Male Pattern Boldness is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!



Mar 27, 2016

The $99 Sewing Machine Challenge!



I know a lot about vintage sewing machines.

I've sewn on them exclusively since I started sewing.  My first sewing machine was a vintage 80's Kenmore (later resold) and, since that time, I've sewn on vintage mechanical Pfaffs, Necchi's, Singers, Elnas, Berninas, Vikings, and more.

Many of these machines I found on eBay for under $100 (shipping included). Others came from my local flea market or from Craigslist.  I've learned how to sew with them, how to maintain them, and they've served me exceptionally well. 

I know next to nothing about new sewing machines.

This weekend I decided to set myself a challenge:

Can I find a new sewing machine for approximately $100 or less that's well-engineered, reliable, not 100% plastic, with good stitch quality, and pleasing to sew on?



I did a fair amount of online research, including user reviews, instructional YouTube videos, and manufacturer's descriptions.  There are a surprisingly large number of models to choose from at this price point.

One thing I learned is that new sewing machines often sell at tremendous discount, at least online.  It's common to see a machine selling for 50% off or more.  One wonders: did anyone pay list price for the machine? 

Another surprise is that online dealers sometimes sell the same machine at different prices.  Visit their website and you'll see one price.  Check out their eBay store and you may see another price.  Search eBay by model and you can find the same dealer selling identical machines at different prices.   I just don't get it.

Anyway, I made my decision and  I expect to receive my machine -- purchased from a reputable sewing machine dealer -- in a week or so.  It's the first brand new sewing machine (not serger) I have ever purchased.  The manufacturer is a sewing machine company you've all heard of, that sells a wide range of models, some costing less than mine and climbing up into the many thousands of dollars.  If the machine I purchased turns out to be a disappointment, I will either return it or sell it.  If I like it, I'll add it to my stable. 





Reading Amazon reviews and various online forums (fora?) reminded me that a large percentage of sewers will never consider purchasing a vintage machine; to the uninitiated, they're too much of a crap shoot.  There are obvious benefits to a new machine:  they're more portable; they work right out of the box; they reflect the latest technology (always nice -- nobody buys an old model cell phone, right?)  They come with a (limited) warranty or return policy, so the buyer isn't risking too much.  A manual and, often, even an instructional DVD is included, making learning how to use the machine much easier.

Researching vintage sewing machines also takes time.  It's much easier to walk into a Target or scroll through Amazon and find a machine that can handle the basics.  Most sewers need only a decent straight stitch (and occasionally a zigzag or utility stitch) and the ability to sew through multiple layers of heavy fabric from time to time.  Embroidery stitches at the press of a computerized button are rarely necessary (or ever even used -- but that's another blog post).

In closing, I ask you: Have you ever bought a new sewing machine costing approximately $100 or less?

If so, what was the machine and how did it sew?

If you paid more (or less), what prompted your choice: economic necessity, need for a particular feature, shopping for a child, etc.?

Readers, I'm excited about my purchase and eager to share my experience with you. 

Let the challenge begin!

64 comments:

