I'd like to start sewing some. I sewed *years* ago (as in, going on 20) with 4-H. I am not predicting I will become a super sewer or anything.
I'd like to be able to do the following:
basic quilts (like the kit ones from a craft store)
small projects (think lunch bags, etc..)
basic repairs--- seams, things like that
let the kids do very easy things (think basic aprons, pillowcases)
I'd like the machine to be rather intuitive and non-frustrating. I'm perfectly willing to pay a little more for a better, easier experience. Ideally, the machine could handle denim (for repairs) and fleece as well as more standard (cotton) materials.
I'm drawn to just getting this machine:
Why? Well, I trust Costco. It has good reviews.
But I was at Joann's and they seem to have several on sale.
Then I look here and it seems like they have lots on sale and so many options:
Meanwhile, those don't seem to be the brand that is suggested in this forum. (Kenmore, maybe?)
Any and ALL advice is appreciated. This comes out of my "allowance" (yeah, I know, it's just a name, though) and I've been saving for a couple years but considering I won't probably use it *that* much I'd rather spend less if possible. I'd be totally open to getting on on Craig's List (I'm on the Eastside of Seattle) but I would have no idea how to tell if a machine was in good condition or not, so that kind of scares me, kwim.
Thanks in advance for your input!
I would only buy a machine that you can use in a local store first.
My personal preference is for a solid older (60's and 70's models are my faves) metal machine. Sewing machine repair shops often have ones that they have cleaned and tuned that are really affordable. I also prefer one with a cabinet of its own. When it's not in use, you can always use it as a table for other purposes. The extra surface area for your work is so nice - especially for new sewers.
My own electric machine is a Dial n Sew - all metal in a wood cabinet. It came with a quilting foot which I have only used for pot holders, does a variety of decorative stitches as well as zigzag and straight. It sews well on heavy fabrics (made a few multi-layer baby carriers on it) as well as thinner wovens and knits.
Good luck, and happy sewing.
I have both the Brother you linked to (I paid a lot more than that a while ago, so am jealous it's just $175 now), as well as a Kenmore and a Singer. I never use the singer, and the Brother and Kenmore are both used for various things.
I'd recommend you go with the Brother. It's VERY easy to use, has gone through some major abuse (I forced the poor thing to sew through, I kid you not, 20 layers of taffeta), and you can slow the speed waaaaaay down so that a kid learning can press the pedal down all the way and still the machine will go slow and slugs so that the project can't run away from the kid!
Another thing I love is that, if something's wrong, there's a code that will tell you. If you forgot to put the foot down, if you're out of bobbin thread, if you forget to put the little arm-thing (I'm tired, I can't remember the name) down for buttonholes, it'll tell you exactly what.
There is one thing unusual about the machine though. Usually the needle's default position is right in the middle of the foot. On this machine, it's to the left. It took me a few times sewing on it and setting the stitch to 01 (which centers the needle) instead of leaving it at the default 00 (the left-set), and following the seam guides and having thing be too big to realize that the seam guide is based off of that left position. Once I realized this, it was easy-peasy.
You can also put whatever picture you like over that puppy. I have a 3x5 index cards I put in that frame and I write notes on it about whatever I'm sewing, and toss when I'm done.
I sew professionally, and I love this machine. It does what I need it to do (and then some), it easy to use, and I'm crazy about buttonholes because of this machine.
This is an excellent machine (the model, don't know about this particular one): http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/art/2267295924.html I have a Singer 500, which is the same machine in a spruced up case. All metal, sews a zig zag, will last forever. The 401/500 models were the last all-metal machines Singer built, and they have a nice selection of built-in stitches. I love mine, but it is not fool proof. My machine needs some coddling when it comes to tension, but I don't mind. By the way, these cost about as much as a car when new!
This model is prized for quilting in particular: http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/art/2267284768.html. It is also all metal, solid, great machine, but won't do zigzag.
I bought my dd a brother machine similar to the one you posted and it's been great. She's only 5 and it's super simple to use. I highly recommend it. I've owned several brother machine, both low and high end and have always been highly satisfied.
Sabrina , mom to 4 fab kids!