Sewing Machine Shopping: What I Learned

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As I mentioned yesterday, I spent the better part of last week shopping for a new sewing machine. Say hello to my new baby, a Janome Horizon 7700!

I’ve only had her for a few days, so I haven’t used a lot of the advanced features or quilted yet, but so far she is a rock star! Sews like a dream, soooo quietly and steadily. Every time I walk past, I just have to give her a little pat. : )

But now that the process is done and I’ve got my beautiful new machine, I have one simple question: Why does sewing-machine shopping have to be so confusing? It isn’t easy to compare models and features when most dealers carry only one or two makes. I don’t like getting the hard-sell from salespeople, and what’s with all the secrecy about what people are actually paying for these things? It’s worse than buying a used car!

So I spent an intense couple of days reading everything I could about the various models and test-driving machines at dealers. Here’s my wish-list of the features I was looking for:
• a larger throat space to fit quilts under (my old Baby Lock had about 7.5″ from the needle to the side of the machine)
• a dual-feed system (which means it feeds the fabric from both underneath and above)
• needle up-down feature
• auto needle threader and thread cutter (my Baby Lock had these, so I don’t think live without them now!)
• knee lift for the presser foot (my Baby Lock came with this, but I could never use it comfortably with that machine)
• good extension table for quilting
• excellent free-motion quilting feet/accessories—preferably included

With that list in hand, it didn’t take me long to narrow down some contenders via the reviews. My “finalists” are below. I found both The Quilting Board and Patternreview.com to be good sources for reviews, although on Patternreview.com you have to register to read reviews more than six months old, and I was unable to get their log-in screen to work (it kept re-directing me in a loop). There are also Yahoo user groups for certain brands/models, which may be helpful—just do a Google search for a specific group.

A note about prices: The thing that most drives me crazy about shopping for sewing machines is the fact that you can’t see prices online, and nobody ever pays the actual retail price on a machine. As an avid online shopper and price-comparer, this makes me insane. So for most of these machines, I’m including a “fair price” estimate. Please take this estimate with a grain of salt. These are my own rough estimates, based on what I was quoted at dealers and/or what a few random people reported paying for it in reviews and online forums. So your mileage may vary! For certain models, prices truly were all over the map. Look for sales and floor models, try shopping at quilt shows for special show pricing, and always try bargaining with the dealers. Yes, you can and should haggle for sewing machines.

The Baby Lock Serenade
Fair price: $1,100 to $1,200
This was the first machine I looked at. I liked the idea of buying an upgraded Baby Lock, since I mostly liked my old one and staying with a familiar interface sounded good. The feed dog issue I’ve been experiencing with my old machine doesn’t seem to be a common problem, since I can’t find anything about it online, which made me more confident about buying another Baby Lock. The Serenade has a well-reviewed dual-feed system and a 9mm stitch width, which would be great for straight-line quilting. But with only 8 5/8″ of throat space, it wouldn’t be much of an upgrade for me in that area. And many of the machine’s overall reviews weren’t great. So in the end I didn’t look closely at this one.

The Baby Lock Symphony
Fair price: around $2,000
This was a great option for me and it gets fabulous reviews. Really the only big negative on this machine: No dual-feed mechanism. But the 10″ of throat space helped make up for that! It also has a pivot feature that raises the foot automatically when you stop sewing with the needle-down option on. In my test-drives of this machine, I found the pivot feature worked well—it seemed to intuitively know when I was slowing down (and thus kept the foot down) and when I really was stopping. And how’s this for crazy: You can even sew sideways on the Symphony! It sews very slowly in sideways mode, but it does it. I could see the pivot and sideways-sewing features being useful for straight-line quilting when you’re turning a lot of corners. My Baby Lock dealer quoted me $1,999 for this one (with some haggling—they started out at $2,200).

