6 Insights
  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.

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  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.

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  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. :)

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  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. :)

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  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!

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  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!

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