What sewing machine do you use?

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Kate XXXXXX wrote
on 17 Aug 2010 11:38 AM

The prices of embroidery machines depends not simply on the price of the computer in the machine.  Don't forget the hefty costs of the software development, for both controlling the machine and for digitizing the the embroidery designs.

There is also the cost of all the new motor in the machines: they contain numerous small servo motors that control the multiple directions and speeds of the sewing when stitching out the designs.

I agree that the prices are somewhat inflated, but you have to take everything, not just the actual computer, into account.

10 years ago my Husqvarna Lily 550 non-embroidery machine with 240 stitch patterns had a list price of £1100.  I got a decent discount as part of a promotional campaign and because I bought an overlocker at the same time.  I also bought the machines with interest free credit.

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Sandra G wrote
on 17 Aug 2010 12:09 PM

 

Are you looking for suggestions or just to vent your frustration? Sewing machine prices have taken a large jump in the last 2 decades and also have more features than we ever imagined.

Have you considered purchasing a slightly used machine from a reputable dealer? My favorite machine is my Pfaff 2170, sewing and embroidery machine with built in dual feed. It is a fabulous sewing machine that also does very nice embroidery with a large assortment of available hoops. It has been discontinued and there are some wonderful used machines on the market. Just like cars, sewing machines loose value quickly so, you get more for your money buying slightly used.

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hpthecat wrote
on 17 Aug 2010 12:29 PM

LOL.....I guess I am venting...AND looking for suggestions both!!!

And I appreciate the two responses so far! AND I look forward to more....really ladies, any and all justifications are welcome--- all in good spirit.

I am glad I have decided to explore this site more with these decisions in mind, instead of just reading the magazine every month. Watching some of the videos is helping me to see more of what I want to do and what can be done with various machines.

Again, I look forward to more responses and suggestions.

I have a little fear about buying a pre-owned machine for a same type of reasons one might fear buying a 'used car.' Since I just want to 'buy once' and own for a long time-- it sort of makes my heart sink a little to get something that may already 'be old'---- or that I may not be able to find accessories or soft ware for before too long....

so these are some of my concerns.

I am thinking I will end up getting a good serger, because I have never had one. And maybe since they are much more affordable--- I will add to that, one of those 'felting machines'---- and maybe I will just 'placate' myself with those items until these sewing/embroidery machines 'come down out of the clouds'.....like flat panel TV's......because in time they will....

Bernina 820, Babylock Evolution, Babylock Embellisher, Babylock Audrey.

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Muppin wrote
on 17 Aug 2010 1:27 PM

If you go to the major shows there are always dealers there who sell machines at a discount that are show special prices.  In some cases, a local dealer will match a show price for a limited time.

At the IQA shows, the machines used in the classes are sold after the show at a very good price.  These machines have been used for a total of 3 days in class and then boxed up and sold used.  I know friends who have this kind of machine and it's practically new and at a fanatastic price that can't be beat.

I bought a machine for $1600 and it was an investment in my artwork.  I buy home computers way more often for just as much or more.  I am glad I paid it and I would pay it again, or more.  I am not a professional artist, I just want a machine that will do what I want to and sew the way I want to sew.

As stated very early on in this thread, it's about finding a dealer you trust who can repair machines very well as much as it is about finding a machine.  If you have that, a used machine is a great bargain.

Cheryl / Muppin

 

 

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Posts 133
on 17 Aug 2010 3:05 PM

