questionswhat sewing machines do people like (no singers…

vote-for12vote-against
vote-for5vote-against

Pfaff best machine on the market. Probably the only one that still has no plastic bits in it. It is what I grew up with. My mom bought one used in Germany in 1966ish...I used it until I left home in 96 (right after graduate school). She finally gave it away, but I will eventually buy a used one of my own.

http://www.pfaffusa.com/

this one probably still works!

http://www.ecrater.com/product.php?pid=4423811

vote-for4vote-against

@hobbit: My mother had a Necchi-Elna (now just called Necchi). I also use that one, now and then. It was new in 1951, and has cams for embroidery. Amazingly cool, when you watch the machine used them to guide itself.

Pfaffs are also very nice machines.

Janome is mostly made in Thailand, and many of the brands of my youth are now all acquired by that same company. A sewing machine is a serious engineering marvel, and I don't want it to be all plastic inside.

vote-for3vote-against

Hah! Truth be told, I take everything to a little old lady named Julia who trades me seamstress types of things for computer work making up flyers, newsletters, club booklets and brochures. This is much easier than me trying to take a needle in hand to sew buttons, etc as it always involves blood and swear words. She has 4 sewing machines in her little shop, but no allegiance to a specific brand.

vote-for3vote-against

@hobbit: Oh, I love your hand-cranked Pfaff picture! I was collecting the old ones for a while, but they just take up too much space. I sold the three or four that I had. They're beautiful, but so very heavy. I'll have to alert the couple that bought all mine. They have a room filled with them (close to fifty, as I recall). Treadle machines, early electric ones, miniature ones (not for children, but for traveling).

vote-for2vote-against

@shrdlu: You sure it isn't Elna? I can talking sewing machines about all day, sort of like you can talk computers. Although I don't really get into the fancy embroidery stuff, but I can talk thread, needles and fabric and which type of thread and needle to use with which type of fabric.

vote-for2vote-against

@sand4me: I can actually sew a seam by hand with stitches even enough that you would think it had been done by a machine (except they aren't locked, since I'm using one thread, rather than two).

vote-for3vote-against

@sand4me: Did we already figure that one? or is this a new discovery? Now I feel stupid.

vote-for4vote-against

@shrdlu: iron-on tape, staples, small safety pins - use them all. Did use a needle once to dig out a tick-head that insisted on staying in place.

vote-for2vote-against

@hobbit: My mother's machine? I'm sure. It says Necchi-Elna on the side. It was a gift to her from my daddy when one of my brothers was born. It's why I know what year it was purchased in. They did split up. Later on, if she wanted parts, they came from Elna (she ended up buying every possible cam they had). I wonder if Elna is even still out there?

vote-for3vote-against

@hobbit: I don't usually say, not sure I have ever told on this site.

vote-for2vote-against

@hobbit: Yeah, we need a list somewhere of who's who. Fidett is also, as I recall. @sand4me, I think you've told us you were female before.

vote-for3vote-against

@shrdlu: well colour me Red with embarassment.

vote-for3vote-against

Anyway I have been sewing since I was 3, yes 3.

vote-for3vote-against

@sand4me: Staples. I've seen that. You just cracked me up, from the memory of it. I've seen plenty of paper clips, but the staples, only once.

I had a full sewing kit in my purse until perhaps the last five years or so. There's still two in my luggage. One in the carry on that doesn't have needles, and the other one which is complete, including emergency buttons in case a shirt sleeve lost one. Of course, I haven't owned a shirt with buttons on the cuffs in years, but just in case...

vote-for3vote-against

@shrdlu: I used to have a small sewing kit in an emergency survival kit that I carried around just because "ya never know" but I actually haven't carried one of those for several years now. It had all kinds of things in it, including needles and fish hooks and lines and safety pins, etc. I wonder what happened to that thing... probably in a box somewhere.
@Hobbit: 3 years of age means that sewing is amongst your earliest memories? Do you remember what you made?

vote-for4vote-against

@sand4me: I probably just sewed on fabric. But I was making pillows at age four. I was helping my grandmother sew the straight seams on all my school clothes at age five and did that until I was about 10 when I started making my own skirts. I still do not like putting in zippers and I tend to stick to easier patterns, complicated ones frustrate me and I get bored. But I have made a full lined blazer, that took weeks - we worked on it after school for what seemed like a year.

vote-for3vote-against

After very careful training to ensure that I could sew by hand I learned how to machine sew on a Bernina and was then given an Elna ten years ago. It's survived six out-of-state moves and still performs beautifully. I mostly use it for curtains and quilts. It doesn't have any fancy electronics. I now pull out a vintage Singer Featherweight when I need to sew outside of the home.

