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Message Board > Beginner's Forum > Help for first "on purpose" machine purchase ( Moderated by EleanorSews)

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Help for first "on purpose" machine purchase
Member since 6/17/12
Posts: 1
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Date: 5/15/13 11:21 PM

So, I've drooled over machines for years, bit have never taken the leap. I got a mechanical kenmore at a garage sale shortly after I was married, and it served adequately for quite some time. But, I would get really frustrated with issues and put it away for several years. Fast forward to a year ago when I discovered a babylock 7800 at the goodwill for the amazing price of $25. It had a receipt for very recent service inside the manual with the machine, so I went ahead and started using it.

At first I had no problems, but shortly the shuttle started repeatedly slipping and jamming resulting in busted needles and a pierced (plastic) shuttle. So, last thanksgiving I finally got it in for service. dad died. So, I hadn't pulled the machine out to use it until last month when a friend asked if I could do a few simple projects for her. And the few simple projects took me 3x as long as they should have due to needle breakage, slipping shuttle, more shuttle piercings, untangling bobbin nests, etc. sometimes I had to take the plate off to reset the bobbin shuttle 6-8 times in an afternoon. Yes, I should've taken it right back in, but I'd given away my kenmore (what was I thinking), and her project was for a wedding. (Luckily not hers, but still time sensitive).

So, bless dh, he watched my frustration and has agreed that I should get a new machine......but oh my.....the choices and the expense. And, being in a new city I don't know where's the best place and it also seems that here in Portland, the choices of dealers are few.

Looking at the Quattro, I of course love all the bells and whistles, but I just cannot justify $8k, I don't know I could do it even if hubby said yes. I've considered dropping embroidery as an option with the rationale of only focusing on utility that I have had.. That has me looking at the brother nx2000 and nx800 for $2500 and $1200 (appox) respectively. At that point the dealer (this one happens to only sell brother and elna machines) recommended the 1500d over the nx2000 because I would get "more" overall machine for similar price.

Then my friends from back home insisted I go look at the berninas. S I drove all the way accross time to get to the only large bernina dealer in the portland area. He did a great demo on the 780 and really talked up the 750 for a few reasons. When I mentioned abandoning the nx2000 because I'd never free-motion, he had a great opportunity to demo the BSR - which was amazing. It also allowed him to mention the price diff between the 710 and the 750 is pretty much the price of the BSR that the 750 has and the 710 doesn't, natch. He also took my abandonment of embroidery for price savings as a selling point of the 750, and a good one. Being able to purchase it as the sewing machine to save the $2k is a great feature from where I'm standing right now. His quote for the 750 is $4900 and a very generous $650 trade in on my babylock.

I did take the babylock to another repair place, and was told $200 to fix it and the new shuttle. It was $200 last time, and so with purchasing a foot pedal, bobbins and the machine, I'm $300 into this machine and will be $500 into it if I get it fixed again. aND I'm told it was a $500 machine brand new. I'm not sure if I can find the service receipt or if they service dept has a guarantee.

I've looked at the bl a bit online, but the only local bl dealers are the one who's give me what appears to be poor repair service and the one who gave me the bernina quote. The "bernina quote store" tells me that the bernina machines are going to give me more for my $$.

Servicewise I've been to 5 different stores and only one of them has tried to sell me a machine.... It looks like this

Store 1a - local branch of large local chain.. Serviced my machine, apparently poorly. I've since heard non-complimentary comments from a co-worker and another retailer. The sales person has chatted with me about other machines but has NEVER offer to let me sew on one or actually tried to sell me a machine, and she's obnoxiously loud. I've been in there several times and she doesn't seem to have time for me.

Store 2 - lovely small store, gave me a full demo on the Quattro staying 45 min past closing time the day before Mother's Day. It's closest to my house of all the stores, so classes would be easiest.

