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  #41  
Old 23.02.2021, 18:05
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Re: Buy sewing machine

It is just an upgrade for embrodering. If I wanted something fancier than my machines, I'd get an overlock. That's an upgrade in sewing..The computerized machines only improve the emprodery and the fact that there is a speed control button(some simple machines have it too). Kinda cruise control.

Sewing is awesome. Simple reliable machine with good motor is the key, though. I am used to sewing on roughly 5-6 brands and it boils down to simplicity. But will get an overlock laters.
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  #42  
Old 23.02.2021, 19:17
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Re: Buy sewing machine

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I'm most interested in getting back to tailoring/dressmaking. May I ask, what would a computerized machine do for me that a standard machine can't?

Any insights would be greatly appreciated.
I think the main difference is all the automated bells and whistles like thread cutter, threader, tension, stitch speed, presser foot, etc. They're nice to have but do you need them? Possibly for quilting or embroidery, but not for dressmaking.

I have a cheap (non computerised) Husqvarna Viking bought about seven years ago, which has been very good, and a 1965 Bernina Record bought last year. The Bernina is a marvel - it needs cleaning regularly but it's very easy to do, and it goes like a Swiss train. It does have some fancy stitches, but I use it only for straight stitch and zig-zag. I've looked the eye-wateringly expensive computerised Berninas, but I think I'd rather have a machine I can fix myself. I had the Husqvarna cleaned last year and it cost more than the machine did.
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  #43  
Old 24.02.2021, 09:48
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Re: Buy sewing machine

Thanks MusicChick and Chrissie - that confirms what I've been reading about these machines. Glad I'm not missing something obvious.

My cheap and cheerful machine is also a Husqvarna Viking, bought IIRC three years ago. It works fine for what I bought it for - repairs and the occasional project.

But since starting to sew daily - which admittedly will likely taper off after the pandemic - some things are starting to bug me. I find tension setting a bit of a fiddle, especially on fine light fabrics. Stitch length varies with speed more than it should. The presser foot doesn't catch well at the start of a multi layered seam, I find I have to use a spider. The buttonholer is also a fiddle - I find I have to do a corded buttonhole to get a good finished appearance. Annoyances that can be worked around, but frustrating when sewing a lot.

Oh, and another issue - the Husqvarna is single voltage. If I'm going to spend real money I'd like to get a dual voltage machine since I'll go back to the US in a few years.

I bought my old Singer in HK, where dual voltage is common. I haven't seen many dual voltage machines here, though. Any recommendations there?

Ideally, when shops are open again, I'd like to go to a shop where I can 'test drive' several machines. But most seem to carry only one or two brands. Any recommendations for a retailer of a wide range of brands?

Many thanks.
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  #44  
Old 24.02.2021, 10:11
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Re: Buy sewing machine

Meloncollie, on the single-voltage issue...Years ago I brought my US-only Elna Grasshopper to Europe. I bought an (then expensive) transformer for it, on which it runs perfectly.

This year we relocated US to Portugal and in preparation bought several high-voltage transformers for everything from crockpots to knife-sharpeners to printer/copiers. They vary from 300W to 500W to 1500W. They were incredibly cheap and allowed us to take a number of favorite appliances so we didn't have to replace absolutely everything. So don't despair if you can't find your target machine in dual voltage.
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  #45  
Old 25.02.2021, 18:06
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Re: Buy sewing machine

The tension adjustment is probably normal - I am used to adjusting each time I change fabric. The stitch length could be uneaven if the motor skips, do you feel that the motor is even? Or the little teeth that grab the fabric to move it could be fussy, Husquarnas are usually solid, though. Try to play with it before you sew. I always start manually 2-3 stitches moving the wheel with hand when a multi layer seam could possibly bug and only then push on the foot pedal after I am sure it got grabbed correctly. Sewing a lot should attune you to your machine, so if you feel that there is a bug, have it fixed. I would in the US, fab mechanics, a fraction of cost of here. I would also buy the cheapest Bernina, I like Berninas. My Brother is ok, not genius, my Toyota is ok considering it was only 80 bucks. Any Singer will good too.
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  #46  
Old 26.02.2021, 10:06
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Re: Buy sewing machine

Yeah, these are all minor annoyances, and can be worked around. Nonetheless, they are annoyances I'd rather not have to deal with.

