Monday, March 18, 2013

A Sewing Machine Story

So if I tell you a story, will you tell me one back?  See it's like this ~ I started sewing on a Sears generic machine.  This was back in the day when all department stores had a sewing section.  Some stores like Sears carried not only fabric and supplies but they also carried sewing machines.  Other department stores like Macy's only had a fabric department.  

I received my first sewing machine for Christmas at 11 - the green cast iron sewing machine that came in its own desk and only sewed straight stitches, back & forth and was so up-to-date because it had a zig zag stitch.  Don't laugh children, I was cutting edge!

I've had several sewing machines since then.  In my college dorm room I had a Singer that I bought on installment payments from the Singer store in the mall by my campus.  Then came a $99 Brother sewing machine that I purchased from JC Penneys.  When my kids were 10 & 11, I upgraded to a Viking that I paid on weekly at the sewing machine dealership before I could finally bring it home.  Sadly this one met a horrific end when my apartment at the time went up in flames.

After that tragedy (no one was hurt but my sewing machine, serger, a boatload of fabric and my living room set were all destroyed) I decided that with the money we received that I was buying my dream sewing machine - a Janome 8000.  I bought it used because by then Janome had moved on to bigger and better things but I loved this machine and have only sewn with Janomes as my prime sewing machine since.  That's a picture of my latest baby above!

So that's my sewing machine story.  Will you tell me yours?  Of course I have a few questions to assist with the story telling...

  1. What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on?
  2. Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?  
  3. Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine?
  4. If not, why not?  
  5. If so, why?
  6. Finally, if you switched brands, why?

These are my questions of the day.  Talk to me.  I'm very interested in hearing your Sewing Machine Story!

BTW, check out "The Lace Dress" on the MSN blog tomorrow. always more later!


  1. I learned to sew on an ancient foot treadle Singer with the long narrow shuttles instead of bobbins. Needless to say it only sewed straight stitches and only forward. After college I got a Kenmore that could zig-zag and sew lovely button holes. When my children were 9 and 12 I upgraded to a Pfaff and got a serger. I am still using these machines. My Pfaff has the IDT (built in walking foot) but only 20 or so fancy stitches. It is cranky about button holes, often giving up half way through the return trip and deciding to make a very small button hole. I miss my old Kenmore with the button hole templates--it always did a fabulous job. I upgraded to get the IDT, which is a feature I love. I also have a couple of vintage Singer machines around just in case, but I prefer the Pfaff.

  2. First off, I love your blog. I am a subscriber to your RSS feed and read it faithfully.

    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on?
    I have six different machines currently and I love vintage machines. I use three of them regularly not counting the serger. I started on an old Singer in the 70's. In 1982 when I was 12 I went with my mother to pick up her brand new Viking 940 from the sewing store. It is mine now. Love that machine! I also use two 70's era Kenmore's which I love. Those baby's sew through leather like butter.

    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?
    I will answer this by saying the Singer was the first brand I ever used and those older ones were so nice.

    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine?
    If not, why not?
    I am currently sewing with the Viking and the two Kenmore's.

    If so, why?
    I have recently fallen in love and become obsessed with vintage machines. The older Kenmore are wonderful for tough jobs and I love the mechanical machines because I can maintain them myself.

    This is not too detailed a description of my love of sewing and sewing machines. I love making bags so the tougher machines are perfect for that.

  3. I bought my first sewing machine when I had my daughter 13 years ago (A Janome Décor Excel). I just upgraded to a Janome 1600P-qc, its a straight stitch machine which sews just beautifully. I love my Janome's!
    My first serger was an Elna from the 1980's I was given from my husbands Nan, I've only recently upgraded that too and got another Elna. I justified the Elna purchase because they are made by Janome now :)

  4. My mother had a Singer 221 when I was growing up. My first machine was also a Singer but that was a real mess and nothing near the quality that was my mom's. I got rid of it and bought the top of the line Bernina in 1977. Thirty-six years later I am still sewing on it. No fancy computer machine for me. Made in Switzweland of all steel parts. The only thing that has been replaced is the foot pedal cord. Along the way I also bought a 1950 centennial model Singer 221 just like my mother had sewn on. I love both of my machines and baby them and take good care of them!

  5. I learned to sew on my mom's Singer and it was a workhorse, in face a cousin's family has that machine now. For my high school graduation, my parents gave me a Singer sewing machine, I was over the moon. It was not a workhorse, always back for repairs and so frustrating. Hubby surprised me one Christmas, probably 24 years ago with a Viking Husqvarna machine. It was a dream, worked perfectly. I upgraded to a Viking 1+ so I could embroidery for my young children. Then another upgrade to a Designer 1. I have had this machine since 1999 but I am really wanting to buy a Pfaff.

    I switched all those years ago because I felt their repair department was much better than Singer's and hubby thought they make great chainsaws so their sewing machines have to be good, too! Like the logic? I want to switch to Pfaff mainly for the dealer in my nearby town. She creates the best samples, has incredible classes and always new and fresh ideas.

  6. I think that there are many varied sewing machine stories! I am sewing on a Pinnock Exclusiv Plus, bought for my 21st birthday back in 1989. Before that I sewed on my mother's Husquvarna (she recently bought a modern Husquavarna Sapphire, but the old one - from the late 60s or early 70s - still works fine). And that's all I have sewn on - my mother's machines, and my own! And I am now almost 45, so that Pinnock has been a real workhorse. It does have a number of stitches, although it is mechanical and not computerised. I occasionally borrow Mum's new Husquavarna if I need a stitch that mine won't do. Every now and then I do consider getting a new machine, but am not yet completely convinced that I "need" one. Pinnocks are no longer made - mine was one of the last ones - so if I changed machines I would possibly consider a Bernina or a Husquvarna. I have a Janome Overlocker that I really dislike, so that puts me off Janome! I do also own two vintage Singer machines - one treadle and one powered - but am yet to use either of them. My current machine works fine for the wide range of sewing that I do - clothes, bags, quilts - although I wouldn't be without owning an overlocker as well. And after such a long time, I know how to use it pretty much instinctively!

  7. I learned a little sewing on my mother's Brother, yes the one that was so cutting edge with the pre-set design stitches. But we never used those; not even the new zig zag stitch and the chain stitch! In Home Ec we had Singers and I hated them. I preferred my mother's Brother. When I left Japan and came to the States in 1972 I taught myself how to sew with a Butterick sewing book and a brand new top of the line Brother sewing machine my mother sent me from Japan.So I've always used a Brother, and when that one finally died after 30 years, I bought a $99 Brother from Service Merchandise. It sewed for ten years until it died. Next I bought a top of the line computerized Brother which lasted only ten years.It still stitches, but the LED screen is blank and there are no replacements. In the meantime, a $49 3/4 size Janome found its way into my sewing room and it did all the high school play costumes among other things. Realizing it was a fantastic workhorse, I bought a full sized Janome for $99 with preset stitches and found that machine to be a workhorse also. So now I own the Janome Horizon with all the bells and whistles and really like how it runs. I'm sticking with the Janome because they sew much better IMO than all the Brothers I used to use.

  8. What a story Carolyn - a good set up, a disaster in the middle that leaves the reader wanting more, and then a happy ending. You've got yourself a good book there! My first sewing machine was an old Singer that I inherited from my grandmother. Before I could get it to work, it disappeared from my storage locker. Nothing else was gone. My parents then gifted me with the Babylock that I'm currently using. One day when I have space I hope to replace my Grandmother's old machine. Until then I'll keep happily using my Babylock as long as it lasts.

  9. I learned to sew on an old Singer. One of those black ones but it was not a featherweight - it sat in a table.

    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on?
    Bernina 930

    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?
    Bernina 830

    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine?

    If not, why not?
    not applicable

    If so, why?
    I love the old Berninas. They are classic workhorses. If I had to buy a new machine, it would not be a Bernina. It might be a Janome. My backup machine is a Janome Gem 760 and it's a nice little machine.

    Finally, if you switched brands, why?
    not applicable

  10. Bernina.
    Bernina 930 Record.
    Still use it.
    Would love to have a Pfaff 7550.

  11. What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? Singer

    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?
    No. Not sure what my mom's machine was, maybe a kenmore.

    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine?
    If not, why not?
    If so, why?
    yes, I have several singer machines that I've either inherited or were just given to me because the family members didn't want any longer.

    Finally, if you switched brands, why? I would try a baby lock or pfaff.

  12. I learned to sew at my Grandma's knee using her Singer 201. I loved that machine and I have no idea what happened to it when she moved into a nursing home. Very sad.

    My first machine was a brother that I bought through Fingerhut - remember them? It has a stretch stitch back in 82 and I thought it was the cat's meow.

    In answer to your questions:

    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? Viking Designer 1 SE.
    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand? Rose
    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine? I am.
    If not, why not? Not applicable.
    If so, why? I love the machine and am comfortable with it. Did a lot of research before deciding on Viking. We didn't have a local Janome dealer when I was looking for a new machine so I never even considered it.
    Finally, if you switched brands, why? I did switch from brother to Viking. Mostly because brother had a bad wrap at the time I was machine shopping. However, that Fingerhut brother was amazing and served me well. g

  13. I learned to sew on my mother's Brother sewing machine that only sewed a straight stitch. It was one of those sewing machines with the band on the wheel. I still have that machine today and take it for a spin every once in a while. Once my mother was comfortable with the sewing machine, she let me use her Singer machine from the early 80s. When I turned 21 I purchased my first sewing machine from a Sew and Vac store and I wanted vintage, so I purchased a Necchi Alco. I still have that machine today and it's a work horse. I can pretty much sew anything on it but it only does straight stitch, zig zag and basic buttonhole. 2 years ago I purchased my first electronic machine and I bought a Singer. I guess it was family tradition. My serger is a Singer as well. (by the way, I still have all these machines I've mentioned.)

    I love all of my machines, but if you gave me a choice, I'd actually have to say I really like my older machines better. They are work horses and get the job done in the end.

    I've thought about purchasing a few other more pricey machines like a bernina or a Janome, but know that I'd need a very good mechanic to work on them. I use to have one but he retired a few years back, and I haven't found anyone since.

  14. Started sewing on my mother's Singer 201. My DH bought me a singer when we married, even though I wanted a Bernina or Pfaff. Could not afford one then. I then had a Montgomery Wards machine. I got that because it had more stitches.

    I gave that to my sister. I got a Viking Lily 555. I really liked that machine, but traded it in on a Babylock Evolve serger.

    I then went looking for a new sewing machine that did embroidery. I looked at a Janome, but the dealer did not staff sales people at night, so I ended up at the Babylock dealer, who was open. I purchased a Babylock Ellageo.

    I started working for a sewing machine dealer who sold Bernina, Brother and Janome. I fell in love with the Brother 4000D and bought that. The Ellageo went to a friend. I just got rid of the original singer about six months ago.

    Along the line I have also acquired: Singer 15-91, Singer Featherweight, Singer 319w, Singer 66, Franklin, Kenmore 117-841 and a serger. Unemployment caused the Evolve to be sold. Someday I will get a Babylock serger and coverstitch.

  15. I learned on a Singer machine from the 30's. It was my grandmother's and she gave it to me in 1971. I traded it in as it only went back and forth, no zigzag for a new Singer Touch and Sew with all plastic gears and cams. It was pretty disappointing but I used it until 1976 when I bought a Bernina 930. Kept that until the next model 1130 emerged until I was sewing on a 1230 in 1991. Kept that until I sold it on Ebay to a woman who already had one but wanted one for her summer home. I bought a Janome 10000 in 2004 and it was heaven. I kept it for 5 years and bought a Janome 11000 and sold my 10000 to a friend. I still have it, use it every day in my business of altering wedding gowns along with many other Janome machines (coverstitch, industrial, felting, Jem)that do other special jobs. I do still own three 30 year old Bernina sergers that never stop working. I don't think I will ever switch brands or upgrade to the 12000 as embroidery is such a small part of my sewing business with altering over 53 wedding gowns per season keeps me awash in ivory satin and lace.