Store 1b, different branch of first store. All they had in the store was pfaffs, although they sell many models. So, when she tried to sell me a pfaff and talked it up, I wasn't convinced seeing as how there was nothing else to show.

store 3 - suggested bernina, but sells BL, janome, singer, brother... He actually invited me to sew (wow), discussed budget and it actually felt he was trying to match me to a machine. He explained that berninas weren't really that much more expensive for the features, just they don't have an inexpensive starter machine. He explained that because the bernina feet were all one piece and attach at the "hip" rather than at the "ankle" there is less play in the stitching and so the machine is more accurate. I walked out of this store with a written quote for the machine and a trade in quote. Was working with the owner. He did tell me that he had no 750's in stock because they had been back ordered and were in demand so much - of course looking at the boards, I'll have to ask him about that...cause it seems they're on stop sell. This store is 30 min away, 60 min during rush hour.

Store 4 - a bernina only store. Dealing with the owner again. Was hoping she would put the machine thru its paces because my hubby was there this time. She mentioned almost none of the features store three had mentioned. She had no experience with this machine, and it jammed during stitching several times. This store is 15 min from my house.

I didn't expect to write a tome.....I've been trying to do my research. I just need some help wo direction. Do I swallow hard and spend the 5k on the 750? Do I try again to get my BL fixed? After reading the (great) thread about "it's not the machine it's you" and wonder if I should keep my budget even lower. Should I stay with bernina and go to a 5 or 3 series? What about this Ellageo or this Ellure Plus or this Elite? And, I found this Bernina which isn't portland, but close to my mom's.

Thanks so much for just reading, and I really appreciate any guidance or advice.

tourist  Friend of PR
Member since 7/23/07
Posts: 6104
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In reply to brobromom <<

Date: 5/16/13 0:57 AM

Well, that is a lot to think about! I think I am glad I never had a lot of money to consider using on a machine. The choices would drive me crazy! So your store choices may be not what you would wish and the driving distances may be great, but you are very lucky in the Portland area! Our good friends took us all over the place fabric shopping last summer and it was wonderful.

Store 2 - lovely small store, gave me a full demo on the Quattro staying 45 min past closing time the day before Mother's Day. It's closest to my house of all the stores, so classes would be easiest.
This jumped out at me as sounding as though you really enjoyed the service and the person you dealt with. That says a lot, I think.

My SIL has a Bernina that she bought new way back when. Apparently she thought she was crazy spending $1000 (late 70's maybe very early 80's) on a machine, but she still has and loves it. Of course, the machines are not what they were back then...

Anyway, my advice is to go with your gut. If you have read the other machine threads, you will probably know my favourite machine is a $5 thrift store special. I bought a low end Janome, loved it, but never use it anymore. I suppose you could say I used the money I saved to buy a new coverstitch machine and a hardly used sale-by-owner serger. And a Featherweight from Lynn Rowe. The only machine I crave now is a vintage Elna that I sewed with at work. DH works on computers and the idea of machines with mother boards scares me silly!
-- Edited on 5/16/13 10:00 AM --

------ to follow the progress on my next ballgown.

SandiMacD  Friend of PR
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Subject: Help for first on purpose machine purchase Date: 5/16/13 6:19 AM

I had a Bernina 430. I loved changing feet and removing throat plate for cleaning. It was expensive. Feet were expensive. Threads picky. It sewed perfect straight stitches but no more so than my vintage Singer. I liked some things about it but frustrated with others. Needs hand holding, time and attention. I never bonded and I think I overpaid for what I got out of it. Was at dealers often - a real headache to make the drive over just to figure out how to do something. Yahoo Group information was priceless. Every time I looked at it I said MISTAKE. My daughter has it and she is thrilled.

I bought a BL Ellisimo. Twice the price of the Bernina. Feet not as simple to change. Throat plate needs screwdriver. But simple to use. Great stitch quality. Embroiders perfectly. Not picky with thread. Comprehensive manual so didnt require constant contact with dealer to figure it out. Used on lots of TV sewing shows so gives you ideas on what it can do and how. 3 yr Gold Warranty takes out worry. Never once went to dealer to ask any how-to questions. Evertime I look at it I think FUN. ENDULGEMENT.

