long time no sew

mimsicDecember 28, 2007

I am trying to decide whether to repair an old machine or buy a new one. I used to make all my own clothes and even made my wedding dress, a pretty simple Vogue pattern back in the early 70s. However, it has been many years since I have done any sewing. So should I repair an old machine or buy a new one.

The long story:

About 20 years ago I bought a Singer Merritt sewing machine (about $150) and used it only a few times before I began having problems with it. What I remember is that I took it to be repaired and was told it would cost $100. It seemed too much at the time and I just left it sitting, thinking I would take it someplace else but never did.

I just opened it up yesterday to try to figure out what the problem was. It seems the feed-dog doesn't pull the fabric through.

The dilemma:

Is it worth the cost of repairing this machine or should I buy a new one? If I buy one I need advice about what to buy. I would like a working sewing machine to play around with but am afraid I might not do much more than play, in which case it would be foolish to spend a lot of money. On the other hand, I don't want to get something that will be frustrating to use and contribute to giving up on sewing again. What should I do?

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My suggestion is to purchase a good used model from a reliable, dealer who offers instruction on it. I'd look at Vikings, Pfaffs, Berninas, Brothers.

I've seend the Viking 6460 (a mid 70's model which I still own) go for around $250-$300 on ebay. That is a workhorse of a machine.

You could get an estimate on a repair for the Singer, but honestly, I don't have a high opinion for Singers manufactured after the mid 1950's. (Please don't flame me, Singer owners - just mho)

Before shelling out major bucks, you need to decide how much sewing you'll really do. You ought to be able to get a very good, solid, basic machine for under $250. If you decided to go all out later for whistles and bells, it's always nice to have a good backup machine.

There are some good threads here on purchasing a machine.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 3:42PM
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Thank you zone 8, that sounds like sound advice. That Singer has been sitting on the kitchen table since yesterday morning and its really getting my juices running. I do want to try my hand at sewing again.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 5:29PM
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Yes go shopping around for a good second hand machine. Go to more than one store and do some test driving. You might even cart the Singer along in the car and mention to the salesperson you have a Singer but that it needs to be serviced (ask for an estimate) and go from there...you might decide to keep the old Singer and just get it repaired. I think you will find some of the trade ins will entice you into buying a newer used model of some kind and be sure to have a clear understanding of the warrenty provided, if you can trade up again in the future, and what lessons if any come with the machine of your choice. Take your time and be sure to have a good look around...it sounds like you will be having some fun in the next little while.......don't buy the first machine you see just make note of the price, model and what comes with it (attachment wise)...and you will need an instruction book with the machine (or even a photocopy) as they are invaluable. Good luck and let us know what you find......now is the perfect time to go shopping....after Christmas sales, and new stock coming in so will want to shift the older models..Good luck. Budster

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 1:59PM
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Just wanted to get those juices flowing again! Sewing machines have really seen a lot of changes in 20 years! You will be amazed at the features they have now that can make sewing so much easier and more enjoyable.

I second the suggestion made by zone 8 and those machines recommended. I love my Vikings!

Think abut trying your hand at quilting, home dec or heirloom sewing! You can learn to make fabulous gifts and accessories for your home plus save a bunch of money too!


    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 11:21PM
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aw, c'mon guys! I'm trying not to spend money and be content with my 35-year-old Kenmore! I don't want to hear about snazzy new features that make sewing more fun!

But seriously, Mimsic, I'd get rid of that machine that broke down when it was new and get a good second-hand machine. Look for a machine that does the basics really well; straight and zig zag stitching, maybe stretch stitches, and button holes. I have over 20 cams for my machine that make all kinds of fancy stitches and I've probably used them less than a dozen times in 35 years.
Lee (who wants one of those fancy computerized embroidery machines, but probably wouldn't use it if she had it)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 2:52AM
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Everything that's been said is good advice. I'm sure even any second hand machines today will have the free arm feature, but be sure you have it as it's so useful.
Welcome back to sewing. It's a wonderful way to spend your free time and with the Internet there's no end of sites with great information and FREE patterns. Then, of course, there are forums like this where you can come for advice.
Good luck in your machine shopping.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 9:16AM
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I have an older Kenmore that I love. My hubby bought it for me some 25-30 years ago for Christmas. I took it to get it worked on and cleaned good a few years ago and the guy told me to never get rid of this machine. It is one of the better ones on the market due to it not having much plastic in it. It has been a great machine. If possible, I would check around and see if it could be fixed and how much.. The older machines are so much better...

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 9:21PM
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