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Forum > Sewing Machines > SM recommendations for Heirloom Sewing Wanted ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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SM recommendations for Heirloom Sewing Wanted
Bernina? Brother? Other?
Nylmar
Nylmar  Friend of PR
Member since 2/1/12
Posts: 16
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Date: 12/18/12 3:27 PM

I have been "out" of sewing for many years and finally got my husband to agree to buying a new machine. My previous machines were a Pfaff (c.1940) and a Kenmore (c. 1970). I would like to learn to do machine heirloom sewing and want a good quality machine that will last me a long time and be as trouble free as possible - but most importantly have the highest quality stitches for the kind of sewing (on delicate fabrics) I want to do. My previous machine sewing experience was primarily (although not exclusively) in garment construction. I do a lot of hand surface embroidery. When my girls were little I made smocked dresses and a christening gown - but all of the heirloom sewing I completed by hand.
I have been looking for almost a year now - always returning to the Bernina 380 - because it's small enough for me to take to classes (which I'll need to do) and because of the great lighting and the good reviews I've seen. I've looked at a lot of machines but always seem to gravitate back to the Bernina. I most recently looked at the Brother Innov-is NX 800 (Laura Ashely Ltd. Ed). The Brother has many more features and is about $500 or so less than the Bernina, plus it has a little better warranty. The straight and zigzag stitches on the Brother and Bernina seemed much the same to me. The dealer closest to me sells both Bernina and Brother.
I'm not sure what questions I should be asking or machine capabilities/features I should be focused on for heirloom sewing. For example, does number of feed dogs matter? Etc.
I need to keep under $2000 no matter which machine I buy now. Trading up later might be a possibility. Any of you who have a lot of heirloom sewing experience and will share your wisdom will be gratefully received! I want to buy a machine before year's end.
-- Edited on 12/18/12 3:30 PM --

sewfrequent

sewfrequent
Intermediate
Texas USA
Member since 6/27/03
Posts: 3209
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Date: 12/18/12 3:43 PM

I don't know if its as much a function of brand bc its features that you want. Be sure both machines have all the stitch patterns you will be using. If they do, then except for some wing-needles and special threads/fabrics...you should be able to do any heirloom technique called for. If you will be taking classes, the 380 would work well for that but the BabyLock isn't heavy either. Brother BabyLock has the great automatic needle threader as well as auto thread-cut. Both have needle up/down. You want to be able to have as much control as possible over your stitch width and length. On some Brothers, it is pre-set or allows for change in large increments. The Bernina might be better there. They both have positive attributes so it might take sitting down w/ both of them to maybe make pintucks and entredeux. You could take some pieces of batiste and lace along and test each machine. If they both do equally well, you will know more about each one and it will be easier to choose.

Artsewer
Artsewer  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Member since 3/2/11
Posts: 1774
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Date: 12/18/12 3:53 PM

Under 2000 I would try and get a lightly used Bernina 630 or a floor model 630 with out BSR or Embroidery unit. I think my dealer has one. If you could get it without, it would be in your budget. PM me if you want more info. Also I would not be surprised if you were to offer a PR person wanting to sell their 630/35 without those two features, they can then sell the embroidery mod. and BSR seperately. The other option is to stretch a bit for a new 530, because it has the pressure foot adjustment. If the pressure foot adjustment is not a deal breaker, the 380 is super. Bernina 5.5 machines are great for heirloom sewing. and general sewing IMHO

------
Bernina 750Q, 635E, 380, 1630
Serger 1100DC

Nylmar
Nylmar  Friend of PR
Member since 2/1/12
Posts: 16
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In reply to sewfrequent <<


Date: 12/18/12 4:15 PM

Thanks! Having control over stitch length and width is important to me. I really don't have any experience with the computerized machines since both of the one's I owned years ago were basic mechanical machines - although the Kenmore had more than just the straight and zig zag my Pfaff did! I'll take your suggestion about going to the dealer with some batiste and lace - but they will have to demo since I've never attempted heirloom sewing on a machine. In fact I haven't done any machine sewing in about 20 years I gave up because my Kenmore had ongoing tension issues that could not be satisfactorily resolved. Before that I was an avid seamstress! I will want to compare the quality of the stitches. I've read that some machines do not handle some of the stitches well in heirloom sewing.

Nylmar
Nylmar  Friend of PR
Member since 2/1/12
Posts: 16
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In reply to Artsewer <<


Date: 12/18/12 4:32 PM

Thank you very much for your suggestions! I am totally unfamiliar with the 630 so will need to research it, as well as the 530. I know I don't need the BSR or the embroidery unit at this time so don't really want to pay for those. And, I've read mixed reviews about the BSR. Is pressure foot adjustment desirable/necessary? (Never had it before). I have read that some others don't seem to mind not having it - but perhaps they were not doing the kind of sewing I want to do. I'm concerned that if I buy a used machine I won't get the instruction I'll undoubtedly need (having been away from sewing for so long). And I do want to have a warranty - just in case) Basically, I want to get a good start - have as few problems as possible (hopefully none with the machine) and if all goes well, I can see about upgrading later. But, it's food for thought.
The automatic tension adjustment, threader and thread cutter on the Brother machine are alluring, but I'm not sure those features have much bearing on how well it does the job I want it to do.
May I ask why the 5.5 machines are great for heirloom sewing? Is that a feature I should focus on?

Vicsguy
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Vicsguy
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Ohio USA
Member since 5/17/09
Posts: 224
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Date: 12/18/12 4:39 PM

Juki F600

Soolip
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Soolip
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California USA
Member since 6/18/08
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online now
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Date: 12/18/12 4:46 PM

I would say the Juki F600 or an Elna. Although Elna is made by Janome, several of the models have Elna-exclusive heirloom stitches. Elna was for many years THE choice for heirloom sewing.

kkkkaty
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kkkkaty  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Utah USA
Member since 12/7/05
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Date: 12/18/12 5:33 PM

Perhaps look at the book "Fine Machine Sewing" by Carol Ahles; really wonderful reference for heirloom sewing, and she discusses machines and more importantly features/stitches. FMS

and ps: now that I have read more of your posts, since you've been away from sewing for a while, this book will be indispensable.. and will make your heart sing with joy!
-- Edited on 12/18/12 5:35 PM --

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Viking Lily 545
Viking Ruby
Bernina Activa 210
Brother 1034d

ilesliemy
ilesliemy  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Texas USA
Member since 2/25/05
Posts: 943
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Date: 12/18/12 6:12 PM

A Pfaff with the built in IDT which acts like a walking foot is wonderful for heirloom sewing with fine thin fabrics like lawn etc. I would look for a used one that had 7mm stitches still. I have a Bernina I keep threatening to sell which is a 440. Bernina has available the most wonderful pin tuck feet! Some of the older Vikings have amazing delicate decorative stitches also.
Something to think about is do you think you want a wide harp? That would add some weight but are so nice to have.
Leslie

------
Bernina Gal

Nylmar
Nylmar  Friend of PR
Member since 2/1/12
Posts: 16
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In reply to Soolip <<


Date: 12/18/12 7:06 PM

Thanks so much! I haven't looked at either the Juki or the Elna, but will do so now.

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