I would recommend either a Bernina or an Elna. I think that you may be able to get more machine for your money with an Elna. I'm not a huge fan of the Brother's (I've seen friends have too many problems with them).

vote-for3vote-against

@sand4me: I am very competent with sewing. However, I still cheat and send my daughter to my Mom to get her pants hemmed, etc. I'd rather do the activities that I enjoy.

vote-for3vote-against

@glindagw: In 8th grade or so, I had to make an apron in school. The ties were not the same length and one pocket was sewed completely on, all 4 sides. I could not figure out how I did that. Then they made us sew a dress and wear it at the end of class. Mine had no sleeves - couldn't get them on and the darts ended up near my shoulders instead of the bustline. The zipper was in crooked - total disaster. More stories available, but you get the picture.

vote-for3vote-against

@sand4me: They let me take shop. I made a mitten rack & made a hinged metal box. I still have both of them.

vote-for3vote-against

@glindagw: I am older than you - no girls allowed in shop back then. Home Ec was required. I could cook but sewing was not my thing.

vote-for2vote-against

I started sewing at some age that I couldn't tell, but probably either three or four. The general rule in family (mine) is that if there is dexterity to hold the needle, then the little girl is ready. Sorry, boys, it's a very old fashioned family. My own daughter started at three. I gave her some old napkins to practice embroidery on. Had I known that her work would be perfect, I'd have picked something else. It was just daisies, and leaves, and only yellow and green, but each stich was perfect.

I have since had occasion to try and show an adult how to do a daisy stitch (sometimes called a lazy daisy), and am always surprised at their difficulty in grasping it. It is a natural skill to pick up, when the dexterity first starts to show itself. It also requires an interest, of course. Back in the day, the word homely was not an insult, but rather referred to those arts that went to creating a home.

vote-for3vote-against

@sand4me: Oh, I remember those days. Home economics is something they no longer teach, and I think it's a shame. We learned to make a household budget, and other useful things, in addition to the cooking and sewing classes.

I think that the sewing tended to be cruelest to those girls who'd not already had exposure at home.

Lucky me, now I have a vote for Elna, and a vote for Pfaff. I'll probably start looking sometime this week. It isn't the kind of thing you could have a deal on, I think I'd want to know there was someone local to take it to be serviced, if it needed it.

Any opinions on Bernina? Are they still around, I wonder?

vote-for2vote-against

@glindagw: Brothers are right up there with Singer in my book. I have no interest in one.

vote-for4vote-against

It does surprise me that my younger co workers have never used a sewing machine. Because I grew up using one, for my us it was like something we had around the house, I took it for granted. For them they grew up with the computer instead. I think everyone should knew how to at least stitch a hem, sew on a button and adjust that split in the seam when it bursts. I have to show them how to do these things. Most have mastered sewing on buttons.

vote-for2vote-against

@glindagw: Dang it. You even said Bernina. I don't know why I didn't see that first time through, but there it is.

http://www.berninausa.com/
http://www.elnausa.com/

That's excellent, actually, because it's three separate machines I know and like, and will help when I start looking.

vote-for3vote-against

@shrdlu: If you buy locally you will have the advantage of seeing and touching it before buying. You should also be able to take classes in the interest of really mastering the machine (easier than reading the directions). However, I wouldn't necessarily worry about buying it from the same place that will repair it. Quilt & fabric shops will be better every day resources for the machine than sewing & vac stores. Your local quilt shop will either have a relationship with someone for repair or be able to tell you the best place to take it.

