Sewing machines

I’m about to buy a new sewing machine. I’m so excited but I’m also feeling nostalgic and thinking of all the machines I owned or used and all the projects I have accomplished with them. Please join my trip down memory lane to meet all my “ladies”.

I bought my first sewing machine in 2010 while living in Australia. I was keen to learn how to sew but not willing to spend big bucks as I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it. I went to a flea market once and noticed two sewing machines, I didn’t know if they were in working condition and the guy who was selling them had no clue either. I managed to bargain one for $80.

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It was a Singer 319K from 1954. I loved the colour and the more I discovered about this machine, the more I loved it. The person that owned the machine before was a very tidy person and all the accessories (disc, bobbins, feet, instruction manual, etc) remained in excellent condition.

My – then boyfriend, now husband – spent an entire evening testing the machine and adjusting it. I had no clue how to wind a bobbin or adjust the tension and he showed me. Where did that come from? This is when I knew he was a keeper, ha!

levers

My machine wasn’t modern for sure but I loved her to bits. She worked perfectly fine and had so much charm with her levers and “fashion discs”. Unfortunately, when I left Australia, I couldn’t bring her with me as she was very heavy and it would have costed me a fortune to ship her across the globe. I wasn’t sure it was worth it as all I was doing with her was “trying” to sew garments (without much success to be honest). I regret now, she still holds a special place in my heart and I would not hesitate to travel with her again. Funny how you can be attached to some objects.

My second sewing machine was offered to me by my husband (still boyfriend at that time) while we were living in London, about a year after settling in the city.

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It was a simple sewing machine from the British department store “John Lewis”. I loved her as she was bright red. Such an important feature for a sewing machine, isn’t it? I had lots of fun with her experimenting with sewing projects and sewed my first few quilts with her. I even took her in a trip to Paris to spend a week at my husband’s grandma place for some family sewing lessons.

The next two machines don’t belong to me but I have so many good memories with them.

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This first one was borrowed from my sister-in-laws while we went back to France with my husband to prepare our wedding. I kept her for a couple of months and worked on many projects for the wedding as well as two quilts and baby gifts. Such a simple machine (Singer smart 2) but it helped me a great deal.

The second one is the one I still use to date. It is a  Bernette 56 and belongs to my flatmate here in New-Zeeland. My flatmate was kind enough to leave her machine in the living room and I have used it a lot (about 10 quilts). It was quite difficult to settle down in NZ and find a full-time job. From time to time, I wouldn’t be working for weeks. Which was hard on the finance and quite lonely to be honest. This sewing machine was my only kiwi friend. I would spent days working on it creating beautiful gift for my “far away” friends. Fortunately, my situation is better now, and I can afford to buy a machine of my own.

Sewing machines are a bit like boyfriends, aren’t they? Sometimes you have a big crush, sometimes it last for years, sometimes it doesn’t work out and sometimes, well..it’s just a one night stand. Ultimately though, you are looking for THE one.

With that in mind, I would categorise my third category as “one night stand” as I only used them for one project or even less.

sewing machine2

I borrowed the first one from a friend when I was visiting France to finish one project. I bought the second one from a colleague but it only lasted for two weeks (he refunded me) and the third one was borrowed from my boss (while working on an upholstery workshop). This machine was normally used to repair his camping gears or sailing gears and I didn’t managed to make it work for my delicate quilt fabric. It was a nice offer but I gave it back the next day.

So, now you know all about my relationship with my previous sewing machines. All these machines were quite basic and I’m now ready to jump towards the computerised side. I’m thinking about a Janome 6030! I still need some time to make up my mind but I can’t wait to work on my new machine.

Please tell me what sewing machine you currently use and if you would advise it to someone or not. You can also tell me about your dream machine.

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11 thoughts on “Sewing machines

  1. I have a janome 7700 I bought second hand. I think the machine is now 4 years old. I love the FMQ on this machine and more than enough harp space. The machine is a bit pricey but I do think it it worth it. Love the knee lift too! ( did not even know I wanted this feature) love the needle down option even more!
    The machine can be sensitive and I have had several needles break rather violenty. I wish that the bobbin casing was not plastic but metal and that you could insert a new bobbin from the underside or front instead of the top. Comparing to other machines i think I got the most for my money.

    I also have a old pfaff from 1961 that is a real work horse! It is a very basic machine, and sews through leather even! It is very strong. No newfangled options, just straight stitches and a zigzag, button holes and that is it I think. I learned how to FMQ on this machine with the darning foot.

    For patchwork and quilting I would advise a machine with walking foot, needle down option, the largest harp space you can get, if possible a table to insert the machine into or a loose table to enlarge the work area.

