Good starter sewing machine?

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My wife has a Brother VX-808 which I know nothing about. I spend more
than 50% of the time futzing with the machine rather than sewing. I am
sewing materials like SilNylon, Grosgrain webbing and velcro (i.e. very
thin to thick to very thick).

I want to learn to sew outdoor clothing and sports clothing for hiking,
biking and backpacking (all ultra lightweight).

Whats a good starter sewing machine to think about? I dont even know
what I should be looking for in a sewing machine. The Brother does a
straight stitch with a dial that goes to 4 for length. It does a zig zag
stitch from 0 to 5 and it has a tension thing that goes from 0-9.

I spend most of the time ripping out bad stitches and Im just wondering
if I could do better without spending too much or if I should just stick
with the old machine?


Re: Good starter sewing machine? Calling Penny S - this one's for you -oo!

Karsten's Rage wrote:
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You should be looking at the Buying a sewing machine FAQ to start with!
  Penny will post it for you, or you can do a quick google search.  Then
you need to pop over to Penny's site:

Penny is the expert, and has LOTS of useful stuff, techniques and
sources on her site.  You might also like to get a copy of this book:

Sewing Outdoor Gear: easy Techniques for Outerwear That Works
Rochelle Harper. ISBN 1-56158-283-2 (Taunton Press 2001), $24.95 US,
$39.95 Canada, (15.62 from Amazon UK)

Kate  XXXXXX  R.C.T.Q Madame Chef des Trolls
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Good starter sewing machine?

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You sound like you could be a poster child for the many voices here who
tell people not to buy low-end sewing machines.

What's your budget?

Under $100 (USD) -- look for an older used machine from friends, garage
sales, thrift stores, private party ads, etc.  (SOmeone on Craigslist
just posted today that they were leaving a Singer 500A on the sidewalk
for anybody to come pick up.)

$100 to 300 -- look for older reconditioned machines from sewing machine
dealers (in person, online, or there area few who are on Ebay, just make
sure they know how to pack a machine to ship it), or you could go to
places like and buy a Singer 400 or 500 series, or
another used sewing machine dealer and find a good machine that way.
The machines from the 50s and 60s will be sewing rings around today's
computerized machines long after the computerized machines hit landfill
because their computer components are obsolete.

$300 and up -- Check the above sewing machine dealers for decent-brand
new machines in mid ranges.  You might not be able to find one for $300,
but you probably coudl find a good one for $500.  

And if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, email me, because I have a
nice older Viking starter-machine-type that I would let go for a decent
price to someone who would appreciate it.

Where no oxen are, the crib is clean,
But much benefit is derived from the labor of the ox.

Re: Good starter sewing machine?

Can't go wrong with Jim and Sew Rite.
He knows what he is doing!
Lots of great older machines around.
Seach google groups  with the subject and there
is lots info discussed before.


Melinda Meahan - remove TRASH to reply wrote:
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Re: Good starter sewing machine?


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What is your budget?

I'm not familiar with Brother machines but what you explain is typical
of the frustration people get when trying to use a low end machine for
serious sewing.

To get the most bang for your buck consider a good used machine, for
example one someone has traded in on a newer model, and do consider
going to a dealer or repair shop that sells used machines because you
get zip for help, support, or classes at department stores.

The vintage machines are awesome (such as the Singer 401, my favorite).


You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.=20
--Mae West=20

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