  16. 1. What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? I am currently sewing on a computerized Brother.
    2. Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand? No, I had a cheap Brother before but was able to produce decent projects.
    3. Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine? Yes, but not by choice.
    4. If not, why not? n/a
    5. If so, why? I prefer Janome, but I needed a machine and a Janome was not in my budget.
    6. Finally, if you switched brands, why? n/a

  17. I started on a junk modern singer, then bought a junk Emerald 183 by Viking. My fave is my Singer Featherweight which I use the most. Then I have a Brother coverstitch and serger for that kind of sewing. I only use my Emerald 183 for zig zagging and invisible zipper insertions but I still hate it.

  18. Oh my, everyone is going to have a good story. Here is mine. I learned to sew on my mother's 15-91. The first machine I owned was a J.C. Penney's zig-zag bought in '73 or '74 when I was in college. Not a good machine and it's long gone.

    For a long time my only machine was a 15-91 found in a thrift shop in Texas. Then it was joined by a German zig zag (left in Germany when we moved) a Singer replica bought in Saudi during Desert Storm(gorgeous machine but somewhat mechanically unsound so it went to the thrift shop), a Singer 201, 221, another 15-91, a Brother Inovis-40, a Bernina 930 and a Viking serger. If I had to downsize, the Bernina, the serger and the Singer 221 would stay.

    I'm currently wanting an industrial, with a servo-motor, but don't really need one or have room for one. That one would probably be a JUKI.

    Theresa in Tucson

  19. I learned to sew in the 60s on my mom's New Home -no idea of the model but it only had a straight stich. I made my first wedding dress on it and after we got married and my then-husband realized how much I was missing a sewing machine, surprised me with a used Singer 401A for Christmas. That was in 1970 and I'm still sewing on that machine today and have sewed zillions of items on it, including the dress for my second wedding.

    When I started ice skating a few years ago and wanted to sew my own costumes, I did end up with a little Brother machine for those because my trusty Singer is crap on stretchy knits.

    I keep thinking I should buy a fancy new machine for my retirement.....but then I look at my Singer and say nah.

  20. Here you go!
    Currently using a Brother, this is the first machine I purchased for myself. Before that I used my mothers black Singer, no idea where that is now sadly.
    Yes this is my first machine from Brother - it is getting pretty old - 20 years ish. It was a modern computerised machine at the time, but still affordable for me, I'd just started working.
    I'm still using is because it has been (touch wood!) incredibly reliable, does everything I need a machine to do and I see no reason to change it, as lovely as some of the new models with all the great features look.

  21. The first machine I ever sewn on was my mother's singer machine when I was really young. She would allow me to thread the machine and run a few stitches on a scrap piece of fabric to check to see if it was threaded correctly. I didn't do anymore than that until I got my singer sewing machine. I got it to stitch on scrapbook paper, lol
    at the time I was not into sewing but I loved to stitch papers for my scrapbooks.
    When I got into sewing I got a europro machine, singer serger and then I got my singer futura CE 250 as a gift a couple years ago. I have a nostagia and loyalty to singer because of my mother and the fact that singer was the only sewing company servicing the Caribbean when I was small. My mom didn't upgrade her machine, she just got hers fixed. It lasted her over 20 years, which she gave away when I gave her another one.

  22. I started out on my mother in law's ancient Pfaff, but the very first machine I bought for myself was a bottom-of-the-line plastic Singer, which I made many successful garments on. I then bought my Janome serger and fell in love. My current machine is a Janome 8077 (I'm in Europe and I hear the models aren't quite the same) which for now is the best-selling home machine and I LOVE IT. I am never going back!

    To me, there is no contest between the current Singers and Janome. The stitch quality is far superior and, at least here, I got better features for my money than what was available on the Singers. I will probably stick with Janome from now on.

  23. I learned to sew on a Necchi, my Mother's pride and joy. My first machine was a second hand New Home, I have just realised this was over thirty years ago. I gave that one to my sister in law and she still uses it for making curtains and keeps at her home in France.

    Once I was working I bought myself an Elna Air Electronic, and I now have three mechanical Elnas, a Babylock serger, a Necchi with cams (Ebay nostalgia buy), a Featherweight 222k, a Singer 99, a Singer 401A and a Bernina 930. I am not really clear how this has happened!

    And what do I use most? the 222k is used most because it is always out, the 99 is set up just to do buttonholes - they are beautiful. When I settle down to a serious sewing session I use the Bernina 930 given to me by my next door neighbour some five years ago. I love that machine, simple, easy to use and a beautiful stitch. Now I have read this back I realise it is addiction I need to have a sewing machine clear out. I do love the tiny but great machines especially Featherweights and the Elna Evolve TSPs.

  24. I learned to sew in high school in home ec class in the early 70's. I borrowed my Grandmother's 1946 Singer 201-2. I used only that all of high school and college. When I married I returned her machine and my husband bought me a Kenmore from Sears in 1980. It had zig-zag and about 12 other "fancy" stitches. About 15 years later my Grandmother gave me her Singer 201-2. I still have both machines. Both are in working order. I use the Singer 201-2 almost daily. I do now have a newer computerized Kenmore that I bought used about 3 years ago (I felt I needed to come into the computer age for my daughter and grandchildren to learn on a newer machine). When I need the "fancy" stitches or sew on knit fabrics I use that one. I have added a few other machines in the last couple years, but other than my two Kenmores they are all vintage Singers.

    I like the mechanical machines better than the computerized ones. They are sturdy, dependable workhorses that always give an excellent stitch. I think the smaller hole in the throat plate and the even stitches make the finished work look very nice. I am often complimented on my nice looking seams - but it isn't because I do anything special - it is all the machine. I am very loyal to my vintage Singers for this reason.

  25. 1. I am sewing on a Janome
    2. The first Janome sewing machine was the cheapest one that could do an automatic button hole. It was a model specially made for John Lewis (a mid range department store here in Britain.)
    3. Yes
    4. n/a
    5. The feet! I have so much money invested in Janome feet. Also, I kind of got comfortable with Janome and all their little ways.
    6. n/a

    PS. I have sewed for the last 6 weeks on an entry level mechanical Bernina at a college in London where I took a lingerie course. I am disappointed to say that the stitch quality of the Bernina was better. Thin and/or stretchy fabrics were far less likely to get sucked into the throat plate of the Bernina too. I can't tell you how disappointed I am to find this out!

  26. I must not be a true sewist as I can't remember very well! This is how I vaguely remember - I bought my first machine when I was about 20. I had previously sewn on my mothers which I can't remember what brand that was. My machine was a Janome SR2100 -Yes I still have it and I just went and checked :) Then about 10 years ago I won a raffle for a car and instead of the car I was able to buy some goodies for the home which included a Janome Memory Craft 10,000. Yippee. I have always owned Janomes. Even my overlockers are Janome.

  27. After learning the basics with good old needle and thread, I learned to machine sew on my mom's Singer Golden Touch and Sew--the kind with the cams that could pop off at odd moments and scare everyone in the room. The first machine I bought myself was a Necchi...loved that thing to death, and after I literally wore grooves in some of the solid metal parts I invested in a Bernina Artista and love it as much as I've always loved my Bernina serger. I know everyone has their preferences, but I just find the Berninas are built like racecars and work like champions.

  28. The first machine that I bought was a Viking when my kids were just babies and when I think back I can't believe I spent that much money. I had that machine for probably twenty years and only got rid of it because it operated with cams and they no longer made them that way so it was not easy to get it fixed. I bought a Janome, which I still have, but there is something about your first love. I'm back with Viking (a Diamond for my embroidery machine and a mega quilter which is semi industrial and only does straight stitching for heavier sewing). Like you, I did just buy a Baby Lock serger and it's like having gone to heaven. It is so effortless and does such beautiful stitching. And, the threading - be still my heart!

    The lace dress is lovely -- we're in the process of moving after 28 years and my machines have been packed and won't be unpacked for another ten days. I'm in withdrawal!

  29. I have two sewing machines: Brother PQ 1500 and BabyLock Ellegante and a serger: BabyLock Imagine.

    I read an article in Threads that said the Brother did one thing and it did it well: sew straight. It has been my "go-to" machine ever since because the article was telling the truth.

    The BabyLock replaced a similar Brother embroidery machine when the former had a problem and I opted for a new machine rather than repair. I chose BabyLock because of its compatibility with Brother cards. I use it for anything that isn't a straight stitch.

    The Imagine replaced an irreparable Pfaff serger, which had lasted ten years before it seized.

    I don't have a brand loyalty, per se, but after my very own, very first machine - a Singer - had to be cleaned every time it sat unused for any period of time, as soon as I could afford it, I headed to the local fabric store who had a Pfaff concession and never considered a Singer. The Pfaff was replaced with the aformentioned Brother because I was gainfully employed and wanted to trade up. It was purchased from a dealership at a sewing and craft expo.

    I've been working with the machines I have for 12, 6, and 5 years respectively and am completely happy with what I have for the duration.

  30. I learned to sew with my Nanna on her treadly Singer. It was (is) a thing of beauty, and still lives in her sewing room, covered with the lace throw that always covered it when not in use.

    My beautiful Nanna purchased my first machine for me when I turned 17. It was a top of the line at that time Janome. It went strong for 16 years, and in fact, was still going strong last year, when I gave it to my sister-from-another-mother. She's learning her craft on it now.

    I purchased for myself a Brother Innovis 600.

    What I learned from my Nanna is that quality is worth investing in, and a good quality machine will last you for years if treated with respect.

    I am not a brand driven person, I chose the machines based on the quality, the reviews, and the sage advice of the sewing store - the same store that sold me and my Nanna my first machine. The people in those stores use those machines regularly, they know whats going on. I think if you develop a good relationship with them, they will serve you with solid advice.

    A couple of months after I purchased my new Brother, I went back and bought my first ever overlocker (serger) a Janome MyLock 644D. I'm a little in love with her :)

    Together, my two new machines and I are learning to be dressmakers... and its a beautiful partnership.


  31. I learned basics on an old cast iron Singer that was my grandmothers. I wish I knew what exactly it was but my mom got rid of it before I started sewing again these last few years. I originally started again on a hand-me-down kenmore that my husband subsequently burnt out making a tipi. We bought a 75 dollar Singer from Kmart, which I used until recently. My husband bought me a fancy computerized Singer as a Christmas gift last year. I'm on the fence about it. I love all the fancy stitches and features but I miss the strictly mechanical nature of the one I had before. I'm thinking I need to add an old Singer to my collection. I also have a Singer treadle from the 1920's that's oiled and working and ready to go. I just need a new leather belt before I try it out. So I guess I've always been a Singer girl! I know the company gets a bad rap for their modern sewing machines, but I haven't had any complaints. I'd love to own a Bernina one day when I win the lottery ;)

  32. Would you believe I've only owned two sewing machines in my life? I'm ready for a new one.
    I learned to sew on my mother's Singer as a teenager. During a college summer break I read an ad from a sewing machine store that advertised a great deal on a used machine. It was a bait and switch trick and I walked out with a new machine and a payment book. I don't remember the make or model and the machine always had issues.
    One day my husband caught me quietly cussing out my machine. I called it every name in the book.
    That Christmas a top of the line Bernina was under the tree - a complete surprise! The machine is now 21 years old. I still love it but am ready for a new one if possible. I'd like to stay with Bernina.

  33. What a fun question! I haven't read the other answers yet but I'm looking forward to it. My mom bought me my first machine and she happens to be visiting right now so I asked her about it and we have completely conflicting memories of that machine. I thought she bought it when I was in college and she thinks it was high school. I thought it was a Kenmore and she thinks it was a Singer. LOL. I'm not sure what happened to that machine; I'm guessing I traded it in when I bought my first Bernina 24 years ago.

    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? I have 3 sewing machines and two sergers - all Bernina
    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand? Bernina 1020 which remains my primary machine
    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine?
    If not, why not?
    If so, why? Can't beat the quality of Bernina - my 25 year old machine has NEVER had anything go wrong. Other than annual servicing, I've not spent a penny on maintenance.
    Finally, if you switched brands, why? I can't imagine sewing on anything else.

  34. I've had soooo many machines!

    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? I'm currently sewing with a Kenmore.

    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand? Yes.

