Saturday, September 6, 2008

Do you love your sewing machine?

I love sewing machines. There are few things as interesting to me as a new machine to discover, fresh out of the box.

And I have known quite a few. I have in my time done some educational work with Pfaff, Husquvarna/Viking, Singer and have reviewed some Brother machines. Good ones, in all those lines. And no I have not ever sewn on a Bernina.

The truth is that the sewing machine business has changed over the years. RIght now many machines are made in the same factories in the East in what they call Original Equipment Manufactures. Brand loyalty in fact may not be what it was and in fact different machines may now come out of the same factory. I am sure you have noticed almost identical machines with different brand names. That said different companies have different specs and some companies still manufacture their own top of the lines to very specific specifications and in their own factories, although parts may come from many sources.

Right now I sew on a Pfaff 7570 which I love, but not completely. If I had my way my dream machine would include:
  • a fantastic buttonhole. I have issues with machines that are now priced the same as a small car but do not produce a wonderful buttonhole. My 7570 makes a decent buttonhole but the sides are too close together, no way of adjusting this, and it is too easy to cut the stitches open when you cut the buttonhole. It is a real pain to have a nice buttonhole with the zig zag stitches sliced open and frayed. To handle this I make a version of a manual buttonhole with an elaborate series of steps, following something I read in Threads years ago. Also unless the buttonhole sides are stitched in the same direction they will not, cannot, look the same. I have found the old automatic buttonhole where you put the button in the back of the buttonhole foot often makes better buttonholes than my 7570 although there can be thickness issues here. You know you can keep increasing the embroidery area all you want but until I get a buttonhole I can rely on I am not that impressed. I make a lot more buttonholes than embroidered vests and tablecloths, in fact I make none of those.
  • good utility stitches. I like the serpentine stitch, where has that gone?
  • a thread cutter.
  • a needle threader.
  • really good built in lighting. Old machines had this and it was great.
What do you like in a machine?

3 comments:

petunia said...

I love my Slant needle 404 that I bought in 1963 or 64 from the Singer store. It was my first purchase after high school. I bought it a buttonhole attachment (it doesn't do zigzag, either). The attachment makes lovely buttonholes but such a loud rattling noise I cringe like a mother whose child is being stitched up in the ER. I did buy a zigzag Singer in the mid '80s but also kept my first love, the 404. Now I am thinking about a serger but I am afraid of adjustments, repairs and technology in general, I guess, and keep talking myself out of it. :) Can you encourage me about the serger? Mainly I want a chain stitch I can use for basting because neither Singer bastes worth a flip. I will also use the serger to sew knits but I read that can be gotten around with a narrow zigzag.

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psychickathleen said...

I am a returning sewer (after a 40 yr hiatus!) and wow have things changed! I bought 2 husqvarnas (Emerald 203 and the S25 SErger) and within a month wasn't terrifically impressed with the Emerald. I read a few reviews on them and discovered I wasn't the only one feeling this way (which was reassuring) so I purchased a used Elna Excellence 740 (locally - my local dealer actually knew this machine as they had sold it originally to this woman and had serviced it since). It's 3 years old and works perfectly. I love this machine BUT I was sad to discover that Elna actually doesn't exist anymore. It's one of those companies that was absorbed by Janame (not that I have anything against Janome per se - they seem to make some great machines) but I thought I was buying a REAL Elna. I second your advice to look for used. Many people think they will love sewing or love returning to it and discover it's not all joy or lack the time to dedicate to it.

I also wanted to point out that many of your links on your blog aren't working! I couldn't get to your profile page at all. Are you in Canada?

I love your blog! You write humour brilliantly!