The Husqvarna was dirt cheap, a very good value for the occasional repair and limited use for which I had expected to need it. But I'm now researching other machines to see at what price point I'd gain real value, as opposed to bells and whistles of little interest to me.

One option might be to get a Singer Heavy Duty (or another brand's 'home industrial' version) as a second machine. Looks like you can get one in Germany for under 400 Euros.

---

I hear ya' about the repair issue. My old Singer, the machine that traveled around the world with me, is gathering cobwebs in a corner because it needs work that is beyond me. But there aren't many repair shops left here in the ZH area, those that I contacted would charge many times more than the price of a new machine just to investigate. Such a shame. I'll take it back to the US with me where one can easily find a good repairman.

---

As I was looking for a retail shop selling several brands, I came across Nähfox in St. Gallen. The site says they have 1700 machines on premises, new and used.

https://www.naehfox.ch/de/

Before I make the trek (after stores open up again) have any of you been there? Is it worth a few hours' travel?
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  #47  
Old 26.02.2021, 11:27
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Re: Buy sewing machine

Yesterday I was frustrated with my Singer machine. It is a basic machine and has served me well for years. But hemming jeans proved to be too much of a challenge... even with the presser foot raised I could not navigate over the thick side seam. I have hemmed jeans before, just perhaps not as thick. I managed one pair, definitely not my best work.

The others have gone to the shop for hemming. Chf 15 a pair.

As my sewing needs are quite minimal at the moment, I can manage with my Singer though it is a bit fiddly. If I were to invest in a new machine, I would definitely want to test it out. I thought the Bernina machines are well displayed to be tested in specialty shops.
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  #48  
Old 26.02.2021, 11:46
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Re: Buy sewing machine

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Yesterday I was frustrated with my Singer machine. It is a basic machine and has served me well for years. But hemming jeans proved to be too much of a challenge... even with the presser foot raised I could not navigate over the thick side seam. I have hemmed jeans before, just perhaps not as thick. I managed one pair, definitely not my best work.

The others have gone to the shop for hemming. Chf 15 a pair.
The ability to sew through several layers of denim is an important consideration if you need to routinely alter trouser length (i.e. if you have short legs like me). My 20-year old Pfaff is relatively basic, but one of the selling features was that it can sew through four layers of denim, which is something you come up against when hemming jeans.

Exactly as Mrs. Doolittle experienced, my old Singer was not up to this task.

To the OP, if trouser alterations are something you frequently do, make sure you get a machine that can handle several layers of heavy, dense material, and also stock up on extra-strong needles.
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  #49  
Old 26.02.2021, 13:31
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Re: Buy sewing machine

Not sure if this helps Meloncollie, but I found a superb bargain at the local brokenstube just before latest shutdown. She's a Singer Featherweight from 1960 I believe, in perfect shape. (see image) I know it is a bit hit or miss but buying a used oldie is the way to go in my view. I bought this one on a whim after waiting some 40+ years for the family heirloom Singer promised to me by my mother, who just gave it away. Bonus with this one, it's originally from the UK Singer plant, so no converter necessary, and the plug had already been done.

So my machine for the last 30+ years is a Kenmore I bought used in the US for about 30 USD from an old repairman, nothing fancy. It is also vintage 1950s-1960s and it's a true workhorse. It has hardly given me an ounce of trouble, once I've taken it apart and troubleshooted the issue, so simple. And btw I've used it here off a converter for 25+ years with absolutely no issues. When I was about the drag the heavy thing across the Atlantic, my step father chided me about doing so and asked if that old thing still worked and was worth it. Very glad I did not listen, this machine is nothing fancy but does everything including drapes, upholstry, clothes, masks, etc.

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  #50  
Old 26.02.2021, 14:27
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Re: Buy sewing machine

Wow - now that's a beautiful machine, Runningdeer!

