May 16, 2014 at 9:22 am #1316877
Simon KentonBPL Member
I am looking to start MYOG. I do not have a sewing machine and I am looking for recommendations and where to find a good used one.
Thanks in advance.May 16, 2014 at 9:44 am #2102888
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
search "sewing machine site:backpackinglight.com"
for example:May 16, 2014 at 10:23 am #2102901
Sam HaraldsonBPL Member
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
Got to a thrift store, find an inexpenisve machine that works and is made out of metal. Use it for a year. If after that you're still sewing and you want/need more then get yourself a Juki or a Brother.May 16, 2014 at 10:45 am #2102917
Thrift stores, yard sales and Craigslist are good places to pick up inexpensive ones to start with. I have a Janome Magnolia 7330. It has done well so far. Juki or Bernina are widely thought to be the best.
RyanMay 16, 2014 at 11:40 am #2102950
Sumi WadaBPL Member
@detroittigerfanLocale: Ann Arbor
FWIW, I bought a cheap basic Singer machine from Target, paid around $70 on sale, and it's been perfectly adequate for all my DIY projects. One of the advantages of DIY projects in the UL realm is that you rarely tackle seriously heavyweight fabrics.May 17, 2014 at 2:21 pm #2103425
Simon KentonBPL Member
Thanks all! I'll go the economical route to begin but upgrade if need be!May 17, 2014 at 2:37 pm #2103429
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> I'll go the economical route to begin but upgrade if need be
A commendable idea, as long as you buy something reliable rather than the latest plastic bit of junk. Knowing the difference is the problem.
An old, 2nd hand metal machine would be the best bet imho.
CheersMay 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm #2103458
Brendan SwihartBPL Member
@brendansLocale: Fruita CO
"An old, 2nd hand metal machine would be the best bet imho."
I've found 3 Singer 401s in the last 6 months at second hand stores. Flagship machines from arguably the peak of manufacturing quality in the US that originally cost the equivalent of $2000+ adjusted for inflation. Provided they've been well cared for, any old Singer, Pfaff, Elna, etc are a joy to use compared to newer machines in my experience.May 17, 2014 at 10:11 pm #2103529
Derek WeeksBPL Member
Buy something used like an old Singer, but don't buy online if you can't see it first. Try look at sewing shops for older ones. Ive used a Singer 403A and love it picked it up for $135 and works great.May 28, 2014 at 3:33 pm #2106675
Late to the party, but here's my two cents if you want to go the old machine route…
1. Is it from the 1940's/50's?
This will usually indicate all metal, well-made machines. Going for too old (20's or 30's) of a machine might mean headaches with wiring, rusting, etc. Singers are tricky, because they all kinda look the same and a lot aren't marked with a model number except by serial number lookup process. Taking a few seconds to familiarize yourself with the markers between a 20's Singer and a 50's Singer could save yourself a lot of trouble and land a great deal.
2. Is it straight stitch/zig-zag or does it have a lot of bells and whistles?
The more junk (embroidery, etc.) the harder it will be to maintain and tune. An example would be the Pfaff 130 vs 230. The 230 is a very similar machine to former with the addition of an embroidery unit that is a pain (at least for me) to tune.
3. Can you find a service manual & owner's manual online?
This is the primary reason why I would avoid lesser known machines. I think quality is great on a lot of the random branded machines out there, but I know I can find manuals for a Pfaff, Necchi, Singer, etc so I would stick to those.
4. Will it take a while to get the machine useable?
Projects like rewiring, painting, or DIY servicing add both time and money to a seemingly great deal. In my opinion, a paint job is not worth it (coming from someone who has both painted machines and had them powder coated). I would pay $50-100 more for a machine with a paint job that's in good shape so I don't get the DIY paint bug again and feel like I have to spruce it up.
All that said, a couple machines I would keep an eye out for are the Singer 201-2 or 15-91, Necchi BU, or a Pfaff 130, which are all either straight stitch or straight stitch/zig-zag. There's lots of other machines out there, but these definitely fit the bill. I have a 15-91 and its simplicity (straight stitch only + reverse) removes a lot of distractions and allows me to focus on sewing. Or typing great walls of text on forums.May 28, 2014 at 4:42 pm #2106704
Charles GrierBPL Member
@rinconLocale: Desert Southwest
I have a newish Bernina 330 and like it a lot. For a long time I used a Singer 221 Lightweight but wanted a zig-zag stitch. So, I bought a low end plastic Singer. I thought that it was the absence of computer control and fancy stitching that made it cheap. Boy was I wrong! The plastic Singer would labor when sewing 0.9 oz/yd material, it was constantly jamming or skipping stitches and the zig-zag stitch wouldn't feed reliably. I finally gave up on the Plastic Singer and gave it away. Accurate sewing is enough work without the frustrations of poor equipment. Don't get a cheap new machine unless you feel like gambling on the outcome.
BTW, my Singer 221 was made in 1937, has never had a repair, and still works great. I continue to use it for some jobs. The Bernina is a lot newer and fancier and was worth every penny. You get what you pay for; sometimes less.
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