Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How Many Sewing Machines Do You Own?

So, exactly how may sewing machines do you own? Right now I have one sewing machine and one serger, both by Janome. (notice I said right now) In case you don't know what a serger is, it's the white elephant in the room.

My Janome is a QC6260. Is it a quilting machine of sorts? I have no idea. As you may or may not know, I don't do any quilting. Maybe once in a while I may do a small "artsy" quilt thingy but that's about it. I forgot when I bought the sewing machine but it's been awhile. It's the best sewing machine I've ever owned.

My first sewing machine was a Singer. I bought it shortly after I left school. That was decades ago. I basically bought the cheapest sewing machine I could afford. Did I ever tell you my dear mother sulked up a storm when I brought the sewing machine home? She had this idea that buying a sewing machine meant I would become a professional seamstress which is something of a nightmare for her. She was also afraid I would spend money on sewing classes and fail badly and end up wasting my money.

The Singer was a very, very, very, very basic sewing machine. I can't stress the 'very' enough. It was a mechanical machine and came with a rubber belt round the hand wheel. I still had the machine when I got married but soon after it broke down. I finally gave it to a rag and bone man as I had no idea I could do a trade in.

My next sewing machine was a Sakura. One day we were at a shopping mall and hubs saw a sewing machine on sale and we bought it right there and then. Once again, price was the factor. It was a very cheap sewing machine. Unfortunately the Sakura was a very difficult sewing machine. It kept breaking down. I hated the machine. Sewing was a nightmare. Finally I traded it in and upgraded to a Brother.

My Brother was a innovis-200. OMG. What an upgrade. It had bells and whistles. It was very expensive. It had features I never knew existed. This sewing machine made me fall in love with sewing. Unfortunately, it eventually broke down after a few years. The tension was a big issue. Although I got it repaired many times it continued to break down.

I gave up on the brand Brother and turned to Janome. I had avoided Janome because they were always priced slightly higher than other brands available in Singapore. I did check out Bernina but the ones available here were the higher end ones and I can't even think of shelling out that much cash for a sewing machine. So I got Janome QC 6260 which has nearly all the features of a Brother innovis-200.

The big difference between my Brother innovis-200 and Janome QC 6260? Brother sews a lot faster. Brother also had a particular stitch which I used for reinforcement but it wasn't available in the Janome. But I love my Janome and we never quarrelled. Maybe just a bit of yelling now and then.

My one big complaint about my Janome QC 6260 is I have to use Auto tension. The machine acts up if I try to adjust anything. So auto it is. Sometimes I do wish I have another cheaper sewing machine which I can play around with and not be afraid to mess up. Basically a sewing machine I can abuse. Wouldn't that be great?

If you are looking for a sewing machine, there are a few things you should consider unless you want to do what I did when I was less smart - buy blindly based on price.

I recommend you take a look at these features:
  • A good feeding mechanism
  • Up/Down needle stopping (some people can live without it but I can't)
  • Built-in needle threader (seriously can't live without it)
  • Adjustable stitch length (a must-have)
  • Ability to sew through thick layers
  • Adjustable needle - adjustable to the left and right (this feature is really useful for sewing accurate seam allowances)
  • Automatic one-step buttonhole (essential only if you need buttonholes)

Other things to consider:
a. Drop-in bobbin or front load bobbin.
I personally prefer drop-in bobbin. So much easier to use. However, drop-in bobbins are very sensitive. You need to use the correct size bobbin case. I use Janome bobbin case.

b. Pedal or knee-operated lift for pedal
I can't for the life of me use my knee to operate the pedal. I think I have two left feet. Try it out before you buy it!

c. Weight of machine
A heavier sewing machine is better than one that's easy to carry around. It has to do with the size of the motor. The heavier the machine, the stronger the motor. The stronger the motor, the better it copes with heavier fabric and usage. If portability is more important to you, by all means get a light machine. But know what you are giving up.


Bethany said...

My first was a very basic Singer--it was a gift as my mother didn't know if I'd like to sew. I still have it (and should probably have a go with it to see if it still works). Then I bought a fairly basic Janome (still have it) and then a Janome quilting machine (though I rarely quilt). So I have all three machines, and my serger (which very rarely gets used). I frequently tell myself I need to whittle my number down, but I get attached to things and so I have them still.

pennydog said...

I just have one thing to add that's essential for me and that's a thread cutter! I do have a cheap basic machine (well TBF my main machine is a straight stitch only semi-industrial thing so pretty basic) without some of these features, but it's great for messing with as you say, plus it's lightweight for taking to classes.

Jane McLellan said...

I loved the Elna I inherited from my gran - very heavy, with a knee control. When it broke my brother bought me a Bernette. I don't think it'll last as long as the old Elna, but I must say it's easier to use, just press a few buttons instead of shifting levers and inserting discs. It does have an automatic threader, but I can't for the life of me learn to use it.

Projects By Jane said...

Jane McLellan, did you say shift levers and insert discs?? I'm so curious to have a look at this Elna.

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