• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • James Freyr
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • jordan barton
gardeners:
  • Jay Angler
  • Greg Martin
  • Leigh Tate

First sewing machine

 
master gardener
Posts: 2413
Location: southern Illinois.
623
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My wife was asked in interesting question this week.  What would be a good 1st sewing machine for a 13 year old?  All or machines have some age on them, so we have no idea what is available.  For what it is worth, money would not be a concern for this person, but they certainly do not feel the need to toss it around.
 
master gardener
Posts: 2176
821
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not one for 'beginner' equipment unless it's really good quality. Many such items seem to be very cheaply made, and end up functioning very poorly, leading to high frustration, for the person learning. I've experienced this 'syndrome' personally, and for a very long time just thought I was the problem. That said, much depends on the person. Is sewing something they're already very interested in, or something someone is hoping they will be interested in? Are they interested in all the fancy stitching they might soon be able to do, or more of a 'just the basics' kind of a person? Because these things make a huge difference in the best machine *for them*.
 
steward & bricolagier
Posts: 6658
Location: SW Missouri
3053
goat cat fungi books chicken earthworks food preservation cooking building homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd say an older singer, from the early 70's to mid 80's, that does zigzag etc stitches without having all the fancy stuff that breaks so easily. Would give her good skills, and if she decides later she wants a different machine, she'll know what exactly she wants. If she decides to just sew as needed, do repairs and such, that machine will last for many years. That was kind of the sweet spot for functionality vs ease of use and repairability.
 
gardener
Posts: 1899
Location: South of Capricorn
747
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I also am thinking the older workhorse kind of machines. No frills, no frump, they are simple and hard working. Sort of combines both of the opinions above to say to stay with a solid older machine- if the person doesn't "take" to sewing it is still a good machine that someone will want.

(I learned on a Janome in home ec class, it must have been 20 years old, then when I bought my first used machine it was exactly the same thing, funny how that works. They were super solid and lasted forever. I sold mine when I moved and I don't doubt that it's still out there, chugging away somewhere.)

Edited to add: my mother used to sew when I was young. A lot. She is not a dabbler. She since had her machine "upgraded" by her new partner a few years ago as a gift and now does not sew. Can't get the damn machine to work right. She used to have an old Singer she got from her aunt, probably mid-60s version. Every time I go visit I get the new (fancy $$$) machine threaded and running and walk her through it, at her request. It is not instinctive to use the way the older ones are, and the bobbin mechanics seem to involve orcs or something cursed. Then for the next year she doesn't use the machine because it is "too difficult to figure out" and I find she has hand sewn a bunch of things. It makes me nuts. Next trip I'm thinking of taking this new machine for a long walk off a short pier and getting her an old used one again, that she won't be afraid to use.
 
Pearl Sutton
steward & bricolagier
Posts: 6658
Location: SW Missouri
3053
goat cat fungi books chicken earthworks food preservation cooking building homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tereza Okava wrote:
Edited to add: my mother used to sew when I was young. A lot. She is not a dabbler. She since had her machine "upgraded" by her new partner a few years ago as a gift and now does not sew. Can't get the damn machine to work right. She used to have an old Singer she got from her aunt, probably mid-60s version. Every time I go visit I get the new (fancy $$$) machine threaded and running and walk her through it, at her request. It is not instinctive to use the way the older ones are, and the bobbin mechanics seem to involve orcs or something cursed. Then for the next year she doesn't use the machine because it is "too difficult to figure out" and I find she has hand sewn a bunch of things. It makes me nuts. Next trip I'm thinking of taking this new machine for a long walk off a short pier and getting her an old used one again, that she won't be afraid to use.


Exactly. A niece bought a brand new machine that did all kinds of tricks...oooh... 6-7 years ago. She still has never used it. It is too complex for her to deal with. She did not sew already, and has no skills for dealing with it. She'd have done a lot better buying one at a yard sale.
 
