Thursday, December 1, 2011

Do you love your sewing machine?



As Christmas approaches, i've got visions of sewing machines dancing in my head! I would love to get a new sewing machine, but i'm overwhelmed with all the choices, and without being able to test them all, I don't know what would be best for felted wool. I have had others ask me lately too, so please help us out if you love your sewing machines! Let us know what make/models you have, if you love sewing with wool on your machine.



I adore my antique Singer Featherweight, but it is very slow, and only does one straight stitch. I will always love & use it, but I need an everyday machine.




The Babylock BL9 I bought last year just hated me. It would be working great, then it would eat my project out of nowhere. I tried everything, and just couldn't get any consistency out of it, and sold it.


I currently am using a Brother VX1100. Years ago they sold them at Walmart for under $100, so I don't expect much from it. It is a good machine, and it was a great garage sale find, but I would like something better. I have to help feed everything through unless it's a thinner material, so I would like something that handles the thickness of wool better. For now, at least it's predictable, it beats the Babylock!

The garage sale 60's Singer I bought didn't end up working, though they said it did :(. The repair guy said it would cost $200 to fix, and the machine wasn't worth it.

So, what do you use to sew your felted wool, and do you love it?

27 comments:

Mary Keenan said...

ooooh, I'm gonna be watching this thread - I want a new sewing machine for Christmas too! Right now I use a 1940s Singer and the way it's stood up faithfully to all my felted wool and silk chiffon I feel ashamed even to look at another machine... but yeah. Straight stitch only. (If I had my choice and tons of money, I'd go for a Bernina next, yum.)

Resweater said...

Lol, I know the feeling. I always feel like I am cheating on my Featherweight when I buy a machine. Oh yeah... forgot to mention that I don't have tons of money ;).

photoholly said...

I don't make much using felted wool with my sewing machine (I use my serger for that mostly) but I bought a brand new Janome last year because of all the fancy stitches and features. I sew quilted Christmas stockings and t-shirt quilts mostly, but also sew my own clothes, I was so excited to use my Janome, I had to exchange it for another one 5 months after I bought it, it kept eating my projects, the bobbin kept popping up, I'd bring it to the shop 5X a month, so I brought it back a few weeks ago and I traded it in for a 30 year old Bernina Nova. OMGosh, what a HUGE difference! I can sew through layers of denim, the heaviest quilted material, you name it, this girl does it all! It only has a few stitches but I've decided that the fancy stitches just aren't worth the hassle. I'm going to pick up an older Pfaff 332 for my son to use, then I know he won't be running into the same problems I did and he can sew anything!!! My sewing machine guys told me, unless I was ready to buy a $2500 machine, to just stick to the older machines. My favourite machine is still my antique treadle machine, she's a dream.

jspillane said...

Hi Kris, I have a Husqvana Viking Huskystar that I bought about 5 year ago and I have made a LOT of recycled wool mittens( over 200 pair) and other items on it.....It has enough ( but not to many) features...the feeddogs lower for free motion and all in all I LOVE it.....I give it a good cleaning with the vac every month especially during the busy months to keep the wool dust from pileing up inside it.....Never had to have it servaced yet.....paid under 300.00 for it 5 years ago....

jspillane said...

forgot to mention its a Huskystar 219/224....

Gwen said...

I use a 20 yr old New Home. Works fine, big thing is to clean and oil on a regular basis. I think you'd be better with an older used machine, cheaper and most likely more well made.

Resweater said...

Thanks, ladies! I really appreciate this!

Charlotte said...

I have sewn on a janome for years. The first being a 4000 and now for over 13 years a 9000. The 9000 is a workhorse, you can find them cheap enough and they have embroidery capabilities. But, I do not embroidery with it, I have a janome 300e. The 9000 is a heavy machine, sometimes loud but has sewn with no problems until just recently- again, it's an older machine in need of service right now. I would not pay the THOUSANDS of dollars for the brand new machines, but there are machines out there that are gently used at reasonable prices. If you are using your machine on a daily or weekly basis it is worth the extra money to invest in a higher end machine.

Resweater said...

Thanks, Charlotte! I'm trying to look into older used higher end machines, but there are so many makes & models out there. It's overwhelming!

TracyKM said...

I would also suggest looking for an older, metal, machine. I got mine from Freecycle! Growing up, everyone used Kenmores, and this is one too, but quite different from the other ones I've used. Somedays I think I'd like a new machine, but then I read about the problems people have with new machines, and get overwhelmed with the selection....I would also recommend looking at Consumer Reports to see their ratings. While you are doing specialty sewing, some aspects of their comparisons would still apply--features, price, dependability.
I'd also recommend a serger. I got a Brother 1034D from Amazon this summer, and I love it. I haven't done much with felted wools, but I will soon!

bodicegoddess said...

Another vouch here for Husquvarna! I have a Viking Emerald 116 that I got for Christmas something like five years ago. It's never jammed, I've never gotten that annoying bobbin-tangle thing - honestly, the most trouble I've had is switching from thick layers of wool to thin layers of chiffon and having to dink with the tension because I was using the same thread.
I had an added bonus - My mom got it at the local Joann's superstore, and they offered a class on the machine. I learned a lot in that hour that's been invaluable to me.

Ms. Zimmer Teaches in Math Land said...

Bernina, Bernina, Bernina. Model 840
My sister is a professional costumer, a career she started in 1975. She has sewn on her Bernina, everything from wedding dresses to iwoks (Star Wars). They run from about $300-$500. (check craigslist)
Her serger is also a Bernina.
Let us know what you choose.

Best, Amy in Sebastopol

Megan Hood said...

