Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sewing Machine Recommendations

Here's my trustee sewing machine.  Before she lived here, my good friend Christy owned and loved her for a few years.  She's a lovely and reliable machine but for quilting she's a little basic.  I have been dreaming about upgrading for a little while and with an impending significant birthday looming in a matter of weeks, I thought that it might be the perfect opportunity to go sewing machine shopping.

Janome MyExcel 3018
I have actually been mulling over this for about a month or two but with the birthday approaching fast I thought that I really need to do some proper detective work.  You see if I find out I can get a great machine that ticks all the boxes for around $1000 then it will probably be a done deal BUT if I find out that the machine of my dreams is looming closer to the $2000 mark (or more) then I'll just have to put this idea on hold or start scouring eBay or Gumtree (ie our version of Craigslist) until something comes up in the second hand market.

I can blame all this lusting on Rachel from Stitched in Color who planted the seed when she purchased her new Pfaff Smarter 1100 Pro.  That particular model is not showing up on the Pfaff Australia website, I'll have to call them tomorrow to find out if it's coming in the near future.  I just spoke to a local Pfaff/Singer dealer (Oatley Cottage) who has the Expression 2.0 on sale for $1300 ($700 off) until 30 May.  I am aiming to go there on Saturday to have a try out of the machine.  On paper it looks great, the harp space is 10" plus it has all the other features like needle up/down, feed dogs down etc.

On the other hand, I have been happy with my Janome.  It turns out that Janome are also having a "Mothers Day Sale".  The problem is all the machines in the $500-$1000 range in that brochure sound really similar.  It looks like the only way I'm going to be able to narrow it down is to go to a Janome dealer and compare the machines in person.  There's also the MC4900QC and MC6600 to consider as well.

I'm not even going to consider Bernina since they are too expensive and the harp space is small on all their machines except for the really, really expensive ones ($5000).

Mum's old Singer sewing machine RIP.
(You can see how my sewing space has grown since 2009)

Oatley Cottage also recommended a Singer for $500 but I didn't find out which model.  Not sure about Singer since I've heard the quality of these machines is not what they used to.  I'd have to do a bit more digging on that.

So please people, I'm putting this out there to you.  Can you let me know what machine you're using, what it cost and would you buy this machine again? Pros & Cons would be awesome as well.


  1. I have two Pfaff machines and cannot recommend them highly enough. The first one I bought quite a few years ago as an upgrade from my Singer and the difference in accuracy was fabulous. I would have been quite happy to stitck with that one (Quilt Expression 2048) for good had I not wanted to enter the world of machine embroidery. I was looking for a stand alone embroidery machine but my husband knew how much I had loved the Pfaff and took me back to the Pfaff shop - we came away with a Creative Expression 2 which has just about everything I ever desired plus a bit more! It embroiders beautifully, sews very accurately and has the bigger throat space which is excellent for quilting. Good luck deciding on your new machine :) I would buy both of these machines again.

  2. Hi D - I think I waxed lyrical about my pfaff on our flickr discussion, & so yes I would highly recommend one which is within your price range...Good luck!

  3. I have a mid-range Janome, and love it, but not sure you have the same models in Australia - have fun shopping for your dream machine xxx

  4. I love my Janome 6600, even more now that it is dropped into it's table. I love the huge flat surface and will hopefully quilt my first quilt on the new table today!

  5. I've got a Pfaff creative expression 4.0 and I'm not sure about it... I don't know though because I went from a 1950's singer to this machine so I haven't sewn on many different machines. I really have trouble free motion quilting with the 4.0 and yes it might be me but what got me thinking was being in a fmq class and the only two people who had problems were myself and another lady, and she had the same sewing machine as me. Also a blog friend got rid of her 4.0 for same reasons and now has a Janome. I don't want to sound negative because it could be just me... :)

  6. I'm not sure what you decided to do. I'm seeing this post almost 10 months later, however, when your thinking of a new sewing machine, ask in Yahoo groups as well, if your a member of any groups, those people can be very helpful in helping you with pros and cons. However, the most important thing in my personal opinion is testing every brand of machine. Your most important factors to you are what you need to feel secure about. How do you feel at the machine as well, are you comfortable sewing on it, does it seem intimidating, is it easy to figure out without having to look at the manual. How easy is it to thread, or place the bobbin, ask about maintenance as well, can you oil and clean it yourself? Other things, come prepared, when you test it out with stitchouts, bring samples of the types of things you sew, if you do alot of quilting, ask them to put a walking foot on the machine, or the fmq foot, or a 1/4 inch foot for piecing. If your into embroidery, let them show you how to embroider, but be sure your the one at the machine programming and embroiderying with it so you get a feel for how it works.

    Other questions to ask:
    How long is the warranty?
    Is there anything I should not do to void it?
    Is there classes on learning the machine?
    How often are they held? (this is really important and if they don't offer classes, get them to sign something that says they will give you private instruction on how to use the machine).
    How often does it need to come in for cleaning?
    Find out how much the extras for the machine will cost. Such as feet (these can get very expensive) or if you need a quilting table for it, or other things such as additional bobbins .. etc.

    Knowing the costs involved with your machine isn't just about the machine itself, but what you'll need to make sewing each time worth it for you.

    If you've already purchased your machine, maybe this post can help someone else who comes along so they to can be aware of the risks involved with buying a new machine.

  7. Just an additional note here. Buy your machine from a reputable dealer if your buying from a dealer. When you buy from friends, your warranty is usually voided unless you can get away with using there name when you take it in for service. As well, you won't get the same kind of service, dealers get really picky these days about someone who didn't buy there machine from them. I'd stay away from Bernina for that reason alone. I love my bernina (don't get me wrong) but, I would NEVER buy another Bernina for that reason alone. I have moved to many times in my married life, and I bought my Bernina in Pennsylvania, but no dealer on the west coast was willing to honor the warranty on the machine when it needed a new board. I had to send my Bernina back to Pennsylvania to get them to honor the warranty. I've heard other horror stories as well. I find it appalling that Bernina allows there dealers to get away with this, and I find it short sighted on those dealers as well, because I could potentially be a great customer, but I would not step back into any store that didn't honor my warranty or where I purchased my machine at.

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