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Thread: Sewing Machine - what to buy

  1. #1
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    Question Sewing Machine - what to buy

    I'm thinking of buying a sewing machine & not sure where to start. I want it for general use (clothes, household stuff) but I'm only a beginner so am looking for advice on whats best to spend my money on - any particular features to look out for, brands to stay away from etc. Do I buy a cheaper machine & a seperate overlocker? Or should I buy a more expensive machine with an overlock function? Do I buy new or secondhand?

    Any advice from the experienced sewing gurus out there, thanks?
    Last edited by lin; 6th September 2010 at 07:12 PM. Reason: 'sew-ers' just didn't look right, oops

  2. #2
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    The best thing to do is to go to a sewing shop and try some models out. I'd recommend a machine that has a good range of every day stitches, but you don't need loads of fancy stitches, adjustable stitch length and width, a good buttonhole function, variable speed, easy to thread, easy to wind bobbins, free arm sewing, snap-on presser feet, and comes with feet for different functions. Many cheaper models have an overlocking stitch, and some models come with an over-locking foot, which makes finishing seams pretty easy. I definitely wouldn't buy a separate overlocker - they're really expensive, and you don't really need one as you can finish the seams well without one.

    I've got this machine: Brother BC2500. I love it, but they don't sell them any more, but it's worth looking out for ones on trademe. The Brother BM2600 will probably do all you need a machine to do - Sam B has just bought one, and I think you can find good deals on them in places like Spotlight and Bunnings. But, as I say, if you have a sewing shop near you, go and ask them to show you a few machines as they don't usually mind demonstrating them.

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    I would say, as you're a beginner, go for a separate 'ordinary' sewing machine and get used to using that before you get into overlocking (if you ever do). If you get a swing-needle machine, it will do a whole range of stitches that cover straight, zig-zags, tacking, buttonholes, elastics, some do pintucks or pleating as well, and some embroidery possibilities, and that will take care of most jobs. An overlocker takes you into the realms of multiple needles and spools of thread, and the gadgetry for them, which can be confusing while you're getting to grips with the basic functions. You only need an overlocker if you're doing a lot of work with stretch fabric, e.g. making dance or sports clothes using lycra, and that's a pretty specialized kind of sewing that would be a hard way to start.

  4. #4
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    thanks JoJo, J&M - I did a sewing class in the local sewing store & got to use an overlocker which was fun, though not sure I'd be able to thread the darn thing! I'm probably getting ahead of myself ooohing over an overlocker...
    The shop is a Bernina stockist so I've had a go on one of the Bernette machines in the class.

    I'll compare the Brother machines with the Bernette's too & see if they got all the things you've mentioned. Many thanks.

  5. #5
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    Berninas are good machines. I had one for my 21st birthday, and it served well with hard wear for over 20 years till it got grilled by a power-surge. (Not to say other things aren't good, too.)

  6. #6
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    I am liking my Brother whatever it is that JoJo said a lot. I was a beginner 3 months ago, but it's funny how quickly you pick it up and want to do more and more, so I'm glad I went for a machine that does a few extra things.

  7. #7
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    Linda, I think I would go for a machine with affordable parts..., my Pfaff is certainly a good machine, but every extra foot costs me a fortune!
    And I guess it might be easier if you can get your machine serviced in town without sending it away.
    My machine does all the things JoJo mentioned, i think, and I've got overlocker (or "stretch", should be the same?), too..., but all my sewing friends have those machines with all sorts of 'fancy' stitches and and I'd really love to be able to do that, too......

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the advice ladies, I'm off down to the sewing store to check out what's on offer.


    Quote Originally Posted by newarrival View Post
    but all my sewing friends have those machines with all sorts of 'fancy' stitches and and I'd really love to be able to do that, too......
    Renate, good point about the accessories & servicing. If I get a machine with fancy stitches, you can have a play on it!

  9. #9
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    Ahhh, a thread after my own heart! I am a quilter and I agree with everything on the thread thus far. I would subscribe to the "kiss" theory for your first machine. Keep It Simply Silly.

    Also, if you are not in NZ yet, depending on where you are, you may want to wait to buy a new machine. The power is different here and you cannot simply use a converter. Most of the new machines are computerized, even the most basic ones. Your warranty may be voided if you bring it here and it is not made for here.

    My OH understands it better than I do but something about how the power goes to the machine. Some types of power are continues and others are sent in pulses, or at least that is how I understand it. This messes with the computer.

    I really wanted a new Viking before we left the states but I contacted them and found out I could not use a converter and that my warranty would be voided. Now that I am here I find that there are not many Viking dealers. Just about everywhere I have been in the upper part of the north island is Bernina. Especially since you are new you will want a local dealer and to take advantage of the free sewing classes that come with your machine.

  10. #10
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    Thanks Mickfin, I'm a NZ fixture now . I went into the local Sewing Shop today & got the Bernina brochuere - there just so happens to be (another) sale on at the moment too, so I'm going to compare prices online with the Brother machines.

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