I just tried to wind a bobbin on my 30-year-old Sears sewing machine
and the winder will not turn. I took the thing apart and can't see what
might be wrong. The local repair place says it will probably cast
$60-$70 to fix. I'm wondering if I should just go buy a new machine. So
here's my question to all of you: what do you recommend for someone who
uses a sewing machine for repairs/minor alterations? I don't need a
huge number of stitches. The only thing I'd like to have is a bobbin
that is not underneath the machine. Do you have any advice for me as to
brand, cost, and where to purchase? I need to fix a skirt for a party
in early January.
I think spending $60 to repair a 30-year-old Kenmore machine is a VERY
wise investment. They still had decent machines then, and the new el
cheapo machines can't touch them. Your old mechanical Kenmore could be
passed down to your grandchildren if you care for it properly and will
still work like the day it was built.
I'm very surprised to hear you say this. I always felt that my Kenmore
machine left a lot to be desired. The bobbin is underneath and very
hard to insert. There is no way to sew a sleeve or other narrow area
and I always missed this feature. When the bobbin is wound, the needle
assembly is not supposed to move. After servicing the machine 3 times,
I gave up and used it the way it was with the needle going up and down
when I made a bobbin. So I guess I'd disagree on this particular
machine. I want a free-arm, with standard stitches with a bobbin that
is easy to reach. All that I have been missing for a long time.
I was looking at an inexpensive Brother online but it seems to indicate
that the stitch width and length are not adjustable. I must have this.
Anyone else have suggestions?
I don't usually like any Singer built after 1964, but I bought one of
these for my mum recently, and was very impressed:
Not up to the type or volume of sewing I do* (and you wouldn't want to
make jeans or curtains or do much quilting on it), but a neat bit of kit
for the price. I bought it after trying LOTS of different lower priced
(under £400) machines, and this was the best of them all.
If you DO want to sew heavy duty stuff, look seriously at
quite happily sew through tin cans!
*I have one of these:
...but then I work as a dress and costume maker! This is NOT my machine - I've still got mine, and it's been hard at work almost every day since 1999!
Somewhere there's a gear or lever that's not being disengaged.
(altho, IIRC, my mom's old machine did that.)
The rest of it is all opinion, but it doesn't detract from the general
usability/reliability of the machine
Go to a dealer and ask to look at their trade ins. If you've been
sewing on a mechanically sound machine, you *will**not* be happy with
a cheap machine.
Jenn Ridley : email@example.com
I guess so.
Well, I bought a newer low-end machine about 7 or 8 years ago for my son
and it would never hold its tension, and we ended up giving up and
getting a 50s era machine for him. Not having a free-arm but having a
machine that ran like a Swiss watch was well worth the trade-off.
I have a couple of old, all-metal, mechanical machines with lots of
stitches and a free-arm. Mine are a Pfaff 230 and an Elna Supernova. I
bought both second-hand, and paid less than $100 for each of them. If I
can find them in Reno, I have to suspect that they can be found almost
anywhere. These are not the only ones out there, but both of these are
good solid machines that run like a watch.
We sell a lot of Huskystar machines. They can be purchased from most
Husqvarna dealers. Of the hundreds we have sold in the last 4 years, we
have seen practically none come back for repair. Two of these machines
have top load drop in bobbins and automatic buttonholers.
Kate, how did you try all of those machines? I wonder if there's a
place near me in NJ where I can try some out. The Bernina looks very
nice as does the Singer you mention. I don't do heavy sewing so it's
hard to decide if a light weight is good enough or if I should go for
more. Thanks for your help.
I've never heard of Huskystar. Are they sold in the US?
The general opinion here seems unanimous that the newer machines should
be avoided. That's sad. I was thinking it'd be nice to have a machine
that has a free arm and is easier to use. This is discouraging.
No, you have misunderstood. The newer *low-end* machines should be
avoided, because their quality is very poor. If you think of the
machine you bought in the 70s -- if it was low-end, it cost about
$100-150. Take inflation into consideration and the price of the same
machine today, since mechanical technology has not improved, would be
$400-500 to get a machine of hte same quality and durability. But if I
recall correctly, that sounded like it was over your budget (wondering
if $60 would be better spent toward a new machine rather than repairs on
an existing one), so if you really don't want to spend more than about
$100 on a machine, you will have more bang for the buck with a used
machine than a new one. And they made free-arm machines in the 70s and
80s, and there are good, solid machines out there that you can find that
will last you forever.
