I have had so many machines but nothing I’ve really loved since an old industrial I bought when a department at school closed & sold off machines. I got that beast for $150, a steal. I wish I’d kept it.
Is there a machine you think is great? I want something heavy duty, just basic stitches, snap on feet, not computerized. Metal is preferable to plastic. It has to sew FAST & have a big enough throat to roll half a garment into without struggle.
Singer heavy duty looks ok but there are too many versions to easily choose without a referral. I am so tired of laying down money for a machine that disappoints, it’s demotivating when your sewing partner isn’t up to your speed, you know? Sigh…,
I don’t have a ton of sewing experience but I have cycled through about 6 or 8 machines over the last few years. I LOVE my Juki machines - TL-18QVP and DX-2000QVP. The TL is straight stitch only, metal, mainly mechanical, has a huge throat, and sews up to 1500 stitches per min. The DX is computerized but feels very sturdy for a computerized machine. The DX-2000QVP is the same machine body as the DX7, but comes with extra feet (not necessary but my local dealer offered it to me for the same price).
I used to have a Singer mid-level computerized machine that I just didn’t get along with and felt very plastic-y but probably sewed fine. I tested out some, ridiculously over priced IMHO, Bernina QE machines and while people love them, it just seemed like I’d be paying lots of money constantly for specialized feet and repairs. It didn’t help that the sales people were… rude to say the least.
I currently also have a Janome HD-3000 which I’m just not in love with. I got it before the Jukis and was expecting to love it (metal, mechanical, heavy duty) but we just didn’t bond. I know a lot of people like the Janome machines so I wouldn’t not recommend them but personally significantly prefer my Juki’s.
I have a janome now. Sadly, these days brand names no longer mean what they used to. I hate that machine.
My advice would be a mechanical Bernina.
I love my Bernina 1006. It was their last heavy full mechanical model and I’m glad I found it in a shop that sold second hand machines besides new ones.
The throat is an average size though, I think.
Marc uses the even older Bernina (I don’t remember the model) that I used before this one (it’s upstairs in his work room). That’s still in perfect working order and he’s using it to sew straps and stuff.
For someone like you, who knows what they are doing, but will also put a machine through heavy duty use, Bernina 1008. Hands down. Technically they are no longer being made by Bernina, but you can find them available online. (And yes, they will be expensive, even used. But they are worth every penny.)
This is the model we used in the costume shop at WKU, and believe me the college kids beat the crap out of them, and they just kept ticking. Never gave me a lick of trouble, aside from an occasional thread nest when some freshman would put a bobbin in wrong. They are non-computerized, all mechanical. All solid steel parts, no plastic in the guts to break down. I have literally sewn through wood with them (paint stirrers, don’t ask why). Because they got such heavy use from novices, we had them serviced once a year at the end of the school year to be on the safe side. But seriously, I never had a single one break down in the 6 years I worked there. Never once needed to take one in to be serviced mid year.
They will easily barrel through flat felled denim seams, corset coutil, and (provided you use the right needle and foot), will also gather lightweight silk or do a rolled hem with chiffon without a pull or hinky stitch.
The first set I had in my shop was bought in 1997 or 1998, and because schools require you to put in a request for new items sometimes several years in a row before they will replace equipment, we put in a request for new machines in 2009 even though they were running perfectly, expecting that we would be waiting about 4 years or more before they approved us. By some miracle we got approved that year, and got the 1008’s which were the newer version of our same model from 1997. Exact same features, knobs, dials, etc. Just a slightly different logo. We found them selling for $1299 in 2009, but got an educational discount from a vendor so we paid $749 each for 8 of them. We sold off some of the older machines so we could afford a new washing machine, and so many people in the Fine Arts Center wanted them, even 12 years old and beaten by college kids, we had to turn folks away.
I think the 1008 I mentioned is the newer version of BeaG’s 1006. Like I said, you’ll find them used on eBay, or from reputable repair shops, and they are worth every single penny, even at well over $1000.
N=1 obviously, but my mum has a Bernina Virtuosa QE that’s about 20-ish years old and I love it. Very reliable, very fast, has never needed repairs so far. Bernina feet are fairly expensive but I think hers came with quite a few feet and she hasn’t needed any other ones + you can often find them used for much less money. It also helps that our local Bernina dealer is great.
