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Thread: sewing machine

  1. #1
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    Default sewing machine

    I overheard my wife telling a friend that she had always dreamed of having a good sewing machine so that she could get into....whatever people use sewing machines for... I'm thinking about moving our laundry room to the back porch and making the new space a craft room for her to do...whatever it is that people do in a craft room...
    If I were to attempt to buy a top notch sewing machine, what features should I be looking for? What should I expect to pay and what brands should I be looking for?
    Do they still have foot pedals? She has nueropathy that makes it hard for her to use foot controls of any kind, so I'm especially interested in anything that doesn't require to much dexterity.
    Thanks in advance...I have no idea where to begin.

  2. #2
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    It depends upon what she wants to do.
    Home of the ventilated and sting resistant Ultra Breeze bee suits and jackets
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  3. #3
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    I would guess quilting but it's not much more than a hunch. I've seen her examining others homemade quilts. Is there such a thing as a good all around sewing machine? I don't want to ask her what she wants as I'm trying to suprise her.

  4. #4
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    Default I've seen her examining others homemade quilts.

    I can talk to my neighbor and see what see what she recommends.
    The foot pedel is the control for the speeed of the machine.
    Hint; You might ask, when possible, the persons quilts that she has been examining.
    Ernie
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  5. #5
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    Default Sewing machine

    CP My Mom is a quilter & fabric artist she says that Bernina and Necchi are the Cadillacs but last she looked ran 1500-1800 bucks new. Also the new ones have more plastic parts. She had a Singer for many years that was just fine. Her recommendation is to advertise in the newspaper for a gently used one as they are often purchased then not used after a while. Apparently they can also be built in to a table allowing for supporting a large amount of material like a quilt. I can get you some good books on the quilting crafting things too. Let me know if you have more questions!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BEES4U View Post
    Hint; You might ask, when possible, the persons quilts that she has been examining.
    Ernie
    That's good thinking Ernie, but I'd probably have less of a chance of her finding out If I flat out told her and waited for her to forget(I'm only half kidding, some of the meds mess with her memory). Those gals can't keep a secret if their lives depended on it.
    I'm especially interested in anything without a pedal as she is now to the point where she has to use hand brakes to drive. Her feet have lost alot of power and the last time she drove my truck to the store without hand controls a "spasm" cost me about three grand.

  7. #7
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    CP are you thinking that the pedal powers the machine like on the antique ones? Because the electric models have a pedal but like someone said earlier they're just speed controls. I think it takes both hands to sew with a machine plus one foot.

  8. #8
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    No, I understand that it's speed control. I'm just wondering how hard that would be for her. She has almost no real control of how hard she presses down with her foot. It's either stomp or nothing.

  9. #9
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    Maybe I'll just get her a needle and threat and tell her "see... yer a sewin' machine!"

  10. #10
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    Maybe other modes like pushing sideways with thigh check manufactrs on the web

  11. #11
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    Necchi- yes a Caddy of the sewing world (assuming they are still made top notch). I had an old Necchi that was a wonderful machine.

    I've seen machines that have a foot-type control that could be mounted at knee level so that you could use your upper leg/knee to depress the pedal. I think there are also machines that have strictly hand controls, but I've never used one. You can buy anything from simple that does just basic stitches and zig-zags up to highly computerized machines that embroider using software. It really depends on what she wants to do with it. I have a Kenmore that was probably made in the 50's or 60's that does all the basic stuff, and is mechanically great. It does everything I need, but I just use it for utilitarian purposes such as making clothes and household items (a recent set of curtains for the entire house) If she just wants to do basic stuff, probably any machine from your local discount store will do, or she can shop for an oldie but goodie like mine from the local Goodwill for 30-something dollars. Another resource to check would be your local machine repair guy who does sewing machine repairs. He will likely be able to tell you who makes a good machine, and he may even have one you can buy that someone brought in for repairs, then never came to pick it up.
    Just a couple of thoughts. Sorry to ramble on.
    So many weeds.......so little time.

  12. #12
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    CP, Here is a link to my company's site. I founded and ran it for 20 plus years. I might know a little about sewing machines.

    http://www.caudlesew.com/

    Bernina and Janome are the two top home machines today. A decent one will cost you from 1500 to 5000 dollars. To guarantee that she will hate it and never turn it on, just surprise her with it.

    You can get a standard, run of the mill machine for two to five hundred, which will do most anything she will want to do. You can get a cabinet for it with a control that is operated by shifting the knee to the side.