I recently got a second hand mechanical Pfaff. Great Value. Love it. Sews everything and anything. It is so responsive- never lags, no computer, perfect stitches, easy to tote around. A no frills solid machine with every contruction stitch for every fabric type and then some. Comprehensive manual tells it all. Everytime I look at it I think VALUE. WISE CHOICE. DID GOOD.

So lots of reasons to get and use a machine.
Figure out what balance of machine to cost would give you the piece of mind. Everday that you have it should bring a smile, not a question.
Yes, dealers have their place in the equation but the machine should have a place in your soul.

sewing brings joy and meaning to my life...

Member since 12/3/06
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Subject: Help for first on purpose machine purchase Date: 5/16/13 12:38 PM

Buy the dealer.

I dont give them Hell, I just tell the truth about them and they think its Hell. Harry Truman

"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

Member since 12/13/08
Posts: 3072
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In reply to tourist <<

Date: 5/16/13 12:56 PM

Quote: tourist
[QUOTE]Store 2 - lovely small store, gave me a full demo on the Quattro staying 45 min past closing time the day before Mother's Day. It's closest to my house of all the stores, so classes would be easiest. [QUOTE]

This jumped out at me as sounding as though you really enjoyed the service and the person you dealt with. That says a lot, I think.
I totally agree. When I upgraded from my bargain basement Brother workhorse a few years ago, I was on my way to buy a nice secondhand Bernina that I wasn't in love with, when my DH suggested we try one more store--a quilt shop that also sells machines. The salesperson spent four hours with me over the course of two days helping me decide on a machine--within the first few minutes, I was 100% certain I was buying my new machine THERE; I just had to decide which one! I have never for one instant had second thoughts, either about the machine OR in "shopping for a dealer" as PattiAnn put it!

My one caveat is that this dealer sells a variety of brands, but only seems to have shown you the Berninas. $1000-2000 might be a totally comfortable budget for you, but I think you could easily bond with a wonderful machine from one of their other brands that costs half that amount and still does everything you want. (You might also let them show you used Berninas in your price range--although I TOTALLY understand the allure of your new machine being *new* and all yours! That was one of the reasons I didn't lose my heart to that Bernina.)

My last point--really, I promise!--is not to let anyone make you feel rushed into this decision. It took me a year of hunting, research, and test drives before I finally found my upgrade.

Have fun!

~Gem in the prairie

allorache  Friend of PR
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Date: 5/16/13 10:58 PM

Myself I have become quite partial to Babylocks. I believe there are a couple of Babylock dealers in Portland, although I haven't dealt with them. If you feel like driving down to Salem, I am reasonably satisfied with Rich's Sew and Vac down here. There is not a lot of price negotiation on Babylocks, because they don't post prices or allow them to be sold on the web. But they have twice taken back a new machine that didn't have the features I really wanted (for an upgrade of course...) and I've been happy with the training, service and support I've gotten. Embroidery is a lot of fun, if you are in a position to splurge and are interested, I wouldn't give up on embroidery capability too soon.

But I agree with the advice to try as many machines as you can and give a lot of weight to how you feel about the dealer.

Now a Babylock girl almost all the way - Ellegante 3, Evolution, and Melody. Plus a Sailrite LSZ-1 for those heavy duty projects

LuceLu  Friend of PR
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In reply to brobromom <<

Date: 5/17/13 6:06 AM

It's not unusual for a dealer that sells maybe 2-3 brands to be more knowledgeable and passionate about one of them. My Pfaff dealer once carried Berninas for a short time. Since they had started with Pfaff, they had more knowledge about them. She attended the Bernina U and disliked their heavy hand (she says she is an independent business owner for a reason) and eventually gave up selling those machines. I have purchased from another dealer who sells just about every brand and thus is really a master of none but is willing to get you a good deal and is happy to let you browse and practice on any machine they have. Go with what machine makes you feel good.

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