Brother Laura Ashley Innovis NX-2000
Fair price: Around $1,800- $1,900?
I didn’t even consider this machine or read the reviews of it before I went shopping. But one of the dealers explained that Brothers and Baby Locks are made by the same parent company, so this machine is actually the Symphony’s twin. The user interface, the threading and bobbin winding mechanisms, etc., are all more or less identical. But this machine is a few hundred dollars cheaper! I asked the dealer why it’s less expensive, and she said, “Because it’s a Brother.” Honestly, this had more the effect of putting me off the Symphony than interesting me in the Brother. Does that mean Baby Locks are overpriced? Is Brother the victim of a bad rap? I don’t get it. But if you’re interested in a Symphony, it’s probably worth checking into this one as well. A little research into what the differences really are could save you some money. My dealer had this machine priced at $1,899, which makes me think, with haggling, it could be purchased for less.

The Pfaff Smarter 1100 Pro
Fair price: Didn’t research prices, sorry.
Rachel of Stitched In Color recently bought this machine and I read about her machine-buying experiences with interest (here and here). Her description of the Pfaff Smarter sounds great, but unfortunately the nearest Pfaff dealer to me is local quilt shop where I have had bad customer service experiences in the past. A good relationship with your dealer is almost as important as the machine itself, so I didn’t try this one out (or any Pfaffs).

The Janome 6600
Fair price: between $1,100 and $1,500
Very good reviews, lots of useful features, a reasonable 9″ of throat space, and Janome’s Accufeed dual-feed mechanism. That’s a lot of bang for your buck! The biggest drawback to this one seems to be that it doesn’t have a free arm (which means you can’t make the bottom part of the machine smaller to put sleeves, pants legs, bags, etc., around it). My old machine has a free arm, and while I certainly didn’t use it frequently, I used it often enough to wonder if I might miss it. And I’ve been wanting to try sewing more clothes for the girls, so if that ever becomes reality, the free arm would be important to have.

The Janome Horizon 7700
Fair price: between $2,100 and $2,500
This one has 11″ of throat space—what? That’s huge! That’s a full 2″ more than the 6600, and 3.5″ more than my old machine! It has the Accufeed system and all the other bells and whistles I’ve been looking for, and people rave about the free-motion quilting capabilities on this baby. This is the machine Leah Day of the Free Motion Quilting Project uses and loves. You can read her reviews here and here. There are some negative reviews out there of the Horizon, but most of those seem to center on a design flaw in the original 1/4″ piecing foot, which has since been fixed. Every registered Horizon owner was sent a new version of the 1/4″ piecing foot when it was released—they didn’t even have to ask for it. That’s good customer service (and a reason to remember to register your machine!). Some people don’t like the click-wheel stitch selector, but I love it—if you’ve ever used an iPod, you’ll find it familiar and intuitive. The lowest price I found for this machine was $2,399 for new, $2,299 for a floor model that was on the floor for about 3 months. You may see a lot of higher prices for this machine as well—I think the Horizon was more expensive when it first came out, but prices seem to have dropped since then.

Viking Sapphire 875
Fair price: around $2,000?
This machine has 10″ of throat space and a sensor system that automatically adjusts the presser foot based on the thickness of your fabric, which sounds interesting. But for the price, it was missing some features I wanted, like dual-feed and a knee lift. And there aren’t many reviews out there on it. So in the end I didn’t try this one out.

Berninas—honestly, I didn’t even look into Berninas. I’ve heard they’re very well-made, but with price tags to match, and none of the dealers I visited carry them.

To tell the truth, I had fully expected to leave the store with a Baby Lock Symphony. It had everything I wanted with the exception of the dual-feed mechanism. Plus it was a Baby Lock, a brand I was already familiar with. But when I sat down at the Janome Horizon, I fell in love. Something about that machine just clicked for me. And that’s really what it’s all about with sewing machines—what felt right for me may not be ideal for you, and vice versa. Regardless of features and pricing and everything I said above, you need to test-drive the machines to find the perfect one for you. And it really doesn’t matter how many features a machine has or whether other people use those features and like them. The most important thing is that it has the features you use and need. The best way to know that is to spend as much time as possible testing them out.