  1. My first sewing machine was a Singer 500a (aka the "Rocketeer" model) I purchased in 1989 for $46. I kept it for 26 years and it never required repair of any kind. I had it professionally cleaned, once, before I knew how to do it myself. That sewing machine could do anything, including some pretty nice embroidery stitches. I recently sold it (for $100) to a young man who wanted to learn to sew on a classic machine. I miss it, even though I love the "new" old machines I have now. Since then, I've purchased and sold two brand new expensive machines and have gone back to vintage and semi-vintage. While one is an older model computerized Bernina, the others are manual, and I couldn't love them more.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I sewed for 20 years on my mom's Singer 15-91, which was a straight-stitch marvel, then took a 20-year sewing hiatus while I had a career, got married and raised stepchildren. I got the itch to sew again and I bought a Janome Mini online for 50 bucks to make Halloween costumes for my son, and was really surprised at how much I could pull off with a 5-pound machine! So I sewed a few garments for myself on that tiny machine and the rest is history. I'm a Bernina girl now, but I think people can learn to love sewing with simple machines.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My first new machine after my grand-ma's Singer was Janome my excel 18W. It was nice, reliable for general purpose, but for projects like sew chiffon on to jeans fabric it was a challenge. My Singer would sew everything though, miss it a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  4. At one point when my vintage machine broke, I went out and bought a Janome Magnolia 7306 on sale for $99. That machine vibrated so much at high speeds I couldn't see what I was sewing. It didn't do well at all on thick fabric, and didn't have many stitch choices. I used it for a while, then eventually figured out how to fix my vintage machine, and the Janome went on the shelf for several years. I recently gave it away. New sewing machines in that price range are basically disposable, since they are difficult to work on yourself and it's probably cheaper to buy another machine than pay to have it serviced.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I bought a Kenmore machine new about 10 years ago and use it today primarily for making buttonholes, which I must say it does quite well. It cost about $100 at that time and one of the nice things about Kenmores is that they're not fussy when it comes to tension adjustment, in comparison to most Singers. Of course I never knew about this blog then and after becoming a fan, I soon fell under your spell, which is why I call you the "Wizard of Vintage"today!! I suddenly couldn't stop thinking about vintage machines and bought a Singer 99 in mint condition from Craig's list and I was totally hooked!! Now when I use the Kenmore when sewing thicker fabrics, I can hear and sense the effort its making in driving that needle through. I'm wondering if it has plastic gears somewhere within, and it can't be totally opened up for me to see. If I were to buy a new machine today it would probably be a Toyota or Janome........Singer is totally out of the question!! I still can't believe that the greatest name in sewing machine history is just a mere shadow of its former self....... how tragic!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's a pusher of sorts, isn't he? Got me hooked too. Don't need another machine but every few months he starts chortling about a specific machine, and I find myself on Craigslist, searching, and searching.

      The only sewing I've done lately was to patch up some jeans (did this in the bathroom of all places - file that under, "unlikely sewing locations, and you).

      For want of a Grasshopper, and a Bernina...

      Delete
  6. My first new machine was a Kenmore (Late 70's). I guess that make me vintage, LOL... Prior to that I used a Singer treadle that I bought for $10 second hand. After the Kenmore was a new Pfaff that I bought mostly for the built in walking foot. I had lots of issues with it and finally ditched it for a Husquvarna Lily, which I bought new in the 90's and still use a lot. Since we go camping in our little truck and camper, I have a cheap Brother machine that I take along to do quilt block and simple sewing. It is powered by a solar panel hooked up to a set of batteries and an inverter. I got the machine on line from Costco, and it has survived rattling around the countryside for 6 years and still works like new. Happy sewing . Barb from Canada

    ReplyDelete
  7. The machine I learned on came from WalMart (I swear, I go there once every 2 years) and it cost @200 bucks. Online, at the time, perhaps I could have bought it for half the price but what did I know. I bought it on a whim. Does that count? It was electronic and plastic on the exterior but I retired it before it broke - I moved on to my current, vintage Husqvarna.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This should be interesting. I like vintage machines so much I have trouble understanding why anyone would want anything else. I mean, $100 will buy a really nice used machine that will sew better than any new machine of equivalent cost. But I am not a good judge because I'm biased in favor of the vintage right off the bat. So I am looking forward to your review. I did once temporarily take leave of my senses and almost buy that machine they sell at Ikea for $65, mainly because it is cute. But I didn't.

    ReplyDelete
  9. If I could get my hands on a vintage Kenmore with that awesome - sauce buttonhole gadget. ... I'd be the luckiest gal ever! Sadly US has a different voltage than we do so... I'd have to buy another gadget to use it in EU.

    And who said no one buys an old mobile phone model? I do! Usually right when they stop producing the model, prices go down! So one can get a decent smart phone for a good price. I will never pay 600€ for a phone!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's how I got my 1st smart phone about 3-4 years ago - the carrier I have had the soon to be (recently?) discontinued iPhone 4 for 1 cent if you signed up for their pay-as-you-go plan.

      Delete
    2. Go back through MPB's posts on Kenmore 158 and it will take you to the clones, many were made for Continental voltage. That all metal drive, in orange!
      I have my son's old iPhone 5. Thanks Teenager!

