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Buying a "new" sewing machine
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Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Buying a "new" sewing machine on 09/12/2011 08:29:05 MDT Print View

Hey everybody,

As you can probably tell from the title, I'm planning on buying a second hand sewing machine. I've already looked around on this forum and I found a lot of comments that were very helpfull and yet not all that helpfull. From what I can tell everyone loves Singer 401's and Singer 500's, but nobody has been able to make it clear to me why these macines are better than others.

While I would happily accept that these models are great, I can't buy one even if I wanted to. They're simply not available. Here in the Netherlands there are 1000's of second hand machines for sale, but not the machines recommended in this forum.

I've recently found a shop nearby that sells second hand machines that are serviced and come with warranty. As far as I can tell, their prices are not bad. I'm probably going to buy a machine there and I was hoping the great minds on this forum could give me some advice on the models they sell.


Edited by Markacd on 09/12/2011 08:30:46 MDT.

Jeff J
(j.j.81) - F

Locale: Oregon
The reasoning on 09/12/2011 08:59:07 MDT Print View

Since I just bought a machine second hand, I went through the same thing. Look for weight; the machine should feel heavy for its size, and that's due to the gears being metal rather than plastic. The metal gears last far longer and the machine is more robust for it, whereas the plastic gears wear down and the machine can't handle much usage. That's my understanding anyway.

I bought a Kenmore 158 since that's what I found in my area for what I was willing to spend. But again, that's here in the US.

What I actually did was look at second hand stores, then go home and research the models I found. I also tried to find the manuals online. THEN I bought my machine.


Edit: To add that I waited to buy until AFTER I researched what machines I had been finding.

Edited by j.j.81 on 09/12/2011 09:00:38 MDT.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Buying a "new" sewing machine on 09/12/2011 09:44:00 MDT Print View

I have a Bernina Record 830, and it's easily the best machine I've ever used. Runs very smooth, extremely well-built, plenty of power for what I've been doing. Has a switch to select maximum or minimum sewing speeds--minimum is very useful for work when I want to go slow and careful. It looks like the shop near you has one for 295 euros.

David Bolduc
(boldav47) - F
Machines in Europe on 09/12/2011 09:49:13 MDT Print View

Since you live in the Netherlands, I would first look for older all metal machines that were manufactured in Europe in the 1950's-1960's like the Pfaff 130, the Necchi Lydia/BU, or the Italian Singer 237. You might also consider high quality but lighter duty machines by Viking and Bernina. These are great for sewing ripstop nylon (tarps/quilts/rain jackets). My favorites are the Swiss made machines, the Bernina 730/830/930 series and the Elna Carina. I personally own a range of sewing machines which I all purchased cheaply. However, they did need tuning up to make them work well; but I was able to do this myself eventually using repair manuals and online sewing machine repair forums for guidance.

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Budget on 09/12/2011 10:49:20 MDT Print View

I should have mentioned that my budget is not that big. €100 is my absolute maximum and if possible I'd like to spend less. That Bernina 830 is probably a very nice machine, but a little too expensive for me.

In that shop I mentioned earlier they have a Singer 527 for €60. Is a 527 similar to the 500 that so many people seem to like?

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Budget on 09/12/2011 14:32:39 MDT Print View

Mark the 527 appears to be a newer generation than the old 500's, I doubt it's on par. From what I'm seeing, I wouldn't recommend it.

For what it's worth, the 500A was the top of the line of home sewing machines when it was sold, the currency conversion from that era would place a 500A new today in the few thousand dollar range, I recall reading. By Singer's own account, it's the best (home) machine they ever made. It's all metal construction, has tons of features that many new machines don't have, and is basically indestructible. Very easy to maintain, with great timing in general. That's why it's so recommended. You could buy one, oil it regularly, and expect it to be passed on to your grandchildren. When it was produced, it was meant to be the absolute best machine money could buy. Like top of the line cars of the era (or any machinery), they simply don't make them like that anymore.

That being said, there are tons of great European machines out there, although I'm not as well versed in the options. The old Necchi's are well known for being top quality machines, Bernina, Janome, and Pfaff as well are all top brands. Which models are the best? A little internet research should turn up the answers. Singers are simply so ubiquitous in the U.S., and were the kings of quality back when the best machines were produced up until the mid-20th century, that it's difficult for us not to look for them first.

All that being said, I sold my 500A to another forumite, and a number of my other home machines, as I've transitioned to industrials. As great as any home machine is for versatility, nothing compares to the specialized perfection of a top quality industrial for specific work.

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Metal vs plastic/nylon gears on 09/15/2011 07:04:36 MDT Print View

I went to a sewing machine shop yesterday. They didn't have any models on display that I could test at that time, so the trip was mostly pointless. However, when I told them that I was looking for a full metal machine, they told me that metal gears against metal gears wear faster than nylon gears against metal gears.

I don't know much about materials, so is there anybody here with a better knowledge of such things who can confirm or deny this?

