"Cheap" but Quality Sewing Machine

Updated on February 04, 2012
B.D. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
6 answers

I don't have a lot of money to spend on a new sewing machine but my old Kenmore stunk out of the box from day one. (Okay I admit it is about 20 years old but it always was a hassle.) I blame the machine's fussiness on my never becoming endeared to sewing. I even took a class and the instructor was at a loss over this machine.

So getting back to my question...my daughter would like to learn how to sew. I can not get my Kenmore to do the zig zag stitch for some reason so it is my excuse to look at a new machine.

What machine would you recommend and about how much does it cost?

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answers from Philadelphia on

About 4 years ago my husband bought me a Brother sewing machine at walmart for about $80. It was great & I loved it. A perfect, cheap, introductory machine. It did a bunch of different stitches & was easy to use. I wanted something cheap b/c I wasn't sure if I would like to sew. I made at least 7 quilts on the machine (most baby sized) & I made some halloween costumes for the kids & a baptism outfit for my friend's daughter. The only two problems I had with the machine.....it was very lightweight (which would be great for traveling with (which I never did), so it had difficulty sewing through all three layers of a quilt - it could do it, but it was slow & difficult) & the second problem was that the motor would get "tired". At the time, Saturdays were the only days I could sew, so I would sew for hours. After a few hours of sewing the machine would not work as well & I would have to take a break for a few hours & let it "rest". It would always be fine when I went back to it. I did upgrade to a heavier machine (a Singer Confidence which was around $300 - $400) it suits all my needs now, though it does have a few issues. The biggest issue is that it is HORRIBLE at winding bobbins. I actually have my brother plugged in next to the singer & I use the Brother to wind the bobbins for my singer. (The issues have not stopped me from sewing. I've sew at least 10 quilts on this machine & numerous halloween & dress up items).
If I had to do it all over again, I still would have gotten the Brother as my starter machine. I don't think i would have bought the Singer. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have at least gone to a quilt shop & tried out their recommended machines (Janome & Bernina) . I don't know the prices on those b/c I never looked (I'd never heard of them before), but they are supposed to be the best brands out there now. Singer was bought out & is made by a completely different company than it used to be, so quality is not as good. I only went to Joann fabric & our local store only had Singer & Brother. I chose Singer b/c knew it was a "good" sewing machine company, I didn't know that had changed.
I hope this helped, good luck.

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answers from Seattle on

Singer. I got my first Singer Machine off of Ebay for $89 and there were many of them to choose from. And that was asking price so you could possibly get one even cheaper. It is a great machine, I still love it even though I have upgraded a few years ago.

Singers are tough sewing machines and built to run for years and years.
You can also find them on Craigslist too.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I don't have a specific machine in mind because it depends on what you want it to do for you, but when I wanted to learn to sew my first year of college my parents got me a Brother sewing machine at Walmart. No frills, and rather inexpensive. That was over 10 years ago and I still use it today. It's made 2 quilts, countless pillows and curtains, a few dresses, some baby clothes, hooded baby towels, etc, so it's not like I haven't used it in the past 10 years. Check around for pricing, I don't know if Walmart still sells them or not, but I think I got an email recently that Joann's is having a sale on them right now.

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answers from Amarillo on

Go to your local Joann's and test drive a few. They have some inexpensive ones. Perhaps you can get a traded-in machine. They also give lessons on how to use the machine. I know they have Singers and Vikings and I think White brands.

Get a machine that sews straight, zig zag, buttonholes, reverse, and has pressure foot adjustment along with tension adjustment. Then practice, practice, practice. Have patience to work with and learn the machine and all will be good.

Good luck to you and your daugher. I hope that you catch the sewing bug and enjoy creating things for yourself.

The other S.

PS If you are near a Bernina dealer you may find a used machine there that is in the $200 range. Or get a Brother PRW machine for around $250 from Walmart. This way you have a the ability to grow into the machine when you need it most.

I don't suggest the bottom of the line as they are "throw away" machines.

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answers from Dallas on

I have a Janome - the good thing about it is that there is a Janome shop not far from my house - if something isnt working right, I bring it in and they can fix it.
Once, I needed a $3 part so that my zipper foot would fit correctly. Another time, I was doing the button hole incorrectly, and they showed me the correct way to do it.

My mom bought it but I think it was @ $150-$200. It is NOT a computerized model - just a basic and no frills.

Whatever you get, I suggest paying a little extra and getting it from a machine shop. The help and support they give is worth the extra $$ up front.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I completely agree with Sarah. Mine is a Brother from Walmart and I love it. It was well under $100- I think maybe even under $80. Its wonderful and I love it!

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