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Forum > Sewing Machines > Looking for a good vintage machine with needle up/down feature ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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Looking for a good vintage machine with needle up/down feature
Needle Down option in Vintage Machines
scram415
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Date: 12/31/12 6:45 PM

I am looking for a sturdy vintage sewing machine that has a needle down option. It's one of those things I didn't know I needed, until I knew I needed it.
I am a big fan of vintage machines. I love the fact that I can get yesterday's top of the line machine, for a decent price. I also prefer the all metal construction.

The first machine I bought was a cheap big box Brother (plastic!) that never recovered from attempting to free motion quilt on it. I have a vintage White 77 and a Janome HD1000. Both machines have a metal body but neither of these machines have a needle down option.

I'm thinking about a Bernina 1230 or a Viking 6000 series machine.

This may be a stupid question. Are there any all mechanical machines with a needle down option?

Any input is appreciated.

Miss Fairchild
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Date: 12/31/12 7:25 PM

All my vintage Singers have a needle down option as long as the machine is timed properly and I start sewing with the needle down So if I roll the balance wheel to where the needle is in the fabric, and if the machine is properly timed, it should stay in the fabric when I finish sewing. It works about 90% of the time.

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Soolip
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Date: 12/31/12 8:11 PM

Just grab the handwheel and plant the needle in the fabric. That's standard operating procedure.

However, the closest contender you'll find that has a needle-down feature is a Bernina 930, though not all of them have it. On the 930 the needle always stops in the up position. On later models you can plant the needle in the fabric by stepping back on the foot pedal.

The 930 is a fine machine, with a couple of reservations. Mine was not great at sewing knits. The factory setting for the presser foot pressure is excessively heavy, and there is no simple way for the user to adjust it as there is on other vintage machines. I found the feed dogs would make marks in taffeta and other acetate fabrics. It didn't seem to handle tricot well either, though unless you are making lingerie you probably won't ever need to deal with this.

Also, this machine is not all metal there are two plastic gears, which do crack with age. You can get replacements for these, also plastic. A panel on one side of the machine is plastic, and it discolors badly with age.

The other issue is that it's quite expensive for a vintage machine (usually $800+), as are the presser feet (which are no longer made). It's up to you whether it's worth it.

Aside from the price and the plastic gears (which don't fit your criteria for a vintage machine), you might like this machine.

-- Edited on 12/31/12 8:17 PM --

anne123184
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Date: 12/31/12 8:36 PM

I saw a trade in bernina 1530 the one with a track wheel. It has a needle up and down, metal construction, made in Switzerland. Also you can tap the foot pedal for the needle up/down feature.


Anne

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Soolip
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In reply to anne123184 <<


Date: 12/31/12 8:56 PM

Quote: anne123184
I saw a trade in bernina 1530 the one with a track wheel. It has a needle up and down, metal construction, made in Switzerland. Also you can tap the foot pedal for the needle up/down feature.





Anne

All Berninas from the 700 series (mid 60s) onward have plastic gears.
Maia B
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Date: 12/31/12 8:56 PM

You can use the "classic" or "old style" feet, which are currently manufactured and sold at Bernina dealers, on the 930. These feet accommodate a max stitch width of 5.5mm. The 930 feet, widely available on ebay, are for 4mm max stitch. So not an exact match, but it works just fine.

Later models (1030, 1130, 1230) have needle up/down.

My 930 came with the hard case, all standard accessories, *many* extra feet and bobbins, recently serviced, $700. I bought it from a quilter and drove to meet her to buy, no tax or shipping. Obviously, she knew its value. People get 930s and other vintage machines for much less, at Goodwill, estate/garage sales, Craigslist etc.

My 930 doesn't have needle down or the heel tap. :(, its only shortcoming.

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scram415
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Date: 1/1/13 2:12 AM

Very helpful. Thanks

I think my experience with the Brother LS2521 (Walmart edition) left me with a bad taste for cheap plastic machines. My Janome has some plastic but it is lightyears ahead of the junk made today. I've been looking for the 930.

Thanks for the input.

sings2high
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Date: 1/1/13 2:29 AM

Industry Definitions:
Vintage = more than 50 years old.
Antique = more than 100 years old.

A Singer 99 with a hand-crank can be adjusted so that the needle is at the top of its cycle when the hand-crank is at the bottom of its cycle. Oh, and you can keep on stitching when the electric goes out.

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Sherril Miller
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Date: 1/1/13 7:03 AM

The Viking 6570 has the needle up/down. I think it can be had for less than the Bernina 930. I bought a fully reconditioned one for $350 and it's a very pretty machine in kidney bean red. Then last week I found a Bernina 930 for $75 with a 30% discount at a thrift store. It's missing the accessory box with the extra feet and the extension table. That was more a fluke because these sell for more than twice the price I paid for the Viking. Anyway, look for a reconditioned Viking 6570 to get what you want for a better price than the Bernina. By the way, the Bernina 1230s had a problem with the basting stitch. It would disengage the feed dogs and they would completely stop working. I didn't find out about the problem until after my warranty had expired. I finally had to trade in my 1230 because it continued to give me problems even after sending it to Bernina for repairs.

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SandiMacD
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Date: 1/1/13 7:10 AM

I was looking for a solid machine with needle down. After much research I decided the extra $$$ wasn't worth it. Got a solid inexpensive one and I make the needle down happen with my foot or my hand. I learned that I don't need the needle down very often. I just got used to it on my fancier machine and so I thought I needed it.
What a nice surprise.

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