    If you actually want her to use it, surprise her with a card telling her you and her are going to go shopping for one. Then spend a month at the different independent dealers looking and testing. They can demonstrate the different models, different controls, and set one up that she can actually enjoy.

  13. #13
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    I would say that you can't go wrong with an older, used (pre plastic) singer that seems to be in good working shape and well maintained. ballpark $50-300, maybe a bit more for something that looks to be a bit more antique...watch craigslist or other classifieds, make sure they can show you that it works or have it serviced and get someone to show her how to load the bobbin- after years, I still can't figure this out myself and always have to ask someone...

    I have always dreamed of a Pfaff that could go through 8 layers of sailcloth with out breaking a needle, but even used they are out of my price range. anyone have one they are looking to get rid of?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by iddee View Post
    To guarantee that she will hate it and never turn it on, just surprise her with it.

    Iddee is correct. Choosing a sewing machine is a very personal thing. Sort of like choosing an automobile. In the nearest large city, you will find at least 3-4 different sewing stores, probably more, all with different models. You need to take her there so she can test drive all of the models. She'll then find one which matches her skill level, with features in terms of the type of sewing she intends to complete.

    My mother, now close to 80, will buy a new model every few years, along with a serger and other machines. As your wife's skill level increases, she can always trade in her model for one with a new feature set. In fact, if you want a good bargain on a good machine, chances are there is a traded-in machine, usually in excellent shape that someone sold to get the next model up.

    MM

  15. #15
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    I agree with iddee... I bet she would love getting to pick one out. They used to make models with a knee control in the cabinet (like Tom mentioned.) I grew up with one of those, and it worked for what little sewing I did . They have several different options for the sewing foot as well, which will work better with different materials. I have a heavy duty machine because my projects tend to require pounding through 8 layers of Sunbrella outdoor canvas. Great machine, but not appropriate for quilting.
    “The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” -Henry David Thoreau

  16. #16
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    If she is going to get into quilting, I saw a sewing machine that might be good for her on tv the other day. Built into the presser foot was basicly an optical mouse. As the quiter moved the fabric at various speeds and directions it would controll the needle speed so an even stich was made.
    Home of the ventilated and sting resistant Ultra Breeze bee suits and jackets
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  17. #17
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    Big Grin

    Lemme add another log to the fire.

    Don't buy anything except a Bernina or Elna.

    The new Necchi machines are great door stops. I've tried them twice in the last 10 years. They were crummy out of the box. OLD ones aren't too bad.

    Why do I say Bernina or Elna? They are Swiss, better made, and you can still get parts for 50 + year old machines. I have a 55 year old machine that still runs like a charm.

    My experience?

    Since 1980, I have done Bridal sewing, alterations, home dec sewing (curtains, drapes, slip covers, etc.) quilting, embroidery, costuming, and tailoring and dress making. I was assistant manager of a small quilting/heirloom sewing/machine embroidery shop that sold Elnas, Berninas and Pfaffs. I was a manager of a So-Fro (House of Fabrics) store that sold Singers and Whites, for 15 years.

    I have tried everything on the market. Don't buy a Singer unless it's pre 1960, or an industrial machine. Viking is OK, but touchy. Pfaff is a good machine, but picky about attachements, only Pfaff works (Kinda like Apple computer products) White is okay for light beginning sewing. Juki makes some great machines, but are harder to find. Babylock is a just fine brand too, but geared more towards straightforward sewing, or fancy embroidery.
    Janome felt cheap to me, shaky and erratic.

    For all around sewing, basic dressmaking to some embroidery to quilting, Bernina or Elna are your best bets.

    It DOES make a difference what she wants to do with it. Going to classes means a lightweight portable. Lots of Embroidery and embellishment machines get into computer cards and some amazing abilities (next on my wish list).

    Be prepared to spend some money and buy quality. You DO get what you paid for. DO buy from an affiliated dealer -- many quilt shops have dealerships with one or 2 manufacturers. Some quality repair shops have dealerships, and some just fix machines. Be sure you are getting someone who has relationships with companies.

    Bernina, Pfaff, Viking, and Elna all have machines that have an optional knee lift. All have speed controls that can set the machine at a slower pace, so that if her foot jerks on the pedal, it won't go crazy. All have needle up or needle down options, so that when the machine stops, the needle is ALWAYS in the position you select. If you makes lots of clothes, buttonhole features can be important.

    I have a 1955 Elna with the old cams that I still use. I am teaching my 7 & 9 year olds to sew on this one. Came from a great aunt, by way of my Grandmama, both of whom where professional seamstresses. I can sew leather and up to 4 layers of denim on this baby. Weighs the same as a small tank.

