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Best and worst sewing machine features

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    with love Heidi @with love Heidi

    What is the best feature about your sewing machine and what would you change if you could?

    I just got my machine back from its service/repair. It was noted that the parts were worn in the machine. So it looks like sooner or later I’m going to need a new machine. BUT which one??? The choice is mind boggling.

    So I’m doing some research. Best and worst features of your machine?

    I have two other questions – what dose it mean to buy a machine to “grow into”, what sort of features would these be?

    And why do some modern machines have six different button hole options?? (this has perplexed me for a while)

    I had better start by answering my own question

    Currently I’m running a very basic vintage Elna, it is amazing because it sews through EVERYTHING but I find the reverse leaver that I pull back with my thumb frustrating because it aggravates my RSI.

    Recently I have also used a Brother NS-30 and a vintage Globe and they both annoyed me as the feet did not curl around the shaft so a soon as the screw loosened they fell straight off!

    I did enjoy having and using the decorative stitches on the brother.

    Tassiemum @Tassiemum

    I have a brother ds 140. The thing I love the most is being able to move the needle to whatever position I want. I also love the needle stopping in the down position every time, being able to reverse stitch with the touch of a button and one step buttonhole. The thing I don’t like is it isn’t great with thick fabrics, where my old basic Elna had no trouble.

    Tamara @justsewit

    I have a Janome Horizon 7700 (not the latest anymore) and it is by far my best machine I have EVER had.

    It has 250 stitches and 3 fonts of alphabets which is really cool and 11 different types of buttonholes – so you can do coats and stretch and fancy heirloom ones. I think the best feature though is the up/ down button for the needle – I LOVE THAT! My last Janome didn’t have that and you got into a habit of winding the wheel to put the needle in the fabric. With this its press the button and watch the needle go down and when you stop sewing the needle stops in the down position – fantastic for fiddly bits and turning corners. I also love the fact that you don’t have to use the foot pedal to operate this machine. You can press a button for that also but the pedal has to be disconnected for it to happen. I also love the hole closure for straight stitch because it means that your fabric won’t get eaten (not that it does with this one but it lessens the chance and it makes it great when chain piecing things).

    I don’t need fancy embroidery components to grow into this machine. It has all the elements to allow me to try my hand at just about any machine work – at the moment it is heirloom sewing with lace and free motion quilting but later on it could be free motion machine embroidery or something like that. If I wanted embroidery components I’ll just go get an embroidery only machine as I know that right now I won’t use it – I’d rather pick up a needle and thread and do it by hand. But in time I may want to have this so I will look for a specialist machine so I can hang onto this one if I still have it that is.

    The needle threader on this machine was great too until the hook somehow got really bent and wouldn’t thread the needle. I’ve had this on my previous machine and it is good but not really essential if you still have good lighting and eyes.

    Another fab feature is the accufeed function which requires special feet but it is fabulous for fabrics that slide and require a huge amount of pinning to keep them together – and quilters love it too!

    mrskanuckles @mrskanuckles

    I have the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 875q. I love the Fix feature vs backstitcking, and the thread cutter. Be still my heart.

    I also like that the thread in the bobbin just needs to be long enough but doesnt need to be pulled all the way up and behind the foot before sewing.

    I dont like how expensive the feet are for it. -:(

    Maggie @Maggie

    A couple months ago I upgraded from a basic Pfaff to a less basic Janome (430?).

    My favorite feature is the ease in changing feet. Most feet swap out just by pushing a little button. The new one just clicks right in. No need to unscrew. I also am glad to have the automatic needle down feature and push button reverse. There is also a very useful overlock stitch for those of us with no serger.

    I haven’t fully put it through its paces so I don’t know how it handles button holes or heavy fabrics.

