Sewing Machine..Let me upgrade ya?

So..Ok.

As I have just moved to Sweden, I had to leave my sewing machine behind at home. This, was not a tragedy, as all I was using was the base Singer model. I had received it for Christmas, but with the intentions of leaving it at home for my mother to use for whenever she needed it.

Now, I am in Sweden, with an obscene amount of time on my hands (i.e. unemployed and my Swedish classes might not start till November - let's not go there. I'll post about that skit in the travel blog.) I am going to start sewing...a lot.

Not just my history stuff, though I'm going to actually get myself in gear for my 1810 dress soon. I just haven't had the motivation or the time. I have a nice assortment of patterns I had gotten while at home, and also just interested in doing other projects. Maybe expanding my horizons, if you will (how I will do this without a decent cash flow? I'm not too sure...but...eh. Details schme-tails.)

To cut to the chase, I'm going to be purchasing a new sewing machine here in the next couple of weeks. What I thought would be an easy process has now brought on some anxiety. I don't know what to do. I went to my local Sewing Machine/Vacuum Repair store/dealership and talked to the guy. He was really helpful and informative. I explained to him what I use my machine for, and that I'm more focused on handsewing, but I want a good machine because I'm starting to become more and more interested in using a machine for clothing projects (with historically accuracy in mind of course). First he recommended to me the Bernina Activa 210 for a whopping 6995 Swedish Kroner! ($945usd for those of you following at home).

What was that I heard? A gasp of intense pain to the bank account? Yes. Yes that was exactly what I heard. He described it as the Mercedes of the sewing machines. Of this I have no doubt. However, I'm not quite at the Mercedes time of my life. Fredrik also about defecated in his seat over the price, plus, he thinks it's ugly.  (Can we discuss how his massive complaint was how ugly the machine was? For that much money, he expected better design. I thought for an engineer he would approve of the excellent quality of the machine. Nope. It's ugly.) The Activa 210 is their base model, but is not really a beginner beginner (with that price tag). It's completely out of the question, but I did get Fredrik to promise me a Bernina once he has worked for a couple of years and has the money to afford it.

Like an elephant. I wont forget this promise, and now I have documented it on my blog for posterity.

Next up was the higher-end beginner Janome Sewist 521 Deluxe. It was the more standard with the knobs, no extra features (Can we discuss this automatic setting for the needle always up or always down? HOLY COW I HAD NO IDEA THEY HAD THAT!) (<--The Bernina had that feature.) It was just the straight forward, cut to the chase, no bs, machine. Which is nice, but I mean...that always up down needle thing? That's the greatest thing since sliced bread for a housewife. No kidding! The price is 3295:- kr ($445). Still pricey...but I'm not quite getting all the extra fancy computerized one step features that you can get with the Bernina. However, I did do a test run on both machines and they are both so much nicer to sew on than the Singer I had. So so so smooth. The salesman, Jan, described the Sewist 521 as the 'Volkswagen' of sewing machines.

Finally, I forgot to try this one, as we only discussed it briefly is Janome's answer to the Bernina, Janom DC 4030. It's computerized, has all the fancy features and even has multiple 1 step automatic buttonholes. It's 5795:- ($784). It's the higher end, not basic, but not insanely over the top computer one either.

I legitimately don't know what to do.

Does anyone have any advice about sewing machines? My predicament? What would you do in my situation?

I'm currently leaning towards the higher end Janome as I know it will last and I will probably be happier with the purchase...but it's still a lot of money.

I'm open for any opinions, observations, recommendations,  etc. What do you think?

Finally, for your enjoyment, Literally: The Viking Song.

Comments

  1. I bought my wife an Elna about 30 years ago, it cost me over $400.00. I had a wheel fitted so it could be used on a treddle machine, this was a standard accessory. We had no electricity at the time, and have had none until recently.
    I would say get what you can afford, but my experience has been that the more an item has, the more there is to go wrong.
    As you are into the 18th century, of course hand sewing would be apprpriate, but whatever machine you get, it will be easier and quicker than doing it by hand.
    Regards.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You know...the most I've ever spent on a sewing machine was $50. Really. I got it at the Bargain Barn, a scratch n dent place in my hometown. It's a super-basic, slightly underpowered Kenmore, but it does what I need--the odd long seam here or there and the occasional modern or home project. As I do most of my sewing and almost all of my finish work by hand, a high-end machine just isn't a priority.

    I've also had the pleasure of owning two ancient machines--very basic Singers of the table-fold-out variety. If what you need is a reliable machine to sew forwards and backwards...these are great! And very inexpensive as they're probably glutting the secondhand market. And look cute in the corner :)

    I am leery of computerized machines...I used to work at a small business that used one, and that darn Husqvarna died every chance it got. Perhaps it just hated us for making it work in a pole barn, though.

    A really long comment, sorry! to say--get what you can afford, and rest assured that a cheap or used model will do the basics as well as a pricey model will. Just depends on what you need.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, that is my dilemma. I am used to either hand sewing (only hand on my 18th century projects!) and that I have always just used a base model that sews a seam. However, I have to say, after trying the newer machines, oh my lordy...they are so so so so so nice. So smooth, strong, beautiful seams. Kind of like the 'why didn't I know this!'

    I'm starting to get more into modern projects as well, so I do plan on using the machine more for that and later period projects too.
    It's just so overwhelming, such a large purchase, but I guess it is an investment...we'll see what happens!

    Thanks for the advice Le Loup and Rowenna, I really appreciate it..and hearing your experiences...and Le Loup, I applaud you profusely for living so long with out electricity, that is just simply inspiring. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, that is my dilemma. I am used to either hand sewing (only hand on my 18th century projects!) and that I have always just used a base model that sews a seam. However, I have to say, after trying the newer machines, oh my lordy...they are so so so so so nice. So smooth, strong, beautiful seams. Kind of like the 'why didn't I know this!'

    I'm starting to get more into modern projects as well, so I do plan on using the machine more for that and later period projects too.
    It's just so overwhelming, such a large purchase, but I guess it is an investment...we'll see what happens!

    Thanks for the advice Le Loup and Rowenna, I really appreciate it..and hearing your experiences...and Le Loup, I applaud you profusely for living so long with out electricity, that is just simply inspiring. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I got a janome sewist 525s for €275, now that's euro so not sure what
    the exchange rate is. It's pretty fantastic in my opinion (bearing in
    mind my previous machine was a 30yr old singer), does one step button
    hole, the always-up-needle thing, drop in bobbin, has various
    attachements, overcasts, a couple of fancy stitches and runs like a
    dream. Just thought you'd like a comparison!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have a lower end Janome (about 300 USD), and it's been great for me. The automatic one-step buttonhole is a must for modern clothes, and it does a good straight stitch for late victorian work. I also used the zig-zag stitch a lot before I got a serger.

    I would caution you against a computerized machine unless you're going to use those extra features/stitches a lot. The problem with the computer part is that it can die independently of the normal sewing machine part, leaving you with a severely limited machine that needs an expensive repair, even though the actual sewing innards work fine.

    Best of luck!

    ReplyDelete

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