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Sewing Machine Recommendations
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(K.Kading) - MLife

Locale: Carson Range
Sewing Machine Recommendations on 05/16/2014 10:22:35 MDT Print View

Hi all,

I am looking to start MYOG. I do not have a sewing machine and I am looking for recommendations and where to find a good used one.

As always,

Thanks in advance.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Sewing Machine Recommendations on 05/16/2014 10:44:19 MDT Print View

search "sewing machine"

for example:

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Sewing Machine Recommendations on 05/16/2014 11:23:43 MDT Print View

Got to a thrift store, find an inexpenisve machine that works and is made out of metal. Use it for a year. If after that you're still sewing and you want/need more then get yourself a Juki or a Brother.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Sewing Machine Recommendations on 05/16/2014 11:45:59 MDT Print View

Thrift stores, yard sales and Craigslist are good places to pick up inexpensive ones to start with. I have a Janome Magnolia 7330. It has done well so far. Juki or Bernina are widely thought to be the best.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 05/16/2014 11:48:00 MDT.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Sewing Machine Recommendations on 05/16/2014 12:40:44 MDT Print View

FWIW, I bought a cheap basic Singer machine from Target, paid around $70 on sale, and it's been perfectly adequate for all my DIY projects. One of the advantages of DIY projects in the UL realm is that you rarely tackle seriously heavyweight fabrics.

(K.Kading) - MLife

Locale: Carson Range
Re: Re: Sewing Machine Recommendations on 05/17/2014 15:21:09 MDT Print View

Thanks all! I'll go the economical route to begin but upgrade if need be!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Sewing Machine Recommendations on 05/17/2014 15:37:56 MDT Print View

> I'll go the economical route to begin but upgrade if need be
A commendable idea, as long as you buy something reliable rather than the latest plastic bit of junk. Knowing the difference is the problem.

An old, 2nd hand metal machine would be the best bet imho.


Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sewing Machine Recommendations on 05/17/2014 17:27:40 MDT Print View

"An old, 2nd hand metal machine would be the best bet imho."

I've found 3 Singer 401s in the last 6 months at second hand stores. Flagship machines from arguably the peak of manufacturing quality in the US that originally cost the equivalent of $2000+ adjusted for inflation. Provided they've been well cared for, any old Singer, Pfaff, Elna, etc are a joy to use compared to newer machines in my experience.

Edited by brendans on 05/17/2014 17:29:58 MDT.

Derek Weeks
(Lighting12) - MLife
Re: Sewing Machine Recommendations on 05/17/2014 23:11:05 MDT Print View

Buy something used like an old Singer, but don't buy online if you can't see it first. Try look at sewing shops for older ones. Ive used a Singer 403A and love it picked it up for $135 and works great.

Zach Grammon
(cazgram) - F
Re: Sewing Machine Recommendations on 05/28/2014 16:33:50 MDT Print View

Late to the party, but here's my two cents if you want to go the old machine route...

1. Is it from the 1940's/50's?
This will usually indicate all metal, well-made machines. Going for too old (20's or 30's) of a machine might mean headaches with wiring, rusting, etc. Singers are tricky, because they all kinda look the same and a lot aren't marked with a model number except by serial number lookup process. Taking a few seconds to familiarize yourself with the markers between a 20's Singer and a 50's Singer could save yourself a lot of trouble and land a great deal.

2. Is it straight stitch/zig-zag or does it have a lot of bells and whistles?
The more junk (embroidery, etc.) the harder it will be to maintain and tune. An example would be the Pfaff 130 vs 230. The 230 is a very similar machine to former with the addition of an embroidery unit that is a pain (at least for me) to tune.

3. Can you find a service manual & owner's manual online?
This is the primary reason why I would avoid lesser known machines. I think quality is great on a lot of the random branded machines out there, but I know I can find manuals for a Pfaff, Necchi, Singer, etc so I would stick to those.

4. Will it take a while to get the machine useable?
Projects like rewiring, painting, or DIY servicing add both time and money to a seemingly great deal. In my opinion, a paint job is not worth it (coming from someone who has both painted machines and had them powder coated). I would pay $50-100 more for a machine with a paint job that's in good shape so I don't get the DIY paint bug again and feel like I have to spruce it up.

All that said, a couple machines I would keep an eye out for are the Singer 201-2 or 15-91, Necchi BU, or a Pfaff 130, which are all either straight stitch or straight stitch/zig-zag. There's lots of other machines out there, but these definitely fit the bill. I have a 15-91 and its simplicity (straight stitch only + reverse) removes a lot of distractions and allows me to focus on sewing. Or typing great walls of text on forums.

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
Sewing machine recommendations on 05/28/2014 17:42:14 MDT Print View

I have a newish Bernina 330 and like it a lot. For a long time I used a Singer 221 Lightweight but wanted a zig-zag stitch. So, I bought a low end plastic Singer. I thought that it was the absence of computer control and fancy stitching that made it cheap. Boy was I wrong! The plastic Singer would labor when sewing 0.9 oz/yd material, it was constantly jamming or skipping stitches and the zig-zag stitch wouldn't feed reliably. I finally gave up on the Plastic Singer and gave it away. Accurate sewing is enough work without the frustrations of poor equipment. Don't get a cheap new machine unless you feel like gambling on the outcome.
BTW, my Singer 221 was made in 1937, has never had a repair, and still works great. I continue to use it for some jobs. The Bernina is a lot newer and fancier and was worth every penny. You get what you pay for; sometimes less.