    I'm going to upgrade soon. There is a quilt and sew expo coming to Baltimore in May and I plan on buying a top of the line Juki. Something semi-pro that's faster, quieter and where the tension stays consistent.

  35. I've been sewing since I was 10. I feel in love with sewing when my mom purchased a set of "Childcraft" books for me and my sisters. One of the books focused on crafts and had a sewing section with a doll dress pattern and taught you to hand sew. I must have sewn 100 dresses by hand. When I entered Jr. High School, 1973, I took my first official sewing class! I used by uncle's machine (I think it was Montgomery Wards) until I purchased my first machine--Singer Stylist in 1979. I sewed on that until 1986---at which time I purchased a Pfaff Tiptronic 1171--she was my pride and joy!!!! I still have her. In 2005, she retired and I purchased a Pfaff 2124, which I ended up hating (I believe it was a lemon). I purchased my Janome 1600P (stratight stich only) a couple of years ago because of the speed and stitch quality. In 2011 purchased the Singer 160th anniversary machine (which I used for classes). I purchased my current machine (Juki Exceed 600) in October 2012 and love it!!!! It's fast, has a great stitch, easy to use and I love the buttonhole stitch quality.

    I also use the Babylock Evolve and the Reliable Blindhemmer. Lastly, I use the Babylock Enterprise for embroidery.

  36. I love your blog too! And will take a few minutes (in the dark, cold snowy Alberta morning....tired of Spring much, Jodie?!)
    I sew on a Kenmore sewing machine - which is a Sear's brand of Janome. It is my first sewing machine from this brand - given to me by my parents for my 18th birthday. I've had the chance to sew on other machines (Home Ec Teacher) but I really like the Janome brand. The machine is a basic one and it does all that I want it to. I've purchased a serger (also Janome) and love them both. At school I've used Pfaff (don't like) and Bernina - LOVE but out of my price range. I'm of the "ain't broke, don't fix it) school I guess.

  37. I learned to sew on my Aunt's Singer machine. I still love that old medal machine and wish she would send me that one :) I have had various singer machines since then. I guess I have been afaid to get something different since Singer is what I am used to.

    I currently have two Singer machines. One has all the bells and whistles that my Aunt sent to me and the other is a fairly basic machine. The screen is beginning to go on the one that does everything. Once it goes I will have to figure out what I am going to do. I would really like to get a Janome because of all the great things I have heard. I am just getting back into sewing after my first 10 years of raising my children. I put a lot of time into them when they were young and no longer did any sewing. I will continue using my Singer machines for now, but I do think I may try a Janome when the screen goes on that Singer my Aunt sent to me.

    I also have a Bernina serger and a Brother serger.

  38. O-oo, I love stories :) so here's mine:
    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? Viking Designer I
    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand? Yes
    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine? Yes
    If not, why not? n/a
    If so, why? I handles all kinds of fabrics quite well, makes good buttonholes, has embroidery capability
    Finally, if you switched brands, why? I learned to sew on my Mother's 1934 Singer Featherweight. Together we wore out that machine and then moved to her Mother's 1938 Featherweight, which remained operational until 1997 when it was taken in a robbery. I next owned a Singer with plastic stitch disks that never held it's tensions. I got curtains, dress shirt, PJ's, nightgowns, bedspread and a couple of dresses out of it none-the-less. I next bought a treadle singer which I still miss, and then a basic White which had the same tension problem and then spent almost 20 years without a working machine so I sewed by hand. Having the Des I is truly a luxury. I believe it might be buried with me when I go. Maybe.
    Mary Beth

  39. my first stitches were taken under my Gram's patient guidance on her Singer-former- treadle- now- converted- to- electric by my enterprising Poppy

    then, I sewed on my Mom' s 70's White

    when I married, I inherited a Singer that I just could not make work but as luck would have it, I inherited another White, just like the one I sewed on growing up (except the color..Mom's was Avocado Green...mine is Blue)

    I sewed on that up until last summer (probably in the neighborhood of 20 years, give or take) when I birthday treated myself to a Viking Emerald 183

    it was like going from driving a dump truck to drving a race car

    my White is now my *backup*...I will probably never part with it unless it demises beyond repair, which I doubt, since nothing is computerized and everything inside is metal

    it weighs a metric ton!

    I adore my new Viking, but there's something to be said for the *easy to fix yourself* older machines

  40. I am currently sewing on a Brother Innovis 2800D. Prior to owning the Brother, I ALWAYS sewed on Singer machines. Like you, I too purchased my first sewing machine in college. After college I traded it in on a fancier model. That machine is still in the family as I handed it down to my mother. I changed to the Brother ULT model in 2002 because I wanted a machine with all the bells and whistle. That machine had the embroidery feature and because I already had a Brother stand-alone embroidery machine, it only made since to upgrade to a machine that was compatible. A couple of years ago the ULT's disk drive konked out so the husband replaced that machine with my current one. I've been sewing for 45 years. I can't image a life without it.

  41. I learned to sew on my mother's old Singer.

    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on?
    Bernina 440QE

    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?
    Bernina 440QE this was a gift from my other half 2 years ago and I love it. He previously purchased me a basic Viking machine which he bought me together with some fabric to make my outfit for my son's wedding 4 years ago. As I re=kindled my love of sewing, I wanted a newer machine that could more. The Viking is now a spare machine.

    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine?

    If not, why not?

    If so, why?
    this is still a new machine for me and I do love it. I would love to have a 2nd in our flat but that is rather expensive. I do have a separate embroidery machine and felting machine too.

    Finally, if you switched brands, why?
    Not sure I would switch, however my embroidery machine is a Janome.

  42. * What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on?
    Currently sewing on a kenmore elite sewing/embroidery machine.

    * Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?  
    No, when I started sewing home dec 20+, I had an inexpensive basic kenmore machine.

    * "Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine?"
    Yes, over the years, I've since acquired several more kenmore machines.

    * "Finally, if you switched brands, why? Kenmore (which I believe is manufactured by janome) remains my favorite brand, however, I have a heavy duty singer and a janome coverstitch.

  43. I learned to sew on my mother's Singer. When I graduated from highschool in 1976 I got a Kenmore.
    I am still using the same machine.

  44. Part 1:
    I started sewing seriously as an adult after my daughter was born; I had tinkered in high school home ec, and played since I was a kid on my mom's Kenmore (I was baffled as an adult when sewing machines didn't come with that knee lever! That's how I learned!)

    After Lu arrived, my mom loaned me her Walmart Brother machine. Man, I hated that thing. We fought daily. I'm actually surprised I'm still sewing, because that little machine was terrible. I wonder sometimes, how many young sewists are turned off by those cheap craft type machines with horrid tension and crazy bad stitches.

    But the but had bit, and I wanted something better, so I used my Sears card and bought a Janome-made Kenmore 19001. It had an embroidery hoop and hundreds of pretty stitches that I could use on my baby girl's clothes. (Of course, as most sewists realize, you don't really need more than a zigzag and a straight stitch, maybe a blind hem and a feather stitch. Most of those decorative stitches never get used!)

    I sewed on the Kenmore for a few years until I received my first "big" tax return. I had money to buy a fancy machine! I bought a Bernina 170QPE on ebay. (That story is below). On to the questions...

    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on?

    I'm currently sewing on a Bernina Record 830, 1978 model. I am totally in love with this machine. It's almost as old as I am and it's aged even better. ;) Seriously it will sew through anything, is one heavy beast, and i honestly think with simple oiling and cleaning it will outlive me. Which is a good thing. I want to pass on the sewing legacy to my children and grandchildren and it tickles me to think my "other baby" will live on with them.

    So why did I revert to an older model, used machine? Well...I became disenchanted with the throwaway mentality of the world today, and personally I think sewing machine companies are some of the worst perpetuators of this. A brand new top of the line machine can cost roughly the same as what I paid for my 2008 VW Beetle last year! That's just not okay. There's also something to be said for lasting quality. Do I think these used model computerized bells and whistles machines will be around in 25 years? Nope. Will my Bernina Record? Yes. And probably still commanding a pretty price tag. (It's also an amazing machine, and after 35 years the stitch quality is still top notch.)


  45. Part 2:
    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?

    No, my first Bernina I bought several years ago after the Kenmore (La! I can't believe how long it's been now). That machine was my first "big boy pants" fancy machine. It was a Bernina 170 QPE. I had never sewn on anything as smooth and precise. It was like we were made for each other. It just felt "right". I actually bought that from a dealer on ebay, quite used, but well-loved and taken care of. I recently sold it to a sweet young couple expecting their first baby. It made me so happy to see that young mother's face lit up with excitement. She had been taking sewing lessons and her teacher had the same machine, so she thought it was the most amazing thing she'd ever seen. She was so sweet!

    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine?
    I am! But I also occasionally sew on a 1937 Singer Featherwweight (see my diatribe above about well-made things lasting forever!) Lord I adore that little thing. She's like a Southern Belle, all sweet and pretty and innocent appearing and then she'll just rip right through all the hard work you give her. (I also have a "spare" machine in the closet for my daughter or for when mine goes in for a cleaning, a Bernina Activa 220.)

    Finally, if you switched brands, why?

    Oops, I forgot one! In between the Kenmore and the Bernina's, I bought a Viking Lily at a Dealer. It was also a beautiful machine with a wonderful stitch quality. It's a well-respected machine and still sought after today. I just sold it over the summer to a lady whose husband is a teacher in a mission school in Germany. Her Lily had died and she was desperate. Mine had been sitting packed in its box for a couple of years. IT was a match made in heaven.

    If I ever switch brands (I don't really plan on ever buying another machine though) I would definitely consider a Janome or a Viking.

    Sewing (and in its way, the blogging community) saved my life. I was in a bad place as a single mother of two toddlers, no way to improve my station and rurally located, so not much contact with the outside world. I was living a very lonely, solitary existence. Discovering a passion and a hobby (and at times a way to make extra money) gave me a reason to get up every day. Sometimes that's all I needed, a reason.

    My life has been made richer for this beautiful creative experience, and I'm extremely thankful and grateful to have discovered it.

  46. When I was a child my mother used to sew on an old Singer with a foot treadle that she was given by my Grandmother (I guess that gives away how ancient I am!). She later upgraded to an electric Singer and I learnt to sew on that. Much later I bought a machine of my own which was a Brother, I can't remember why I chose this brand but I sewed happily on it for many years. I then took a long, long break from sewing. When I took up sewing again I dusted down the Brother sewing machine (which still worked fine) but before long I felt it was time to invest in a new machine - I am now sewing on a Janome 6600P. I switched brands after doing a lot of research and some test driving. The Janome wasn't cheap but I liked its size and sturdiness and my heart told me it was the machine for me. However, more recently I bought a second, way cheaper, mechanical (turn knobs, not press buttons!) Singer machine which I use for top- stitching and other odds and ends to save me having to keep changing thread and needles when I am sewing on the Janome. I chose this one because of the price and a sentimental attachment to the first machine I sewed on. Carolyn, I loved your post - a great reminder of the emotional attachment we can feel to our sewing machines and the part they play in our history!

  47. I learned to sew on my mother's Singer (not sure what model) from the 80's. It was a nice one, with lots of stitches most of which have never been used. The best feature it has is auto-tension. After that my mothers bought me $99 Singer Simple, I was making a prom dress for a friend and she didn't want me to "mess up" hers. I could never get that thing to work. It now lives in my closet and I finished it on my mother's machine. Right before my wedding my grandmother bought a new machine (a brother with all kinds of stitches that she DOES uses) and she gave me her very old singer. The bobbin mechanism was messed up. It appears a piece was broken. My now father-in-law (who's since passed) repairs old machines and did try to fabricate me a replacement part, but it still never worked right for me and is in my closet. Then my mother bought a new machine and gave me her old one, the Singer I learned on. It's bobbin tension was all weird, but a LONG over-due cleaning and tune up at the local sewing machine center and now it works great! So I'm back where I started!

  48. An ancient singer when I was 13 or 14, which I had until for my 21st birthday I got a New Home that did a zig zag (progress).

    I was 44 before I upgraded again, saw a nice Janome 7000 that did everything and on impulse got the plastic out. I kept her for 19 years and then bought a Pfaff Select 2 (I couldn't afford the Janome 6600). Then 5 months later I got the Expression 2 (kept the Select).

