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Forum > Sewing Machines > Buying a new machine ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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Buying a new machine
carmakat
carmakat
Beginner
Georgia USA
Member since 8/16/03
Posts: 3
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Date: 8/16/03 9:17 AM

I am very very new to sewing, but I have somehow managed to put together a quilt top on a 30+ year old Singer that my aunt gave to me.  For the most part it gave me nothing but trouble (I'm sure some of that is user error!) and now that I'm to the actual quilting point I think it would be wise to pursue a better machine.  The trouble is that there are only 2 venders in my area, one sells Bernina and the other Baby Lock.  I've found lots of reviews on Bernina, but only a few (all good, but from recent buyers) on the Baby Lock machines.  I've heard mostly really good things about Bernina, but the staff at this store was somewhat less than stellar, whereas at the Baby Lock store they were extremely helpful.  I'd be willing to buy another brand of machine online, but I'd have no way to test drive it first.  I'm looking to spend around $800 +/- on my machine and for that I seem to get more options (but less quality?) with the Baby Lock, or most any other brand besides Bernina.  One last thing, I tend to lean towards customer service (Baby Lock), but my husband is in the military, so we could very possibly be moving in as little as 9 months, so where ever we end up I want to have a good machine.
Basically I'm looking for some guidance on what machine to get.  Any help at all would be Greatly appreciated!  Thank you!  Micki

Gigi Louis
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Gigi Louis
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Member since 4/4/02
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Date: 8/17/03 1:48 PM

Micki - I am what some would consider a Bernina fanatic.  I currently own two Bernina machines (830 and 1530), two 009DCC coverstitch machines and a 334DS serger.  I also owned a 334D serger until a month or so ago - I traded with a friend for an industrial Merrow.  I love all my Bernina machines and wouldn't trade them for the world.  I can't say the same for the inexpensive Bernette machines - there are better machines on the market in that price range ($200-400?).   However, customer service is everything!  Even with the greatest machine in the world something could go wrong somewhere down the road and you will need service.  Guide lessons are also important for anyone just starting out.  A seasoned sewist can get along fine without them but a beginner really needs to learn the ins and outs of their new machine.

Now, you say you may be moving soon.  You may want to check to see who has more dealers in more locations around the country.  If you're headed overseas that might not be so easy.  I know Bernina is sold pretty much everywhere but I don't know about BabyLock.  I wish you the best of luck and happy sewing with whichever machine you end up with!

Rhonda Noah
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Rhonda Noah
Intermediate
North Carolina USA
Member since 4/8/02
Posts: 2251
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Date: 8/17/03 5:25 PM

Micki, if you plan to do a lot of quilting some machines are better suited to quilting than others.  Pfaffs are usually a top selection of quilters because of the built-in dual feed feature which helps move the layers of a quilt evenly, preventing puckering.   (I am not familiar with Bernina and don't know if they have this feature or not.)  I bought a Pfaff Tiptronic 2040 at the base exchange in Lakenheath, UK for well under what it goes for in the states.  Typically this model goes for $1500-1700 in the US, and I paid less than $800.  The downside is that although the lady who sold it is familiar with the machine and willing to give me lessons, she is over two hours away with good traffic conditions, but with bad traffic that can sometimes be as much four hours!  

On the other hand, if you head overseas, the Pfaff is also dual voltage, meaning you can just switch it to 220 and with a converter plug you can then use it in any country you go to.

You don't mention if you are overseas or not (I assume not because of your reference to the two dealers) but if that's where you expect to be headed, you may want to consider a dual voltage model and even wait until you are abroad to achieve those wonderful savings.

I've only started to use my Pfaff in the past two weeks, but am overall very pleased with it.  The manual is not the most helpful, however, if you are not an experienced sewist.  I've found instructions and information to be barely adequate at times in spite of the fact that I've used several different makes and models over the years.  There may be instructional videos available that are more helpful, but I've not made it a point to look for them.

So if this is a machine that you might consider, there can be some drawbacks in buying one without a supportive dealer.  However, since most machines are found everywhere throughout Europe as well as the US, you should be able to find a dealer and support whereever you think you might be headed.  

Congratulations on the quilt top, and hope you have fun finding the perfect new machine.   :winkgrin:

------
Life is mostly froth and bubble; two things stand in stone: Kindness in another's troubles, courage in your own.

carmakat
carmakat
Beginner
Georgia USA
Member since 8/16/03
Posts: 3
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Date: 8/18/03 7:34 PM

Thank you for the information and the suggestions.  I think I'll be heading back over to the Baby Lock dealer later this week--unless some one has some other info for me.  I just think that since I'm such a novice sewer, I'll be more likely to get better and really enjoy this hobby (and stick with it!;) if I have someone who'll take the time to show me how to use my machine well and get the most out of it.  And I really didn't get much of a warm fuzzy from the Bernina dealer, to the point that I would feel guilty giving them my money.
Thanks again!
Micki

Jules/Vancouver BC
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Jules/Vancouver BC
Advanced Beginner
British Columbia CANADA
Member since 1/8/03
Posts: 911
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Date: 8/18/03 9:46 PM

Micki, sounds like you're making the right decision.  I've heard good things about both product lines, but the key is finding someone that will help you NOW.  When you're a more experienced sewist, it might not be as important, but right now, you want to learn how to use that machine.

I did a quick search at BabyLock.com's Dealer locator, and it seems as though there are plenty of dealers all over the US.  I just entered some random city names, and all of them came up with multiple locations within a few miles.

------
what if the hokey-pokey really IS what it's all about?

Mary Beth Loup

Mary Beth Loup
Beginner
Maryland USA
Member since 12/13/02
Posts: 133
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Date: 8/21/03 6:54 AM

I have found, and have heard SM technicians say, that Baby Lock machines are very sturdy. I bought the Espire (now being phased out so should be available at a bargain price) because it had more for less than any other brand. And I believe they are still selling the Ellure, which adds embroidery capacity, for the same price I paid for the Espire (without embroidery)  I have pieced and quilted very happily on my Espire. It is incredibly user-friendly and intuitive, typical of all BL models. Although not equipped with a knee-lift like Berninas, it has an automatic thread cutter that only comes in a few other brands' TOL models. I really love that! BL now has a new "Professional Quilter" model that may be too close to an industrial machine for your needs & budget. But if your BL staff is as helpful as mine, they'll steer you toward a great machine and give invaluable guide classes to go with it. Good luck!
Mary Beth
Arnold, MD

carmakat
carmakat
Beginner
Georgia USA
Member since 8/16/03
Posts: 3
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Date: 8/21/03 8:00 AM

Thank you so much for all your help, especially that last post from Mary Beth.  I just went out and got a Baby Lock Crafter's Choice last night and that last post, along with the others, really makes me feel confident that I made a good choice.  I was very tempted by the Ellure, but figured that since I'm still so new at this I might be better off getting my feet wet with a simpler machine.  Besides, after I purchased it I was told that as long as I keep my receipt I can trade it in within a year for *full price* towards a more expensive product.  You just can't beat that!  Thanks again!
Micki
Columbus, GA

Mary Beth Loup

Mary Beth Loup
Beginner
Maryland USA
Member since 12/13/02
Posts: 133
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Date: 8/21/03 10:21 AM

Micki, I'm so thrilled for you!  Forgot to mention that trade-up option, which is a frequent dealer sweetener. Now prepare to open yourself to go in new directions, because no matter what brand you choose, when you go from struggling with a problematic old machine to a new one with great features, you'll find that sewing becomes so much easier and more fun. I started out only a little over a year ago--with a quilt, like you--and after quickly bonding with my machine (AND serger!;), I gained enough confidence to take classes in machine quilting, binding, fabric flower folding, and most recently have tackled a several jackets and a man's tailored shirt! A good machine will really help you unleash your own creativity. I wish you luck and much happiness! Mary Beth

Guest
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Member since 3/16/04
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Date: 8/21/03 12:31 PM

I'm another Bernina fanatic. I have the 1001 and the 180e.  

My dealer doesn't recommend the 1008, current incarnation of the 1001, which is the Bernina in your price range (I think).  The manufactor of the machine was moved out of Switzerland, and he just doesn't think the quality is there.  I think he called it a piece of expensive junk.  

I don't know about Babylock sewing machines.  Their sergers are great, from what I hear.

If you think you might be coming to Camp Parks, you might consider waiting until you move.  The dealer in Dublin, California is great and carries many different types of sewing machines.  When you buy a machine from him, he gives you a free all day class in it, too.  In fact, you might want to wait until you know where you are going since you have so little selection where you are.  

When you buy a machine, be sure that the feed dogs are 5.5 mm feed dogs, not 9mm.  A 1/4 seam allowance is much more difficult to maintain on the wider feeddogs.  If you are going to machine quilt, be sure the feeddogs can be lowered.  And that really is all you need beyond a straight stitch and a zigzag to do almost everything quilty.  The other stuff is nice to have, but not necessary.  

Good luck.

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Date: 9/4/03 3:51 AM

I'm so glad I found this site rather than having to ask a salesman. My machine is a Montgomery Ward, over 3 decades, and has finally given up the ghost. I grieve. This sewing machine was passed from my grandmother to my mother to me when I moved out, and it was always up for anything. It even stitched thick leather beautifully. Now I need something that can live up to it's memory.
Most of what I sew is fairly tough stuff. Thick denim, leather, and heavy cloths like velvet. I make corsets and bodices. Can anyone recommend a machine that can handle my heavy stuff but won't destroy silky linings and lace overlays?

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