The Brother’s are much more affordable than the other brands. They have literally every option you could imagine you would ever want on a sewing machine. They come with several different feet, an abundance of stitches, and many other features. Most, if not all, have a top load bobbin. They are lightweight but that could make the machine not as sturdy. The quality of the stitch might suffer because most if not all of the machine is plastic, which can also make for a shorter life.
There would be no dealer support with purchasing a Brother unless you were to purchase a higher end Brother which was not one of the one’s I was looking into purchasing.
The Janome’s seemed to be decent machines. They are higher priced than the Brother’s but cheaper than the Bernina’s. They have a lot of stitch options and the basic feet as well as the top load bobbin. One feature I really liked that the Janome had but the others did not was the lock stitch option on more than just a straight stitch. It would automatically lock a stitch (even a zigzag stitch) before continuing with the stitch. I think they have less plastic parts than the Brother’s but more than the Bernina’s. They were fairly loud when sewing and didn’t seem to sew the straightest. Looking at the individual stitches they seemed to jump around a little.
The local Janome dealer is smaller than the Bernina dealer and the shop was not as clean. They mainly have the machines and a few accessories and then they service the machines. The owner was nice enough but did come across as a sales guy.
I should start off by saying that I am not writing about the Bernette’s. They are at a different level than the actual Bernina’s. From all of the research that I did, I found that it was not worth purchasing a Bernette.
The Bernina machines were incredibly quiet and smooth, but much more expensive than a Brother. They range in the options that come with the machine, such as how many stitches, but do have everything that would be needed to sew. Plus, extra things such as feet can be purchased as needed. They do come with the basic feet that would be needed for most projects. They are still made of metal which means the machine should last much longer than one made of plastic. They have a front load bobbin which a lot of people seem to prefer. I never once saw a bad review about a Bernina.
Royce Quilting, the local Bernina dealer, has a very clean shop. All of the employees were incredibly friendly and helpful. If they didn’t know an answer they either tried to find out or said that they would have to find out for me. They sell fabric and other accessories as well as offer classes ranging from beginner sewing classes to quilting classes.
Back and Forth
On one hand, I really want a new machine. On the other hand, should I be spending money on a hobby that I don’t know if I will love. I think I have a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. So I figure researching to find out what my options are will be my best start.
The Kenmore was probably a fantastic machine in its time. It’s all metal, still running strong, and very very clean for being an older machine. From my non-expertise eye it appears that it still stitches well other than possibly some tension problems depending on the fabric. But when I tried to do a few projects I found that there were things that I wanted to do that the machine just wasn’t capable of allowing me to do. For example, the needle cannot be moved, so I am not able to stitch near the edge of the material. As I mentioned earlier, I do not have a blind hem foot and did not find that I could still purchase feet for the machine either.
First, I looked on Amazon to see which machines got great reviews from others. We have Amazon Prime because of Amazon Mom so I could get the machine in two days with free shipping. Many of the Brother’s got high reviews and they have so many options. I mean seriously, you can get a Brother for $150 that will do anything you could ever imagine. When I was starting to make the towel bibs, I had purchased a Brother from Wal-Mart and it was horrible. So I had to question whether the ones online were really any different than the one from Wal-Mart.
Next, I emailed a friend to see what she had to say. She said not to get a Brother, that hers is a pricey paperweight. She suggested looking into Bernina, Janome, Pfaff, or other brands that can be purchased from a dealer. She said first to look to see what local dealers sell and pretty much choose which dealer you like the best and go from there.
So my next step was to check out the dealers. Actually, my husband, Mark, had a day off of work so he did the major leg work for me. He went to Royce Quilting, which sold Bernina’s, and to two other nearby places, one was a Janome dealer and the other Pfaff. We had pretty much all of the information that we needed except I wasn’t able to sew on the machines.
That weekend I was able to check out the Janome dealer and Royce Quilting. The Pfaff dealer is not in town and Mark didn’t think it was appealing enough to drive the extra few miles. I really liked Royce Quilting but the Janome dealer was just ok. They just didn’t have anything extra; there were no extra classes beyond your first class in which they show you the basics of the machine, they didn’t have any fabric. It was just a place to buy a machine and get it serviced. Royce Quilting, on the other hand, had great customer service, they offered classes, and they had fabric among other sewing supplies.
I am starting this blog to document my journey with sewing; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the finished product (hopefully not ugly!).
Reason to Sew
The one practical reason I want to learn to sew is so that I can hem my own dress pants. I am 5’2” and no longer growing so I will always need to hem pants. It is $10 a pop to have someone else do it so why not learn myself. My mother-in-law has taught me how to do a blind hem but my current machine only has the stitch not the foot.
The other main reason I want to learn to sew is because I see all of the neat things that can be made. I randomly look at blogs and see adorable fabric and kid items that I could make for my daughter, Lillian.
My interest piqued when I realized how messy feeding a baby was going to be. My mother-in-law, Sue, made some towel bibs before Lillian was born and once Lillian started eating solids I realized how amazing they were. I thought “I can make those.” So I researched online and found a slightly different way of making the bibs than Sue did. Unfortunately, I did not have a machine, so Sue brought me her mother’s old Kenmore.
I did make towel bibs and struggled with using the machine. It felt like I was always getting the thread tangled and the fabric was being pulled to the left. I got so frustrated that I finished the bibs that I bought the supplies for and then put all of the sewing stuff away.
That is until I bought new dress pants. I bought them at Kohl’s for less than $20 so why would I want to spend another $10 just to get them hemmed? So out comes the Kenmore for some practice and some frustration. I had my mind set that I could do this. I could make it work without a blind hem foot. I practiced and never got better. Frustrated once again, I gave up on the blind hem and started researching new machines.