      Delete
  10. I bought a low end Singer back in the 8os and it worked great. Since then I have had 3 different machines, 2 of which were under $100 and one just over that. The 2 cheaper ones gave me nothing but grief the other has been adequate. A few weeks ago I started looking for a new machine, I was heading in the direction of a computerized model then I read your post about vintage machines! What you said touched a chord in me and after some perusing and research my sewing room now has become home to a Singer 115 (I believe), an Elna Planet and a Bernina 807. All purchased for less than $300., all working beautifully! They really don't make them like they used to and the new machines have no where near the personality of the vintage.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have a vintage (1930s) machine and a, oh no actually two, modern ones. One bought, one gifted. I haven't sewn with the vintage one yet because it's in at the shop being fixed.... Exciting!
    What I really loved about this post though was that it sent me to the dictionary to research forums v fora. Love a bit of random learning!

    ReplyDelete
  12. my first own machine I still use, its and 80s singer and totally reliable, and mainly metal. I bought a 60s singer, and was given a 70s brother as back up and subsequently bought a husq embroidery machine for a specific project. New machine is great BUT not for tailoring. I am still not used to the foot going up all the time. I was teaching some people to sew last autumn on their own machines. one had a v old pfaff (it was divine), and one 70s Singer (solid), and the other 3 were newer. One smelled of plastic burning when it was being used, the other had a plastic lever broken so stitch length could not be changed, and the last ..... it was so fiddly and was skipping stitches. I think its the cheaper end machines that can cause problems and a lot of times its the gears - if they are plastic and overworked they will not longer fit into each other well. looking forward to your new post

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes - A Singer and it was horrible. Thinking it was the price tag, too cheap, I found another. That one was computer controlled and had limitations on stitches - Some would only go so and so wide, others wider.
    I ended up returning that one and only sew on vintage machines now.
    Partly because of reading your posts about them

    ReplyDelete
  14. Before we moved, I had a couple of different vintage machines, but I just didn't like sewing on them. I sew on a Husqvarna 850, probably 6 years old, and I absolutely LOVE it.

    My neighbor recently needed a sewing machine, and I originally pointed her to an inexpensive vintage machine. After more thought, I changed my mind and recommended the Janome Hello Kitty mini sewing machine ("Sewing is pretty with Hello Kitty!") which I think was about $99. She only sews once a year (halloween, for the kids), and has a small house (1100 sqft for a family of 4, which is small in the USA) so space is limited. She loves that the machine is so portable and lightweight, it's easy to move around and store. It has very limited stitches, but it still does everything she needs it to. I took it for a run and found it to be surprisingly quiet and hefty (you could tell it's metal inside, not plastic). She's happy, so that's what counts.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I own a vintage 70s singer machine. Not because I just purchased it, because I'm old, LOL and it was one I bought back in the day and still have it! My sad story (kind of) is that my mom bought me a Kenmore for my very first machine and that was over 40 years ago. It was still in great working condition and I even had a button hole attachment for it! The sad part is I gave it to a young lady who wanted to learn to sew and I was helping teach her, but she couldn't afford a machine. That was over 10 years ago and now I no longer know where she or the machine has gone! And really sad because it was a machine my mom bought me and I wish I still had it! However, it did go to great use by teaching another person to sew! My vintage singer will never leave my hands, that you can count on it!

    ReplyDelete
  16. My first new machine was a Brother that I got from Overstock.com for right at $100. It was an okay machine and I made a quilt on it as well as some other things. But honestly my old Kenmore (circa 1974) would have done better. If I were buying a new low end machine now, I would choose a Janome, but I am not sure I could get a new one for that price point.

    ReplyDelete
  17. My Husky broke a couple of years ago and, as I was in the middle of a show, I ran to Target to buy a cheap Singer. I've been sewing on it ever since -- it's got twice the power the Husky ever had (which is really useful when you're making costumes out of upholstery scraps).

    ReplyDelete
  18. My first machine - a Brother 2600i - was about $100. I didn't know if sewing would "stick" and didn't want to invest more than that. I was very happy with it as a beginner and made a lot of beautiful projects. I passed it on to a friend who was a new sewist when I upgraded to a new HV Sapphire.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I bought a brand new Singer in the end of the 80's, that had several embroidery stitches and also strecht stitches. It was mechanical, but not the basic model, so I paid quite a lot for it, but unfortunatelly was never satisfied with the stitches. I remember that in the shop it was even not offered to try the machines, oh well... today I would never do such a shopping!