I have a Bernina 801 (that I got from my mum when she bought her QE) and I love that one as well. It’s a very simple mechanical machine without any bells and whistles. Other than regular maintenance it hasn’t needed any repairs since she got it in 1982. I like that it’s simple because there’s nothing that can break, but for some things (like buttonholes that are all exactly the same) I borrow my mum’s machine.
My Vintage 1958 Husqvarna is an absolute beast. It’s very fast, sews through anything and it has a ton of nice stitches as well, way more than the Bernina 801. It’s not as user friendly though, you really need to read to the manual and practice before you can do anything else but straight stitching. It’s the oldest one but probably the best.
I can find a couple Ebay listings in Canada for Bernina 1008, average price is $1700. I don’t mind investing in an excellent machine but having one sent without being able to test it or return it is a bit iffy. I’ll keep looking & hopefully find one we could drive to see first, It sounds like a good match, thanks Jennie.
A friend posted about loving the Bernina 930 & I did find a couple of those locally for $600. She makes gorgeous hats & bags & is quite meticulous about finishing. I’ll look for a comparison between the two…
There are a few industrial machines for sale on fb marketpkace for $500 or less but you never know what you’re going to get & if it’s going to cost another 500 in repairs & parts.
I’ve just reminded myself why I haven’t been able to choose. I found Bernina’s, 730, 740, 830, 930, 614, industrial straight stitches, all the funky cams, ugh. Choice paralysis!
Check for larger machine repair operations near(ish) to you. We had one in NH called Vacman & Bobbin, that sold new machines and vacuums, and did machine servicing. But their big sideline was that they would buy old machines and completely refurbish them top to bottom, and sell them. So if you were looking for a specific older machine, they could check their inventory list and pull it out for you to try. Also, check some of those eBay sellers. They might BE repair shops selling used & refurbished machines, and you could contact the sellers to see if you could test drive the machines. I’m sure you wouldn’t be the first buyer who wanted to test a used machine before buying.
I paid around 700 euros about 6 years ago for my used Bernina 1006 in a shop here in Belgium that sold both new and old sewing machines. I could not only test it for as long as I wanted, but the owner of the shop demonstrated to me how to do buttonholes with it (which I had never done on a machine, I used to do them by hand).
I have never had it serviced by a shop. Marc services it for me (he used to be an F16 mechanic, back in the days). I have used it a lot and so far never had an issue with it.
The shop had lots of newer used Bernina’s, that were partly plastic and computerized, but I insisted on a heavy metal mechanical one. Also, I didn’t need any fancy stitches or options. I prefer a heavy machine. This was the last of those kind made by Bernina, or so he told me.
Last night, I checked which machines my sewing teacher has in her studio. She has a Bernina 1004 and two Bernina 830 records. I’ve not used the 1004 very often but I’ll try it again next time! The 830 record works exactly the same as my 801 so I prefer that one. Both are sturdy, reliable machines that she got used and had in her studio for the past 15 years or so.
I found a bernina favorito 841 for sale locally but can find next to no info about that model online. It’s nerve wracking to make a decision.
Though I completely desire this Elna Grasshopper for no good reason it’s just adorable.
Honestly for me a Kenmore 9 stitch! I keep one on hand at all times, I have literally melted the housing on 3 of them with the action they saw and I source another through thrifting and have it serviced!
I also have.a Singer HD all mechanical, 34 stitch options and button holes, manual feed dog controls. I bought it when doing thousands of masks and its still going strong! I like its easy to clean and maintain and also goes through full grain leather!
I had a hard time choosing so…
This Kobe is described as a “portable industrial” & was surprisingly affordable. It’s only for heavy work, nothing lighter then denim. It does straight stitch & zigzag & the bobbin can be filled with heavy duty thread which is not the case for many other machines. This is good because I’m supposed to shorten the mainsail of my boss’s boat, LOL.
This Brother PQ1500SL was nearly twice the price, even on sale. It comes with lots of feet, accesories, a table, knee lift, etc. It only does straight stitch which is fine, I’ll keep the machine I already have for button holes & stretch stitch.
I hope these were good choices, wish me luck!
You’re going to love that Brother straight stitch machine. I have one that is almost identical (dz1500f) and it’s a dream to sew on.
Thanks so much for the encouragement . They are gifts for my 50th, I hope they live up to expectation! I’ve been in such a crafting slump, I could use the boost of more enjoyable stitching to keep me coming back for more, you know?
I borrowed a singer s16 in November (same machine as the straight stitch brother) and now I’m trying to find one on the fb marketplaces… It was SO powerful and the big throat… swoon