With all of that said, I've taken my machine in for a couple of tuneups (check-ups after ugly moves). I've never needed an actual repair. One nice thing is I don't have to oil my machine, saving me from gumming it up.

vote-for2vote-against

@glindagw: I agree completely with your comments (on buying locally). It shouldn't surprise you to hear that all the good machines (at least in my area) are sold at exactly the kind of store that you'd suggested as the best place to buy (quilt and fabric stores). The Elna is the only one that's even a drive (about 60 miles); the Bernina and Pfaff are less than five miles away. Quite amazing.

I've never had to have a machine repaired, although I have taken a couple of them apart to clean out the dust and thread fragments that just build up. Nowadays, the machines are enclosed in a way that probably doesn't permit them to become clogged. There are also electronic components that weren't there in machines from the fifties and earlier. I was impressed that my New Home continued to operate after being tossed about the room from the Northridge quake, but I suspect one of the newer ones, with the electronics, wouldn't have survived.

vote-for3vote-against

I LOVE my 2 New Home machines. And yes, they are older. Look for another one!! Look, any newer machine you get will be largely plastic. My old ones are steel case, sturdy, do everything I want. I'm a quilter, do embroidery, you name it. The built-in embroidery cams are plastic. So you can't beat the old machines as long as you keep them maintained.

Then again...I have a friend who sewed matching dresses for 4 of her daughters. She has using a 1924 Singer!!! (She doesn't mind not having zig-zag but I do!)

If you want to get a new machine, my advice is that you look for the type of SERVICE and support you will get in your area. In my town, the best service/shop is for Viking machines. (I bought a Viking/Husqvarna serger over 10 years ago and am very happy even though it is plastic.) The local business that supports them is TOPS! They have free classes, tuneups, and are very pro-active.

Go for the support, not the brand name, and you'll be happy!

vote-for2vote-against

@glindagw: @hobbit: I have narrowed the list down. I am amazed it has gone this quickly. I am still planning on a trip to see the Bernina machines, but the local dealer who has Pfaff (and Viking and Husqvarna) also has Elna, and I think that this is just ideal.

http://www.elna.us/en/products/computer/6200/

It does everything I could possible need, and I'll only need to add one foot (a hemmer foot) to have everything I'm used to.

http://www.elna.us/en/products/accessories/sewing_accessories/hemmer/

@catbertthegreat, this is NOT a sign for you to go out and find a deal on this. I would never buy something like this online.

Tomorrow, Bernina. Who knows? Maybe I'll have a new sewing machine before the camera is even delivered?

@hobbit: The Pfaff machines are all smarter than I am. They're amazing, but overkill for me. They are indeed the Rolls Royce, though.

vote-for3vote-against

I know when I end up buying it will probably be an Elna or a Bernina. I won't be able to afford a Pfaff as much I as I want one.

vote-for4vote-against

@shrdlu: You didn't ask me too. I'll hunt if people ask me to hunt. Shipping would be murder anyway, probably would be cheaper to drive to warehouse the online store is operating out of than pay for shipping.

I don't know the first thing about sewing, but do sewing machines need a LCD display?
Maybe you could give it a new OS?
Is there Stitchbuntu yet?
Can you overclock it?
Can you liquid cool it?

vote-for3vote-against

@hobbit: Do the Pfaff machines have voice recognition. Can you go all Robbie the robot on them and say, "Pfaff make me dress with a necklace of star sapphires."

vote-for3vote-against

@catbertthegreat: if I had my way a pfaff machine would not have any computer chips in it at all. But no the one I would be buying won't be doing any voice commands. Besides you would still have to cut out the fabric using a pattern and put the pieces together before Robbie the Pfaff Sewing Machine could put it together. It can only sew. Thanks for the morning giggle.

My Pfaff will be foot pedal operated. I will want it to recognize the muttering of my voice when I mess up my own seam making. So it will mostly know swear words.

vote-for2vote-against

@catbertthegreat: Many of them have LCDs, yes. The other Elna I liked has one, but I've talked myself out of it. I don't really need a quilting machine (I don't quilt), and all those embroidery things are wasted on me. It was very cool, and I loved it, but I don't need it.