    Later I gave this sewing machine to my mom, that was annoyed by the loud noise and the shaking it produced. Somewhen she could not bare it anymore and pass it to my sister, that has till today. My sister has a Featherweight and another vintage zigzag Singer that she preffers but keeps the annoying one because its free-arm and she uses it to shorten pants.

    ReplyDelete
  20. My first machine was a Brother LX2600i($69). I researched and found it to be rated excellent by reviewers. It is a wonderful machine. Quiet, smooth, and plenty of stitches. It struggles with anything but light weight material. That is when I purchased my first vintage machine, a two-tone pink Kenmore from 1958 for heavier fabric. It was $18 with desk, chair, and attachments. It purrs through thickest of fabrics.
    I will say, I purchased a new machine first because I didn't know anything about sewing machines. I didn't want to buy a used clunker and be frustrated with not knowing what to do.
    Now, half the fun of sewing for me is finding and fine tuning that forgotten vintage machine then sewing with it.
    I still use my first machine on small projects.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I sewed on a $99 singer some years back. It was my mom's and she bought it in a moment of desperation bc she couldn't buy a more expensive machine. That thing was the devil incarnate. Bound up, thread tangled every time you stitched. It was horrible. I paid to get it fixed and it wasn't ever better. Fortunately we both have good machines now and that thing has been banished to no-sew land. Mine is an older Bernina I got from a friend for $300. Worth every penny. I don't think I would buy a new Bernina just bc they are soooo pricey but I do love mine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bought that same new Singer machine in 1989; jamming and bird's nesting and no amount of repairs did any good. I never got it to sew. I gave it away and bought a Singer Touch and Sew, used, for almost nothing and sewed for years on it before having to replace the gears; it was wonderful.

      Delete
  22. The first sewing machine I bought was $99, but that was in 1971 when I was in high school. It was a "cheap" Singer Fashion Mate (571, I think). I bought it because I needed a zigzag and my mothers Featherweight only did straight. I still have it and it has served me nicely. It is all metal, so it weighs a ton.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I learned to sew on my Mom's old Kenmore in the '60s. I bought a more modern Kenmore in the '70s (part metal, part plastic) and don't believe I paid more than about $130 for it. I wore it out completely after about 10 years. I took a sewing hiatus and then got hooked on vintage machines...I sew on a Kenmore 1803 which I love. I have a Singer 401A, a Singer 99K, a Necchi BF and a Necchi BU, and several others. I have to admit that the Kenmores and Necchis are my favorites. I find the vintage machines to be reliable and capable of doing almost anything. I wouldn't dream of buying a modern machine.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have a Singer Tradition that was bought for £70 6.5 yrs ago. (So at that time probably about $100ish USD). It's fantastic. It's been great with both denim and silk. It's pretty basic (not the most basic Singer, but not far off). It does what I need it to do and other than the belt snapping after some fair abuse from me, it's behaved beautifully. As a teen I used my mom's 80's Kenmore. It was a beast of a machine that I never got along with.

    ReplyDelete
  25. About a year and a half ago I bought a $70 Ikea machine. It's been my only sewing machine the whole time I've been sewing! One of my friends has the same one, and I used that for a while before getting my own.

    I have mixed feelings about it. It could probably be best described as 'inaccurate'. The feed dogs aren't very strong and they suck the fabric through diagonally. It has a limited selection of stitches with very limited sizes. It's a bit challenging, but I like to think it's just making me a better sewer. ;-)

    It was so cheap that I'd probably say go for it, it's better than no machine! I am, however, looking for a better one.

    I actually have a Singer 401 in my closet that needs fixing. Do you know anyone in NYC that'd have the parts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is it missing parts or does it just need a tune up?

      Delete
    2. It's actually missing parts. All the plastic thread posts and spiky bits broke during shipping.

      Delete
    3. :-D I don't remember exactly. Anything that could bend or break that was on the outside, did.

