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Old 08.11.2015, 21:52
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request for advice from sewing machine owners

I am thinking about buying a surprise sewing machine for someone close who does lots of hand work such as cross stitch, who has been mentioning about advancing onto a sewing machine, and mentioned Bernina (and who does not read EF...). Normally in a situation where I am looking for a special gift, I would be happy to sit down and google around for reviews and make a purchase. But as I saw, a new Bernina costs the same as a second-hand car! Hence I am taking it step-by-step.

So my question to sewing machine owners - would you appreciate a surprise sewing machine, or would you rather carefully choose your own? And what Bernina (or other brand) functions would you recommend for someone who is going to expand from hand work to a sewing machine and probably is ambitious about creating different things? Also what level of machine would be needed to make one of the art quilts that looks like a representational picture? (Art quilts are truly amazing to see). Thanks for any pointers.
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Old 08.11.2015, 22:03
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

would you appreciate a surprise sewing machine, - NO
or would you rather carefully choose your own? - YES

However carefully and wisely you make your choice, you might well have the feeling from time to time that this other make or that model might have been even better. If I'm going to kick someone for slipping up somewhere, I would prefer to kick myself rather than kick a friend.

(I have quite a bit of practice at the former and none at the latter by the way).
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Old 08.11.2015, 22:09
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

My parents bought a bernina in the US and made some awesome quilts for the grandkids. (probably a bit less expensive there, though)

It was still expensive but has many features/stitches and gives awesome results.

Ill try to post some pics if I can figure out how
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Old 08.11.2015, 22:17
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

I'd rather choose my own. I haven't got one here yet and wouldn't like to be deprived of the hunt! It's a very kind and generous gift to contemplate however. You have lucky friends.


In the UK I use my Great Grandmother's old Singer machine - my dad had it serviced about 20 years ago and it's still brilliant.

Last edited by RufusB; 09.11.2015 at 00:18.
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Old 08.11.2015, 22:56
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

I would rather choose my own machine too.
I have three sewing machines ( one was my mother's) and two of them I chose carefully myself.
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Old 08.11.2015, 23:13
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

Agree with everyone else, as a serious sewer (both hand and machine) I really would prefer to chose my own machine.... my mother bought a very expensive Husqvarna as a surprise several years ago; intending that I use it whenever staying with her to make her curtains, etc. and I absolutely hate it.... it doesn't do automatic reverse for a start, which is a cardinal sin as far as I'm concerned in a machine.
If your friend has already mentioned a preference for a Bernina (very wise choice) and you can afford it then perhaps you could arrange a sort-of gift voucher towards it and that way she'll be able to try out a few in your local Bernina shop and decide which one suits her needs best?
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Old 08.11.2015, 23:30
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

Here's the old man with a quilt he made for my nephew.(mom is useless at this sort of thing, lol..) Nephew's half Brit and his mam from Newcastle really appreciated the Hey Diddle Diddle old british nursery rhyme theme...




The lettering looks hand done, but was programmed into the Bernina and came out looking super sharp. The quilting would never have been so even without the machine.

Wish i had a better photo...this doesn't do it justice.

Last edited by Ace1; 09.11.2015 at 12:41. Reason: Removing redundant IMG tags
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Old 09.11.2015, 08:59
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

Perhaps as a first-time sewing machine user an alternative option might be to find an old but functional machine, be it a Bernina, a Singer or any other make (if they exist).

For most ordinary work a 50-y-o machine will be almost as good as a new one anyway, and I'd imagine you could pick one up for a fraction of the price of a recent model, then when your friend has got used to using it for the basics and is ready to move on s/he can choose based on their own experience and preferences and sell the old one on for what you paid for it.
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Old 09.11.2015, 09:37
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

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Perhaps as a first-time sewing machine user an alternative option might be to find an old but functional machine, be it a Bernina, a Singer or any other make (if they exist).

For most ordinary work a 50-y-o machine will be almost as good as a new one anyway, and I'd imagine you could pick one up for a fraction of the price of a recent model, then when your friend has got used to using it for the basics and is ready to move on s/he can choose based on their own experience and preferences and sell the old one on for what you paid for it.
But in same respect it will be 50 year old technology that is nothing to do with today's machines complete with computer so it won't give you any idea about how modern sewing machines function and operate.

This may be an idea for somebody learning, but even still, it's a bit like saying, here's a computer with Dos 3.1 on it and floppy disks, once you get used to it, i'll get you an ultra thing laptop with Windows 10 and 3 USB ports on it !
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Old 09.11.2015, 09:45
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

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For most ordinary work a 50-y-o machine will be almost as good as a new one anyway...
Aren't the latest machines loaded with useful new functions that are not in an older machine? (The sewing would be purely hobby sewing, not clothes). At least I was in the Bernina shop and almost got an impression that you can just load in a design and press start and away it goes to sew a basic design.

I'm especially interested about what's needed to make a quilt like the attached where the pieces are all shaped for the quilt picture, rather than making squares and tiling them together. Bernina comes in Series 3-8. Would any Bernina series be suitable for this type of thing, or should the machine have specific functions that I should look out for?
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Old 09.11.2015, 12:32
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

Yes, older machines are basic. But they do a good job. It depends whether you want to learn the skills yourself or whether you are happy to let the machine do the work. I make my quilts by hand, or at least I used to BD (before daughter). There's something very satisfying about sourcing, or making, the templates. Well there is for me, anyway!
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Old 09.11.2015, 12:36
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

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Aren't the latest machines loaded with useful new functions that are not in an older machine? (The sewing would be purely hobby sewing, not clothes). At least I was in the Bernina shop and almost got an impression that you can just load in a design and press start and away it goes to sew a basic design.
OIC. I didn't realise "hobby sewing" meant "letting a computer do all the work for you".