The Pfaffs are all pretty smart, and while there is no Stitchbuntu, there probably could be. It's an interesting question of just what chip is in it, and there's no way on the planet I'm dropping four grand, just to find out. You wouldn't want to liquid cool it, no. I'd LOVE a machine that was all acrylic, and transparent, though. Not enough to spend the four figures, but it would be fun to go look at.

For entertainment, please check out the walking foot. I've decided against one, since I don't really have a need (no quilting in my house).

vote-for3vote-against

@catbertthegreat sewing machines are more like cars than like computers, really. @shrdlu's analogy of Pfaff being like a Rolls Royce was probably about right. They still need a driver though, and how fun it is 'drive' a sewing machine that is finely tuned.

vote-for5vote-against

Well, the deed is done. The new machine is already in the house. I was so shocked at the poor quality (but not $price$$$) of the Bernina that even I was near speechless. There is a reason that they only show you THIS picture on the web site:

http://www.berninausa.com/product_overview-n2-r6-sUS.html

What they DON'T show is the bloody horrorshow of a plastic skirt that takes the place of a work area. I know that I would lean on it, and break it, in the first month of use. For a machine that starts at close to two grand, they could have spent a bit more money. Too bad. Bernina used to be a nice machine.

So, I got the Elna I'd referred to.

http://www.elna.us/en/products/computer/6200/

Best thing is, it comes with the Hemmer Foot that I require, and I've special ordered a walking foot, so life is perfect. Thanks to everyone for the advice, and for the good time.

Oh, and if the Pfaff is the Rolls Royce, I got a top of the line Chevy.

vote-for4vote-against

@shrdlu: Congratulations! I'm slightly jealous (very nice). I think that getting the walking foot was a good call. Have fun!

vote-for3vote-against

we have lost her to the sewing machine

vote-for2vote-against

@hobbit: Nonsense. You lost me to dinner, and the new camera (which arrived a day early). Tomorrow will be the sewing machine. I haven't even taken it out of the box yet.

vote-for1vote-against

I hope you get lots of enjoyment from your new machine.

vote-for1vote-against

@shrdlu: Congratulations! It looks like you made a wise choice. Most Elna machines are now made by Janome, just as the old New Home machines were. I think you'll be very happy with your new machine!

vote-for2vote-against

@iswim: You are mistaken about who makes Elna machines. I recognize that they are not made in the US, but do not believe that Janome is involved in their construction. You couldn't GIVE me a Janome machine. I've seen them. No thanks.

vote-for0vote-against

I love my Janome! I'm a new quilter and the machine is great and has a lot of stitches to choose from. I LOVE it.

vote-for3vote-against

I have owned a Pfaff for 30 years, paid a high price (compared to others) when I bought it, but to me it was the best investment. It still works beautifully & is a solid piece of equipment. Bernina, Necchi/Elna were also highly regarded at the time, but the Pfaff is a work horse. On the lower end of the spectrum, I would buy a Brother before buying a Singer. It is good for beginners, but if you sew a lot, go with something that will last. For occasional sewers doing basic tasks, Brother will be fine. Otherwise, working w/heavy or delicate fabrics, you will be frustrated.

I recently pulled my Pfaff out after not using it for over 5 years, & made throw pillows with IKEA fabric for my daughter's dorm room that you would swear were bought at Pottery Barn. She was shocked. Now if I had the patience to show her how to do it - bad Mom. I now know the decision I made 30 years ago to buy this machine was the right one.

It is just so nice to hear the people are SEWING these days!

vote-for1vote-against

No Singer fans here, huh? I love my old 1950's Singer. Talk about a workhorse! I do wish it had zigzag at times. It makes beautiful button holes with the attachment. Sometimes I do wish I had something newer, but I love my beautiful black Singer!

vote-for0vote-against

@shrdlu: Yes, Elna machines are still made. When my Singer 9900 died, I bought a used Elna 7000...it is SO quiet (the Singer beeped at every setting change) that it's amazing. Sews like a dream too! I have a friend with a newer Elna, and she loves hers too!