      Delete
    4. Look on eBay for those parts. Just search Singer 401. That is one of the best machines Singer ever made and deserves repair !!!

      Delete
    5. Thanks Anne! I believe you both, I'm sure it's a great machine! I haven't had time to put in the effort it deserves, but I will soon.

      Delete
  26. I've been using my (expensive)Bernina 430 for 5 years now, it's a nice machine and it does most of what i want. 3 years ago i was asked to buy a sewing machine for my work. It needed to be sturdy, heavy duty and not to expensive. Enter a 35 year old Bernina, for €150,-. It's been making me a little jealous, it go's through thicklayers a lot better than my own machine.
    Every now and then i sew a leather bag, and my machine has never done that properly. So now I'm looking for an extra machine for sewing thick layers like jeans waistbands and leather. I've seen quite some Pfaff 260 machines comming by on our dutch craigslist (marktplaats). Do you have experience with that machine?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't, but I do see them for sale quite often on eBay. I suspect they were popular machines in their day.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the response! I'm curious what you're going to buy.
      I started sewing on a friends €75,- Lidl machine. It worked good enough for some simple mending.

      Delete
    3. I do. I own a 260 and two 360s (free-arm version of the 260 with a bed extension). These are considered by some as semi-industrial and were sometimes sold in industrial power stands with smaller clutch motors, usually 1/3 hp. With a speed reducer, a light industrial application is within the boundaries of these models' capabilities such as multiple layers of denim and garment leather. In a normal domestic setup (w/out a clutch motor, etc.), these machines are considered heavy-duty household machines. I'm not positive but if memory serves, these machines don't do blind stitch.

      I would recommend you also look at the Pfaff 1200 series machines such as the 1222E.

      Delete
    4. I have a Pfaff 332, purchased a couple of years ago at a flea market. It's strong, quiet, and makes beautiful stitches. However, those 1950s Pfaffs use cleated drive and timing belts that are virtually impossible to replace. The drive belt on my 332 broke a few weeks after I got the machine. I ordered a new belt from a company in India that sells an aftermarket version, but it was just a little too short and therefore useless (as well as expensive). Eventually I found a used original belt on eBay, for a reasonable price, but I haven't installed it yet. In the meantime, I've been using a cogged rubber belt that Pfaff claims is the correct replacement part, but it doesn't fit quite right, resulting in some hesitation when I start stitching. I wouldn't discourage you from getting the 260, as it's probably a great machine; but you may want to factor the belt issue into your decision.

      Delete
    5. Good point about the belt(s) and they should be closely examined prior to purchase. The Singer Swing Needle series machines also uses cleated nylon belts as do a number of other machines including other vintage Pfaffs (the 130, for example -- one of the most revered zig-zags), Elnas, Berninas, etc. There are some small manufacturers of new replacement belts in the US but I don't know how good these are.