So the Horizon was my choice! After spending the last several years working on a machine that was missing key features, I decided it would be worth a few hundred dollars more to get my dream machine. I ended up buying the floor model for $2299, and the dealer threw in this custom table for $200. (I priced out the table elsewhere and other dealers were asking $350 to $400 for it.) The Horizon does come with a huge clear extension platform, but I saw a Horizon set up on this drop-in table and couldn’t get it out of my head! This all means that I’m finally sewing at the correct height and have an amazing surface for quilting, flush with the bed of the machine. I think when I’m quilting I’ll try to push the table up against a wall or possibly next to our large dining room table (if it’s the right height) for the perfecto quilting set-up!

I’ll write a full review of the machine after I can spend a little more time getting to know her. In the meantime, I hope you’ll find my sewing machine round-up a helpful starting point if you’re in the market any time soon.

104 replies
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  1. Barbara @ Nähtante Quilts
    Barbara @ Nähtante Quilts says:

    I sew on a Pfaff Quilters Expression 4.0, and I have never tried a Janome machine so far. I heard that Berninas are more or less the Porsche among the sewing machines, but whatever your wishes may be, the price tag limits them considerably. You can just enjoy what you have and make good use of it, no matter what the price tag said. Happy sewing and lots of fabulous projects with your new machine! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Katy Cameron
    Katy Cameron says:

    Sounds like loads of research :o) I'm lucky enough to have a dealer that sells a wide range of machines and he gave me fabulous advice when I was shopping around. I ended up with the Brother NX 2000, which made sense as I already had a baby Brother, so I wouldn't need to buy all new bobbins and accessories (although Big Brother came with loads of accessories!). Plus it was the most affordable for what I needed, and I love it to bits. There does seem to be an odd snobbery against Brother's though, but I've no idea why, even my overlocker is a Brother!

    Reply
  3. Janice @ Better off Thread
    Janice @ Better off Thread says:

    Wow, I love Janome and that is totally my dream sewing machine! I totally understand what you mean about sewing machine shopping. Last time I went, the shop owner would ask my budget and then tell me prices…that isn't how I work! Totally pinning this entry for future reference!

    Reply
  4. Doreen
    Doreen says:

    Great post! 3 yrs ago I purchased the Bernina 440QE and really like it. The throat/harp space made quilting the larger projects a challenge, though. One of the bloggers did a review of a Juki TL2010Q (an industrial styled home machine) The harp space is much larger (not like the Horizon) but only does a straight stitch & no free arm. The type of machine I used when working for the "Company Store" making comforters. The stitching is beautiful, perfectly balanced and does FMQ great! Prices, unless you know someone who's purchased a machine, are impossible to come by!!!! The Bernina definitely is overpriced and I really do not like the stitch regulator…..I want the machine control and not the machine controlling me when it comes to FMQ!

    Reply
  5. Linda
    Linda says:

    Congrats on your new machine! I followed Rachel's posts on buying a new machine, too. I tried out several Bernina's – I wanted to love them, but I couldn't. And I loved the prices even less. Next up was a Viking Sapphire which I just loved. However, finding out that they are not made in Sweden any more, and the poor reviews put me off them – and it was $2200, which was considerably over my budget. I wound up trying a Janome 6600 in the next store, and when Itold the owner I'd have to think about it, he gave me a brand new machine still in the box to take home with me to use for a week! He didn't even ask for a deposit or credit card #. Well, 4 days later I was back in the shop, credit card in hand to buy this machine. I loved it, and love it even more now!

