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Getting started...

Posted by cambro5 (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 11, 08 at 7:05

Hello - I'm new to this forum (but not to Gardenweb).

I am not a beginner sewer but am not hugely experienced, either. I have done cushions, a duvet cover, a simple quilt. All of this on my grandmother's 1950 Elna (the only sewing machine I've ever used, actually!). I would like to do some more projects and learn some new stuff but don't really enjoy this sewing machine! It's become very temperamental.

I went to my local sewing machine dealer and they showed me a Babylock Audrey - They are having a special on this machine $299 - regularly $600? I cannot find any reviews or information on this machine on the internet. Does anybody have experience with it?

I want a machine with good basic features for home dec. What should I look for?? I have never used a 'modern' machine and need a primer!!

And tips or advice would be appreciated! Thank you!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Getting started...

From what I read about the machine on the link below, I would say that it is a good buy at half the regular price. Several of my friends have Babylock machines just for their machine quilting and they really love them. Have not heard any "cons" from them about their machines.

I'd say go for it!

Here is a link that might be useful: Babylock

RE: Getting started...

Please, please take some of your home dec fabric, add some difficult to handle fabric, striped fabric to try matching, a pair of scissors, a zipper, a quilt sandwich, and fabric backed with stabilizer, and test the machine you wish to purchase. Don't forget to test the buttonholes. Also see if there is a walking foot to fit this machine (I don't see one listed under the accessories) and any other presser feet you may want to add later on. Try other brands too, see how they feel, easy and straight feeding, balanced decorative stitches, and how well they handle heavy fabric and silky fabric, especially inserting a zipper in heavy fabric (They may need to change the needle). See how well you can do free motion quilting with your quilt sandwich or some fabric backed with stabilizer. Maybe do the same tests on the higher end Quilter's Choice BLQC2.

It would be interesting to know who made this machine for Babylock. Brother makes their high end machines. Babylock is a very, very nice company.

I just looked on the Babylock site at the Audrey. They state in their ad, "this lightweight machine can easily travel or attend classes with you." Just looking at the picture and the description, I personally would not choose this machine for home dec. Please understand that I may be wrong as I haven't tried it. It appears, (Emphasis on appears, as I have not had the opportunity to try it.) to be a light duty machine and the area to the right of the needle looks cramped, making it difficult to handle bulky items when you need to position them to the right of the needle, such as machine quilting quilts. The best thing to do is test it, it might be a must have.

Would you still be happy with your old machine if it was running properly, if yes, maybe you should get an estimate on having it serviced and fixed. I hope this helps.

RE: Getting started...

deb, thanks for the advice. You make some very interesting points. I know I should probably shop around a bit and will do so.

My old machine has worked fine. I think part of my problem is that when it starts messing up - right now the bobbin thread is constantly breaking - I don't really have enough knowledge to know what is wrong!

I read somewhere to take classes first using someone else's machines and discover what features you like and dislike. Perhaps I should do this.

Thank you for reigning me and maybe keeping me from being too impulsive! LOL.

RE: Getting started...

Have you cleaned the bobbin race lately? Sounds like you've got some lint built up in there. In all honesty, if your old machine has been working, I'd stick with it. A 50s era Elna is a pretty darn good sewing machine and well worth repairing.


RE: Getting started...

Hi again. Annie has good advice. Also, if you haven't had your machine service within the last two years it would be a good idea, just make sure you find a good honest shop. An Elna dealer with their own repair person might be a place to start. Try to get recommendations. I don't know what kind of thread you are using, but in addition to cleaning the bobbin area, check to see how easily the bobbin thread breaks with/between your hands.

RE: Getting started...

deb, thanks! I just called a shop that specializes in Elnas to find out about getting it serviced. I also asked them about a lesson on maintaining the machine and using it and I will probably do that. That is probably what I need more than anything! I have used the machine for several projects, but I really don't know much about taking care of it and using it correctly!

DH said if I wanted to get a new machine, I had to get rid of the old one, and I realized I just couldn't do it!

annie, thanks for the endorsement!


RE: Getting started...

Hi Cathy, You are very welcome. It is my belief that sometimes the money is better spent saving the OLD, BUT WELL BUILT, machine vs buying a new lower end machine. Mind you, that is only if it has the features you need. A good repair shop can advise you if the machine is worth fixing and how available parts will be in the future should something go wrong later, then the decision is yours.

RE: Getting started...Let me chime in.....

I have an Elna from the 70's which is still worth it's weight in gold (IMHO). I have an Aunt who is still sewing regularly on an Elna from the 50's and has not spent a penny on repairs. Look into getting your old machine fixed first and test drive alot of used machines before you leap into a newer machine. Watch and take your time. That is my best advice.

RE: Getting started...

budster, I actually looked at the Elna website and found an Elna dealer/repair shop in my area and took it in yesterday. They offer 'mechanical how to' classes and I plan to take one so I can get to know my machine better. This looked like a really busy shop with a class going on while I was there. I know the machine works, it just needs to be serviced and cleaned up, and I need to learn how to use it better! I told my mother and she said my grandmother must be smiling down from heaven as she loved that machine! She had actually bought it second hand in the late 50's!

Looking forward to doing some projects! Thanks for the advice everyone!


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