    What is your budget? I wanted something in the $5-800 range, but ended up spending a little less. Hmm, maybe that means a should get a serger too!

    meleliza @meleliza

    I have a Brother pc420″ I’m almost embarrassed to say it’s the project runway special edition. It came with so many extras, like a walking foot, a knee lift, carry case and lots and lots of feet. Additional feet are not too expensive. This is not an expensive machine, comparatively, but I get good results from it. I paid $500 for it. It has some embroidery and lots of buttonhole options. However, most of the embroidery stitches aren’t all that professional looking. It has three alphabets, but only 2 look nice. What I do really like is the automatic thread cutter, the easy bobbin and the stitch options. Ive been using the overlock feature more and more. it guides fabrics well and straight and doesn’t eat them too often. The prominent metric measurements on the throat plate bother me, but I use tape to mark the seam allowances. I wish it had a straight stitch throat plate option, with the small opening for fine fabrics. I also wish it had some buttonhole options for thick fabric, like an old fashioned 4 step one. I have to do coat buttonholes manually. Overall, though, I’m pretty happy with it and plan to get lots of use for it before I trade up.

    I recommend you check out the reviews on sewing.patternreview.com too. There’s lots of good information there.

    cybele727 @cybele727

    I bought a Janome Magnolia, and frankly, it cost more than my old Kenmore, with less features. I was perplexed when I couldn’t just buy a new Kenmore. But I went with a brand name that is considered good for the sewist who sews weekly/daily. 🙁 Also, I know going from mechanical to electronic is going to up the price. (Kenmore was the Sears store brand, who knows who made them, but man they were like work horses for me.)

    So I find my Janome Magnolia touchy. Even though I buy the right SIZE bobbin, the brand matters too. I am still figuring out which “brand” does the trick.

    I also find that my Janome often sounds like the needle is hitting metal (Yikes). It often gets stuck when having to go over a thick seam when I am hemming. For example when I was sewing the afterschool pants and crossing a seam, there are 4 layers of feather wale corduroy. It did not like it. The foot doesn’t lift high enough (??) for the feed to work. But maybe that is sewist error and I need to fiddle with that stuff like feed dog tension, etc.

    I actually broke 2 needles on the Ice cream dress with a ribbon overlay. The fabric was just Kona cotton.

    Also my Janome 4/8 mark on the bobbin plate is 1/8 inch off from the 4/8 mark on the throat plate. Grrrrrr….

    Overall, I am not happy with my Magnolia and am stuck, as it is new and was expensive. I feel like I could have gotten a ton more with a Brother for less, or even tons and tons more with the same money.


    Sarvi @Sarvi

    I have Husq. Viking Viva, which was their bottom-of-the-line machine when I bought it. I haven’t outgrown it yet. I couldn’t think of anything I especially liked at first until I realized that not all machines have drop-in bobbins and snap-on feet. mrskanuckles, I found that no-brand feet work fine on my machine and are very inexpensive, I wonder if they might work for you as well? I can post a photo if you like.

    The only problems I’ve had have been with sewing thick leather and some knits, and I think it’s really more a question of user error/inexperience. I’d buy another Viking in a heartbeat. My machine does have a few embroidery stitches, which I have used once in 7 years, I think. I just don’t especially like the look. I remember wishing for a machine embroidery alphabet when I first bought my machine but I can’t truthfully say I’ve ever missed having one once I got the hang of hand embroidery, silkscreening, other kinds of printmaking. If I had to pick one new thing to buy it would probably be a serger but I’ve gotten along without one so far…

    mrskanuckles @mrskanuckles

    Sarvi, I would love to see a picture, I didnt think I could interchange my feet. I even have to use the Husq bobbins.

    Sarvi @Sarvi

    I’m not sure if your model has the same type of shank, but mine is like this (it’s removed from the machine here because I currently have my walking foot attached. On the left is the Viking buttonhole foot (stamped with C) and on the right is the generic 1/4 inch foot which I use for piecing/quilting. It was only $5!