    If you are offered a machine that has a stitch regulator I would not advise to get it. Especially with FMQ circles or swirls the SR really hinders the flow of your movement, I am told! I have only played with a SR once for 5 minutes but found that I really went by the sound of my own sewing machine when FMQ. The SR messes that up.

    Well, that is my five cents on the subject!

    Good luck with finding a new machine!
    Esther

    • Wow, thanks Esther for so many valuable input! These are more than 5 cents :-)

      I’ve seen the 7700 in the shop, I like the Janome horizon range indeed. I thought it would be the one I could upgrade to after my first computerised. I think I will be overwhelmed if I start with a too complex computerised. I’m glad you are enjoying it.

      Funny you say that about knee lift, I was wondering the same and I don’t think it would be part of the equation but interesting to know that people use it and like it (I’ll need to test it one day). The needle up and down will change my life I think, like the scissor. These are such great features.

      I’ll keep you posted of my new purchase hopefully soon.

  2. I currently have and use a Bernina 820. I love how big her throat is for quilting larger projects. I am less pleased with the stitch regulator than I thought I would be. Overall, I am happy with it and would still probably choose it because of the large bobbin and large throat size. Good luck finding a good fit!

    • Thank you! Wow your machine looks awesome. A bit scary for me though. Wow, it does embroidery too and I just saw a picture of it on a frame. So you can do long arm quilting. Neat!

      Funny everyone seems to be disappointed with that stitch regulator. Not worth investing in it then.

      • I don’t have the frame for mine, but it might be a cool upgrade sometime. :) Yeah, I might more heavily look at Janome’s knowing what I know now… but I love my machine even though she’s a beast!

  3. I have a Janome 6600, a more basic Janome (which I owned before I bought the better one) and a 1920s hand-operated Singer, given me on my 10th birthday.
    Will you be able to keep your machine on your next international move? That might be the big deciding factor.
    I would have been sad to part with the 1950s classic too.

    • Wow, do you still use your machine from the 1920′? It must be a very pretty one.
      I don’t know if I’ll go back to France with the machine, I guess I should. I have no idea when it would be but not tomorrow anyway, so I don’t want to restrain myself too much.

  4. Here’s my two cents :) I’m a Janome girl. I have owned the 7700 and recently upgraded to the 8900. I didn’t think the 7700 could get better. . . oh man, but it did :) That being said, my advice to you is to buy more machine than you can use now. This is advice my mom gave me when I bought my 7700 and it was very good advice indeed. I never regretted spending the money and LOVED the machine :) BTW, there was absolutely nothing wrong with my 7700. . . I’m impulsive and spoiled. :D

    • Wow, what a beautiful machine Judy! I really like the Horizon range. I know what you mean by buying more than I currently use, my colleague says : “you need a machine that you can grow”. I’m scared to be overwhelmed though, feeling frustrated and not doing any sewing as a result. It’s probably easy for you to figure out how to make it work as you used a Janome 7700 before, but you saw my previous machines and where I’m coming from. A simple computerised machine would already be a huge step. I also feel as if I don’t “deserve it” as I’m still beginner in that craft. I don’t know, this is a very hard decision to make as I hear your point.

  5. My main machine for a few years was a Singer Fashionmate 237. I didn’t know what all I needed when I bought it, and so I thought a good, sturdy, basic machine would be a good starter, and in the three years I’ve had her, she’s been wonderful. I paid $70 for both her and her sewing cabinet and she’s never given me a problem. She has a beautiful satin stitch, and I do a lot of piecing and mending on her. I also learned to FMQ on her with a universal darning foot.

    A bit later I “splurged” and spent $500 on a Singer Quantum Stylist 9960. She’s also a good machine so far, and I love the extra little features like the needle down and the thread cutter. I do most of my quilting work on this machine, and it has a lot of pretty little decorative stitches I’ve used now and then.

    There might come a time in the future when I would like to or be able to spend more on a machine (a girl can never have too many!), but right now it would not be a good idea because I am not familiar with the features of other machines, and I don’t know what else I need that I don’t currently have. I suppose a larger area for FMQ, but I am making due fine now. I am also hesitant to buy outside of the current brands I have because the repair shops for both my old machine and the new machine are close by, and if something went wrong or I needed to get a tune up I don’t want to be without a machine for a while or have a store I can just walk in and ask questions. Maybe they’re out there and I just don’t know about them. I’m open to ideas and suggestions.

    Right now my current machine “need” is finding a good basic machine for my 4.5 year old son, who has told me he wants to learn to sew. I’ve heard the IKEA ones are good for beginners. I’ll see I suppose.

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