Well much like computers, sewing machines come in all price ranges and configuations.  Its unlikely you'll find one to do every thing you need, (or perhaps more correctly, it does all tasks required really well) and that it fits into your price range.  Personally I think it will be a very long wait for the price to come down - sewing machines have long been expensive, the more complex they are.  All singing all dancing machines aren't a necessity for creative textile work - but if that's what you want, really really think about it, you may not grow into the need or interest to use, make sure you're not going to pay for attributes you are never going to use.  My machine has a few decorative stitches, which I rarely use, and I've seen the computerised designs and abilities to have the machine stitch your own designs - but that doesn't interest me, I'd rather do it myself.  But a friend makes very good use of that, and makes use of being able to stitch repetitive images.  I stitch all sorts, fabric, paper, acetate, metal, dissolvable fabrics, stitch over wooden bbq sticks, acrylic rods.  I use a single needle but sometimes thread it with 2 or 3 threads, use twin or even triple needles, put thicker threads in the bobbin.  I free machine and stitch regularly.  Last week a minor part broke, its away for fixing and servicing - but I've had it 18 years and this is its first failure and first service, cos usually it purrs along.  I have always been particular about cleaning, oiling and regularly change the needle.  The only things I'd change... a wider zig-zag, and a much larger gap between needle and body of machine (the harp I think its called).  But I'm not going to trade in a workhorse machine just for that.  Oh, I own a Bernina, an old one, 1230.

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hpthecat wrote
on 18 Aug 2010 9:36 PM

Wow! It sounds like you are doing a lot of stuff I would like to try!! I think I am going to start expirementing with trying to do some of these things on the old Kenmore.....and see what happens...you have inspired me.

And to the lady who posted before you, about the machines used at shows!! Wow!! THANK YOU. That is a help as one of the larger quilt shows in thecountry is hosted in my area every March. I wouldn't have known this info if you didn't tell me...

If I could get an Ellisimo or Viking "Ruby" for $1600-- I would too.....I object to $6000-$10,000.........I would like to digitize some watercolor paintings I have done, and make embroidery of my own art work-- periodically, .....as a friend pointed out to me, for what these machines cost...it may be more cost effective to have it done for me if these are going to be the prices......

I know....$1600 for an Ellisimo.....you are laughing WITH me...not AT me...LOL...chuckle....

Bernina 820, Babylock Evolution, Babylock Embellisher, Babylock Audrey.

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Posts 133
on 19 Aug 2010 1:34 AM

hpthecat:
I would like to digitize some watercolor paintings I have done, and make embroidery of my own art work-- periodically,

If that's the only reason for buying a wizz bang machine then I wouldn't bother, especially if its a periodic use.  There are many ways to do various tasks such as this.  You could simply  stitch freely the image whilst looking at your original inspiration, using the needle as you would a brush.  Or use one of the the very many methods of image transfer (liquid products, treated fabrics etc) to transfer an image onto fabric and then stitch it.  Again this will have your direct stitch input - as opposed to (and I know it can get very creative)  an added step of you giving the instructions to the computer/sewing machine as to how to stitch it.  It really is a matter of what finished effect do you want, or how often will you use, or would you like to really experiment with this.  I have found over the years a sometimes sniify attitude between hand stitching and maching stitching, or between machine stitching and digitizing - to me, one isn't better than another, one certainly  isn't quicker than another, and certainly one isn't more skilled than another.  They are different, give different results and effects and require different skills, methods of work.  It really is a matter of what suits a purpose, and what you enjoy doing. 

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on 20 Aug 2010 4:45 PM

I used to sell machines for a quilt shop.  My favorite is a Bernina.  Yes it is expensive, but I love it.  I have had many different machines, and I believe most of the companies out there have good machines and some not so good machines.  First I believe you have to decide what it is you want to do with a machine.  Allow for a little expansion or experimentation.  Then, as one of the other ladies mentioned, find a dealer close enough to you that will give GOOD classes (whether it is a sewing machine or a serger).  You need to like the dealer, trust that they will help you out and not just use you to ring up a sale and also,  that they have someone around doing their repairs - because trust  me, you will need to take your machine in at some time, even if only for maintenance help. Ask around at guilds or through friends around town.  Demos or floor models are usuallya great deal - as long as the dealer is trustworthy.  Some of them just want to get rid of their lemons!  Never ever take the machine home and let it sit in the box for months before you use it.  Your warranty could run out by then!!  Sew and play with it as soon as as often as you get it home!!!  Take classes that are offered - especially if they are free!  Take classes that aren't free, but are things you want to learn how to do.  The more you play with your machine, the more you will learn how to use the machine.  Most people only use 10% of what their machine can actually do.  Oh, and make sure that the dealer will let you sew on the machine before you buy it.  That is in addition to their showing you all the bells and whistles it may have.  Take along some fabric that you sew on and sew some things you want to actually use the machine for.  And yes, there are a lot of older machines out there that are perfectly fine for doing things that you may want to do without breaking the bank.  And one last thing, if you find yourself a good dealer, support them.  If you find a good deal at a quilt show or anywhere - call the dealer and ask if they can match the price.  There may be more things (like service or classes) you get at your own dealers'  then at a show or somewhere else.