      Delete
  27. I am too stuck on vintage to even think of buying a cheap $99 machine. I love my old kenmores (1914, 1302, 1410) and my singers (FW, 201-2, 99K) Everything I need and the power to do it with.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I don't have a vintage machine but I have my doubts about whether any sewing machine today at the price of $99 will be of any good quality so I am curious to see what your experience is with it. I sew on a Bernina Activa 240 I purchased new about 10 years ago or so. It was expensive but I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  29. A few years back I bought a new electronic machine thinking I'd replace my old Singer 920. What was I thinking!!! Is sold it on EBay. I worked for Singer many many years ago, and since I know how to repair those old machines, I've been finding them at Thrifts and garage sales, repairing them and putting them on EBay for what I spent plus postage, or gifting them to friends who need a new machine. You can't beat those vintage gear driven machines, especially the slant needles. They produce such a pretty stitch and will last another hundred years! So now I'm using a variety of maybe six vintage Singers and have a few yet to work on.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I purchased a Janome 11706, 3/4 machine, from Target 5 years ago for my 10 year old daughter. It is a mint green Hello Kitty motif. She never really took to sewing, and I was tiring of my vintage 1971 Kenmore always falling out of tension, so I've been sewing with it and I really like it. It isn't fancy, but it serves me well and I sew quite a lot. I researched it extensively at the time and found that it had the same guts as one of their more expensive crafting machines, just packaged cutely and at a price point parents would pay for a "child's" machine.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I have bought a Brother machine from WalMart for $80 and loved it! I've passed it on to my daughter but went back and bought another one for myself. I have a lot of older machines but am thrilled with how well this sews. It has a drop in bobbin that is super easy to use. Look forward to reading about how yours works out! Love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  32. The only new sewing machine I've owned was my first. A Holly Hobbie sewing machine I unwrapped one Christmas in the 1970s. At least my hand-sewing improved ...
    Intrigued by your $100 sewing machine experiment. The popularity of The Great British Sewing Bee and similar sorts of shows must create enough demand for a decent basic machine, though I wonder about their durability.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I received a new Kenmore sewing machine as a wedding present in 2010. I had requested one since I thought I might like to start sewing. A sewing friend of my mother thought it would suit me better than the Singer I'd put on my registry. It's served me really well these past few years. I believe it retails for about $100, it's all mechanical, has an automatic buttonhole, a needle threader, and a thread cutter on the side. It has a good heft and a when I've cleaned out the innards, there's a lot of metal. I find that a walking foot is really helpful with multiple layers, heavy fabric, and knits. Sometimes a jean-a-ma-jig is really helpful too. I really enjoy sewing with it, but lately it's been making a weird sound which makes me think I should take it in to be serviced. By the way that is almost 6 years with only an occasional cleaning by me.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I am cleaning up a 70s (Riccar) Dressmaker that I got at Value Village for $12, it's a clone of something I am sure.
    The Kenmore 158 is my true love machine, bought on Ebay for 100$ including shipping (I can tune it up all by myself!). I would toss my crap Bernina Quiltmaker IF the K158's bobbin spindle could hold a 15bobbin (the center bobbin tubes are thicker now, and won't fit on K158's winder). I am hoping the Riccar can do the job. I really don't care for the Bernina, it's kinda possessed by demons. Expensive demons.

    The Janome Hello Kitty is a well reviewed machine; I keep hoping I will stumble on one. Just for grins, because HELLO KITTY!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I bought a sewing machine from Pottery Barn Kids for about $60, probably 10 years ago, for my son who was asking to sew. It was utter junk -- the feed was so bad that even I couldn't get it to sew a straight seam! I returned it. Later I got him a vintage Singer Featherweight for a few hundred dollars and it's awesome. Based on that experience and what I've heard from others who have purchased inexpensive new machines from Target, Walmart, etc., I would avoid purchasing a brand new machine for under $1000 (and even at that price point it would be a very basic machine like the mechanical or 3 Series Berninas, not a lowest price point embroidery machine). But I'm looking forward to hearing which machine you bought and how it works for you!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I bought a cute little Juki machine for my 9-year-old neighbor at $130 retail. It sews like a champ tho it was a little stiff and noisy at first. It is a real machine with metal parts, a good manual, and standard warranty. I was surprised to find that the bobbin mechanism was challenging to put back together after cleaning, but I liked that it is a real machine that she can use all her life if she wishes. It has only the basics--straight st, zigzag, buttonhole--but it's all there. I have a lot of respect for quality Japanese manufacturing. I had shopped carefully as the best way to turn off a child from sewing is to pretend that a toy is a real tool.

    My first new machine purchase was intended to go with me to South Asia, and the White I found was the lightest I could find that had enough features. Ended up not taking it after all, and sold it. The small size made it less attractive to keep than I expected, and I didn't like all the plastic. My all time gold standard was my old Bernina 741, an all steel behemoth that weighed 52 pounds and counting, purred like a tiger. I will look for another one if anything happens to my current high end Bernina, which I bought off the demo floor without the embroidery machine.
    Kris

    ReplyDelete
  37. Bought a Janome ColorPro for my 7 year old for $60. After some initial difficulties in getting it to sew even stitches, it has been perfectly adequate. The one frustration is that the needle comes unthreaded often.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Janome 2212, a great, dependable, mechanical machine for $119!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I can only think in images. A $2.79 tack hammer from Wal-Mart is just fine for hanging pictures on the wall of a house. Not so fine for nailing studs for framing that house as it was built. Horses for courses. Each race track is different.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I have a 10 year old cheapo Singer purchased at Walmart when I was a student and just needed to do a few hems. It's noisy, plasticky, and cheap thread gets tangled (no problem w Gutermann), but it has done the job for making clothes and I think it has outperformed my expectations. I would buy it again. I'm not a professional and I don't need a $500 machine with 100 programmable stitches. I spend the money on good fabric instead.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I have a Featherweight however I still use my green Janome Hello Kitty machine. I've had it for around seven years now, and I bought it for around $99 at Target a few years ago. it's pretty reliable!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Peter, I'm puzzled.

