right now

right now

Nov 5, 2010

I can't take it anymore!

Yes, you all with the mad skillz that I envy so much - you know who you are!

I am doing some research on which machines I should be looking at! Here is my current jalopy, I call it "the Yugo":

I bought this new from Montgomery Ward (remember them?) back in 1992 brand new for probably about $99.00. I don't know how to sew other than simple hemming, and believe it or not I actually know the "right way" to hem jeans to save the factory hem, didn't think I would, did 'ya? I am hell on wheels with this thing, and the only thing I have ever sewn on this machine on a regular basis, meaning a couple times a year, is jeans and sewing patches on my hubby's heavy canvas type military camo uniforms. To be fair to my old machine, now that I am becoming educated on such things, I am realizing that these starter machines are NOT designed to stand up to this abuse! So no wonder I have crazy tension issues now and am always breaking needles.

I am ready to start contemplating a new machine that will suit those needs as well as learning to sew useful things around the house such as organizers, bags, dog beds, that type of thing. I will say that quilting sounds pretty far fetched to me right now, but then again knitting did just 18 months ago!

Here's the kicker: I have a serious budget! I want a machine that will handle the jeans and uniforms and have a few little conveniences that I may not know that I need right now, but it has to happen for under $300, and preferably under $250!

I have been doing some research, and apparently Singer has gone the way of W@lmart junk in the past couple of years, is that your opinion or am I not reading enough reviews? To the unschooled like me, that was of course the name I gravitated towards at first. Now I am reading that Janome is fantastic. I saw a Bernina beginners machine that I liked simply because of how heavy and sturdy it was, but everything I am reading on reviews say overwhelmingly don't buy it because it has tension problems and is harder to find accessories.

Here's a couple I was looking at, and the sale prices I've found.

Bernette 65 For Bernina (259.99)

I really liked the look and heft of this one, but I've read overwhelming bad reviews on it? It is the only Bernina made at a lower price point, so maybe that's why.

I think this may be the lowest priced Janome out there aside from the mini machine, It does not have a 1-step buttonhole function

Janome 2139N Sewing Machine (179.99)

I think this one is ugly as all get out, but it appears to have all the necessary functions and gets good reviews LOL

Janome 8050 Sewing Machine (279.99)

Next step up is the computerized machine, this one is marked down from 379 so I would definitely need to purchase this on sale, although most of these seem to go on sale every other week or so.

And what are your opinions on Brother machines? I haven't even started looking at them since I heard they have gone the way of Singer at the lower price levels? If your experience differs I will look into them as well!

My questions for you:
1. Do I want/need computerized? Is it better for beginners or a repair nightmare? It seems like more stuff to break, but if it helps me out a lot for recommending settings, feet, etc it might be worth it to a beginner?

2. Do I want the 1-step buttonhole function? (this seems intriguing, although I don't know what that means LOL)

3. What brands are your favorite?

4. Buying: I can get a machine cheaper with the sales at a place like Hancock Fabrics, but what is really the advantage to buying at an actual sewing machine shop if they don't offer free sewing classes? (ours here does NOT)

5. Is there a particular machine you know of that will serve me from beginner through "intermediate" type sewing? I do NOT want to upgrade all the time, especially since my mom sewed on the same old machine since the early 70's and created great stuff!

OMG I just realized how many hits I will probably get on this post from internet searches from newbie sewers - just think of all the spam I'm going to have to delete! Thank you in advance to those that can help me out at all! This is a ton of money to me and I want to make sure I don't go into this purchase without considering the advice of those that are in the know!

By the way, I did already clean and oil my machine hoping a little TLC would fix the issue, but nah... I'm about to finish it off today by hemming 4 pairs of great jeans I scored at the thrift shop!

Maybe I should consider making some dog toys while I'm at it...


  1. Well, I have a computerized Brother machine. I bought it about a year ago, before that I had the old cheap Brother machine and used it for about 15 years. I liked them both although I can't say that I did too many pretty button holes with the old machine and have only done a few with the new one (I have to read the directions every time). I don't think any of them are real great with thick fabric but I never really had much problem with my tension and such unless I messed with it, lol. I like my Brother machines, they sew anything I want to sew, have made plenty of quilts and clothes with them.