Good luck, Mimi

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ckquilter wrote
on 21 Aug 2010 1:28 AM

you say you want to digitize your paintings - and then have the machine stitch it out?? not very creative (the painting is , but once you turn it over to the machine - it is just computer work.)

instead, i print my picture onto fabric. then stabilize the fabric by fusing it to a heavyweight stabilizer, like timtex. (much easier than hooping)

then free motion embroider (i do thread painting - and cover the entire surface with thread) using straight and zigzag stitches. you don't need an expnsive embroidery machine or any software at all. just a machine with straight and zigzag stitches, and the ability to drop the feed dogs(and even that can be worked around).

 

or if you are gonna paint, why not just paint directly onto the fabric, and then stitch over the paint??                         ckquilter

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hpthecat wrote
on 23 Aug 2010 10:06 PM

Well since my quest has begun-- I am learning so much. Much of what I am learning...is "old news" for many of you.

But it helps to know....my Kenmore is basically a Janome. It helps to know, Babylock is basically Brother. It helps to see how fast new technology is introduced and how quickly people will 'trade up.' It helps to have the gal at a dealership tell me--- if I can wrangle a great deal from the manufacturer at a trade show---   call the shop and see if the owner will match the deal. It helps to know I can leave my name and number at a dealer and say "If someone trades one of these back in, will you please call me and see if we can work something out."

You don't just have to know what you want-- you have to know "how the game is played."

I have also had to become more focused on what it is I really want to create--- and in so doing, I have come to find out....the 17 year old Kenmore 36 sitting right here in front of me, that cost $400 back when money was worth something---    well--- it must have been 'ahead of it's time' because many of the features on it are still being built into very high end Janome's today. Today I went to visit and "ooh ahhh" over the new Janome Horizon. It 'felt familiar' which was comforting to me. It was so quiet!! There was a place for everything-- and everything in it's place. I looked at the measurements built onto the arm of the machine--- so nice compared the lines I drew on the body of my own machine with a Sharpy pen!!! I also went through my Kenmore manual and found out....I can do something I never tried...go with no presser foot at all...and free hand embroider on hooped fabric, and my "OLD MACHINE" does have a drop feed dog switch...

So...I think while I wait for the price to come down as the markets honeymoon with the Horizon passes---- while I'm waiting for "that special cant refuse deal"----- well in the meantime, I am going to "RE-FALL IN LOVE" with my Kenmore and see what I can make it do, that I've never tried before.

Bernina 820, Babylock Evolution, Babylock Embellisher, Babylock Audrey.

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ckquilter wrote
on 24 Aug 2010 1:26 AM
do you have a darning foot? also called freemotion foot, for your machine? i had a kenmore a long time ago too. but you could not drop the feed dogs.you had to cover themwith a plate,which was always getting caught and shifting. but that old mechanical machine had the best satin stitch of any machine i have ever used - including the machine i now have which cost 10 times as much. but my current machine does do nice free motion - which the old kenmore never did well. i don't know that the machines are gonna get a lot less expensive any time soon - they just keep going up in price, a lot. but that is for the ones with all the gadgets and gimmicks and computerized embroidery - and that is another money pit - if you start buying the embroidery desgns - you are gonna spend a whole lot real fast. be very careful when using the hoop withouta presser foot - it is very easy to get your fingers under the needle. there may be a generic darning foot you can use. you could try big foot. they also have spring loaded needles which will act like a darning foot - and will help protect your fingers. also, even with a hoop, unless you hoop very tightly, the fabric will bounce with the needle - and your stitch quality will suffer. for most art quilters - you are not gonna use a computerized embroidery package of designs anyway - so really a machine with straight and zigzagstitches, and the ability to drop the feed dogs and do a good free motion stitch is the most important. with some practiceyou don't need a stitch regulator - and your stitches willquickly become better than the regulator anyway. most art quilters don't use a lot of decorative stitches on their machine either. so having a bunch of them really is not all that useful. i do like having an alphabet for making labels - but hand printed labels or labels printed on the computer work just as well. and just think of all the money you will be saving that can be spent on fabric and thread and paint and angelina and beads and.................. several thousand dollars buys a whole lot of toys for the toybox. ckquilter
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Posts 133
on 24 Aug 2010 1:59 AM

There are a couple of reasons to use a freemotion foot when sewing in the manner - safety being the first.  I do use the machine without a foot, but I'd never ever do so, in a hurry, or when I'm tired, because you do need to be so very careful.  The other reason is that you can see when you've engaged the pressure foot...  even without using a foot you still need to engage the lever.

You can buy sprays for your machine, but a furniture polish with silicone in it, will do - I never spray directly on my machine, but via a cloth, and if you wipe this over the body of the machine where the thread runs, and the base area, it will help things slide.  I have recently bought a sliding sheet, I don't know if they are teflon or silicone, various names for various brand, and I'm in the UK anyway.  It lays on the bed of the machine and allows fabrics to glide much more easily.  I'm free stitching on paper which obviously can't be hooped, and I think this product makes things a lot easier.

I think the most important think you need with your experimentations is a notebook!!!  Write down your settings what you've tried, stick in a sample, or get out a camera, as I frequently do, and take step by step photos, the end sample is often no good to explain how you got there.  Above all,  don't be afraid to play,  your mantra should be "what happens if...."

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hpthecat wrote
on 24 Aug 2010 2:41 AM

ckquilter and Fibre-Reaction,

Thank you both for the advice!!! I genuinely appreciate it and will gladly put it to use. I am sure I can find a darning foot that will work!

Yes, I will play. I will wait for the big Quilt Show to hit my area, which is usually in March, and then I will see what the manufacturer's can do. But until then-- thank you both-- so much.

I guess my daughter will have to wait a little longer to have this machine passed on to her, see...I can't even trade it because it's been 'claimed'...LOL...I made all her Halloween Costumes on it while she was growing up...

Bernina 820, Babylock Evolution, Babylock Embellisher, Babylock Audrey.

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Muppin wrote
on 25 Aug 2010 7:04 AM

hpthecat - You will have to keep us posted on how your search is coming along as it goes.  Good Luck!

Cheryl / Muppin

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hpthecat wrote
on 25 Aug 2010 12:08 PM

Will do Muppin!

I looked online and Sears has a four foot package:  Walking Foot, Ditch Foot, Darning Foot, 1/4 inch Foot for 24.99.

I bet that sounds hysterically funny to people with $8000 machines...LOL...(I am laughing so hard!)

But you know, I'll spend the $24.99 and play with this sentimental ol' machine till the show comes to town, and then the whole

bit can go to my daughter.

It looks to me like Sears is getting away from carrying sewing machines altogether--- my local store doesn't even have a dedicated

sew n vac sales rep anymore. That's another reason for getting the feet now and moving on to a non-sears originated machine, because

service and parts seem to getting harder to come by.

Take it easy...

Bernina 820, Babylock Evolution, Babylock Embellisher, Babylock Audrey.

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