    I then bought a Bernina 1015, kept her for 11 months and then sold her to buy a Husqvarna Mega Quilter then bought a Bernina 215 for downstairs. So now at pushing 70 I have four sewing machines plus a Janome Overlocker and Coverpro.

    I was very envious when I saw your new machine but it was a bit too rich for me although I will always hanker after another Janome

  49. I learned to sew on my mother's Featherweight, and I used it to make my prom dress and my wedding dress. I asked for a new, "top of the line" Singer for a wedding gift. Bah!! Horrible, but because it was a wedding gift It took me way too long to ditch it, so I gave up sewing for years. I eventually bought a cheap Janome, second-from-the-bottom of the line model. I'm still using it, and I'm not tempted to upgrade because I love it.. It is so satisfactory, I also bought a Janome serger- second-from-the-bottom of the line! I love it, too.

  50. I started sewing at a very wee age because my mom was a professional seamstress/tailor for over 30 years. She used Singers, and while I do not remember all the models, at the time she used them, they were made very well. My husband bought me my very own sewing machine about 23 years ago. It is a Singer/White 4000 series (I cannot remember the exact model no. off the top of my head), and I still have it. It is a very sturdy machine. I just upgraded about a month-1/2 ago to the same Janome you have. I love it! I use most all the features, and it sews like a dream. I pray that it holds up as well as my Singer has. For a short time I did own a Janome serger, but I did not like it. It always seemed to have trouble.

  51. Currently sewing on a Bernina, and I also have a Babylock that I use as a backup. I have sewn with other brands--I used to have a New Home 5000 (Janome) and also a Brother. When I learned to sew, I used my mom's solid metal White--in a cabinet and only sewed straight stitch. It was green too! And I used an old style black Singer at my Grandma's--it even had the bentwood cover. I still have it but it needs some work.

  52. My first machine was a hand me down from my step mother. I then bought a Kenmore on time like you. I used that machine for 20 years and loved it. My daughter knocked it off the dresser and I bought another Kenmore. My next machine was a top of the line Brother Ult 2002. I'm still using it and it's a dream. I also have a Brother 1500 straight stitch machine I love. I have a top of the line Huskeylock and also a seperate coverstitch machine because I was to lazy to switch the other one over. My husband bought me the Brother ULT for Christmas so that's how I switched brands. Best present ever. He loves to tell people it's the most expensive thing he's ever bought that he couldn't drive.

  53. I currently and mostly use my Juki commercial straight stitch machine.
    This is the first of this brand that I've sewn with ,and I've been using it for over 12 years now. I came to use the Juki for it's speed since I do custom sewing and alterations from my home, I needed something that would help me get the job done quickly. I'm not sure how I came to this particiular brand, but I love and don't see me changing in the near future.
    I,also, use a Juki serger that I love! And, I have a Elna Heirloom which I use for my basics like button holes and stuff.

  54. Oh Carolyn, the memories this brings back. I started sewing on my MIL's old Singer after I got married. I moved up to a Dressmaker from Wal-Mart that I loved.
    After wearing that machine practically out , my husband bought me a Bernette. Then it was like galloping with wild horses! Nothing could keep me away from Berninas. I taught classes, cleaned peoples toilets, anything to find extra income for my dream machine. I worked at the local Bernina dealership filling in when needed just to get to use the machines. Lust it was I am sure! I taught serger classes for years. Two years ago , one of my former students, gave me her Bernina 200/730. I cried when she gave it to me.She has macular degeneration and cannot sew any longer. She was eighty seven years young and embroidering her panties with it. So that huge blessing is my current machine. I have a couple of Bernina sergers and an older Bernina 910. And a Brother coverstitcher. I have never felt the same way about it though. The purr of the Bernina just speaks to my soul i think. Love lust whatever it was still brings joy to my heart soul and mind whenever I am sewing.

  55. I started on a treadle machine when I was about 13.When I got my first teaching job the very first thing I bought was a Brother sewing machine on a "budget plan".That lasted for about 5 years.Then I bought a Singer Touch n'Sew and used it until about 1982 when my then husband bought me the first electronic machine that Singer put out. I loved that machine.They made them to last in those days and I sewed to my heart's content until the motor went in 1997. There followed two more Singers, then two Kenmores, I've still got the Kenmore but Now have just acquired my first Janome which I love. And that's my story.

  56. Hello Carolyn - To add to the wonderful postings - I started sewing in the mid-60s on my mom's Kenmore (50s vintage). Traded that in for a Singer 626 that I bought (on credit) from the Singer Center in Rockefeller Center in 1967. In the 70s my hubs bought me a Singer Athena 2000 (1st computerized machine) and I sewed all my girls clothes on it till the 90s when I bought my Bernina 1630. Had that until last year when it was fried by a lightening strike. For me there's nothing like Bernina and I have another 1630 on the way from Ebay. I miss the old singer machines tho and do have a 401A. Its such a shame Singer quality isn't anywhere near what it used to be.
    P.S. I'm a big fan of your blog and always follow it. You're terrific!

    1. HI, I imagine I am being slightly random publishing this question here, but your comment is one of the first things that comes up when I google search Bernina 1630. I am hopeful you may have some suggestions for my 1630. I bought it used from a service person who said it was in excellent condition etc and it sewed well for a few weeks (did a huge set of curtains, patched kid's jeans sideways (exciting) etc) but now the thread nests on every type of fabric and with all the thread I've tried. I've cleaned the bobbin area a lot, but find it difficult since the housing does not remove like in older models (eg my old 830). Any ideas? I get tense now when sewing waiting to hear the thread get caught. I've had to put it away and go back to my 830 that sews a little weak now as the engine is almost all used up but at least it doesn't nest. Hope you are well!

  57. When I was growing up my mother had a Kenmore, purchased sometime in the fifties. At some point after I got out of college she and I together (I was sewing more than she was by then) bought a Bernina. This was when Bernina was a great machine. After I left home, she let me take the old Bernina, and she bought a newer Bernina - actually a Bernette, which was a cheap piece of crap. When she passed away, I got the Bernette as well, which I've since gotten rid of. I still have the old Bernina.

  58. i'm of the "retro is so cutting edge" school. HA!

    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? i'm sewing on a singer featherweight and an elna overlocker.

    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?  yes-- i tried some new low end singers, brothers and janome but they didn't come close to my featherweight. but, they were the "cheap" end of the line, around 200.

    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine? yes! i adore my featherweight, even though she's only straight stitch. however, if i didn't have my overlocker i'd get tired of all those french seams.

    If so, why? i love the look of her, the fact that she's all metal, and i love that i can oil and fix her completely on my own (i'm a hands on kinda gal).

    Finally, if you switched brands, why? actually, at one point i did have an old gimbels branded kenmore machine. and i currently have a vintage riccar at my mominlaw's house that i often yearn for, because of all those stitch options, and the ability to move needle position. i can only imagine i'd fall for a new high end machine that does the dishes for you.

  59. > What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on?

    I use a Bernina 1020 regularly and just bought a back up Pfaff Ambition Essentials that so far hasn't come out of the box.

    > Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?

    I'd borrowed a Bernina from a friend for a few months because of their excellent stitch quality for free motion machine quilting while waiting to find a used one I could afford.

    > Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine? If not, why not?

    I'm still sewing on the Bernina. My first sewing machine was a Kenmore that was a gift. My second was a White that I outgrew the abilities of so I bought a Janome which I used until I took up quilting and kept until my daughter left home and then gave it to her. The Bernina was bought for my quilting career because of the stitch quality I mentioned earlier. The Pfaff that I just got was bought for its simplicity, quality, and out of fear of not having a machine as the Bernina is showing signs of aging. Bernina's have become very expensive.

    > If so, why?

    I've been sewing on the Bernina for almost twenty years. I like the stitch quality, the simplicity of the design, and the ease of operation. I'm not one for too many bells and whistles.

    > Finally, if you switched brands, why?

    Every time I switched machine brands it was for the features needed for the work I was doing at that time. I started buying used to get a higher quality machine for a lower price. I've only bought a new machine twice. With fashion sewing the importance was buttonholes and zippers and with quilting the importance was free motion stitch and satin stitch. I have bought all my machines from the same dealer at a local store who gives excellent advice.

  60. My grandmother Mille taught me to sew on the small chain stitch machine that came with her rocketeer singer from the 50s. When I was a teenager, I got a sales job with a local Singer store and use my employee discount and wages to buy an electronic Singer circa 1996. I love that machine. It took me trough college working in the costume shop. It still makes the best button holes you will ever see. Sadly it has started staging revolts every time I sew on Lycra. This is a major problem as I sew dance costumes professionally. Recently have have taken a permanent loan of my Grandmother Junella's Bernina Record. That thing is an utter tank. I have always loved Berninas but have never had the spare cash! I also have a Bernette serger that my aunt gave me that I love. I have my great aunt's tabletop Brother and a similar model to my Grandmother's rocketeer. My collection is getting out of hand!!

  61. First, I enjoy your blog and sewing adventures so much! My first sewing was done on my mom's Singer Featherweight, which was a gift to her from her m-i-l when she and Daddy married in 1947. I borrowed a machine that could zig-zag in college for a special project. Then my parents gave me a Singer mechanical machine in 1977, which I still have and use occasionally - many garments were made on that machine. My first purchase for myself was a Singer 6268 embroidery machine, which I loved. It did it all and had an automatic buttonholer - no more attaching a buttonhole attachment! I was influenced to trade that in after about 15 years for a Janome MC10000, which I still use in 2001, when I had an unexpected inheritance from my uncle. This Janome does it all, and while I look at new machines, I couldn't bear to part with this one. I embroider as a part-time business, and it does everything I could want. Janome rocks! I have a great dealer, A&A Sewing in Broussard, LA.

  62. My mother was a professional seamstress and taught me to sew when I was about 7 or 8. I used her machine, which I think was a singer, until I got my very own machine at the age of 15. It was a used Kenmore that I paid $35 for, and I used that sewing machine until I was in my 40's. That's when my husband bought me my Viking, that I use today.

    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? I have a Viking, which was my dream machine from the time I was a teenager. My husband bought it for me about 10 years ago.
    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand? Yes
    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine? Yes - the same machine.
    If so, why? LOVE it!
    Finally, if you switched brands, why? Well, I bought myself a Brother machine, but it was their top-of-the line embroidery machine. I am ashamed to say I have yet to use it.

  63. What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on?

    Bernina 1008

    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?

    My mom has a Bernina Record 930, on which I learned to sew. I am so envious of her machine.

    Are you still sewing on [your original] brand of sewing machine? If not, why not? Finally, if you switched brands, why?

    The first sewing machine that I owned was a New Home. It was a piece of junk, with horrific tension problems. I never completed one single project without tears. Why I used that thing for 9 years I do not know. It was my college graduation gift from my parents and I felt bad replacing it--even though I knew my parents didn't want me to be miserable.

    I went for a Bernina because I knew they were reliable. I bought the 1008 about 8 years ago and it has been a joy every day since then.

  64. 1. I currently have / use Babylock Ellisimo, Singer 201-2, Singer Featherweights, Pfaff 1475CD and Babylock Evolution serger. (Do you sense an addict here?)
    2. (a) The Babylock Ellisimo is the first Babylock I have used/owned. (b) I used the Singer Featherweights and Singer 201-2 when I was a child (Mom thought I was just out to destroy the machine – probably true back then. Luckily Mom put them away as I would certainly have destroyed them. I can appreciate them more now.) (c) My Pfaff 1475CD was the first Pfaff I bought/owned. I bought the Pfaff 7570 PCD and Pfaff 1472 serger later as upgrades. I gave the Pfaff 1472 serger to a friend because I got the Babylock Evolution. I recently gave the Pfaff 7570 PCD away to a young man who needed a machine.
    3. Yes.
    4. N/A
    5. I still use these machines mentioned above as I rotate between them depending on the mood I am in. A woman can change her mind, can't she?
    6. Back in the early 1980s I had a Kenmore sewing machine and a Singer serger which were destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. Then I got the Pfaff 1475 CD.
    The last Pfaff I bought/owned was the 7570 PCD which if I am not mistaken was the last model made in Germany. I decided to try the Babylock Ellisimo because it was getting great reviews and, the dealer I got her from is fantastic and they have a great repair person. The Singer Featherweights and 201-2 were Mom’s. She had a couple more Singer machines which I haven’t looked at just / brought back yet. Where the heck am I going to put them?