David Bolduc
(boldav47) - F
Keep looking on 09/15/2011 11:14:04 MDT Print View

Yep, makes sense. That's why my industrial machines have all metal gears- so that they wear out faster. NOT! I think it's safe to say that you probably don't need to return to that shop soon. As stated earlier by many posters, just try to find an all metal sewing machine. This could be a home machine from the 1950's - 1960's or even an industrial zig zag machine like a Pfaff 138 if you have the space or find one cheap. Just keep looking in your local classified adds and even ask friends and family if they have an old machine they aren't using. You might even find something for free. Best of luck! Dave

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
Bernina 910 on 09/28/2011 05:05:09 MDT Print View

Hey there,

I'm still looking for a nice machine. One of the machines I've come across is a Bernina 910 with several feet and a cutting extension. I think this machine is similar to the higly praised 930, but I can't find any info on this model. Can anyone tell me what the differences are?

How does it compare to a Husqvarna 5610 or a Husqvarna from the 4000 serie?

William Cummings
(rcummings1) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Bernina 910 on 09/28/2011 08:12:26 MDT Print View

The 910 is an excellent machine. The difference between the 930 and 910 is the 910 has fewer stitches. It has 7 practical stiches, 7 less than the 930, and does not have the decorative stitches. It will do everything you need. The 910 uses the same motor, body case, and CB Hook as the 930. The early 910's do not have a knee lifter for the presser foot or the needle up needle down heeel tap function built into the foot pedal. The only thing I dislike on the early ones is the needle always stops in the up position. Having sewn on both the Singer 401's and 500 machines, the 910 blows any old Singer away. I have a 930 and it is a dream to sew on. You can tell the 910 and 930 apart at a glance, the 910 is blue and cream colored, the 930 dark brown and cream. IMO it's head and shoulders above the Husqvarna's, and the Husqvarna's are head and shoulders above the Singers. Originally the 930's sold for $1200 USD and the 910's sold for $900 USD.

If it is in good shape and everything works it's a great machine.

Buy it

If you have any other questions PM me.

Edited by rcummings1 on 09/28/2011 08:30:27 MDT.

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
What to look for? on 09/29/2011 09:20:30 MDT Print View

I hope to go see the Bernina this weekend and check it out. What details should I look for to see whether it is in good shape or not? It has to sound good obviously, but what else do I look for?

David Bolduc
(boldav47) - F
Things to look for on 09/29/2011 10:29:51 MDT Print View

What I basically do when I plan to buy a used sewing machine is that I first locate a users manual online for that particular unit. Most times I can find the manual for free with some dedicated googling or looking through sewing forum files. I then read through the booklet/pdf file to familiarize myself with the functions and features of that machine, and I learn how to thread it up just in case it's not ready to use. I also collect up a few scraps of the fabric I plan to use along with a spool of my preferred thread. When I get to the sellers place, I am polite and I tell them about my hobby making outdoor gear. I ask them if I can try out the machine and I then put it through it's paces. I check out how it sews and I see if everything works and sounds smooth and quiet. I also take a closer look at its overall cosmetic condition, whether it's mechanically sound, and what accessories are included. Finally, I offer up a price based on the machine's condition and what I've seen similar machine sell for in my local market place. If the seller doesn't like the price I've offered we begin bargaining and most times we reach a reasonable compromise. However, sometimes we can't agree and I just move on knowing that there are plenty of other machines out there to choose from.

Nikii Murtaugh
(hikingis4me2) - F

Locale: Northeastern Oregon
Buying a 'new' sewing machine on 10/09/2011 00:15:28 MDT Print View

I literally wore out my Singer sewing machine that I bought in 1978. Now I have a Janome DC2007LE (the green one) and I love it. Sewed a tarp tent and had no trouble with the silnylon slipping or the no see um fabric.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Metal vs plastic/nylon gears on 10/09/2011 03:05:30 MDT Print View

> they told me that metal gears against metal gears wear faster than nylon gears against metal gears.

Interesting point. All things being equal there is some merit in that arguement, but things are never that equal.

For a start, you can put a LOT more power (force on the needle) through metal gears. Put too much force on plastic gears for some time (sewing several layers of pack material for instance) and the plastic will distort and wear. Metal won't.

Second, why do they use plastic gears on cheap home machines anyhow? Because the plastic gears are much cheaper, and typically a home machine does not get used all that much use anyhow. People buy them with great intentions, and then lose interest. That tells you what the focus of modern design is.

Just because a machine has plastic gears does not mean it is a good strong long-life plastic. Many sorts of plastic will wear out fast, especially under load. Good plastics are more expensive than cheap plastics too.

Cheap metal gears are going to wear as well, but the gear won't (normally) break down completely, even if worn. Back in the good old days ... they did actually make good gears so the machines would last a lifetime. It seems that ethos has been lost.

Actually, what really bugs me is the way modern electronic equipment with a 12 month warranty seems to last no more than 13 months. Snarl!


Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
still searching on 10/09/2011 11:10:19 MDT Print View

I didn't get the Bernina 910. The woman selling it asked way too much for it. The only other semi-interesting Bernina for sale right now is a relatively cheap Bernina 1130 which is acting up. The seller is guessing there's something wrong with the print (I'm guessing she means the computer stuff which is incredibly expensive to repair and which I don't really need/want anyway).

It seems that there are a lot more Pfaff's and Husqvarna's for sale.
There are several Pfaff 12xx (a bit expensive, but sometimes you can get a nice deal), quite a few Pfaff 10xx (pretty cheap, but I don't think they have the famous IDT and I'm a bit confused about whether these are mechanical machines or if they have electronics that might fail), a Hobbymatic 801 and a relatively cheap Pfaff stretch and jeans.

The Husqvarna's for sale are mostly in the 4000 series, a couple of 56xx's and 6xxx's, a couple of 2000's and a slightly expensive Emerald 118.

What do you think of these machines? Does anyone know how these machines compare to eachother?

William Cummings
(rcummings1) - F

Locale: Colorado
Still searching on 10/15/2011 17:58:45 MDT Print View

Take a look at the Pfaff 122x series machines, classics in their own right just like the older Bernina's.

I don't know if there are any Elna's where you are but my first sewing machine was an Elnasuper. Rock star machine if its been taken care of and sews perfectly. Great stitches and to this day one of the smoothest machines I have ever used. It sings to you when you use it. Look for an older Elna like the Elnasuper or the Elna SU which is a later model of the same machine. They were Swiss made in those days and the only weakness they have is the nylon camstack gear can crack just like the ones in the older Bernina 830 Records.

I personally don't like the older Husky machines because they were marketed as never needing to be lubricated, When I went on the hunt for my first machine I found more frozen/seized Husky's than you can imagine. Not a good first impression and will probably never consider one because of it. They may be nice machines but I am leery of anything that wasn't lubricated on a regular basis. With that being said, I have heard good things about the Emerald 118 and if I was going to buy a Husky that is the one I would consider.

Edited by rcummings1 on 10/15/2011 18:01:25 MDT.

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
It's probably going to be one of these on 10/17/2011 08:51:30 MDT Print View

The comments here and on other forums about Husqvarna's freezing up have convinced me to stop looking at them. There are quite a few other interesting machines for sale right now though and I'm probably going to buy one of them.

If it were up to you, which machine would you buy?
-A Pfaff 1229 for €170 (To what Bernina machine should I compare this? The 830? The 930? Something else?)
-A Pfaff 1222E or 1222SE for €160 (Does anyone know what the difference is with the 1229?)
-A Pfaff Hobbymatic 927 for €125
-A Bernina 1000 Designer (price unknown, but I expect somewhere around €150)
-A Bernina 930 without extra feet for €225 (for this machine it's probably a very good deal, but €225 is more than the budget I had in mind. With extra feet like a walking foot the price is probably going to be nearer to €260. Is this machine really worth over 60% more than the other machines?)

William Cummings
(rcummings1) - F

Locale: Colorado
Take them for a spin on 10/23/2011 19:49:59 MDT Print View

The best thing to do now is grab your preffered supplies- needles, thread, fabric cut into strips and doubled over, and scissors. Then sit down at each of them and take them for a drive. Wind a bobbin checking to make sure it loads evenly, thread the machine, put in a new needle, pull up the bobbin thread, and start sewing. Check the reverse, make sure the fabric feeds straight, check the straight stitch and various stitch lengths and the widest zigzag setting. After sewing a few seams, check the tension on the front and back. One of the machines your looking at will just feel right while sewing on it. That's the one you buy.

Mark Dijkstra
(Markacd) - F
I finally bought a machine on 12/17/2011 17:05:36 MST Print View

Actually, I bought two. I got a Pfaff 1214 and a Pfaff 1221-11 for €50. They do need some work before I can use them though.

The 1214 purrs like a kitten, but it no longer has a coil housing, so I need to buy a new one for that (I can't exchange it with the coil housing on the 1221). Once I have a coil housing I should have a perfectly working machine. I've already found a place that sells them for €40, but I think there are cheaper suppliers out there. I just haven't found them yet.

The 1221-11 works, but it's not running nearly as smooth as it should. My guess is that it needs a good service.

In both machines the embroidery unit (buttons on top) has been removed, but I wasn't really planning on using that anyway. The important stitches still work. On the other hand, if someone knows where I might buy an embroidery unit, I would like to know about it. If it's not too expensive it would be nice to have a complete machine.

I also need more bobbins and some extra feet (there's only one foot supplied for each machine). Does anyone know a good (preferrably cheap) source for those?

Hana Jay
(hana12j) - F
Singer 8763 on 07/02/2012 00:58:58 MDT Print View

Singer 8763 Curvy Computerized Sewing Machine as name implies is a computerized sewing machine manufactured by Singer which is a well known company in this industry. This is best

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Edited by hana12j on 07/04/2012 00:32:44 MDT.