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This may be an idea for somebody learning, but even still, it's a bit like saying, here's a computer with Dos 3.1 on it and floppy disks, once you get used to it, i'll get you an ultra thing laptop with Windows 10 and 3 USB ports on it !
Well, if you just wanted to learn how to type (for example) then why not?
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Old 09.11.2015, 12:46
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

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Aren't the latest machines loaded with useful new functions that are not in an older machine? (The sewing would be purely hobby sewing, not clothes). At least I was in the Bernina shop and almost got an impression that you can just load in a design and press start and away it goes to sew a basic design.
Caveat: I'm an oldie myself. Basic model with no bells or whistles.


New machines are indeed loaded with new functions. But whether these functions are useful is a personal question.

I look for robustness first in a machine. The best machines for what I do (these days curtains, household decor, in my younger days clothing) are the simpler machine. Forward, reverse, zig zag, automatic buttonholer pretty much does it for me.

Functions that I do not use IME only add to the things that can break - and add to the price.

But another sewer might value very different things.

So getting back to the OP's question - let your friend choose her own machine. Like most tools a keen hobbyist uses, it all comes down to individual preference.
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Old 09.11.2015, 12:47
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

TBH, there is a lot more work involved than just pushing a button and feeding some material into the machine. Just setting up the programming for the letters takes a very long time and lots of patience.

IMO, the automated machines don't make it any less work, but provide more consistent and professional results.

You still need to know what you're doing.

Templates do not source or create themselves.

Quilts are not designed and made by a computer.

Using modern technology doesn't necessary limit technical skill, but adds more tools for one to use.

In my father's case, his hands are to arthritic from 50 years of working with them to be able to manipulate the needle and thread without extreme pain.

I still applaud anyone who does everything the 'old-fashioned' way, if they so desire…

My own sewing machine is Swiss made from the late 50's. All steel. Indestructible. I love it, and don't need anything else for what I use it for.

Last edited by pilatus1; 09.11.2015 at 13:31.
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Old 09.11.2015, 12:53
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

For a person who has never used a sewing machine, going for a "computerized model" would probably cure them for life of ever owning a machine!

Basic sewing needs stitch length and width adjustments, reverse (press a knob/release) and zig-zag. (Buttonholing is mostly only used for clothes making so don't bother with that function).

For sewing fabric cut-out designs zig-zag stitch is used for over-sewing edges.

A useful function stitch is blind-hemming and/or over-lock stitch.

I own three machines for professional sewing, two of which are "normal" machines. One has all the fancy design stitches and is electronic - I never use it. Why? Because it takes too much maneuvering and referring to manual to set stitch designs (over 300 of them!). And those iggly designs are not useful anyway, if one is adept at hand-sewing - they look too contrived.

My most useful machine is my Pfaff Tripmatic 1037 - with simple press buttons for various basic stitches. Most simple machines come with a zip attachment, satin stitch attachment, and freehand embroidery attachment.

A very useful function on a machine used for quilting is a midway setting for the presser foot.

Pfaff is excellent. Is a Swiss machine.

If not a gift voucher, why not enquire at a Pfaff or Bernina shop for traded in older basic models? They will have been serviced and be in good condition.

Last edited by smoky; 09.11.2015 at 12:53. Reason: typo
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Old 09.11.2015, 16:39
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

Thanks all. I have now realized how very little I know about sewing machines and what sewers value. Smoky - thanks for that info about your fancy machine too - although I wasn't sure if Bernina would be described as normal or fancy at the low end models. (Obviously they get very fancy at the high end).

In any case, I see that it would be a terrible idea for me to try to pick a sewing machine as a surprise, and I won't be doing that. I did in the course of this thread also discover that there is a sewing controversy raging -
http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/...ewer-vs-sewist
You learn something new every day...
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Old 09.11.2015, 16:46
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

Sewist?

Oh for the love of (insert deity of choice or lack thereof here)...

Just for that I'm going back to sempstress.

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Old 09.11.2015, 16:55
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

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Sewist?

Oh for the love of (insert deity of choice or lack thereof here)...

Just for that I'm going back to sempstress.

Those are folk who don`t quite understand the English language ..... words written the same but pronounced differently, or used in different contexts.

Like "would"/"wood, sewer (drain) /sewer (fabric engineer?)

I used to be a Clothing Designer, then got lazy and became a Dressmaker, then got lazier still, and am now a Seamstress. Don`t design clothing, don`t make clothes, just sew seams.
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Old 09.11.2015, 23:20
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Re: request for advice from sewing machine owners

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My own sewing machine is Swiss made from the late 50's. All steel. Indestructible. I love it, and don't need anything else for what I use it for.
edit: 1952 Keller brand.

Here's one, a little newer (1960 or so) for 2 chuffs - now that's a deal!:

https://www.ricardo.ch/kaufen/antiqu...v/an778253204/

Last edited by pilatus1; 09.11.2015 at 23:54.
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