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Sewing machine recommendations

(32 Posts)
WildCherryBlossom Wed 27-Dec-17 20:09:59

So I've gathered up my savings, Christmas money etc and I'm ready to get a new sewing machine. My only machine at the moment is a wonderful inherited vintage Singer. Beautiful and blissfully reliable but very basic.

I do a lot of sewing at a hobby level: home furnishing, dress making, quilting... so new machine needs to be an all rounder. I'm really feeling the limitations of my beloved old machine and want more stitches and functions to play with. I do want something with a free arm for little projects and dressmaking rather than a dedicated quilting machine.

I'd also like a machine I can grow into. So, for example I have never used twin needles for dress making but if my machine were able to, that would be great.

My upper budget is about £800.

Any recommendations? I like the idea of the stitch reliability of computerised machines. At the moment I'm feeling drawn to Brother or Janome but would love to hear what machine you have and why you love it.

Thank you!

Witchend Wed 27-Dec-17 22:38:04

I have a Janome which I got for my 21st birthday and is still going strong.

I did have a moment about 5 years ago where it nearly got put in the bin when it refused to zig zag while I was in the middle of making 30 circle skirts. But I got it serviced and it's been fine since.

Geneticsbunny Wed 27-Dec-17 22:42:39

Second vote for janome. Although with that budget I would split it and get a sewing machine and an overlocker.

wonkylegs Wed 27-Dec-17 22:43:20

I also have a Janome I was given to me for my 21st which is still going strong.
I've made clothes, crafts, curtains ... you name it
Just finished some beautiful heavy lined velvet curtains on it.

meala Wed 27-Dec-17 22:47:05

I've got an elna and I love it. It does twin needle sewing, needle threader, stretch stitches, computerised stitches, comes with loads of accessories.

steppingout Wed 27-Dec-17 23:02:58

I have a Bernina as my main machine and love it - the stitching is beautiful. The only downside is that accessories are a bit more expensive if you want to build up a wide collection of feet. My second machine is a Pfaff - the integrated dual feed is really for quilting/delicate fabrics/pattern matching. If you have one nearby, I'd recommend going to an independent sewing machine shop with a list of essential requirements. They should be happy for you to try a few out.

BarchesterFlowers Thu 28-Dec-17 08:57:39

I have a Bernina as my main machine too and I love it as well, the stitching is spot on. Mine isn't computerised.

The feet are more expensive but they are so well engineered/made. When I bought my new Bernina I bought a foot every month for nearly two years so that I had them all. It felt quite manageable that way and I have feet I rarely use but they are there if I want to try something different.

Dontbuymeroses Thu 28-Dec-17 18:50:55

I'd second going to a good independent shop and trying a few out. I bought my last 2 machines from the same independent shop and still managed to get a really good price on both. The ladies in there really knew their stuff, I pretty much knew what I wanted and they narrowed it down for me. I was in there a while each time and when I bought the overlocker I came away with a mini lesson too.

I have sewn with a Husquvarna for years and it has never let me down, if I was looking to buy another now I would look at Bernina, Pfaff or Husquvarna.

Enjoy buying your new machine OP!

WildCherryBlossom Thu 28-Dec-17 19:38:14

Thank you all so much for your suggestions. I'm enjoying my research and your ideas are pointed in a few new directions. I hadn't thought of splitting the budget between sewing machine and overlocker. Definitely food for thought.

I'm not sure I'm in the market for an overlocker yet, but don't have to blow my budget all at once.

But I am slightly hoping my new machine will pay for itself to a certain extent. I've made a little money from soft furnishing commissions lately, and while I don't see that becoming a full time career, it's lovely to earn money from your hobby. Hopefully a new machine would enable me to achieve a lot more than I currently can.

bigtissue Thu 28-Dec-17 19:57:01

I also swear by Bernina, but I prefer mechanical machines to computerised ones, which I personally have not found as reliable or intuitive.

For the budget you are thinking about you could pick up a good condition second hand one, or if you want new it would get you a mid range fully computurised model. Quilting machines are heavily marketed now but are a lot of money, usually well over £1,000.

Try out some second hand recent model machines at dealers, you may be pleasantly surprised, and at the end of the day you should only part with your money for one that is a good fit for you personally.

BarchesterFlowers Thu 28-Dec-17 20:12:13

Me too big. My new machine is a 1008. Remarkably similar to my mother’s 40 year old 830 record which still sews beautifully.

Knittedfairies Thu 28-Dec-17 20:13:56

Thirding the idea of going to an independent shop with a list of requirements/questions. I have an Elna, built like a tank. It's several years old (15?) but it does everything I want it to do.

LuluJakey1 Thu 28-Dec-17 20:17:01

I have a Janome and it has never faltered. It is the one they used on the Great British Sewing Bee.