    I recently acquired yet another Pfaff 130 in phenomenal condition (except it needs oil and loosening up) for $12.49 plus tax at a local Goodwill. Why would I consider a new mechanical machine for $100, something that will only offer at best a mediocre sewing experience and fail after about 5 - 8 years of steady use (and will likely see the inside of a repair shop at very high cost)? Why buy into the disposable economy?

    It's not that these new machines are bad. Considering their retail cost, they're actually pretty amazing but we're paying only a small fraction of what we used to pay for sewing machines, adjusting for inflation. If someone likes an inexpensive, mostly plastic, mechanical machine, that's great; I'm not going to tell anyone they shouldn't like it or deny their experience. However, having sewn on such machines made by Brother, Janome, and Singer, there's simply no comparison to a beautifully made, heavy-duty vintage machine. It's as if they're different animals altogether. (Of these three brands, Janome is in my opinion the best.)

    When all the stitching's done and one compares the same size stitches made with the same thread using the same sized needle, one row made with a $100 mechanical and the other made with a $20 1970s Kenmore, does it matter which machine made which stitches if they're pretty close? What about the sewing experience itself?

    I guess I'm down on (not down with) cheap new machines!

    ReplyDelete
  43. My sweet husband bought me sewing lessons for Christmas a few years back. I got a used Janome DC3050 from that encounter, and paid close to $200 I think. I'm a thrifter, so my second machine was a Kenmore 385 (mfg Janome), mechanical for less than $20 and it works terrific. My third machine, also for less than $20, is another Kenmore 385, a few years older than number 2. I put a walking foot on this machine. I use all 3 during a "sewing day". I'm super novice, but getting better with my "freewheeling style". Luckily, most feet fit all three machines, but I tend to keep a 1/4 inch foot on Kenmore 1, decorative feet/stitches on Janome, and walking foot on Kenmore 2. I'm so fortunate to find wonderful fabrics and books in my thrift haunts, and have more projects than time. I'm okay with imperfect, as I teach myself new skills as I go. In awe of MPB's skill set! I love reading about vintage machines too. Thanks for being a teacher!

    ReplyDelete
  44. This man had 100 sewing machines in the 1980s, but the article didn't seem to imply he did anything but collect them.
    http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/nostalgia/david-had-collecting-all-sewn-up-in-1980-1-7304630

    ReplyDelete
  45. Over 400 here, many of them valuable: http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2015/04/09/4213411.htm

    ReplyDelete
  46. I just purchased a services singer 301 (with her original beautiful case) and it sews like a dream! But I do love my new computerized Janome. I also love my necchi my pops bought me when I went to college. It is a work horse. The manual machines are so sturdy and my singer is much more portable than the new Janome. I guess they all serve their purposes!:) I did buy the red hello kitty Janome (full size) for a friend. I was so impressed! It had great stitches, solid, easy to use... Great machine for the cost.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I have never bought a new machine for $99. I have Brother which I love, and it is about 5 years old. It does everything I want. I would never buy a vintage machine when I can have something modern. My machine will go through thick fabric, not sure about leather though. It sews perfectly and the stitches are neat at any length. It has a lot of embroidery stitches and utility stitches. I just don't have the patience to fiddle around with old vintage bobbins, spools and the rest.
    I just don't get why some people claim vintage sewing machines are so much better, I don't see it when I compare stitches, portability and ease of use.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Add another 40 years to the life of it and you'll see why!

      Delete
    2. I wouldn't want to keep a machine for 40 years. Hopefully, I would of updated by then.

      Delete

Related Posts with Thumbnails