Foot Bernina Old

October 16, 2005 by  
Filed under Die Cutting Machines and Supplies

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How do i choose a sewing machine for designing clothes and some interior design?

I am a beginner sewer but my goal is to design clothes and to do some interior design projects. My budget is $100-$200. I want something that will suitable for designing QUALITY clothes. Is this possible with my budget? Any suggestions?

Couture clothes are usually made with a straight stitch only machine. If they use a machine at all.

$100-200 is a very slim budget for a new machine that can be expected to last for a number of years, but you should be able to find a pretty good pre-loved machine in that price range.
(I wore out a $100 machine in less than a year 10 years ago.) See if your library has John Giordano's Sewing Machine Book and Carol Ahles Fine Machine Sewing. Giordano mentions specific models of used machines that are "golden", while Ahles concentrates on getting the most quality work from any machine (but check out the chapter on buying sewing machines, too).

Otherwise, best advice I have for you is:

My personal list of Must Haves include
1) excellent straight stitch
2) very good buttonholes (at least two styles) that don't drive you crazy to make
3) zigzag
4) blind hem stitch
5) adjustable presser foot pressure

Things I like:
- a few utility stitches that are somewhat decorative, like a pin stitch and triple zigzag and maybe a scallop stitch or such
- electronic machine with stepper motors (gives you full "punching force" even at low speeds, unlike mechanical machines
- needle up/down control
- non jam sewing hooks
- a reasonable variety of specialty presser feet available at less than astronomical prices

FWIW, I've been sewing on a midline Viking electronic for the last 10+ years, my second zigzag machine (the first was the one I wore to shreds). Previous to that, all my machines had been straight-stitch hand me downs. The current machine is a major improvement over all previous machines in every way except straight stitch quality -- when I need impeccable straight stitching for topstitching, I still dig out my grandmother's old machine. I make almost all of my family's clothes -- though I draw the line at socks.

I've sewn on a great number of machines ranging in price from the bargain basement to the latest and greatest $7K machines, both when I was buying my current machine and in times since. Buy a machine you're comfortable with, and yet will give you a little room to grow. It's like shoes -- what fits me may not fit you, even if we wear the same nominal size.

If you really want new, the best of the bargain machines I've tried have been Janome. Many of the Sears Kenmore machines seem to be Janomes in disguise. But in your budget, I'd really send you to the best sewing machine dealers and repair shops in the area, explain your budgets and needs, and ask what they've got in your price range. Most of the repair people I've met tend to be kinda crusty, but very willing to work with a beginner on a limited budget to find a machine that will not frustrate you. If you're still uneasy, you might ask the nice folks on the yahoogroup "wefixit" if the model you're being offered is worth the price.

Oh, btw, I've pulled Singer 15s,27s, 66s, 99s, 301s off the curb before junk day, given them a cleaning and oiling, and sent them on to new homes... and any of these old straight stitchers (if properly gone over and adjusted) would give you good results with what you're looking for. Ditto several Elnas,
Vikings, Pfaffs, and once even a Bernina. You might also ask around and see what's lurking in your friends' closets that they might be willing to loan you to get your feet wet.


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