  2. Ha, ha, ha! I'm laughing at your sewing machine ... only because I have the same one myself! Hee, hee. My grandmother gave me her Montgomery Ward special a long time ago. She bought it as a second machine to use for simple stuff and would use it alternately with her Elna. (The beloved Elna I wrote about in a previous post on my blog a month or so ago.)

    Anyway, I wish I could offer new machine advice, but I don't really have any. My mother-in-law swears by Janome. In fact, she is the only Janome dealer in Southern Utah (she owns a quilt shop there in St. George). She asked to be their dealer there - that's how much she loves their machines.

    Good luck on the hunt for a replacement for your Yugo. :>) Cheers~

  3. I've been using a standard Brother sewing machine for years now. I've never had a problem with it. And I'm always sewing something!

  4. becky, thanks for the input on the Brother! I can't really find any locally other than the VERY cheap 89.00 mini craft type model, so I haven't researched them yet, of course they are always to be had on the internet.

    Conny, that's too funny! I have never seen anyone else with the same machine! So does it work for you? LOL

    Dani, again thanks for the Brother insight, I will definitely check some out for comparisons on the web

  5. Omigosh, where to start. I have two Janomes and swear by them. Never had a problem with either of them except the one time I inadvertently used the wrong bobbin in one. (Duh, extreme operator error.) My oldest is not computerized, the newer one is. I wouldn't have bought the second machine except a few years ago I was doing a lot of consignment work and shop samples for a quilt shop and I started to hyperventilate every time I thought of my one machine having to go in for repairs (which it never has) and leaving me machine-less. Now I use each machine for different functions and wouldn't give either of them up for love nor money.

    I know money is an issue for you (always is for most of us!) but I'd advise you to find a machine you like and pay as much as you can wangle. My old machine was just under $400 and my newer computerized was $1200 which seemed over-the-top but I did it. (I was earning money with it fortunately.)

    My Janome dealer is special. Cleaning and tune-up free for the life of the machine. She has started handling Bernina in the last couple of years, too, so I put some stock in that.

    I was very hesitant to get a computerized machine initially because I figured more complicated/more to go wrong but she assured me (and I believe her) that they are made so well now that if they have a computer problem, replacement of one chip fixes the problem. ('Course, I do not know how much that one chip would cost!)

    The best quilter I know has a Brother and loves it, but I've never used one. If you aren't super-happy with your local machine dealer, could you go to another one in a nearby town? I think feeling good about where you buy your machine and knowing they will be there for you is monumental.

    This is getting too long. I'd love to correspond with you about all this, Erin, if you want to or have other questions I could help with. None of your questions are dumb or silly. So happy you're getting into sewing!!

  6. Mama Pea, I can envision hubby nodding his head in agreement with you... he is always one to insist that good work is never done with unreliable equipment! It doesn't just apply to his tools, either, thankfully! I had somewhat of an ephiphany this afternoon while SEWING ON MY CURRENT machine LOL, and I will write about that later this evening, thanks for your insight! We unfortunately in this area are at the mercy of chain stores, there is a Sew-Vac here but their prices are extraordinary and they charge for tune-ups unless you buy "their plan" and their beginning sewing classes are twice the price of taking the Saturday classes at the local community college LOL! Ah, life in the big city, huh? I guess there isn't as much calling for homemaking skills here so they get what they can!

  7. I've got an old cheap Singer (gift from mom and dad in 1990). sure, I have tension issues (you know what I mean), but it works for the little I use it.

    On her blog, Brandy reviewed this BROTHER. Above your price range, but it's a good review, and they may have cheaper models.

  8. I have two machines- an ancient singer (circa 1980) that still runs but has tension issues. My newer one that I use for quilting is an Elna that I absolutely love. I've got a friend who has a Janome and swears by it but I've got no experience with the Brother machines. Sorry. I REALLY wanted a Bernina but it was out of my price range.

  9. Oh fun! Well as you know, I have three machines. I started w/ a Brother $90. It didn't take long to outgrow that one. I then got a computerized Kenmore for around $350 on sale. It had all the bells of a pricey machine at an affordable price. Within the first 90 days, I had tension issues. No one at Sears could help and thru online investigations, it was a mystery that was frustrating others too. So I exchanged it for the same machine because they wanted to 'send it out' for repairs. Combined I had both machines less then a year and BOTH machines kept having the same issues. So it wasn't just me and it seemed to be common.

