10 Mar 2012

New sewing machine!

Click on the picture to view PDF brochure 

Finally decided to buy a new sewing machine!
Actually I will get one for my birthday (which is still 2 months away) from Mr.X.
He saw my frustration last week and thought I was so miserable that I needed a new, reliable sewing machine of my choice. My current machine a Singer 507 was handed down from someone else and worked ok until a few months ago. Well, 40 years is not bad.

Nowadays, there are many computerized machines and the choice of mechanical machines is limited. I find it kinda weird that fabricants label computerized machines with 20-30 different stitches and many features as 'beginner' or 'entry-level' machines. What are they talking about?! During the past years I have worked on quite a few advanced projects on a machine with only the basic straight and zigzag stitches. I don't think I will ever use more than a couple of stretch stitches. All those fancy embroidery stitches would be there unused. Anyway, it is remarkable that all fabricants use the same standard for what they call beginner, advanced or professional machines.

Stubborn as I am, I still decided not to buy something with much more features and things I wouldn't use. I set a limit for myself and wanted to spend around the 400, max. 500 euro's (is actually quite a lot...)

First I started with making a list of what features I was looking for. After sewing on a very old and basic machine I didn't had many things on my list. There were a few things I definitely wanted to have this time:
- a free arm (almost every new generation machine has this as standard feature)
- a strong machine that can sew through different layers of fabric (I'm not going to do quilts or something but it would be nice to be able to sew a denim zoom)
- a decent fabric transport system
- a one step buttonhole program (I didn't have any and bound buttonholes are pretty but just don't work for small buttons)
- a choice of stretch-stitches for sewing knits

I preferred three different brands: Pfaff, Janome and Bernina, but this is my personal choice. There are so many great machines out there, it is really hard to choose one!
At first look in reviews everyone mentions great quality of the Bernina's. Looking at the price tag I quickly decided I wasn't ready to pay that amount of money for my weekend-hobby. Janome's are good quality as well and next to Bernina machines the Janome's have the most raving reviews. Pfaff is German make, usually reliable as well.

Stitch selection of the Janome DC 3030

Then I made a list/table with all features of the machines next to each other in the right price range.
Interesting fact is that I wasn't able to track the engine-power of the sewing machines. When I did my research I found this: "You should have a motor with at least 120 Watt." Well, fine. Those numbers are apparently top secret! Or fabricants doesn't think that it would be interesting information next to all the special features of a machine?...

I ended up with a list of the amount of elastic stitches, one-step buttonholes and other things like 'are bobbins etc. universal', is there a special  fabric transport system?
The Janomes seemed to win.
- There weren't any Bernina's on my list (way too expensive, the cheapest computer Bernina was almost 2x my max. price) I did look at the Bernette's. This is the cheaper, not-made-in-Switzerland-line of Bernina. Those machines seemed to have a lot of features but apparently not everyone was enthousiastic about the quality of the machine.
- I looked at the Pfaff select 3.0, it has a dual feed IDT transport system, but this one had only one buttonhole option (!) next to it's 27 stitches. Weird!
- The Janomes in the same price range had more buttonhole-programs and also have a Superior Feed System (SFS) that makes sewing thicker fabrics easier. (many Janome sewing machines have this SFS: a 7 point feed dog system. This means that there are 7 feed dogs below the needle plate which work to feed fabric through the machine.

When looking online for the different Janome models I found this one: Janome DC 3030. It seem to be discontinued now but still available for 599 euro's. BTW Mine comes cheaper, for 399 from an online store. There are great reviews of this machine all over the internet, especially on websites specialized in quilting.
Now waiting!

Fun fact: just found out that my new sewing machine runs in the UK and US with different names:
UK: Janome 8077 and US: Janome Magnolia 7330
Read an extensive review of the sewing machine here.

I thought about this 'review-thing'.  
How important is that the machine has good reviews?
Nowadays we are so used to the internet that it seems logical to do the research there. After all there are so many reviews of sewing machines! Fact is that I never spend my time on writing a review but I do read them. Interesting, ha? Imagine there is a really great sewing machine but 1 out of 10 buyers seemed to have trouble with it and at the end only that 1 person writes a review? Your conclusion could be that the machine is worthless, you wouldn't even bother to look at it. I think most people rely on good reviews from people they know or think to 'know'. We would rather buy a machine that a good friend, mother or other family member, neighbor loves. Or what our favorite television personality loves? Fabricants make use of this by making those people use their machines and write raving reviews of it. Like Janome and the popular television presenter Kirstie Allsopp from the UK. Oh yeah, she uses the almost 4000 euro model and she loves it. Well, probably I would love it too. Won't you? At the end of the day, it is a rather personal choice which brand you buy. As long as you are happy with it!

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