Sewing Machines: Which One For You?

Janome MC8900

I have sewed since I was about 8 years old. Back then my sewing was done on my Mother's Singer machine and, at the time, I suppose, the machine was a "top-of-the-line" model. Truth be told, I am not quite sure that the machine wasn't purchased with me in mind since my Mother did not sew that I remember.

Over the years, I have sewn on  lot of machines. There was the Sear's Kenmore machine that I had way back when I first began making quilts (1976). It was a well-built workhorse that did its job. It taught me many things. Next there was another Sears machine that I borrowed when I was moving around a lot during my "climb the ladder" career phase. 

The first sewing machine that I chose for myself was a Pfaff 7570. It was a great machine; a quiet, well-made and a workhorse. It was one that perhaps I should not have let go of. Sadly, a friend who purchased a newer model Pfaff within the past couple of years, said that the quality seemed to no longer be what it once was.

Next up were Berninas. Those purchasing decisions were nudged along by a couple of the teachers that I fancied learning from at that time. I have a Bernina 180 that was touted for it's smooth, easy-to-use, knobs (as opposed to buttons) for stitch length and width. I also have a Bernina 153QE which I will most likely always keep because it is orange (remember that brief period of time when Bernina 'got it's color on' ?!). The Berninas are great machines all in all, but the sound of the two models that I have never pleased me. I know that considering the sound that a machine makes sounds frivolous, but it is an important consideration for me. Some machines purr, others click and some kind of clunk along. I much prefer a purr to clunk or a click. I considered upgrading to another model, but my personal exchequer could not bear the cost.

All of these machines did their jobs and did them well. One of the many lessons that all of these sewing machine taught me was about what things are important to me. I think that buying the perfect sewing machine is a personal decision and it is also a matter of knowing what things are most important to you.  The best machine for me may well not be the dream machine for you. Finding your personal "sweet-spot" when you buy a sewing machine is important, which is why I highly suggest that a person goes into a shop and tries out the machines before deciding on what to buy.

My "love affair" with Janome began quite a few years ago when I was in Houston for the show. I fell in love with the Janome line after I tried out a few models on the floor. Again, money was a factor and I just had to wait. Flash forward to years later. To mark my retirement, I decided that I would gift myself with a new sewing machine. At the time, my friend (and Janome artist program participant), Sarah was using the Janome MC8900. It sounded like the perfect machine for me and so, when the time came I looked for  'good deal' on a machine.  In all honesty, the machine was just a bit out of my comfort level price wise, but it sounded so perfect! Although I like to keep my money in-state if I can, I found a slightly used 8900 at a price that I could not pass up from Amy Smith at Brubaker's Sewing in Pennsylvania. I sure did take a leap of faith! Brubaker's offers the most awesome customer service ever!

This sewing machine is everything that I could hope for in a machine. Using this machine has made me WANT to get up and sew, just for the pleasure of using the machine. After all of these years of sewing, I have finally found the perfect machine for me. 

These are the things that I wanted in a sewing machine:
  1. Dependability. Servicing is not an easy-to-to thing from where I live.
  2. Sturdy construction
  3. Wide throat
  4. Stitches that matter (I don't do embroidery, but I do use many utility stitches and a modicum of the "fancy" ones.
  5. QUIET!  
Finding a machine that calls to you and that meets your needs is a process. I think that you have to spend some time considering what really matters the most to you and then you should go and actually sew on a variety of machines, find the one the one that suits you best and then negotiate (or search) for a price that you can work with. Quilt shows and Sew Expos are great places to go to try out machines. All in one place! 

I am SO grateful that I was actually able to get the machine I wanted. Had it not been for a slightly used model (only 3 months old!), I don't know if I would have been able to get my dream machine. It takes some time to find the "perfect one", but when you do it is the beginning of an enchanting relationship!

I would love to hear your thoughts:
  • What are the things that you most value and look for in a sewing machine?
  • Have you found your own "perfect one"? 
  • What Brand and why is it perfect?
  • How do you feel about the cost of sewing machines these days?
  • Are you able to afford the one you really want?


  1. I agree with mom had a small portable Singer which thankfully I kept. She made all my dresses on it and also the drapes for the house. When married our first payment plan was for a heavy Singer. Gave to the grandkids. I bought the Pfaff 1467 when I started quilting and am still using it. Bought the 2058 but "fight" with it, to much computer stuff. Hate to read the book for every change. My hubby bought the 1300 Brothers also long time ago, because I looked at it at a quilt show. I have to be careful what I ask questions about when he goes to the shows with me. Good for free motion quilting, good basic machine. And yes there are others Inreally would like, perhaps the Sweet 16, but for the price I can have a professional quilt the big ones. Enjoyed your story and yes one needs to really try them all out before buying.

  2. Marie, it is so true. each of us has our likes and styles and questions and we must do the research to find our sweet spot in the machines we use. So, so far i am happy as a clam in July with my featherweights ,Singer 221's , all three of them .....,they take turns, for seams and simple sewing as fabric onto a paper...and other adventures.
    Then , I am SO happy with my two vintage Berninas, a 708 and a refurbished Bernina 830 Record for my free motion sewing, quilting,and heavy layer sewing ...
    it is a matter of finding a machine that will help you do the art that is on your mind and the tips of your fingers...and that is not known until you do the research, as in put your butt in the chair and sew.


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