    Reply
  6. Suzanne
    Suzanne says:

    You should have asked! I followed Leah Day's advice a year or two ago and bought a Janome Horizon as well. I'm a novice FMQ but am improving, thanks to the machine (and her advice on thread, etc.) I love this machine. You know I hadn't heard of dual feed and still don't know what you mean, but if it is there – great. I actually piece on my old Bernina because I love those stitches best and I keep the Janome set up for FMQ. I'm sure I'll get experienced at some point on all the Janome has to offer. I was thrilled with the auto? threading needle and thread cutting button – it doesn't take much to make me happy! I also have the table and love it.

    Reply
  7. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    I also have this machine and love it! I found the Janome Clear View Quilting Foot and Guide Set to be very helpful if you don't like the 1/4" piecing foot that came with the machine. While I didn't have any real issues with the original foot, I am much more comfortable seeing the seam guides from above. I just wish my dealer had told me about it originally!

    Enjoy!

    Reply
  8. Leanne
    Leanne says:

    I love my horizon, I think you have made a good choice. I have that table too. Thank you for setting out all the other information, as I agree, trying to figure out the details about sewing machines is really difficult.

    Reply
  9. CitricSugar
    CitricSugar says:

    I'm so with you on the "unpublished" prices on things. As soon as they stop telling you prices, you can pretty much assume it's expensive. It's like they feel they need you to look at aaalllllll the features, bells and whistles, guess at a much higher price, and then decide when they reveal the actual price that it's truly a bargain for what you're getting rather than have you balk right away at the price. Sigh. So frustrating.

    Enjoy your new machine! I got a Janome for Christmas (albeit a less fancy one…) and love it beyond loving it.

    Reply
  10. The Cozy Pumpkin
    The Cozy Pumpkin says:

    I love my Horizon. I had to make a spreadsheet to choose my machine. Oddly enough…I originally bought the Viking 875Q which was my second choice machine after the Horizon. I had it for about a year (where I lived previously I didn't have a Janome dealer even within an hours drive from me). The 875Q doesn't need a knee lift as the foot automatically lifts just a smidge off of the fabric every time you lift your foot off of the peddle. It was AMAZING!!! Especially for appliqué or sewing curves. I so miss that feature. I hate the knee lift after having had that amazing feature. It also had a plate that popped on and off…no screws to fiddle with.

    But, a year after I got it and it was due for it's annual service it started acting very weird. Popping thread every 12 inches or so. I tried everything I could think of, and everything that was suggested to me. Nothing. Popped threads over and over. It was a pain as I tried to finish the quilt I was making my dad for Christmas. Also my bobbin would bounce in the housing. Not problems I had had originally. I took it in for service. It came back worse than it was when I brought it in. So bad that my husband checked the serial number to make sure I got the correct machine back. The customer service at this place was AWFUL, and I missed my original dealer. I realized I couldn't work with these people, so I sold the machine and bought the Horizon. LOVE IT!!! Quilts like a dream.

    I did test out the fancy Bernina Quilting machine. The 820. That thing was AMAZING…to look at. But, it was so complicated and had such a steep learning curve that even the lady that worked at the shop didn't know how to use it. It wasn't intuitive at all. And from what I read…even after their free classes…you still don't know everything you need to know. With 2 small kids at home I decided that I didn't have the time.

    You'll love your Janome. It's a great machine. My back up is a Brother innovis 40. That machine is awesome too. Not one problem with it in the last 3 years. Not one. As far as pricing…Mine was about $1800 and that came with a roller bag, quilting thread, and some extra feet as well. 🙂

    Sorry such a long comment…but I did a ton of research so I thought I'd share in case anyone else wanted to know. 🙂

    -Amanda-

    Reply
  11. Alex
    Alex says:

    I really appreciate your insight into the arena of sewing machine shopping! Sewing machines are a HUGE investment and there is so little information about how to purchase new. As a user of a 20+ year old machine, I am waiting for it to give up before I face that hurdle myself.

    Reply
  12. Holly
    Holly says:

    Great post, Lee! This is very helpful and I appreciate you sharing all your research. I'll keep this in mind for when I'm ready for a new machine.