    Great post Carolyn!!

  65. I learned to sew on my mother's Singer and although I enjoyed the process, working with the machine was frustrating. It was difficult to control and had limited abilities. I bought my first machine, a Bernina 1130 in 1992. It is a workhorse and is still going strong. I dread the day it dies because I don't know how I could replace it. As my daughters are figure skaters, it is now supplemented by a Bernina 1300MDC serger with which I have an ongoing love-hate relationship.

  66. I learned to sew on my mom's 1964 baby blue Singer 348, which has sewn 10,000 miles and still going (only once in the shop for any reason!). When I got married she bought me a 1966 turquoise Singer 628 Touch and Sew. Unfortunately, it was one of the first machines to have nylon gears, and it was constantly in and out of the shop:( A few years ago I bought a Singer 401 off Craigslist and fixed it up, and I LOVE that machine. I use it to sew pretty much anything, including lots of knits. Since then I have also been given a Singer 301, which honestly is even sturdier than the 401. Although it is a straight stitch machine it sews like a dream. I gave my daughter a Kenmore 1030, and it too is a great little machine. I love how the metal machines feel:)

    I am intrigued to see that there are a lot of other vintage machine users out there. Most of my friends here (who are primarily quilters) sew on top-of-the-line Pfaffs.

  67. Easter of 1984 my mother came home aggravated. She had just come home from the tailor with my Easter dress. I was very top heavy for a 13 year old. She had just paid as much for alterations as she had for the dress, bag and shoes. She promised me that she would not buy me another garment of clothing until my body ordered itself out.

    Family tradition is we get a big gift for graduations. My brother got his 1st stereo. I asked for a sewing machine. I figured I could do my own alterations and maybe then my mother would start buying me clothes again. My mother keeps her promises.

    • What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on?
    The same machine I got for 8th grade graduation present. Kemore ultra stitch 16

    • Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?

    • Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine?

    • If not, why not?

    • If so, why?
    It still works

    • Finally, if you switched brands, why?
    n/a. I do have my eye on a $1000 Singer that does everything but cut the pattern out. But that will require a bigger mayonnaise jar….

  68. Oooh, I love talking sewing machine shop :) I actually learned how to sew on two different machines - my mom's machine (a Janome Memory Craft 4000 - I know this because she eventually gave it to me... and I still have it haha. I keep it as a back-up for when my machine is in the shop or if a friend needs a machine to borrow), and some super duper cheap Singer, I think my mom paid $50 for it at Target. Woof. The Singer didn't last long in my house, that thing was terrible.

    I loved the Janome while I had it, but after a couple of years (at this point the machine was less than 10 years old), it started squeaking like crazy whenever I used it. I took it to the shop, and they showed me the squeaking was because the plastic gears were wearing down on the inside :( That was enough to turn me off of Janome, at least the lower-end to mid-range ones - I mean, that wasn't a terribly expensive machine by any means (I think my mom paid around ~$600 for it), but it also wasn't a super cheap hobby machine. I bought a used Pfaff 7570 and used that for about 5 years.

    When I decided to upgrade my machine again, I went with Bernina, a 350 PE. I really really loved my Pfaff - but it's an older Pfaff, from when they were still being produced in Germany. I do not like how the new Pfaffs sew, and I HATE the drop-in bobbins. I did some research and some testing, and ultimately ended up with Bernina.

    I also have a Singer Featherweight and a Babylock Imagine serger :)

  69. 1. Singer 404 Slant Needle Straight Stitch, circa 1950's
    2. See above, still using the exact same machine
    3. Yep, still going strong, now I have 2 of the same machine and also a Singer 405 (the Rocketeer) also a slant needle, it has cams to do other stitches, zig zag etc.
    4. and 5. I am loyal to my machines because they work so well. The old Singers have such serious punching power they can sew anything. I don't forsee ever getting another machine. Considering I have done all my sewing on these to good effect.
    The Number 1 question I am asked is something along the lines of " you must have a fancy sewing machine" and I can honestly answer "you have no idea how simple and basic my machine is"
    If I magically received a fancy new machine I would not say no, but I have no interest now. Also for all my current Singers, the bobbins, feet and accessories all are interchangeable and well made, last for 50 years. (inherited my 1st machine from my grandmother) Also I LOVE the drop-in bobbin style on my Singers, whenever I have sewn on another style it makes me crazy.
    So I will stick with the cozy hum of my faithful Singer friends :)
    Now a new serger....that would be welcome!

  70. Great story. I love all the comments.
    I am a vintage mechanical machine enthusiast and currently sew on a Bernina 930, alternating Necchi Supernovas, and a Singer 15-91 the most. (Yes I have more machines :)
    I learned on my Mom's Singer 403 or 404. Believe it or not she had it mounted in a Featherweight table that is now the most collectible Singer cabinet. Unfortunately it is long gone. I also used my Grandma's black singer (perhaps a model 66?) and her treadle.
    Upon my graduation from HS my parents gave me a Singer Futura 920. I sewed happily on that machine for many, many years until she met an unfortunate accident. I still have her, but she cannot perform as well, so the hunt was on.
    I still love the old Singers, but have been totally seduced by the precision machining of the Necchis (smooth!) and the wonderful Bernina feet. I tried computerized machines for a while (a Bernina 150) but they never felt or sounded right to me.

  71. I started sewing with my Mum's Singer. I went through various machines in Home Ec-Bernia, White, and various other no name brands. I left sewing for a few years and when I came back to it I purchased a midline Kenmore from Sears. That was the machine my sewing teacher had and I liked it, so I bought one. I still have that machine and love it, no problems. I've since added two Kenmore sergers to my little sewing family and am in the market for a coverstitch machine. I've been very happy with my Kenmores and I'm sad Sears doesn't carry them any longer.

  72. My mom had an old Singer straight stitch in a cabinet and then bought a Kenmore "portable", which she gave me to take to college.

    In grad school, I sold my Kenmore to another student and bought a Bernette 500 (the top of the line Bernette but still cheaper than the Bernina line). That came with the famous Bernina lessons and I outgrew the Bernette very quickly.

    I sold the Bernette to another friend and bought a Janome Memorycraft from an ad on Usenet. Thankfully, the seller, a total stranger, was honest and the machine served me for many years. Janomes are wonderfully robust machines and I'd be sewing on it today if I hadn't gotten medical bad news.

    My husband wanted to buy me something expensive while I was homebound for treatment and recovery. It was all I could do to stop him from buying the Bernina Aurora QE with the full embroidery system. I got the model w/o embroidery and that is my primary machine.

    The Janome is still going strong. It's my backup and teaching (children) machine.

    IMHO, Janome is the best value and Bernina is slightly better (but not worth the price difference). But, should your husband want to do something nice for you, then accept it graciously.

    I have a 18 yo Bernina serger made by Juki and a 1 yo Pfaff serger, also made by Juki in Japan. I use them both, but the Bernina is on it's last legs and spare parts are difficult to find.

  73. I love that machine, though I'm disappointed its not red anymore.
    I'm on a brother cs6000i. It's my first machine, and it's been good, but I'd love one with a few more features. I've tested out a lot of machines, and that Janome 7700 was my favorite. Now it's just a matter of getting the husband on board with the upgrade :)

  74. I started sewing about 9 or 10 years ago (I don't really count my Home Ec classes and occasional teenage crafts!), when my sister in law sent me her old, 1980s era "Joann Sonata" machine with my mom on one of her trips. It's an old metal-body machine (must've been nearly one of the last!) and just sews without any fuss, even though I use a voltage converter with it to step down our UK voltage to what the US machine expects! Even though I've acquired two other sewing machines (a tiny travel machine and a vintage hand-crank Singer), the Sonata remains my main sewing machine, and I have no intention of ever switching to another machine. As for the brand, it's strange because I'm fairly certain this has nothing to do with the Joann shops, and seems to be a bit of a mystery online, but I get random thank you emails from people all over the globe who picked one up second hand without a manual, then found my scanned manual pdf through some searching!

    I honestly think the only reason I'd switch away from this machine is if it were "totalled", like a car - beyond fixing!

  75. I learned to sew on an old Singer with an attachment that made a zig zag stitch. It came in a cabinet which I reused when I bought a new Kenmore after I got married. I don't remember when I got this one. The next machine I got was a Viking, my current brand. It was a 940 I think. Now I am sewing on a Viking Platinum 850. I like it; I don't love it. A few years ago I added a vintage Viking; an all metal 610 for the fabulous topstitching it does and the fact that I can use heavy topstitching thread in it. Would I buy another Viking? Not a new one. Since I am not in the market for a new machine it will have to do for now.

  76. I am currently sewing on a Singer 301. I have no idea what the first brand I ever sewed on was. It was my mothers. Since she has her feather weight from 195?, sales receipt and all, my guess would be that's what I first sewed on.

    I have a collection of old old Singers and haven't found I need anything else.

  77. I haven't been sewing as much lately but I vow to get back at it. I do love to sew amoung many other things. I started sewing in Jr. Highschool about age 13-14 years old in home economics clases & never looked back. My grandmother sewed so I used to watch her and caught the fever. My parents encouraged my sewing so my dad bought me an "Electro Hygiene" machine from a Sew & Vac store. It was a heavy metal body straight stitch & zig-zag. I was on top of the world and sewed on that machine for years & years. The first machine I purchased for myself was an ELNA Carina, after I got married but I had to twist my husbands arm because at the time it was a top-of-the line machine. I still have that machine and will never get rid of it. The current machine I use is a Viking Designer SE & I really like it but if I were purchasing a machine now I would probably go with a Janome because of value of what you get for the price. I also have a Sears Kenmore which is also a great machine for the price, it's my back-up. I've never had a Singer sewing machine but I currently have a Singer Serger and had one previously. I also own a Evolve Baby Lock serger which is my dream serger. I like trying many brands of machines just to see how they sew and have different features available.

  78. I learned to sew on a 1954 Elan Supermatic and occasionally I was allowed to sew on my Grandmother's Singer from the 1930s. I was not a good sewing student as a young girl as I didn't have much stick-to-itiveness. When I graduated from college I needed work clothes on a very tight budget so I started sewing on my roommates old Singer, which was 20 some years old and only sewed medium weight cottons. I got a lot of basic clothes out of it and when my mom came to visit me she bought a mid-level Kenmore for me. I used that for a couple of years, sewing increasingly ambitious projects, spending most of my spare time sewing. My mom decided I needed a better machine and she bought me an Elna Carina which I still have and use regularly. The Kenmore now belongs to my step-daughter who uses it to make halloween costumes and other occasional projects. Some years back I saw an old Elna Supermatic in a shop and I bought it just because it reminded me of my childhood when my mom made all our clothes (and wore her supermatic out). I use that machine too.

    I also sew on a Bernina Arista 200. I was perfectly happy with my Elna, but my mom loves machine embropidery and she insisted I have a new machine with embroidery capability. Neither of us were happy with the new Elnas, so she gave me her Viking Designer 1 when she wanted to upgrade to a newer machine. It worked beautifully but I hated it. It seemed coarse to me compared to the quiet elegant stitches of my Elna, even though it would handle some newer fabrics, especially some knits with lycra, better than my old Elna did.

    Eventually I sewed on a friend's Bernina, and deciding I liked it, decided to trade the Viking in for a Bernina. I chose the Arista because I sewed on every machine in the shop and this machine was the one I liked the most, that reminded me the most of the way my old mechanical Elnas sew but with extra bells and whistles. It also had the embroidery features, which I knew would make my mom happy and giver her something to play with when she visited as I knew she would be sad that I was parting with the Viking. Since my husband had given me a choice between a fur coat and a sewing machine for my birthday, I opted for the machine and he was happy to oblige.

    If I needed a new machine tomorrow I would probably buy another Bernina. I don't see why I would ever need another machine, but it may happen. The older I get the more I return to basic garment sewing, so I would probably need only a basic machine with simple stitches. Even then I might have trouble as I get so picky about the way machine works. I find it sad that high quality simple mechanical machines like my older machines are no longer made. They last forever and sew beautifully, although I understand that to duplicate them today they would cost more than fancier machines with all the extra features.

  79. Seems like you hit a nerve. The first sewing machine I sewed on was a White in the middle 1970's. A few years later I bought a Kenmore sewing maching and have used it ever since. It is a workhorse. I have been give a sewing maching sold by JC Penney's and recently I have been given a sewing maching made by Brother. Always nice to have a back up or a machine to loan.

  80. Our histories are remarcably similar. I sewed on my mother's ancient Singer until my Bat-Mitzvah, when I used the money I received to buy my first portable Singer. I carried it back and forth to college, then upgraded to the (then) Kenmore top of the line mechanical. My uncle offered to buy me a special present when I turned 40, and I chose a Pfaff 1473, which is still my primary machine. I love everything about it except the button holes, so I also have a featherweight, a mid-range Singer, and a Kenmore 158. I recently saw my first Singer style at a garage sale, and for old times... I've bought machines at garage sales before, cleaned them up and donated them to local charities. I've been looking at a "big deal" Janome, but my Pfaff just keep chugging along. Thanks for the story and the trip down memory lane.

  81. I always love an excuse to tell my sewing machine story! I got a little hand-crank Singer when I was 8 that only sewed a chain stitch. You had to secure the ends or the seam just zipped undone! I sewed my very first dress on that thing though as well as dolls and their outfits.

    At 12 I got a Piedmont (Hudson's Bay Co's brand) that only sewed straight stitch so at 17 I saved my money and bought a Brother that could (gasp!) zigzag as well. At 28, I bought a Pfaff 1222E that was top-of-the-line at the time. It had quite a few stitches, both utilitarian and fancy, and could sew through multiple layers of denim (and the tip of my daughter's finger! oops) with ease. I loved the walking foot too. 35 years later I still have this machine and it remains my only one. I love her. We are bonded.

    You don't mention sergers but I'm only on my second one of those. First a 5-thread Elna which I was never particularly happy with and then a Pfaff Coverstyle, which I love. I think I should have stuck with Pfaff. We somehow speak the same language!

    Somehow I've never been tempted to get one of those fancy computerized sewing machines. Especially after all the stories I've heard about the troubles they can have. My old Pfaff has only been in the shop twice in her life! And not because anything was actually wrong but just because I thought it could use a professional check-up. Clean bill of health and we're back to sewing again.

  82. Everyone has posted such interesting stories! Here is mine...

    My paternal grandmother was a professional seamstress and sewed clothes for my Betsy Wetsy (that should date me, huh?) when I was a young girl of 4 or 5. When she passed away in the late 1960s, she willed me her machine. I was a young mother in my early 20s, and don't quite remember how it got to me from where she lived in Omaha, but it is the only machine I have sewn on to this date.

    It is a sturdy workhorse Singer 401A, and includes the Griest buttonholer and all the cams for decorative stitches available at that time. It still is a beautiful machine, and I remember standing in front on her as she allowed me to watch the dresses and coats come together for my doll.

    The only other machine I have sewn on is a Babylock ProLine serger, purchased in the late 80s, while working part time in a (now defunct) fabric store my son's senior year in high school (that final year is expensive, isn't it?!)

    I never looked toward using or purchasing any new (plastic) machines or even trying another brand until I began reading the blogs a couple of years ago. I now am having some yearnings for embroidery stitches or features available on other brands and models. I made the mistake recently of watching a machine demonstration and left the demonstration longing for a machine that automatically 'cut the thread' or one that automatically stops with your needle up/down at your direction.

    Somebody help me! I'm on the edge...and still stitching! :D

  83. 1. What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on?

    I am using a Brother 9050. I am a bit ashamed to admit it was a WalMart purchase. There is a bit of a story to it though. I was sewing costumes for skating competition and I was leaving for nationals in about a day and a half. My plan was to finish sewing everything before flying (so I could leave my machine home - flying with 3 pairs of skates and a sewing machine was NOT happening) and finish the rhinestones and decorations at nationals (the costumes were needed for the last two days I was there for over two weeks, so I had time). Anyway, I had to finish a man't sequined tuxedo jacket and a pair of pants, but halfway through a seam in the jacket my machine jammed up. I was not unused to thread jams, and sewing on sequins can be a bit annoying, so I thought I would re-thread and all would be well. Not so. The fly wheel was jammed, and upon further inspection it looked like one of the plastic gears has cracked. Since I was using a fairly inexpensive machine, getting it repaired wasn't really worth the cost, plus I was on a deadline, so I didn't really have time to wait for repairs anyway. Unfortunately my machine crapped out around 10pm. And I was on a deadline. So I went to the one place you can buy a sewing machine at midnight - Walmart. Now, I know that it is not optimal, but there is something to be said about 24 hour access to sewing supplies. Of the options the best choice for me was the Brother 9050, which I have been using for the past 9 months. It might have been a WalMart machine, but so far I love it!

    2. Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?

    No, my first ever sewing machine was the Brother CS6000i. I had a bad experience in middle school home ec (they trained us to fear the machines), so I wanted to start with a fairly inexpensive machine, in case I broke it. I was pretty rough on it, but it lasted me over three years before it finally died (see the above story). I fed it everything from wool melton to glitter stretch velvet to poly chiffon and it handled everything as well as I could have asked. I like a lot of the features Brother has included on their lower end machines (needle up/down, variable speed, stitch options) and I liked sewing on it, but then again I don't have a lot for comparison.

    3. Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine? If so why?

    Yup, I have only ever owned Brother machines (two sewing machines, one serger). I wouldn't mind trying a Janome or Bernina, but I have been happy with my Brother machines so far, so I would probably still consider a higher end Brother if I were ever looking to get a top of the line machine. Actually, I have been sort of thinking that it might be nice to have a better machine and keep the Brother 9050 as a back up, but I don't really have the money or space for that right now. On the other hand, I don't want to have to make another midnight sewing machine purchase anytime soon either!

  84. Answers to your questions:
    1. Bernina.
    2. Yes, first one from this brand.
    3. Yes, still using it.
    4. N/A
    5. Still works and does what I need it to do.
    6. Switched from an Singer Genie. Bernina had the features I needed.

  85. I'm so glad that your sewing machine story turned out well in the end.
    My first sewing was, at age 9, on my mother's Singer Treadle which I was not allowed to touch. I did it anyway, when she wasn't looking. Fortunately, I didn't break it as she was certain that I would do. I was fascinated my that machine. About 5 years later and much nagging by me, my parents bought me a Kenmore. Yes, I remember when Sears sold fabric, machines, and notions. I never could get the machine tension to work correctly. I kept the machine and tried again after my children were born - no luck, even with dealer assistance. When I was close to retirement, I bought a Bernina 830 because it had an automatic tension adjustment and the dealer promised lessons. I wanted to make a t-shirt quilt (never has happened). I upgraded to an Artista 200 and have been sewing happily on it ever since. It is too heavy for me to cart around now so I bought a Bernina 830. I often use it instead of the bigger machine because it has a great straight stitch. I also have a Bernina serger and coverstitch machine. I've stayed with the brand primarily because of dealer support.

    Congratulations, Carolyn, if you made it this far. You have a lot of reading to do. We all love to talk about sewing machines!

  86. I learned to sew when I was 14yrs. My mother had a green sewing machine. I don't remember the make or model. I sewed on that machine until my mother brought me a Singer for my high school graduation present. It wasn't the top of the line(touch and sew was) but it was an expensive machine in 1969($200.00)And by the way, we brought the machine at Macy. I still have that machine and sewed on that machine until about 1983.

    My first husband had a straight stitch commerical singer(he was going to start a factory-don't ask!) that he gave to me, when I asked for it. I was sewing a lot of clothing for my family and most of it was straight stitching. I thought that it would be faster then my household singer. I've been sewing on the commercial Singer ever since. In 1996 my present husband bought me a Berina 1620. Lots of fancy stitches when I need or want them; I only use it regularly for buttons and buttonholes. Still use the commerical Singer for must of my sewing. I also have a Singer serger. Nothing fancy just a 3/4 thread machine. Doesn't do lock stitch.

  87. I learned on an ancient Singer, cast iron variety from the 50's of my Mothers, straight stitch only and I lusted after a zig zag.

    Next, I bought the same Sears Kenmore one you bought, I believe. I used it for at least 20 yrs and then passed it along to my sister in law.

    Then and finally, my husband bought me a Viking Designer 1+ with all the bells and whistles. And I discovered embroidery is not my thing.

    I still have it and am taking it in for a cleaning sometime next week.

    It has been a great machine, but I aspire to one of the newer models with built in bobbins, automatic threading and cutting, etc.

    I have followed your descriptions of the Jancomes with interest and am thinking of testing them out since you seem to be so very happy with yours. (Pity about the violent death of your machine in the fire.)

    I look forward to reviewing all the comments here to help form an opinion of what to do next re a machine. As it will probably be my last machine, I want to get it right. Any comments will be gratefully received.


  88. What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? Viking, DH had to convenience me to buy the machine because it was a lot of money back in the day.

    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand? My mother taught me to sew with a machine from Montgomery Wards.

    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine? no
    If not, why not? I had upgraded to the Viking because I outgrow the basic machines.
    If so, why?
    Finally, if you switched brands, why? Montgomery Wards went out of business. I have a Janome coverstitch and embroidery machine. I like both of them. One of these days, I'll upgrade to a Janome sewing machine. They have had great reviews from women that I admire.

  89. Oooh, it's fun to hear about your sewing machine history (although I'm so sorry to hear about the fire). I sew on a mechanical Janome that I really like! It's my first machine (I borrowed a cheap Brother from my sis when I first got interested in sewing, but I didn't really like it-- it couldn't get through thick fabric at all and often jammed up). I can't lie, though-- I often fantasize about higher-end machines!

  90. I learned to sew on my mom's Singer. I am now sewing with a Kenmore machine. I am not sure when it was purchased it was my Grandma's machine and was passed down to me after she died. I just arranged to purchase a Brother.
    My Kenmore is great but it does not have the stretch stitches that I would like to try out. I won't be getting rid of the Kenmore ever because it will sew through anything.

  91. I started out using my mom's Kenmore, a horrifically heavy and noisy machine that she called the Monster in the Box because she didn't like to take it out of the case. I think I learned to use it just to be contrary. And then I flunked home ec in school for non-cooperation and bad sewing (while wearing my home-sewn clothes, mind you), so go figure. When I moved out, mom (who was as contrary as me) wouldn't let me have the Kenmore so I hand-sewed until I could afford a cheap machine. I don't remember what it was, but I killed it.

    I tend to stick to Singer machines. I'm hard on my machines, I don't maintain them as well as I should, I ask them to do things they aren't necessarily designed to do. So when one fades, I can just swap out all my snap on feet and bobbins and such into the next machine.

    I'm using a Singer now, a discontinued model that I liked so much when I beat the last one I found a reconditioned one of the same model. After about two years, it's beginning to get a little grumbly, so I make take it in for service before it bites the dust.

    I don't have a serger, sew a lot of knits but never felt the need for one. (I'd probably love it, but I don't need another machine). Oh, other machines? I have a Juki (that needs repairs), a coverstitch that does the only function I would want from a serger, and several old metal mechanical machines that were either trashpicks, flea market finds or gifts from friends. I accumulate the lame and unwanted, apparently.

    But what I really want is a treadle, so I can sew when the lights go out.

  92. Apparently we all love to talk about our machines. My first experience was working the treadle on an old Singer for my grandma. When I was old enough I joined the 4-H sewing club and learned to sew on an electric Singer sewing machine. When I got married I received a Singer sewing machine of my own and I did a lot of sewing on it, especially for my children. That Singer had very iffy tension which made for some frustrating experiences. It also had limited power for sewing multiple layers of heavy material. When I was taking a jeans making class and saw a Pfaff easily bar tack 10 layers of denim I made the switch to a Pfaff and I loved that machine for 25 years. Unfortunately the piece that puts the zig in the zag cracked and it can only do straight stitches. I searched everywhere for the part including Ebay and finally had to admit I was out of luck. I purchased a new Pfaff and of course I'm happy that I did so because it's lighter and has great features. I also have a Janome serger.

