’ve used my machine for all manner of projects, from silk crepe de chine to a LOT of fleece, even mink-type fleece robes (this is Canada!), and scarcely maintained it other than to blow things out once in a while with a pressurized air can. The touch panel choked on me recently, its left half no longer responding, so Sam took it in for me to get fixed and tuned up. Then… well, I have this plan to make a lot of fancy aprons from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. But you didn’t ask about that. :wink:

Here’s a great guide on buying a sewing machine that I found on Erin McKean’s blog, A Dress A Day.

I have a Juki 1541, an industrial machine that’s sturdy enough to sew through extremely heavy harness and latigo leather, but I also use it for quilting and sewing very fine garment leather as well as normal fabrics. It was a business investment that’s also my main hobby toy, and I expect us to have a very long and happy relationship :).
It’s been largely maintenance-free, has all the power I’ll ever need for anything (I mean I can sew absolutely anything with this thing), and is ultra user-friendly. It’s surprisingly quiet although it has a large motor mounted under the table. I get up really early and sew one room away and it doesn’t wake Mr. Armadillo. Also, the thing feels like it weighs about 300 pounds of solid cast iron so I don’t imagine it’s terribly convenient to move, particularly up or down stairs. It’s a walking foot and is perfect for my needs. I had a funky little singer something or other that had 13 different stitch modes while this one has two–forward and reverse–and does not do zigzags or buttonholes if you plan to make a lot of clothing.

My machine’s a Bernina - an older model (??1230). It has some decorative stitches but nowhere near as many as the new models. That suits me fine; I use very few of the decorative stitches I do have so I don’t need any more.

It might not be fancy (it was top of the range when I bought it) but it sews like a dream. Even if I did suddenly decide I needed all the fancy embroidery stitches, I’d probably buy a separate embroidery machine and keep the Bernina for straight sewing, zippers and buttonholes.

At the moment I covet a Janome coverstitch machine but I’d need to add another room to the house to fit all my sewing paraphernalia if I bought one.

I have a fabulous old Jones’ machine from the 60s/early 70s, complete with groovy plastic retro case, which was a gift from my mother when I left home (purchased secondhand, I think the machine’s older than I am). It has two stitches - straight or zig-zag (5 widths!) - that enable me to overlock seams or carefully quilt. I’ve made curtains, clothes, my wedding dress, bedding, sleep masks, corsets… this weekend I took all my pants in two inches on the waistband and made my friend a faux-obi belt for her Christmas gift.

My machine has stitched leather and up to 4 layers of heavy denim, but can deal with finer fabrics if I’m careful. If I don’t get the tension bang on each time, the bobbin will invariably go nuts and chew up a load of thread/sometimes fabric too. I clean it out with a toothbrush whenever I remember to, have oiled the engine exactly twice in over 15 years, and have replaced the drive band once. I’d love a fancier machine but would feel like I betrayed my old monster, so it’s with me till either it or I die. Given how huge and heavy it is, it could well outlast me.

The best Sewing machine I ever had was a Pfaff,I made all most all of my 7 children’s clothes,many drapes, curtians.and dolls I led 4H for 5 years and my machine ran almost constantly. I taught adult sewing Then I sewed in Zippers for a sewing factory.

My husband bought it for me in 1955,It got so old I couldn’t get parts for it. Since then I have a Brother and a Necchi, I am not fond of either of them and If I could find an old (Non Computerized) Pfaff I would buy it in an instant!


Mine is a Pfaff, I bought it 15 yrs ago for about 800$ (the profits from a bet on the ponies!), and I adored it. I’d always had a second hand machine prior to this.

Eventually I had to have it serviced and it wasn’t good. I would get it back fixed but now some other part didn’t work. Hell, once it wasn’t even correctly reassembled. There is something wrong with having it serviced by people who sell new machines.

I should really send it in to be tuned up but they seriously seem to do it more harm than good. :mad:

As a result I don’t believe I would buy another of this brand.

Great thread, by the way, I’m also thinking about replacing mine!

Oh I just got a Babylock Crafters Choice sewing machine for my birthday this year. It is all electronic and has lots of different buttons and variable speeds. Going from a mechanical to this is night and day. We were amazed how it sews so easily and you don’t need the foot control. I mainly use it for minor alterations on jeans and leather. Sews awesome for a great price.

I love my sewing machine. It’s a Shark and it was given to me as a gift. I have no idea how it ranks up amongst others, but there is so much to it that I haven’t figured out yet.

This winter, I hope!

I also have a Shark, and I think it hates me. No matter what I do, the spool thread manages to get jammed in the bobbin case (or whatever you call the housing that loops the thread from above down around the bobbin thread). It seems to happen when I’m at the end of a stitch and I manually lift the needle from the fabric to pull/cut the thread, or when I manually drop the needle into the fabric to pivot it and sew in a different direction.

I suppose I ought to have someone look at it…

This is what I was afraid of…so many choices…so many things to consider…can’t make decision…

Singer was already off my list…they used to be great thirty or so years ago, but they entered the WalMart fray and went with cheap components and shoddy construction. There are still good Singers out there, but Singer isn’t the guarantee it used to be. And the closest place to buy/repair one is near Milwaukee. My White actually makes me not want to sew, so I am not going with another White, and Whites are cheap Husqvarnas, so I wonder about those, too. If only I were independently wealthy and could afford everything that sewing machines have to offer!

I have stores selling Brother, Janome, Bernina, Pfaff, Husqvarna, BabyLock, and Elna in town, so I am probably going to go with one of those. I need the Edmunds.com for sewing machines! I’m kind of glad to hear its like buying a car…I liked buying my car!

I do not know if your machine acts this way but On mine, I found either the machine needed oil,or the bobbin wasn’t wound right.Some times a thread will get stuck in the bobbin case ,even a little piece with set the timing off. I was taught to oil my machine after every 10 hours of sewing and clean the bobbin race then as well.

I hope this helps.


I have a Pfaff, specifically a Tipmatic 6122. I’ve named it Pfredd. I love Pfredd and plan to keep it until it falls apart from old age. Solid as a rock, has everything I need and not a whole lot that I don’t, and it has the dual feed-dog thingie so that, if you want, the fabric is pushed along from above as well as below. Helps keep the seam neat, especially if you’re trying to match stripes.

My one complaint is that changing the bulb in the worklight is a pain in the yingyang.