    Reply
  13. Shocking Hocking
    Shocking Hocking says:

    i've got the janome horizon – just a tip – ALWAYS 'set' when the machine asks you to 'set' – i didn't and the needle hit the metal thing underneath and caused an almost fatal error – i had to have the piece replaced. other than that, i love this machine 🙂 good choice!

    Reply
  14. Sooli
    Sooli says:

    I've had my Janome for 22 years and it never misses a beat. It has lots of features that I love and does everything I ask of it. Its not electronic though and if there is one feature I would like it would be the needle up/down feature. The extra space would be great too. I've been eyeing off the Horizon since it came out but I really don't need a new machine and here in Australia it retails for $3500, although I've seen it advertised at around $3000. Definitely my one day machine!

    Reply
  15. Tessa Marie
    Tessa Marie says:

    Thanks for the great information – you've done all the legwork for me!! You are going to LOVE sewing on this machine, it is the one I have been drooling over. I hope you have many happy years together!

    Reply
  16. Lee Heinrich
    Lee Heinrich says:

    Great post, Lee, and great information.
    I have a Viking, which I love, but given your list of must-have's, I'd probably switch over if I ever bought again.

    Thanks!
    Elizabeth E.
    opquilt.com

    Reply
  17. bernie
    bernie says:

    Thank you so much for this comprehensive review and pricing. The prices have gone through the roof on these machines and it is nice to read opionions of the people who are out there looking. Congrats on your new machine – it looks like a beauty. Bernie

    Reply
  18. Heidi Grohs
    Heidi Grohs says:

    Love the review…if anyone is thinking about the Babylock Symphony…I love her!

    And WHAT is with all the secrecy…I think it is worse than a car. And my poor sales/negotiating husband gets completely baffled by them!!

    Enjoy your new girl! I have heard GOOD things about her!!!!!!!

    Reply
  19. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    A little bit green but I am happy for ya. I have to say that your Janome dealers are far kinder than the ones in my area. As I wrote in another comment; They wanted $3300.00 new and $3000.00 for the floor. For the table you got, our dealers wanted $600.00+. Needless to say Lee you got a good deal all together for the machine and the table.

    Even though I love the machine you have and I too fell in love with it. But I do more than quilting so I needed a free arm on a machine. I agree on the Viking that throat space could be a bit more open than what it is. That is what I like most about the Janome is that it has a wider throat space.

    The other thing I did not even think of was the dual feed. Is that where the foot and feed dogs grasps onto the fabric more evenly?

    Anyway congratulations and enjoy learning to get to know your new machine! She is a beauty!

    Reply
  20. Hollie
    Hollie says:

    I am so jealous! I was really leaning toward the Horizon when I bought my new machine back in February but my husband freaked when he heard the price. I had a hard time convincing him that I should buy the 6600. (Which is what I ended up buying.) I felt the same way you did about the lack of "proper" pricing when I was machine shopping online. It's so frustrating. Enjoy your new baby! She's awesome!

    Reply
  21. Artsy-Craftsy Ivy
    Artsy-Craftsy Ivy says:

    Wow, thank you for this amazing rundown, Lee! I had a Kenmore that would probably be fine with a tune-up, but I decided to get a new machine. For me it was between the Baby Lock Melody and Sofia. Maybe it was the machine in the store, but the stitch quality just seemed nicer on the Sofia. But now I have a whole new expense–embroidery thread and designs! Ack! Anyway, I could have also gone Janome and Brother shopping, but Baby Lock is the most convenient, so I opted for the Baby Lock. I've heard that even though BL and brother are owned by the same company, Baby Lock is a world ahead in terms of quality–but I don't know about that when you get into the expensive Brother machines. Anyway, congratulations! 🙂

    Reply
  22. Grandmasewnsew
    Grandmasewnsew says:

    Thank you for your great review! I'm in the market for a new machine and was trying to compare the Horizon with the Juki F600. I'm in an area with few retailers so checking out all the machines is a problem. Did you consider the Juki at all or have any idea as to how it compares with the Horizon?