Come to think of it, just about every second Swiss house I visit has a vintage Singer sewing table being used as a planter... I wonder where all the machines have gone? Maybe I'll make it my post-lockdown mission to hunt for one of them...
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  #51  
Old 26.02.2021, 15:05
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Re: Buy sewing machine

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Wow - now that's a beautiful machine, Runningdeer!

Come to think of it, just about every second Swiss house I visit has a vintage Singer sewing table being used as a planter... I wonder where all the machines have gone? Maybe I'll make it my post-lockdown mission to hunt for one of them...
I have a similar machine from the 30’s or 40s, but only works in the US. I keep it because my mother gave it to me 40 years ago. The “black Singer”.

My sister just bought a reconditioned pfaff in the US (at least 30 years old) she loves it because it’s “all metal”.

I’ve got to find someone who looks as Husquevarna - I have my mother in law’s, and haven’t opened it..
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  #52  
Old 26.02.2021, 21:07
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Re: Buy sewing machine

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I have a similar machine from the 30’s or 40s, but only works in the US. I keep it because my mother gave it to me 40 years ago. The “black Singer”.
I run a Canada/US machine (120V) here with no problems. I just bought a proper step-down transformer and plug my machine into that, you should be able to do the same thing. The only problem I've encountered is that the light bulb needs replacing but here I can only find 220V lamps. So until I make it back to Canada I need to sew using a headlamp so I can see what I'm doing.
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  #53  
Old 26.02.2021, 22:06
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Re: Buy sewing machine

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Not sure if this helps Meloncollie, but I found a superb bargain at the local brokenstube just before latest shutdown. She's a Singer Featherweight from 1960 I believe, in perfect shape. (see image) I know it is a bit hit or miss but buying a used oldie is the way to go in my view.

So my machine for the last 30+ years is a Kenmore I bought used in the US for about 30 USD from an old repairman, nothing fancy. It is also vintage 1950s-1960s and it's a true workhorse. It has hardly given me an ounce of trouble, once I've taken it apart and troubleshooted the issue, so simple.
Attachment 141420
I've heard wonderful things about the Singer Featherlight and also the old Kenmores. I do think you're right that used oldies are the way to go. I've also read that the vintage Singer buttonhole attachment does the best buttonholes. I'm not good at buttonholes and the last time I had more than one to do, I went to the buttonhole shop in London - https://dmbuttons.co.uk - very cheap and very stress-free. But unfortunately not an option at the moment

I bought a walking foot for the Husqvarna (as one didn't come with the machine) from a specialist Husqvarna shop in the UK. It makes sewing with some fabrics a lot easier, but as MusicChick says sometimes the tension has to be adjusted.
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  #54  
Old 26.02.2021, 22:22
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Re: Buy sewing machine

As many of you know from my prior posts, MamaWishes is a professional seamstress. She owns 9 or 10 machines of varying ages and levels of sophistication. Here's what she said about electronic machines, if it helps at all:

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You can adjust the stitch length and width much more finely than with a mechanical machine. With most computerized machines, you can select needle up or needle down when you stop stitching; a mechanical machine often does a few extra stitches when you let up on the foot feed...electronic ones stop right where you want. I think the electronic make most jobs faster and easier, especially with the needle up/down option.

Combinations of stitches are much easier with a computerized machine. The amount of flexibility with a computerized machine is amazing. Mechanical machines are nice but rather utilitarian.

I don't think I've ever had tension issues with the electronic machines, even when I hemmed your sheer curtains. (I had bought curtains in the USA, and she had to add hems top and bottom as well as loops so I could hang using our track curtain clips)

The electronic machines make buttonholes much easier than mechanical machines. Most electronic machines have a "smart foot" for button holes...you make a sample in the size you want and it will repeat that buttonhole until you either turn off the machine or select another stitch.

