01 June 2009

Sewing Machine Reviews

Sew Mama Sew asked for reviews of sewing machines. They are going to compile all our entries and use the list to assist people who are buying their first machine or upgrading to a new machine. I wish I'd had this resource when I was looking to upgrade!

So without further ado, here are reviews of the two machines I own!


What brand and model do you have?
Singer 99k (1952 model)
How long have you had it?
2 1/2 years
How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
This baby was a gift :D
What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
The singer has seen me through many children's clothing and costume projects. a baby quilt, an insane fish shaped cat bed (fleece and foam though three layers of foam was a bit much for her and I had to hand finish it! My sister liked the bed better than the stupid cat...), some clothing projects for myself, and multiple reusable shopping bags.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
This machine took a beating! It was used nearly everyday. I've replaced the belt three different times due to usage (and the machine being in a warm house by a window).
Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
I really enjoyed this machine. She was so simple to use and simple to fix. She runs like a tank too! I think every beginner should learn on an antique like this. My mom's machine used to intimidate me because of all the nobs and buttons, but a sweet old lady like this is pure simplicity encased in metal.
Her name is Bette. She needed a name to match her age :D
What features does your machine have that work well for you?
The biggest perk of this machine was her simplicity. She was so easy to operate and repair. I also loved that she came with a unique assortment of vintage feet: a ruffler, a hem foot, a tucking foot, and many others that I'll learn to use more soon :D
Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
Bette has some electrical issues that would cause her to only run when you had the knee pedal at the perfect angle (or if she was miraculously in a good mood!). The repair of these issues would have cost $150 dollars. I figured I may as well buy a new machine so that I could stitches besides just the straight stitch. Eventually, I'll get Bette up and running to use when teaching beginners (like my twins!).
Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
Bette was given to me by a kind older lady at a quilting guild. At show and tell, I had said that I had hand pieced my quilt and would love it if someone would teach me how to hand quilt since I did not own a machine. She approached me at the end of the meeting telling me she had a machine she'd like to give me. I eagerly accepted her offer. Turns out this woman had rescued Bette from being given to the dump! The original owner had passed away and the heir had no idea what to do with the machine so she gave it to my benefactor :)
Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
I think an old machine like this is the perfect machine for a beginner. She's reliable, easy to fix, and fun to learn on! She also has the most perfect straight stitch I have ever seen.
What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
Must sew like a tank! (see the next review for more comments)


What brand and model do you have?
Viking Emerald 116
How long have you had it?
About 2 months
How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
$350
What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
At this point I've sewn mostly maternity clothing for myself with a couple of fun baby items. However, I also sew historical clothing, heirloom pieces, quilting, and a small amount of home decorating items.
How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
I sew nearly every day. She has received a good bit of use at this point and I need to vacuum out the lint accumulating in the bobbin case and along the needle ;)
Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
I really enjoy this machine. I love that I'm finally able to work with knit fabrics easily. Her name is Chloe since her name needed to be modern.
What features does your machine have that work well for you?
I really like that there is a built in stitch selection tool. You slide the attached plastic chart out and identify what type of sewing you are doing and on what type of fabric and it will give you the recommended stitch type, length, width, tension, which foot to use, and pressure foot setting. It makes potentially complicated decision into a very easy decision.
Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
I was really annoyed by the thread cutter at first. I could not find the correct angle to get it to cut both threads for the longest time. I managed it after about 3 days of use, but boy was it frustrating at first! I'm also not so thrilled with the needle threader. I didn't have one on my Singer and this one works great, but it's hard to tell when your needle is raised at the highest point (which is the only spot where the needle threader works).
Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
My mom donated the funds for me to purchase this beauty. Woohoo!
Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Absolutely. She sews strongly, is easy to operate, doesn't have all the insane computerized bells and whistles that make things confusing for a simple mind, and she's portable (which is still a new concept to me!).
What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
When I was shopping for this machine I was looking for these things:
  • Cost fit in my budget (we don't believe in debt in this house!)
  • Was as simple to operate as the Singer 99k
  • Did not have computerization (can you imagine how much it would cost to repair a computerized machine? and the frustration it would cause if your LCD display died and you could no longer use your machine properly until it was fix no matter how insane the cost? Call me prejudiced... but that just seemed like too much to deal with.)
  • Was well liked machine that sewed like a tank (I read tons of reviews.)
  • Was capable of sewing what I liked to sew!
Do you have a dream machine?
I'm far too practical to have a machine that I dream about. I would have liked to have been able to afford the Viking Emerald 118 since it had a cruise control feature and a needle updown feature, but those are luxuries I can live without. I think perhaps if I could find a practical reason to own it, that I would love to have one of those long arm quilters that copy intricate patterns either from a scan or a program right onto the quilt. The work those things do makes me gasp at their beauty.

2 comments:

May said...

Thanks for your reviews of your machine! I'm thinking about getting a new one and this was really helpful. Cheers

Annie said...

I got my Emerald 116 for Christmas this year from my husband. It was funny reading your review. Your answers were exactly my thoughts as well. Happy Sewing!