  93. I started out hand sewing doll clothes and graduated to sewing my own clothes (around 2nd grade) on a sewing machine, probably a Singer or Kenmore. When I got married I sewed on my ex's grandmother's treadle, sewing for me, my ex and my two boys. I used to earn my "own" money by picking apples and peaches at 25 cents a bushel crate, using the roughly $400 I earned each summer to purchase my ex's birthday present in October. The year he traded his brand new hunting rifle for two used ones two weeks after his birthday was the last year I used my earnings for him. The next year I bought a top of the line Sears Kenmore (the year before the freearm came out) and his birthday present that year? A package of underwear. I still have the machine, I don't still have the ex. A couple of years ago I bought a new, lighter Kenmore to take to quilt classes, but the old Kenmore is still my "go-to" machine. I have sewn everything from batiste to upholstering a sofa with it. I can't stand the thought of parting with her or retiring her. We've been together almost 40 years.

  94. I too started out on a generic department store brand sewing machine that was over 30 years olf inherited from my grandmother, that only did straight and zig zag stitch. I used that for a long time before I was given a basic Brother machine as a present which I used for about 10 years before upgrading to a mid range Brother machine which I am still using. I stuck with Brother partly because I was used to their set up, but mainly because I had a few accessories and feet that would only fit the Brother brand and I didn't want to rebuy if I changed brands. I was happy with the Brother machine I had, but I needed to upgrade to get a one step buttonhole and a few extra stitches. As for my overlocker, well I have you to thank for that! I bought the Babylock Enlighten after hearing you rave about yours, upgrading from a basic Toyota model that was also a gift.

  95. I asked for a sewing machine for my graduation gift from college. Unbeknownst to my mother, the good Brother sewing machine she'd known and loved had outsourced their very most basic level of machine .. and mine was a mess. I sewed seldom with it, and spent most of my time fighting with my bobbin tension. (I beg people not to buy their machines from big-box stores!)

    About five years ago, my mom traded that in and brought me a basic Elna. Such a sweet machine! It did everything I wanted with no complaining.

    I wasn't ready to trade her in, but my mom thought that I'd been doing so much sewing that I needed a machine with all the bells and whistles, and so she "had my grandpa" buy me a Elna Heirloom machine. Since I do a lot of sewing with fine cottons, it's a perfect fit - I love it!!!

    My local shop trends heavily toward Elnas for their sewing machines, and I've been thrilled. Easy to use, pleasant to deal with.

  96. My mother and grandmother thought that an electric machine was too powerful for a 10-year-old so I learned to sew on a treadle Singer machine that was originally purchased in 1904 by my great grandmother. (I still have that machine - mostly it sits in the hall looking pretty - but it still works.) I graduated to my mother's 1950 Singer straight stitch, then bought a portable Singer after I graduated from college and lived on my own. Around 1975 I got an Elna SU, which I still love and use. At that time, the European sewing machines with cams were about it, so I guess that's why I did not consider sticking with Singer.

  97. I learned to sew at the age of 11 on my mother's Bernina, which by the way, she still has and I covet. I loved that machine. But when it came time to buy one of my own the first year I was married, I purchased a Kenmore, because it was what I could afford. I loved that machine. So much, that two years later I bought a second one and used both for about 20+ years. They were good basic machines and were perfect for me. When it came time to replace them, I bought another Kenmore with more decorative stitches and some basic digitized functions. I've had it about 5 years or so and it's okay...I probably won't ever buy another one. Currently, I'm sewing on that 5 year old Kenmore and an old Singer Touch and Sew that I bought at an estate sale for $30. It was brand new. That baby can sew through anything! I'm likely to not sew with a KEnmore or Singer in the future, and will probably drop the bucks for a Bernina. Full circle.

  98. My first machine was a very basic Kenmore, which I had for my 13th birthday. It had been reduced in price because it was used for demonstrations, and my parents agreed to pay for half of it if I paid the rest out of my babysitting money. They were convinced that I was going to get bored with sewing and wouldn't use the machine. A few years later I bought another Kenmore with a few more features on it, and used it for a couple of years before I moved to England(it was far too heavy to ship so I gave it to my mother who I think got bored with it unlike me). I now have a Husqvarna which I have had for many years and absolutely love.I also have an immaculate Singer from the 50's (an amazing Ebay bargain) which I use as a backup and for buttonholes.

  99. I learned the beginner's sewing in school on a school machine. From then on I had various trash picked hand me down machines that I worked with. Then I decided to try a Bernina as the dealer was down the street from where I lived. What a great machine but not to be mine forever, it got stolen during a fire in my building. I gave up sewing. Then I discovered Brother machines and got to sewing again. I still have that machine but it's getting old and dying. This past Christmas I received a Babylock Decorator's Choice. Love this machine it sews so smoothly and has so many stitches on it.

  100. My sister had bought a Kenmore sewing machine which she never used and gave it to me. It had seven stitches (mechanical) and was easy to sew on. Then many years later my uncle gifted me a Brother industrial machine which I have used a handful of times but was ever so grateful. I love the power on that machine. Then many years after my first baby I went out and bought myself a Pfaff Expression 4.0 which I thoroughly researched. I went for Pfaff because a coworker of mine had purchased one and he swore by the brand. I have not been disappointed yet. Love all three.

  101. My first machine was Riccar Super Lite that I purchased at a dealer on the north side of Houston while attending college. They had a layaway plan which was the only way I could afford the $109.00 machine. It took me forever to pay it off. After college I purchased a $89.00 Brother which was a constant headache and I was never able to truly enjoy my sewing because I was constantly frustrated with the machine. In 2003? I bought a Viking Lilly 535 at my local dealer on layaway for $750.. It was a lovely machine. Worth every penny. Beautiful stitches and smooth and quiet with no headaches I sold it because I wanted more features. Still wondering if I should have kept it?? Bought a used Viking 1+ next that I liked but sold it recently to help pay for my new Bernina 380 which I am bonding with quite nicely

  102. I currently sew on Singer sewing machines. The first machine that I sewed on was a Singer. It is a brand that my family has used for decades. After High School, I purchased my very first sewing machine, a Brother electronic sewing machine that served my well for about twelve years. The next machine purchased was a Singer LX electronic machines. This is one of three Singer machines that I currently use. I would like to purchase a Viking Ruby to add to the collection. Why Viking? I love the embroidery features. For the most part, I really like the Singer brand, but have sewn on Janome, Bernina, and Brother machines with no problems.


  103. My mother had a Singer in a cabinet with a knee pedal, which I didn't like much. I watched my grandmother sew a lot, and my mother sew a very little, and joined a 4H sewing club in 5th grade. We all made green and white striped skirts with an elastic waistline, because that's what Mrs. T bought. Oddly, I don't remember ever bringing mine home or wearing it; she exhibited them at a 4H expo, and I think we moved before I got mine. I took a sewing class in 7th grade, and don't remember what I made. Before I married, my dearly beloved, upon hearing that I could nip in his sweaters at the waist if I had a sewing machine, surprised me with a Brother sewing machine one day. (I knew I would marry him on that day. It's been 34 years.) I used that for 12 years, until 1990, when I got my first Singer with the blind hemming feature. I used that until it died in 2003, and bought another Singer. Then I got a Janome last spring, because my Singer was becoming tempermental (although it's still around as a backup), and I bought the Janome largely because of your glowing reviews. The original Brother is still in the laundry room upstairs, BTW, and is great for things like fixing a seam when one lets go in the laundry (I have white, black and red thread and bobbins upstairs). Plus, I have a 100 year old treadle machine which I found a couple of years ago, and it can't be beat for things like hemming hubby's jeans (he needs a 35" inseam, and wouldn't you know that they're only sold in 34" and 36" length).

  104. The first sewing machine I purchased with my own ,money was a brother. It was the most basic machine you could purchase from Walmart. I may have paid $79 bucks for it.

    I didn't have a dedicated sewing room or table at the time and used to sew using my ironing board as a table. Lol True make it work moments. Then one day the iron board fell over. Bye bye sewing machine. It took me several years to replace.

    Eventually I repurchased the same machine Brother lsi2000 I think and sewed on it for about 5years until I upgraded to a brother embroidery sewing machine combo. And later added a brother 1034d serger.

    I am pretty loyal to the Brother brand since it has been the only brand I've sewn on.


  105. I’ve been sewing since I was a kid, always on a Singer. When I got married, my sewing machine had died and then coincidentally, my mother found (!) a portable Singer in its case next to the dumpster at her apartment complex. Someone didn’t want it but knew that someone else might, so they just left it there rather than putting it inside the dumpster. My lucky day! I made curtains, pillows, simple clothing, etc. until that one too was beyond repair.
    When we unexpectedly became pregnant with our 3rd child at 41, I became very hormonal and was practically lusting over a Pfaff 7570 but it was beyond our budget. Even so, I thought about it all day, every day (very hormonal, remember?) It was going to be a girl, I could sew all sorts of baby things, right? Soon it was Christmastime, and I was still hopeful (translate: moody). On Christmas Eve, there appeared two boxes for me, the exact size of the machine and the separate embroidery attachment. Everyone was so excited and I just knew that it was my dream machine. Imagine how my bubble burst when my “dream” presents were a crockpot and deep fat fryer from Costco! Oh, such a bad idea to give kitchen appliances to a very moody, hormonal, ready-to-give-birth-any-day, 41-year old woman. Needless to say, it was a bit “icy” in my house for a while until hubby could come through with the 7570!

  106. Carolyn, I enjoyed reading your story and the stories of your followers. It brings back so many wonderful memories of my mother.

    I started sewing at age 8 or 9 on my mother's singer treader. My mother was a seamstress so there were at least two or three machines in the sewing room. I wasn't allowed to use her newer machine which was off limits unless she was standing beside me showing me a new technique.

    She purchased a brother or a white machine which became my machine. My mother would purchase those wonderful Vikings machines. The last one she purchased was a computerized Viking. I couldn't believe the prices.

    While reading the stories a question came to mind. Why haven't I purchased the dream machine? Could it be that the machines I've had were great performers? Did I concentrate too much on work that I didn't alot enough time to sewing? Is is that I've never taken the time to walk into a shop and try an updated machine?

    Presently, I am using a National brand which I've had for about 10 years. It's in great shape. It does button holes, ziz zag, etc.
    Last year I purchased a Singer Slant-0-Matic 500 and this month I purchased a Viking 6440.

    So, for my birthday, I've decided to purchase a new serger to add to my collection and enhance the look of my garments. Maybe I'll get some ideas from these wonderful machine stories.

  107. wow! how we sewists like to tell a story!
    * learned on my mom's White sewing machine in the 1950s.
    * purchased a Singer (all metal) portable machine for $99 in 1962. It is still working perfectly for my niece.
    * for my 50th birthday I bought a Viking 1050 and 21 years later am still using it.
    * found a Featherweight at a Salvation Army (would you believe for $50???) about 17 years ago and use that when piecing quilt tops.
    * I have a Husky Lock serger which is about 18-20 years old. Still working very well.
    * I expect to continue to use these three machines "forever"... unless someday the budget allows me to get a self-threading serger!
    They are all so incredibly reliable and they do what I need to do....

  108. WOW! I am enamored reading these stories!

    The first thing(s) I've ever sewn were clothes for my Barbie dolls when I was in 2nd grade. I've thought heavily about sewing as I've grown up but was really (really) intimidated.

    My mom has insisted and insisted that I buy a starter machine and just DO it. So I did! :)

    I bought my first machine January 24...2013! I have been sewing for 2 months and have jumped in the deep end with both feet. I've completed about a dozen garments and am soaking up knowledge everyday.

    My machine is a Singer Talen was $129 at JoAnne's on sale :) It's the perfect little starter machine. It works just fine and is easy to use.

    I am already starting a pot to upgrade in a few years. As you allllll well know, I have a ton to learn still.

  109. 1. What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? Kenmore standard, no bells or whistles. 5 Thread Singer Serger that needs a checkup.