    I have a 1995 Elna with bells and whistles that I use lots. (8000 series) A fave, since I bought it for myself.

    I have a 1998 Elna 5 thread serger that I use lots and lots.

    I have a 1999 Bernina machine I inherited that is more or less the equivalent of the '95 Elna; it gets used frequently. I like it for home dec.

    I have a 2002 Babylock that goes with my Grace (machine quilting) Frame and does a grand job.

    I have a 1945 Singer in a cabinet I inherited from a Grandmother that I like, but use less -- accessories and needles are harder to come by.

    I have a 1917 Singer Treadle that was converted to electric. It still sews. I just admire it and give it love. It came from my Great-Grandma.

    Any and every machine needs to be serviced, cleaned, loved, once per year. You wouldn't ignore regular maintenance on your car, would you?

    The purchase of a new machine should include lessons. If you buy from Wal-Mart, Jo-Ann's, Hancock's, or AAA Acme Sew/Vac/Small Applince Repair -- WE DO IT ALL, FOR PENNIES ON THE DOLLAR!! -- you are going to get service and assistance commensurate with your outlay. (nada).

    Change your sewing machine needle after every 8 hours of continuous sewing, and/or at the start of EVERY new project. Lots of sewing machine repairs and tension adjustments can be fixed with this simple step.

    Use ONLY quality cotton, silk or rayon threads. Poly threads are death on machines. Ignore Coat's and Clark's and anything marked "XX for $XX!" Buy Gutterman, Mettler, and the like.

    Let her help with this purchase. Make a (couple of ) days of it. Find a shop, try them out, grab the literature, and go have lunch. Your surprise can be accessories that may not come automatically, that she sighed over. Many good shops will let her fill out a wish list they will keep on file. You can shop off of that.

    Good luck, and have fun! If I'm not out with the bees, I'm likely in the sewing room.

    Summer

  18. #18
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    Bah Humbug................. iddee ya ole scrooge

    Talk to her friends and see if she's been talking about it more than the one time you heard her mention it. Folks say things they wish for but never intend to follow through on. I told the boyz last night that I would love to play the Banjer, but doesn't mean I'm headed out to buy one. If I did I don't have a clue when I would learn to play or even where to start!? Then I would be out a chunk a change for a conversation piece.

    Do your homework. Find out if that's something she really wants to do. Be creative and don' get caught being sneaky!!!! Walk her past em in the department store and think up a good lie, like my mom used to use one of these. Maybe she'll give you a clue? BE CAREFUL them gals are onto us conniving devils!! Don't give it away!!

    If you're good you'll find out what exactly she wants to do with it and know what kind of machine to get. Throw in a class to go with it, even better. My mom wnt to a class for a few days when I was a kid and she was off and making her own dresses in no time.

    If your wife likes SURPRISES, then she's worth it!! So don't spare the effort!
    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

  19. #19
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    I will say there is a huge difference between home and industrial model sewing machines if you are doing basic sewing. I made my early beekeeping suits using home models because they were affordable and small. I had a very small room to make the suits in. I have switched to an industrial sewing machine and surger and it is night and day.

    I have a Juki walking needle machine that has a controller and a servo motor. It is set to cut the thread and left the foot. You can also lift just the foot and leave the needle in to pivot the work on a corner. Best of all you can get all of the commercial attachments and feet to the machine. It can also be set to automatically back tack if you want. I paid about $1,500 for mine including shipping from a industrial reseller. I did see one in craigs list in Oklahoma city and on ebay for $400 to $450 dollars. If I had the room, I would have purchased the Oklahoma city one. The big commercial machines with a servo motor are very easy to sew on but take up some room. The nice thing about them is they have a fairly deep throat that most home machines don't have.

    The surger is also a Juki but with a clutch motor. Commercial surgers are not as versatile as home surgers and always have a clutch motor. On a clutch motor the motor is always on and a slip or friction pad presses against a spinning disk. The more pressure that is applies the less slippage in the clutch. These do take some getting used to though, but once learned they are just as easy to control as a servo motor.

    A clutch motor machine is not suitable for your wife though because it takes some strength and coordination in the legs. The servo motors would be suitable for here and with little bit of ingenuity it could be modified so she could control is by leaning forward and back.
    Home of the ventilated and sting resistant Ultra Breeze bee suits and jackets
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  20. #20
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    WOW! that's alot of things to think about for buying a sewing machine. Thank you all kindly. I guess I'm going to have to let the cat out of the bag and get her involved.

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