    Reply
  23. Linda
    Linda says:

    Hi Lee! Your new sewing table is a Gidget II. I just bought one! It's in my new sewing room with a Bernina Aurora 440 in it, a sewing machine I recently won. I'm still waiting for the custom insert for the table, but I paid only $250 for the whole thing from a local vacuum and sewing machine store. Enjoy your new Horizon. I've heard only good things about it.

    Reply
  24. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    You made a terrific choice! I've had mine for 21 months and every single time I use her I love her even more. The Accufeed feet make piecing, straight stitch quilting, and just sewing, in general, the most amazing experience! FMQ is a breeze, too. I have not talked to anyone who is sorry they made this purchase. I hope you adore your new Janome Horizon as much as I love mine.

    Reply
  25. bee
    bee says:

    thanks for sharing all the details of your search! i use this model at work for our education programs and love it! Janome is one of our workshop sponsors at the Quilt Museum and take good care of us machine-wise.
    it's so easy to pick up and figure out and all the features you were looking for are on it and so great when quilting.

    the only thing that can be tricky that i've noticed after a year with this model is that there's no warning/beep to let you know the bobbin thread is running low. so be sure to check your thread level before starting into long seams or lots of free motioning! Enjoy getting to know it. 🙂

    Reply
    • Dawn
      Dawn says:

      Bee, you are sooo right! Low bobbin warning would have been the icing on the cake. She has so many other great features that I tend to overlook that one tiny flaw. 🙂

      Reply
  26. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Hope you have many hours of fun using your machine.
    I also have the Horizon and would love to have a table for it. Is the table also made by Janome or is it an independent manufacturer?
    Janette

    Reply
  27. Josie McRazie
    Josie McRazie says:

    1) Great reviews! Thank you for sharing your hard work with us!
    2) Because I have NOT been looking yet for a great machine! (new quilter and only working on a $200 Brother)c I have to ask if machines have the 'bobin low' indicator?? My Mother Had a fancy schmance Memory Craft some-thousand LOL (12 years ago) and I remember it haveing a beep when your bobbin got low! Do machines still do that or is it something people did not find important??
    Man I wish I had her machine!!

    Reply
  28. Beezus
    Beezus says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I, too, have been thinking about buying a new machine, and have been going insane over the BS of companies not giving any prices. I've resorted to looking at dealers on ebay to get an idea of pricing, but would never buy a machine there because as you say, the dealer relationship for AFTER the purchase is equally important. My other option has been to ask people how much they paid — don't worry, I haven't been crass about it, and I've mostly only asked the women in my guild after getting to know them a bit better. I think I'll be looking at the Janomes and Jukis because of the features that I want, but I'm fairly sure that one of the ladies in my group said that Viking, Brother, Singer, and Babylock have models that are manufactured by each other, and the main difference in many cases is the branding (?). I do know that at least Babylock Brother and Singer are all sent to a special place near here (Laverne, TN, just outside Nashville) for the big-time service issues, but perhaps because they are a Singer manufacturing facility, maybe they just have a lot of great repair folks there that understand the machines from the ground up. Congrats on your new machine!

    Reply
  29. Nicci P
    Nicci P says:

    Hi Lee! I just want to thank you for writing up this great post, but more importantly, thanks for all the time you devoted to researching tnis decision. I have been looking at the Horizon for the last year or so, have read lots of online info and Leah's reviews. This is alot of moola for (just) a sewing machine. Today, I took the leap and finally got my own Horizon, (aka: Red Hot Rita). Your post, and all the info behind it, made my decision much easier. I felt informed and prepared to negotiate. Many thanks and happy sewing!