    I do also use the branded bobbins, though.

    with love Heidi @with love Heidi

    This is really helpful. I think I will be saving for a while, provided my current machine lasts (I hope it does as I would like to keep it set up with my ruffler 🙂 ). I’m finding it really helpful to hear what you like and dislike about your machines.

    Jussewit, dose the Horizon 7700 have a free arm?

    rastis @rastis

    i have had a few machines (singer, janome 3500, janome horizon 7700) and most recently a bernina and honestly, for me, the bernina has been the best for sewing clothes…

    make no mistake, berninas are pricey machines! and for ages i wasn’t convinced there would be a quality difference, but i do think there is.

    i love the feet on my bernina, they are so good at their jobs (way better than my previous machines)… the edgestitching foot is worth its weight in gold, giving beautiful results for topstitching… i use it as much as my regular piecing foot…. it also handles thicker fabrics better than my previous machines and has more grunt… if i’m being completely honest i’d love even more grunt in my machine, but i reckon i would probably have to go to a semi industrial or an industrial to get it (which i have considered :)… my machine has more fancy options on it than i will probably ever use (all those decorative stitches!! i’m unlikely to use too many of those!) i also like the size of the free arm (wish it had a bigger throat for when i’m doing quilts though)!

    one beef i have with my bernina is the bobbin set up… you can’t see when it’s about to run out of thread (which i could i my previous janomes) so you can find yourself running out at annoying moments and is a bit frustrating!!

    after many years of sewing, i do feel like the bernina took my sewing to a different level because of the feet… they give beautiful results… but as i said, berninas are pricey!!

    Tamara @justsewit

    Heidi, Yes it has a free arm and huge throat space -the largest on the market which is great but it is designed for quilters. Mine came with an extension table which is also great to use with bigger garments not just quilts. I haven’t used the knee lift thing yet but may do so when I do the quilts. I also love the automatic back stitch/end off component – forgot to mention this – great when you need to stop in the middle somewhere like when doing pin tucks on the music class top or something.

    Oh it also has a memory saver for the stitches so that if you need a combination of stitches of something at a particular length or width you just set it and save it and refer back to it when needed. It saves up to 20 combinations.

    I use the accufeed edge stitching foot mostly on fiddly parts of garments to stitch as I have found the machin doesn’t do as good a job with the regular edge stitching foot on collars and cuffs. They had to send a replacement 1/4inch foot because the original one was not accurate so we all go a new one and so I have put the inaccurate one in the bin to not get confused. I also love the top loading bobbin. Not since my fluke sewing class for half a term have I used a side loading bobbin and the unfortunate little tyrant my lat mil bought for the children has one too. Much prefer a top loading bobbin.

    I haven’t had a problem with stitch tension and regularity when sewing on this machine and it hasn’t had a service yet in the two years I’ve had it. It isn’t loud when sewing, just a gentle humming noise (my other one was noisy as anything). It does get temperamental with the needles though so I use Janome needles for that reason. They work best. I doesn’t like lumps when making a button hole (I think I posted something mid last year about that I tried doing a buttonhole close to a bound seam on a music class shirt). So it can get tetchy with you if it feels out of its comfort zone but loves it when you get things right.

    The one thing when I was looking at upgrading, I looked at Berninas and thought they looked like pugs! A bit squashed up! No doubt they do sew really well though -my grandma swears by them even in her late 80’s. they are just out of the price range ball park though. My janome is fabulous though. It does everything I ask of it and doesn’t question anything except lumps and collar corners that aren’t quite in grasping range (hence the accufeed). And it sews beautifully.

    Nicole @motherof5

    Rastis,if you can find one,the Bernina Industrie is awesome!

    It sews anything,from silk to wool packs and has plenty of grunt. I adore it!

    I will keep my ear to the ground for you.

    Mine was made in 1974(the same year as me) and I payed around two grand for it.


    rastis @rastis

    Nicole I have spent some time ogling and admiring your lovely machine! Perhaps one day!

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 21 total)

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