    I splurged, alot, and went with the Janome MC 6600P. It dinged me for $1500. You are reading correctly. It has features that I may never use, but it is a dream to sew with. Of course it is computerized. I know this is way more than you are looking to spend...but they have others to choose from as you know.

    If you can...computerized is very nice and worth it. Janome is an excellent choice. My MIL has a Bernina, a Pfaff, and an HQ. When she sews with mine, she swears her next machine will be Janome. My SIL just got a Janome for $250 but doesn't remember the model (darn beginners!) And if I had to venture a guess, alot of avid sewers looking of new machines end up with the Janome. Point in case...Auntie MamaPea even has one! If she has one, it's got to be good! And you don't have to go by the Cadillacs we all carry. Alot of quilters/sewers have their 'traveling' machine and I would bet they get a version of Janome that is right up your alley!

    And I am with Mama on looking at surrounding area shops too. If your town doesn't have one, look close by. It's just a bonus to have that relationship should something go wrong. They usually do offer a session to get to know your machine. Beyond that, yeah you probably will have to pay :(

    I probably didn't help. Sorry...but I can't wait to hear what you decide!!!

  10. And I forgot to say I'm sorry... :o) xoxoxo

  11. What the HECK is it with machines that have so many tension problems? The only machine I had before buying my first Janome in 1994 was a Sears and I had nothing but tension problems with it so I know what that's all about. :o(

    I've never had tension problems with a Janome. (Not even when I put in the wrong bobbin!)

    It would help so much if you could find a good dealer who you liked near to you. Mine is 130 miles away (that's the nearest!) but I can't say enough about the service she provides. She employs people who know what they're doing (but she does all the cleaning and repair herself) and they are willing and able to talk you through any question/problem over the phone . . . a service I've used trying to figure out one or more of the 104 things my computerized machine can do!

    Don't know if you would want to go the "used" machine route or not, but I know at my shop they frequently take in good machines (there is nothing wrong with them) merely because someone wants to trade up to something newer or more expensive. I would buy a "used" machine from my shop any day, but that's because I trust her and know her integrity.

    I think you've opened a (good) can of worms. You're getting lots of good input from everyone.

  12. Yes! I second Mama on that one! If you can find a great shop and they take trades in on upgrades, yes! Ours does that! Check into it! Yipee!! Good thinking Mama...yer the smart one.

  13. The last machine I bought was 15-17 years ago for my daughter. It is a New Home. I just love it and have never had to do a thing with it except a little oil and cleaning. I gave my Singer away and only use this one. When I bought it, it still was made with all metal gears. I don't know how they are now though.

    I wouldn't recomend anything too complicated. I have been sewing since I was about 4 or 5 and have never found the need for anything too fancy. So, that's my two cents.

  14. I'd say Bernina all the way. My mom has a Bernina and has had if for years, over 20, it does everything and does it well.
    Sewing machines need to be cleaned an oiled so if your old one has been around for a long time take it in somewhere and have that done to improve it's performance.
    I'm having similar issues with my cheap Sears sewing machine and am taking it in to be cleaned and oiled soon.
    I hope you fine the perfect machine for what you need soon.

  15. Just wanted to add that the cheaper Bernina may not be your best bet. My mom's Bernina was one of their top of the line models a long time ago and is one of those well made basic machines that just won't quit. I've also read great review on the Janome but am not familiar enough with them to comment.

  16. I have an old, old babylock esante (ese) that's been computer upgraded to an ese2 way back about 7-8 years ago. She's an embroidery/sewing machine and is a super stud. I just love, love, love her.

  17. I have three Singer machines, all from about the 1940s. One is a treadle (it may be older), and it is the one I use for quilting. One is a "featherlight" that I use for most of the sewing around here, and the other is a heavier-duty machine that can sew thicker fabrics like denim.

    When I got them, they were all cheap, but I think featherlights are pricey now. The others would still be cheap, because their cabinets/cases are not beautiful.

    However, they all work great, and I don't need to do anything more fancy than going forward and backward and then making a few buttonholes (I have an attachment for that).