    Reply
  30. Newbie Jen
    Newbie Jen says:

    I want to thank you again for this post. I recently had to shop for a new machine and your insights and research saved me a lot of headache! I was especially thankful for the price ranges, because without them, I would have no idea if I was getting a decent deal or not. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Reply
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      I thank you for the research on machines. I have been looking hard at the Janome 7700. I am convinced at this time that is the one I want. I have to confirm prices locally. I do not like the dealer in my area so I will have to think about it some more.

      Reply
  31. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    Hi! Thanks for directing me over here – I think I may have read your review before but after doing a little of my own "shopping around" it really helped! I was wondering, have you done much non-quilting sewing on here? I make stuffed animals and bags and want to get into making myself clothes. Just wondered how it holds up on bunchier seams like in a bag with interfacing, or any fluffier fabric than cotton and batting? Sounds like a pretty sweet machine… the price tag is a bit too much for me but it is a possibility if I love it. Going to check one out in the store on Wednesday 🙂

    Reply
  32. lutsensewz
    lutsensewz says:

    I agree about the pricing… makes it very difficult to be a good consumer! I've gotten prices all over the place here in TN for the Janome 6600 & 7700. And the fact that none of the dealers within 40 miles have any in the store to test-drive makes it even harder. I've almost resorted to my 2nd choice Viking 875 just because I was able to get a demo and test-drive and price competitive with the 2 Janomes. But I'd really prefer the Janome. All your research is helpful and has kind of confirmed what I thought was best for quilting. Wish me luck as I negotiate and try to get one of these dealers to get one in their shop for me to look at!

    Reply
  33. Karen
    Karen says:

    Too bad you didn't try the Sapphire… Why do you need to use another part of your anatomy to operate the machine (aka knee?)… Just tapping the foot control lowers the foot. A touch of a handy button lifts. Plus an auto lift feature when working needle down! knee lifts were developed for speedy manufacturing techniques, and if you use them often can result in lower back and/or knee pain!

    Reply
  34. Suann Alexander
    Suann Alexander says:

    i am looking for a new sewing machine , come across your blog , very helpful. i am somewhat of a beginner, have no plans of spending that much on a machine, but it was interesting to see which brands are the best, thank you

    Reply
  35. The Good Life
    The Good Life says:

    This might be a silly question, but I'm new to sewing (in a class just learning how to use a sewing machine, lol), but I was wondering what you meant by, "nobody ever pays retail for a sewing machine". Are you saying when I go look for a sewing machine (new) I should try to bargain on the price? Just curious because I'm on the prowl and not sure how to go about new, used, or brand.

    Right now I'm considering Janome, Bernina, Juki? and Viking. I plan to do mostly totes, handbags, duffels (heavy duty material like canvas or denims), and some simple clothing alterations like hemming my husbands pants. Not really into quilting.

    Reply
    • Lee Heinrich
      Lee Heinrich says:

      Yes, that is exactly what I mean! Buying a sewing machine is very much like buying a car. However the dealer has it priced, please haggle with them. That price is rarely the lowest they will go. Also, many dealers will match each other's lowest prices, so don't be afraid to play them against each other.

      Reply
    • Erika
      Erika says:

      I'm looking at buying a new machine also. I bought a refurbished Viking 830 Sapphire about 5 years ago and have been struggling with it ever since when I do FMQ. Every time there are skipped stitches, nest under neath, etc. I love it for piecing and appliqueing but FMQ …….GRR!! A dealer told me the Bernina is the way to go for quilting and a Viking for embroidery. Now, I'm reading this review and will definitely try the Janome (and possibly a Babylock). I, too, wish prices were listed online for all of these. It's very confusing!

      Reply
  36. The Good Life
    The Good Life says:

    p.s. I'm in Milwaukee too, so if you can suggest where I should start looking, I'd appreciate it. I visited the Bernina dealer in Elm Grove, but the same machines were priced cheaper in West Bend.

    I'm open to brand suggestions though. Thanks!

    Reply
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