ShiningWhit Thu 28-Dec-17 20:24:34

Most definitely a Bernina - Swiss made if you can get one. They are not all Swiss made sadly. You may need to sweet talk a dealer - to tip you the nod when they get a second hand one in - they are really the best. Aim for one that has a walking foot and knee lift - these make them brilliant machines.

BarchesterFlowers Thu 28-Dec-17 20:49:59

Lulu - the shop I go to tells me that schools and colleges/FE now buy the Janome 525s whereas they used to buy the same machine I have - they can't justify the price difference and the Janome is a very good, reliable machine.

Not all Berninas are made in Switzerland but I gather from my sewing machine shop man that they impose the same strict standards on their factory in Thailand (established in 1990).

All Bernina parts are made in the Thai factory. So, not being made in Switzerland might be different, and a change, but not necessarily a negative one.

Shining - I have both an 830 record and a 1008, there is no difference in performance or stitch quality but for some reason I prefer the new one (my mum helpfully gave me hers after I had bought my 1008).

BetterEatCheese Thu 28-Dec-17 20:55:56

I also have the Janome from the sewing bee - the 525s. It's brilliant and I run a small sewing business with it

Darklane Thu 28-Dec-17 20:56:15

I had a Novum for years & years, really heavy solid machine, a real workhorse It sewed everything, curtains, loose sofa covers, all the clothes for my family. I still have it but was getting frustrated with the buttonholes as it didn’t do the one step automatic ones.
So I went on the hunt for another newer model. I went to an independent shop that sold several makes that I could try out, pretty much ( after looking online) thinking that I would buy a Brother. My dm had had one for years. Was surprised to learn at the shop that my trusty Novum was actually a fore runner of Janome.
They let me try lots
. I’d pretty much decided to get a Brother machine that did embroidery as well as lots of stitches & 5 styles of one step buttonhole. But on the way to pay I passed some Berninas, I thought they’d be above my budget of around £600 but they had a few models on offer. So I had a demonstration of those & to be honest there was no contest. I was going to get the least expensive of them but my dh who was with me offered to add to my budget & I got one that was around £900 on offer. It’s wonderful. It doesn’t do the free arm embroidery or the 5 types of buttonhole like the Brother( though it does so much that I’m still learning). But the quality of the stitching is faultless & the feet are engineering miracles compared to the flimsier ones of the Brother, even though that was £600.
At the moment I’m going through a bit of a silly stage of using my old machine for everyday & keeping the Bernina for “ best sewing” which I know is stupid but it seems too beautiful to use on any old thing!

WildCherryBlossom Sat 30-Dec-17 14:30:38

Thank you all again. It's so interesting to hear about your machines. Berninas do seem very expensive - a walking foot for example (which I will definitely want for quilting) sells for around £100 in my nearest independent machine shop, compared to just under £40 for a Janome equivalent (both manufactured in Thailand).

Niminy Tue 09-Jan-18 16:12:09

I'm in the market for a new machine and have a budget of no more than £1,000. Having thought a lot about what I want these are my priorities:

Lovely straight and zigzag stitch
Reliable and solid
Will last
Will handle a range of fabrics

I don't want gazillions of embroidery stitches and I'm not going to do quilting. I really only want to do dressmaking/tailoring. One-step/fancy buttonholes would be nice but I'm not going to break my heart over them. I've always used a mechanical machine and so I'm used to doing without needle up/down and all that malarkey.

I've been thinking about the Bernina 1008 for ages. It's within budget (and I could get some extra feet, esp the walking foot). But I can't get to a shop that has one in stock to try it out. Is it so good that I could buy it blind? Or is there another comparable machine I should look at? I personally feel more drawn to mechanical than computerised but I'm persuadable.

bigtissue Tue 09-Jan-18 16:19:44

Niminy if I were you I wouldn't hesitate, there is no better machine. I understand you wanting to try one out first however, that's only sensible.

Is there really no way you can get to a dealership? Even so, if you are in the wilds you might find a YouTube video to watch to give you an idea.
You could start here:

bigtissue Tue 09-Jan-18 16:23:08


I'm afraid you get what you pay for with sewing machines, as with so many things grin My older Bernina has lasted perfectly since 1984 with no trouble, just regular servicing.

Niminy Tue 09-Jan-18 16:47:15

Kings Lynn looks like the nearest place to me, which is about an hour and a half's drive. I might just take the plunge and order it.

ElanorGamgee Wed 10-Jan-18 03:33:25

I bought mine without trying it Niminy but I had used my mum’s 830 record for 30 years.

hevonbu Wed 10-Jan-18 03:45:29

I have a Janome but would have had a Bernina if the one I wanted hadn't been so expensive.

hevonbu Wed 10-Jan-18 03:47:19

Don't throw away your old Singer whatever you do, if you don't want it as a (strong) spare, you could sell it on ebay or similar.

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