    2. Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand? yes, My Mom's black/gold Singer from 1956. I bought a new basic Singer in 1982.

    3. Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine? No.

    4. If not, why not? Kenmore was cheapest in 1989, when my 1st machine died.

    5. If so, why? I prefer Singer, but I needed a machine and a dealer machine was not in my budget, and to far to travel.

    6. Finally, if you switched brands, why? n/a

    After your recent posts about the Janome 8900, I am saving up for one for later this year. Maybe my local Janome dealer will have a sale during National Sewing Month in September or I will wait until Christmas. I can not will be mine.

    Southeastern WI

  110. I learned to sew by hand, making clothes for dolls, and then on my mum's machine, which was a Janome. She still has it - she originally thought she'd give it to me, but then decided she couldn't bear to part with it, so bought me a brand-new Janome for my 21st birthday. In fact, my mum still has her machine - it was her first machine - and she has just started re-learning sewing. My own Janome saw me through another 10 years until I moved overseas, and I gave it to a friend of a friend who wanted to learn to sew. I don't know where it is now, but I feel good knowing someone else has gained something from it! I bought a cheap Brother machine for while I lived in NZ, then sold it on to a woman who wanted to teach her 11 year old to sew on her own machine!

    I move back home to Australia three years ago, and bought myself a newer electronic Janome (sticking to the brand I love). I'm very attached to the one-step buttonholes! I love the full-circle feeling of sewing clothes for my daughter the way my mother did for me. As soon as we can arrange the shipping, however, I'll also have a 1940s era Singer that belonged to my grandmother.

  111. I am late to this party, sorry, it's been a busy week.

    Here we go:

    1. I currently sew on a Pfaff 7570.

    2. Like everyone else I started on a Singer, I moved to Pfaff because of the built-in walking foot which for so long was a Pfaff exclusive and a wonderful feature. Other companies, like Janome now have it.

    3.I gave up on Singers because of the quality issues, they were the first it seemed to outsource production and it really showed. All the companies now do this so Singers may be better now.

    I have sewn on all brands at some stage, and have a vintage Bernina I bought used I still have to explore.

    If I were to try another brand it would be Janome, they seem to have many great features and a Pfaff mechanic once told me they were very well made.

  112. A little late to the party, but I just love this question!

    I learned to sew on my Mother's Necchi. My Dad bought it for her for their 1st or 2nd Anniversary. It was a cool machine. It had these disks you put in the top of the machine to get your different decorative stitches, including buttonholes.
    When I went to college, I bought a Montgomery Wards sewing machine (see...just like Sears ;) )
    In my late 20's, I traded up to my first electronic sewing machine, an Elna. I thought I was living the high life with all the cool decorative stitches it had!
    12 years ago, I traded up and bought a Bernina! Oh sigh! It's been a dream to sew on. Some day, I'd like to trade up again, but the costs have just spiraled out of control, so I'll just stick with my old faithful.

  113. I only just read your sewing machine story, a bit late but here goes my contribution:
    I learned to sew on my mothers Pfaff sewing machine which had some electrical fault. It always tingled when you used it! When I turned 18m or 19 I bought my first Bernina Mini Matic and paiud it in installments. I had it for almost 47 years. Not bad going for the use I got out of it. I patched even my husbands windsurfing sales with it and burned 2 motors in the process. Then 4 years ago parts were no longer available and I sadly had to part with it. The new one my husband bought me is another Bernina, Activa 230. Best brand, best machines, love them!

  114. Wow, you got so many posts on sewing machine histories! This would make a great article for Threads.

    My story: My grandma taught me to sew on her White Rotary machine, which I now have. It's in a lovely cabinet, and was made in 1923, 2 years after my mother was born. It only sews a straight stitch, and does sew in reverse. We made doll clothes, including "gowns" made from her samples of corset materials--she sold corsets for Spirella. Laces and super taut elastic, in white or blush or pink--certainly never black! ;-)

    I sewed with my mothers 1940 Pfaff through high school. It zigzags and makes buttonholes. It is supposedly portable, but it weighs a TON. I now have it in the shed.

    When I went to college my other grandmother lent me her Singer treadle machine. It only went forward--no reverse. I gave it to my cousin, and it now seems to be lost.

    I proudly bought my own first machine, an Elna Super, in 1975, when I moved into my first apartment. I loved that machine, and we made many gowns (I'm a performer) together. Her motor burned out, but I got it repaired and used it for several more years. I sold her to a friend, who uses her occasionally.

    Around 1999 (not sure of the year) I took a big step and bought my Pfaff 7570 from AAA Sewing and Vac in Cupertino. This is still my primary machine. It does everything I need--the only new innovation that I wish for is even feed for free motion. A year later we bought a second home in the mountains, so it was very necessary ;-) to buy a 7530 to use there. It lives at 7000 feet elevation, so I worry that the low winter temperatures may damage it--we keep the heat at 40° when we're away. But so far been it's been trouble free. I do lots of sewing in the summer.

    I also have an Elna 925 serger, which lives in the mountains, and have just bought a 745 for home, although I have no idea where to put it. I also have an Elna Stella, which is great for taking to classes. I have a craving for the new Elna Lotus, but have so far resisted.

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

  115. Hello Im new here. I learnt to sew at the age of 8 on a old singer machine. At 14 years I talked my Mother into buying an Singer Electric (which she sadly never mastered, and thereon I did all the sewing in the house) When I was 19 I bought my first machine a Frister Rossman which I paid for in instalments. Next was a Janome purely because the local sewing shop sold them (pre internet days) Now after lots of research, I own a second hand Bernina 1130, which Im so blissfully happy with.

  116. I am new here - wow, what a great blog!

    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on?

    Bernina B530, Baby Lock Ellageo, Baby Lock Enlighten, Janome Coverpro.

    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?

    Nope, my first machine was (ahem) last September - basic entry level Janome. I also got a Janome MC350 - I'll be selling both machines soon.

    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine?

    I have the Janome Coverpro - it's the only Janome I am using at the moment.

    If not, why not?

    I ended up moving to Bernina because I am sewing a lot of heavy-duty material (dog collars, vests, etc - webbing and performance material). I was talked into the solid construction of the Berninas -- and I am in love with the Bernina.

    The Ellageo came to me from a Craigslist purchase, and it is a much superior embroidery machine to the MC350 - faster, more onboard editing options (smaller text and more fonts was a big one - embroidering collars and clothing). It was also much more inexpensive than upgrading in a store, and came with digitizing software that would have cost an arm and a leg.

    If so, why?

    I absolutely love the Janome CoverPro. I considered the Bernina equivalent (either upgrading to Evolution or using the standalone coverhem machine), but heard the Janome was much better. I was also impressed when it was demo-ed, and it was cheaper. I am happy with the decision.

    Finally, if you switched brands, why?

    As above. I'm also very new to sewing - under a year - so I did take a lot of advice from online searches and sales people in a variety of stores. But I'm very happy with my machines, and know I'll be using them for a long while! And by then, maybe I'll switch again :)

  117. When I was a teenager, my mother made me learn sewing. Her thought was if I learned nothing else from her, I would at least know how to cook and sew. So, I was taught to sew on my mothers Bernina 1180.

    My first sewing machine was a birthday present from my boy friend about 23yrs ago. It was a Singer 6243.

    What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? I am currently sewing on a Brother PC-420PRW.

    Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand?Yes,actually I was a little skeptical about the brand and the machine. But have since fallen in love with my machine. Actually, I just replaced my 23yr Singer with this machine about 1.5yrs ago

    Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine? Yes. A few months after purchasing the sewing machine, I purchased the Brother 1034D serger.

    If not, why not? N/A

    If so, why? I like the quality of the stitching and the ease of use of my machine.

    Finally, if you switched brands, why? Although I had my Singer for a long time, I just wanted to try something different. However, I do plan on adding a Bernina to my sewing machine collection at some point.

  118. such an interesting discussion!
    I learnt to sew with a hand powered singer when I was 8, later I was given a toyota that I used until about a year ago when I inherited my grandmother's bernina 730. I love this machine and have no plans of changing it unless it dies (gasp).

  119. Sorry for my delay in response... I've been recovering from surgery! Here goes:

    1. What brand of sewing machine are you currently sewing on? A Husqvarna Viking Platinum 730. (My serger is an old Kenmore that my grandmother left me when she died, but I need to get a better one someday, it is very temperamental).
    2. Was that the first sewing machine you used from this brand? No—I decided to buy that brand because I had sewn previously on my mother's Husqvarna Viking (an older model) and really liked it. She had had a bad experience before that with a Brother that broke down in just a few months. Before that she had an old singer.
    3. Are you still sewing on that brand of sewing machine? Yes, I just love my Viking and all its features. I do sometimes have some stitching issues but have been able to get it serviced when that happens.
    If not, why not?
    If so, why?
    Finally, if you switched brands, why? I haven't switched brands, though I will switch away from my serger when I can afford to.

  120. Hi currently have a Janome SUV 1108. I am 50years old and it is the first machine I have ever bought for myself. I learned to sew on my mom's black singer. It was a fine machine. I don't know what happened to it. I was given a sewing machine from a colleague and it was pretty good. I can't remember the brand. It broke. Then my mom had a cheap Kenmore I used for a while until it broke. Then my aunt gave me her old machine and it broke....Finally, I decided I had enough of handmedown machines. I wanted a Bernina because that was the machine I taught with at school. (I taught Fashion Arts at a secondary school). But the nearby Sewing Studio were selling Janomes at a good price. I love it. I gave away my White serger a couple of years ago. I bought it about 20 years ago. It was a dumb move. Just before I rediscovered my love for sewing. Oh well, any suggestions on a good serger?

  121. Well I first started borrowing my mothers machine when I was about 11, I think it was a singer it had a wooden case and lid that attached with 2 metal clamps, the clamps weren't closed properly one day and the whole thing fell on my foot resulting in me losing my big toe nail! My first machine was a Singer and yes the zig zag stitch made it state of the art! That was followed by a Toyota this was real technology over 30 different stitches selected by slotting in a different shaped cam into the top of the machine! My next machine many years later was a Brother this just could not cope with the heavy curtains I needed to sew so back to the department store it went a few days later! To be replaced by an Elna Decorators Touch!This gave me 10 years great service but a Very heavy pair of curtains made it grumble! So I now have a Janome 1600p semi Industrial, this is fast strong and sews through everything! I wouldn't be without it! I had a Janome 350E embroidery machine but that didn't get a lot of use so I sold it on ebay! I'm now saving for a Janome 7700 second hand or it's replacement model like yours the 8900 QCP! Looks fab! I'm so jealous!

  122. Ok, I am bodaciously late to this party, but I was frantically making poppies for the Wiz when the questions originally came up, so I have a good excuse, no? ;-)

    The very first machine I sewed on was my mother's old green Brother, with the belt on the OUTSIDE. That would've been the first year I was in 4-H...say 1969. She got a new machine, a basic Kenmore, not too long after I started sewing; perhaps she worried about little fingers and that power belt? That was the machine of the house the rest of my growing up years; the first Christmas I was married I got a $100 check that pretty much purchased a Kenmore of my very own, which is still the machine I cart around for costume sewing and such. It sewed circles around newer machines in the costume shop this spring, even though it was sorely in need of a visit to the repair shop.

    In 1989, I added a serger to the sewing room; New Home getting the nod because 1) the price was right 2) the dealership was handy and 3) I liked the way it sewed. It was love from stitch one.

    Then, back in about 1991, I was frustrated with my Kenmore because Sears did not have any specialty feet available. I didn't want much...I remember wanting a rolled hem foot specifically. So I ventured away from Kenmore and, since I so loved my serger, I bought a just-above-basic New Home, which at least had a rolled hem foot in the box. My little New Home is still the main machine I use, although it doesn't have all the feet/accessories that I want NOW (I'd like a straight stitch foot/throat plate, which is not available for my off-center center machine) I think I'm going to stick with it until it dies. I have not been impressed with the quality of newer machines and I have no desire for anything that has a mother board that WILL die.

    The next machine I'd like to add to the inventory is a coverstitch...maybe before the year is out... ;-)

    I *think* I answered all the questions... :-D


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