Hello everyone! Like you, Kris, I am using a basic Brother machine...an xl 2600. I am borrowing this from my husband's grandmother. I am learning how to sew with it, and if all goes well and I don't get too discouraged with my self-teaching, I plan to purchase a machine of my own when I give this back to 'mema' :). I wouldn't mind spending a little more money if I just knew which one to invest in, so I will be reading everyone's comments and doing some extra research too. I will say that when my husband's mother and grandmother taught me the basics with this (using a heavier denim fabric), they commented that it was a good basic machine. So maybe this will help other beginners or those who are thinking of learning how to sew. I've seen it for $40 refurbished! By the way, my husband's mom and mema both own heavy-duty Singers and are both ladies are experienced sewers for sure. Mema had bought the cheapie for a quilting class. Anyway, thanks everyone for your input!

kristen said...

I love my almost 30 year old Viking. It's all metal and works like a tank. I hope it never goes out.

ps. New to your blog. I'm addicted. I've spent the last two nights up with insomnia and have read every single post you've ever made! I was wondering if you can add a Follow Me by email button to your blog? So I can get your posts via email whenever you post them.

Resweater said...

Ok, I am now leaning toward the Vikings. I have read nothing negative about them yet!

Kristen, I can't believe you read ALL my posts! You are a peach! I am a little technology challenged and have no clue how to add a Follow Me by email button. I will add it to my when-I-have-time-to-learn-it list. I don't know if you use Facebook often, but I tend to leave a post on my FB page every time I post something here on my blog. Even though I have no clue how to use Twitter, it is connected to my Facebook page, and tweets whatever I post on FB too.

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Kathy said...

I love my Viking Lilly and my Viking Quilt Designer machines. They both sew on wool equally well when I have made recycled wool mittens. I do lots of piecing on my featherweight, but these 2 machines are great for free motion quilting since the feed dogs lower.

Kerry said...

I'm really only commenting to tell you, I think I just inherited the sewing table that goes with your antique singer featherweight. I'm very jealous, I'd love to have that machine in it :) I, like you, got a brother from Walmart, can't expect much :P My daughter has the Janome Hello Kitty machine, only does straight and zig-zag, but runs so smooth. I love it and use hers at least as much as my own.

NeedlesAndKims said...

I bought a Bernina 830 (the old model) back in 1983 and it is still amazing! I've never had a single problem with it and have only had regular maintenance done on it occasionally. It is a workhorse! I sew felted wool on it all the time and it's been in almost constant use the last three years. It's pretty basic, with just a handful of optional stitches. It performs a nice blind stitch hem and has "kind of a stretch stitch" that I use for cashmere. I bought a walking foot for it last year for really, really thick wool and it's a great help for those tough projects. It has never caused me a single headache like some other machines I've used. If you want something for the long haul, a Bernina is the way to go.

Taryn said...

Look into the Brother project runway edition. Brother is made by babylock, but the prices are much much cheaper. I've been using my $140 machine daily for years sewing mostly wool and it's a workhorse! It's all computerized. It's available at walmart or on amazon. It has very high reviews!

Resweater said...

Have I told you ladies how great you are lately? Thank you so much for all the info... I truly appreciate it!

stepholiveira said...

Kris, I love all the creative ideas in your blog!!!

You need to think about what options are helpful when sewing wool...like a wide zigzag stitch and ability to handle and feed a thick layers. I have a few machines and they all have pros and cons. My favorite is the Pfaff 1212 I bought used in 1986. It has a built in walking foot called IDT that is great for pulling the layers through. IDT is a great feature Pfaffs made since the 70's. Newer computerized machines have wider zigzag options and I think 6mm or more is great for attaching wool pieces. I did see a demonstration for a Janome DC2011 that had excellent ability to feed thick layers and also had a wide zigzag. I was impressed and it sells new for $400 (it comes with the walking foot too). The salesman said the internal components of the machine match the $1000 Janomes for half the price. I would try out a bunch of machines in the stores and watch craigslist for a quality vintage machine (bernina, pfaff, viking). If you want to go new I would try out the Janome.

Anonymous said...

I am using my much loved babylock Grace on all thicknesses of wool and have not had any issues at all...

Lora said...

okay--I'll pitch in here. This is the best info!
I have my mom's Husqvarna 6370. I'm guessing it is 25-30 years old. Only problem I've had is tension gets wonky when you go from thick wool to thin fabric. I think I've messed up the tension dial with all the sewing I've done on wool. I'd used her 50 year old singer before that, but passed it on to a niece when she gave me her Husqvarna. That machine was what started me on the wool path to begin with! It has a low gear that lets me get through multiple layers, just like a car in low gear going up a mountain. Parts and manual are available online. I have a singer serger also, but don't use it because I can never make it work right. I keep thinking I'll practice and figure it out.
Yea for Resweater for starting this discussion!

Claire said...

I'm a bit late to the party, but just wanted to comment that I LOVE sewing felted wool with my Bernina 800. It's one of those older metal versions, and is a really simple machine (I think from the late 1970s?), and doesn't do anything fancy, but sews through thick layers of felted wool like butter. I found it on Craigslist for under $100! I asked to try it before paying, which they were fine with. My mom has a Bernina 801 which works similarly well for felted wool. I'd highly recommend! I'm a regular lurker, but just thought I'd finally comment in case you were considering an old Bernina but weren't sure!

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I have a Brother vx 1100, I got it from a car boot for £8.00, a bargain!! I have been trying to find out if I can lower the feed dog so I can do some freestlye sewing??? Can you help me???

Amanda :)

Resweater said...

Hi Amanda, Good find! I'm afraid I don't know, and I don't have the machine anymore either. Good luck with your new machine!