John F Dean
master gardener
Posts: 2413
Location: southern Illinois.
623
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My wife was not the person to ask. She has a sewing room. She has a number of machines. She is also a perfectionist.   What she makes must be perfect in all respects. If she made a handkerchief it would take her a year .... but by god it would be perfect. Ok, I exaggerate a little.
 
Carla Burke
master gardener
Posts: 2176
821
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My favorite electric one ever, is my brand-new, last Christmas, mechanical (as opposed to computerized), heavy duty Janome. It's not fancy, yet has quite a few stitch options, and has sewn through 4 and 5 layers of denim, with no problem. It's easy to thread, easy to load bobbins on, and smooth running - it was also not cheap. OK, I guess t that term is relative. To me, it was expensive. To my mom, it was a paltry sum. It was about $400, I think. I'm struggling to remember, for sure. I think my brain is trying to block out the sticker trauma... But, it was a gift from John, and I love it.
 
gardener
Posts: 828
Location: Western Kentucky
316
dog gear foraging trees hunting food preservation cooking fiber arts woodworking wood heat rocket stoves
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Watch out for plastic gears and proprietary parts, like bobbins, needles, presser feet, etc.
 
Pearl Sutton
steward & bricolagier
Posts: 6658
Location: SW Missouri
3053
goat cat fungi books chicken earthworks food preservation cooking building homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jordan Holland wrote:Watch out for plastic gears and proprietary parts, like bobbins, needles, presser feet, etc.


That's why I like Singers for new folks, they are easy to get parts for.
 
Jordan Holland
gardener
Posts: 828
Location: Western Kentucky
316
dog gear foraging trees hunting food preservation cooking fiber arts woodworking wood heat rocket stoves
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Pearl Sutton wrote:

Jordan Holland wrote:Watch out for plastic gears and proprietary parts, like bobbins, needles, presser feet, etc.


That's why I like Singers for new folks, they are easy to get parts for.



Yep, they made many solid ones for many years, but even the mighty Singer had it's questionable moments. Like the "Touch and Sew" bobbins. These machines are ones I would avoid. The bobbins are hard to find, hold little thread, and usually had poorly designed winding mechanisms. The machines that used them (750ish series) also used lots of plastic, which was marginal back then, but after several decades has become quite brittle. I hear it is common for a person to bring one of these old machines out of storage or buy one, get it going, just start getting used to it, then it craps out. Many places refuse to work on these for any price, even if the plastic parts are available, they are brittle from age, and the machines are notoriously difficult to work on. A quick internet search on a prospective purchase can weed out the lemons.
 
gardener
Posts: 538
Location: N. California
191
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I second what Pearl said.  I first used my aunt's old basic Singer and enjoyed sewing. Very much.  My Grandma gave me a modern machine (for the 1980's). Before I got it one of my younger cousins played with it and messed up the tension.  I spent many frustrating hours trying to get that stupid thing to sew. I gave up and didn't sew again until my mom bought an old Singer at a yard sale.  That machine worked beautifully for many years.  When it finally broke my husband bought me an industrial Basic Singer.  It works well and does everything I need.  Don't tell my husband, but the old machine was better hands down.  Good luck.  Sewing is kind of a dieing art, and it feels amazing starting with a flat piece of material and ending up with something useful.
 
Posts: 44
Location: Medford, Oregon 8a, 21” precipitation. Clay soil.
31
rabbit books food preservation fiber arts medical herbs bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I adore my old Singers. I have a 128 treadle, a Featherweight, and a 401A. (I also have a bunch of others in various states of reconstruction; as they get restored, they’re going to people in my local community who lost everything in the Almeda wildfires this summer.) The 401 has all the fancy stitches I will ever actually use and it’s easy to use and maintain. The 403 Singers were designed for home ec classes in the 60s—if you can find one, that’s what I’d recommend. Love them.
gift
 
19 skiddable structures microdoc
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic