Help me pick: Brother xl3750 or Singer 4423?

williamsemDecember 30, 2013

I'd like to get into some sewing projects, I did some sewing years ago in 4H but nothing since. I imagine mostly hemming my pants, but possibly other projects like pillow covers, simple curtains, maybe a tote bag, not really sure, but I'm the type that once I decide I want to do something, it will happen no matter how ill advised or above my skill level.

For now, I'd like to get a manual machine with a decent amount of flexibility. I'd prefer to avoid the computerized models since it will likely sit unused for long periods, and I don't trust the electronics to hold up for many years.

The two models I'm considering at the moment are the Brother xl3750 and the Singer 4423. I like the Singer because it is a heavy duty model with metal inside parts. I'd have to buy a seperate accessory kit to get the variety of options offered with the Brother. The Brother has more stiches and comes with a lot more accessory feet, but is not a heavy duty model (though reviews note it can sew canvas, hem denim, and handle multiple layers of fleece).

Can anyone offer an opinion? I'm hearing mixed things about Singer quality since they were bought out, so I'm a little hesitent, but I don't mind spending the extra money on the metal interior if it has a significant advantage. In this price range, I'm not sure if it makes much of a difference.

I know many on this forum advocate for finding older models as they are reliable and can sew all day with no problems. But I don't want to jump in with that type of investment until I know I'll stick with this. I'm certainly open to upgrading when the time comes.

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yes, Singer isn't what it used to be so I have heard; I would insist on a machine with metal working parts (I had a Brother with plastic guts that I hated - I spent more on repairs than I did on the machine).

I have a bottom price Viking computerized; months go by with no sewing then I'll do some thing required lots of machine time. It has never failed me. A current "replacement" would cost about $600.00 and that is what I paid for mine 7 years ago.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 9:51PM
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I wouldn't buy either of them. A hundred dollar machine is one step up from a toy. The only thing you will learn is to hate sewing, because you'll spend half your time coaxing it to stitch properly.

I would get an old viking or bernina. Not only is Singer 2nd rate (and has been for 30 or 40 years) but the work ethic of those who work for Singer has left something to be desired for about the same length of time.

Find a good repairman. Buy a used machine from him/her. I never use decorative stitches. I use zipper feet and my cording foot a lot.

There is no such animal as a "heavy duty" household machine. It's a house hold machine, period. The reviewer at the site below couldn't get the Singer to chug through two layers of denim, much less the six it claims to be able to handle.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 11:28AM
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Thanks for those insights. As I mentioned, I would have no problems upgrading to a really nice machine if I actually end up sewing things. If I knew I'd use it regularly, I don't have a problem spending $600, or more, to get what I need.

But right now, this might only hem pants twice a year. I might try a patchwork pillow from old t-shirts. I don't need a really good machine yet, I need a starter machine. Something that let's me do a few simple things and see if I'm inspired.

Help me pick a starter machine. I swear if I get the sewing bug, I'll be back asking for help picking a workhorse with a generous budget. I'm just not willing to spend $400 at this point.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 11:04PM
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Spending $100 to hem two pair of pants a year is a terrible waste of money. The first pair you hem by hand might take an hour if you're watching TV at the same time. The second will take less.

The learning curve of becoming familiar enough with your machine to get a good looking machine hem will take hours.

You might pick up something economical on your local Craig's List or Freecycle. Salvation Army and Goodwill often have sewing machines for sale.People often get rid of machines at yard sales. Neither of the machines you're looking at is worth the money asked. Even if you're looking to hem your blue jeans, they may not work. You might as well take a chance on a sewing machine from Salvation Army for $25 or $50.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 10:58PM
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I'd stay away from modern Singers if possible.... and the bottom of the line Brother anyone should consider is 400 dollars... it has a metal frame and that is important... I'm going to link to a Youtube video that shows why this is important... It's only 6 minutes long and quite informative....If you don't trust links from strangers, you can go to youtube and type "how to buy a sewing machine consumer alert" in the search box and it will come up.

I'm sorry you aren't getting the answers you want to hear, but seasoned sewers have good reasons for the advice they give and really are just trying to help.

Have you looked at a mechanical Janome? Not quite as expensive as some higher end brands, but real work horses. Everyone I know who has a Janome practically swears by them. I'll admit that I don't own a Janome (I have 2 Brothers and a Bernina.... one of the Brothers is a metal antique and the other is computerized but has a metal frame, as does the Bernina), but I sold Kenmore machines at Sears back when they existed (Sears doesn't sell Kenmore branded machines anymore) and they were all made by Janome.... they were delightful to work with! Good luck with your decision!

Here is a link that might be useful: Warning about all plastic machines

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 4:21AM
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Here's a link to some Janomes on Amazon... the first two are relatively inexpensive and seem to get good reviews... Of course the best advice is to get a machine from a dealer, but I don't think either of the machines you are currently considering are dealer machines either... at least with Janome, there's a bit of quality and likely more dealer support. I didn't buy my machines at a dealer either (the vintage Brother and Bernina were from Craig's List and the computerized Brother was from Amazon) and the Brother and Bernina dealers had no problem servicing the machines and tuning them up for me. Sometimes people say that a dealer won't work on your machine if you don't buy it from them, but I've not found that to be the case... they were friendly and helpful and happy to tune my machines up for 100 bucks.

Of course you're probably thinking that you may not sew enough to ever warrant a trip to the shop, but you never know when something might go wrong, and the less quality the machine is, the more likely problems are.

With Janome, you might lose some features to get the extra quality for the same price (things like drop in bobbin or needle threader may not be present in bottom of the line Janome models)... you have to decide what is more important to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Janome machines on Amazon

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 2:42PM
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All good advice, thank you. Looks like I'm not the only one that's heard Singer isn't what it used to be. And also looks like a metal model is worth the investment.

I've not had very good luck finding things in my CL market in general, and we had a horrible exprience trying to sell a nice vintage room divider. So I think at the moment, while it's a great suggestion, I'm going to bite the bullet and look at some better models than those I posted above.

Thanks for the link to those Janome models! I had actually read on a sewing store site that the Magnolia and HD3000 might be good models for what I'm looking for, someone had just recently asked!

The HD3000 has a one step buttonhole, which I think will be easier for me than a four step one. It's a little more than I was hoping to spend, but it seems like it should last many years and looks like a good basic machine. It's also much less than the really good machines, which would be overkill for my current skill level.

Any thoughts on that machine? Am I headed in a better direction?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 3:22PM
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Definitely a better direction! A Janome anything is better than the machines you were originally considering! The HD3000 does seem like more than you initially wanted, but it has some good features that some of those low end machines lack. Needle threader, drop in bobbin, adjustable presser foot pressure... It's very reminiscent of the old Kenmore made Janome machines. It looks very simple to figure out and understand! A hand wheel, a stitch selector knob, and length and width sliders... metal frame, one step button holer, very nice! The Magnolia seems quite basic unless you go with the electronic model (which you don't want to do)....

I bought a Kenmore made Janome that was very similar to this one back around 2007. It was the smoothest running machine I'd ever used and I completely adored it. It was so easy to use! I returned it because at the time money was scarce and I needed the money back to fix a car or something, but I still miss it to this day even with a Bernina and 2 "good" Brothers!

Here's a picture of the the one I bought and returned... It seems to be almost the same machine except for a few cosmetic differences...

This post was edited by vacuumfreak on Sat, Jan 4, 14 at 15:58

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 3:55PM
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I'm glad you're looking at something besides Brother and Singer. A number of years ago, I was looking at machines for my older daughter. I checked those out and immediately crossed those off my list. She ended up with a really nice older machine from her grandma, who has been sewing for years and had an extra machine or two hanging around. It was completely metal. (I've forgotten the manufacturer.)

Experience here: years ago, I bought a Necchi "beginner" model. It was SO frustrating to me! The bobbin set up was never "right" and I had too many tension problems to mention, and when we moved to the Aleutian islands (military), there was only one man on the island who knew how to fix it. When we got off the island, I bought my current Viking Husqvarna -- and have been VERY happy with it for 20+ years. So the others who have tried to steer you away from a beginner's machine are doing you a BIG favor in the long run.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 12:05PM
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This isn't to say that Brother isn't capable of making good machines.... they can and do but none of their low end machines are metal framed.... The PC 420 (which is what I have), Quattro, Duetta, Laura Ashely, the new V series Dream Maker machines were/are excellent, but also electronic and way over the price range.... They also make good straight stitch quilting machines but the versatility is limited..... it really depends on which model you get! For mid or low end, I think Janome is a safe bet!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 1:31PM
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Ok, it's been a while, but I wanted to wait for the annual sale at our local sewing shop. I ended up with a Janome DC2014 on their advice. It is computerized to a degree, but I was assured that was not something I had to worry about. It has a lot more stitches and was so easy to use (they have a ton of machines set up to try). And I got it for $399 :-)

Does that sound reasonable for a starter machine? I had originally wanted all mechanical, but the ease of the magic creature comforts seemed to make it so much more likely that I'd have a good experience and not be as frustrated.

I just bought it today, so I can still exchange if I was blinded by the shinnies...

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 8:29PM
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