The decision is based on how much and what kind of sewing you plan on doing...don't skimp...get a good quality machine whether it is computerized or mechanical.
Fun story: My auntie bought a Bernina back in 1967 or so and used it over the years. In 2018 she traded it in for a super fancy sewing computer, and was given multiples more than what she paid as a trade-in. For a 50+ year old machine!
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  #55  
Old 27.02.2021, 01:21
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Re: Buy sewing machine

Here's a grand old beauty.
https://www.tutti.ch/de/vi/aargau/an...chine/43248838

The ad says it needs a new drive belt (Antriebsriemen) and yes, these are still being sold, at this place selling All Things Sewing:
https://www.btrade.ch/
https://www.btrade.ch/navi.php?k=21&ed=2
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Old 28.02.2021, 12:17
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Re: Buy sewing machine

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As many of you know from my prior posts, MamaWishes is a professional seamstress. She owns 9 or 10 machines of varying ages and levels of sophistication. Here's what she said about electronic machines,
Very helpful 3W!

Please thank your mother from me. She brings up good points; I really appreciate hearing from experienced users of computerized machines. I envy her collection! (And space! I'm still dreaming of a Vermont farmstead with a dedicated sewing room...)

Looking around 'tinternets, I see that there are well-rated computerized machines that are far less expensive than I had expected - as in mid hundreds, not several thousands. Interesting.

Looks like I'll need to visit several sewing shops/ Atelier to try out as many different machines as I can to help focus my checklist.

Having stopped sewing for a decade or so I am utterly amazed at how much the sewing world has changed. Finding a new machine is rather daunting nowadays. Especially when I'm still rusty and having to re-learn how to sew. Is it me, or is it the machine?

(All this because I wanted a fun plaid vintage-ish coat - and was shocked to see many labels, even better ones, seem to no longer care about matching plaids. So I said to myself, "get out the old machine" - and down the rabbit hole I fell... )

Really appreciate your mom's comments, 3W - thanks!

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Old 28.02.2021, 13:18
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Re: Buy sewing machine

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(All this because I wanted a fun plaid vintage-ish coat - and was shocked to see many labels, even better ones, seem to no longer care about matching plaids. So I said to myself, "get out the old machine" - and down the rabbit hole I fell... )
OMG, plaids. My sister is a 4th generation tailor. She’s a costumer, but could tailor if she wanted. I am the mutant. But anyway, it was drummed into my head at an early age the importance of matching plaids. Not that I ever tried to match a plaid, but I always look for the quality of the match still. It’s automatic. Also big prints.

My sister doesn’t use a computerized machine, either. Overlock and blind stitcher in addition to the regular. (are they the same thing? I don’t know). She’s a big fan of “metal”. Not the music, sewing machines.
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Old 28.02.2021, 14:32
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Re: Buy sewing machine

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OMG, plaids. My sister is a 4th generation tailor. She’s a costumer, but could tailor if she wanted. I am the mutant. But anyway, it was drummed into my head at an early age the importance of matching plaids. Not that I ever tried to match a plaid, but I always look for the quality of the match still. It’s automatic. Also big prints.

My sister doesn’t use a computerized machine, either. Overlock and blind stitcher in addition to the regular. (are they the same thing? I don’t know). She’s a big fan of “metal”. Not the music, sewing machines.
I’m the same. My mother was a tailor and drummed the pattern matching thing into me. It’s the first thing I notice on anything, some of the pattern matching these days is atrocious.

Which reminds me that I have a few metres of worsted wool fabric in the cupboard upstairs, I must try to find a pattern and make something with it.
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Old 28.02.2021, 15:28
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Re: Buy sewing machine

My mother was a doctor, professional portrait photographer, and dancer. She also found time to sew all our clothes in the days of heavy smocking and tailored shirts. I not only inherited the Grasshopper from her, but a little box of beautiful yardage...'60s Liberty cotton prints, Scottish tweed, and suit-weight wool. When the borders open up, I would love to give away this stuff to any of you who wants it and has a plan. Anyone interested?
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Old 28.02.2021, 15:42
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Re: Buy sewing machine

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My mother was a doctor, professional portrait photographer, and dancer. She also found time to sew all our clothes in the days of heavy smocking and tailored shirts. I not only inherited the Grasshopper from her, but a little box of beautiful yardage...'60s Liberty cotton prints, Scottish tweed, and suit-weight wool. When the borders open up, I would love to give away this stuff to any of you who wants it and has a plan. Anyone interested?
Yessssss. <3
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