Now, if you aren't planning on ever doing anything heavy and can live
with their limitations, the Janome Gem and the Singer machine Kate
talked about might do you well, but one thing I know of is that the
Janome Gem has several fixed-width zigzag settings, and I can promise
you that you can just about forget sewing on buttons with a zigzag
setting that is not infinitely variable. But they would be durable and
have a free arm. Of course, you could always get your machine fixed
later and then have the durable machine for everything you didn't want a
free-arm machine for.
You are right...I really missed what everyone was trying to tell me.
Now I understand. I don't remember what my machine cost back then, but
I now realize what it would take to get the same quality. I have to
rethink the whole idea of having this one fixed. Thanks so much for
your patience. And yes, the Singer might be a possible choice for me.
I took several months, after finding out what mum thought she wanted...
She'd had a go of Big Sis's Viking a few years back (and she's played
with mine - a Lily 550), when it was quite new, so she knew a few things
she'd like that her old Singer 99 didn't have, like sewing backwards!
Buttonholes and blind hems were on the list too, as were zigzags and a
free-arm. As she's developing cateracts (no surgery until she stops
taking steroids for polymialgia rheumatica), I thought she might find
the threader useful as well, but like me, it's the only thing on the
machine she hates! She also needed a light weight machine so she could
move it herself: she lives alone, and uses her desk for her secretarial
work for the housing trust she lives in, so cannot leave the machine up
all the time, and didn't want to have to call bro over specially to
shift it for her. Rheumatic thumbs mean she wanted easy to move dials.
She didn't want spectacularly tough, as she can no longer make
curtains (neither the space nor the strength in her hands, and, like me,
she only ever made them of necessity), and doesn't sew quilts or denim.
I took her requirements to my local dealers* and asked their advice.
Both recommended this Singer, and I tried it, other Singers the same
sort of price, Janome, Silver, Toyota, Brother (yekk! Horrid
machines!)... I loved the LOOK of the Brother, but ease of use, stitch
quality, and solidity were all far better on the little Singer. I do
keep my eyes (and paws!) on the various machines, especially in this
price range, as students and parents of kids I teach are often after
something like this. I found it easy to use, stitch quality was
excellent, the range of stitches good, and the general feel of it was
good and solid for such a light machine.
As for the Bernina... Well, it's not a 'latest model' - they have made
it for years, and it's one we see all over the UK in schools and
colleges. It's as tough as those old black Singers! I've used several
when teaching, both brand spanking new out of the box yesterday, and
abused by kids for 5 years and never serviced (some schools need their
ears rattling on this issue!), and they all seem just to take it in
their stride and keep on sailing serenely into the future... If you
want a tough machine without bells and whistles but don't have space for
a true industrial, this is a very good machine to look at. But while it
is 'portable', it's no lightweight!
*I have two independent dealers less than an hour away by car: JEMs in
Canterbury, and World of Sewing (a branch of Bromley Sewing machines).
Both are excellent, give real customer service, and have sold me used
and new machines and servicing for about 20 years.
No - certain new CHEAP machines should be poked off a tall pier into
deep water asap! But some new machines are wonderful (anyone want to
give me a new Designer I+? I'd give it a loving home... ) BUT you
WILL get more bang for your buck buying a well loved and well serviced
older machine that one careful owner has upgraded from.
Once you drop below $500, older but cheaper machines are usually better
and more likely to last than newer machines full of electronic gizmos
that will be out of date and unreplaceable withing 5 years, should they
go... And just do a little research on Brother backlights for some of
their machine screens to see what I mean!
Older doesn't mean free of a free arm, either. Take a look at some of
the older Viking and Elna, or Bernina and Necchi machines on ebay -
plenty of free arms there! Domestic machines of one sort and another
have had them since the '50's!
try your neighborhood husqvarna viking store.
the huskystar is, i think, made in china.
and while you are there, look also at the scandinavia machines from
vking which are made in sweden.
i think the scandinavia machines are on the 'low' price side but i can't
speak to capabilities of each
for viking machine info
imho, that means cheap [not to be confused with inexopensive] machines
of dubious source or brand name
klh in VA
My wife's initial machine was a sears kenmore machine. i really can't
comment on the machine because the instructions were not comprehensible
by her [or me, then] so it was returned and replaced by a husqvarna
viking platinum 770 which came with a much bigger price tag but 3
training sessions and lots of help when we went in the store with dumb
questions that could have been answered reading the manual [well,
reading the manual after the fact was much easier]. i did complain to
the sears manager about the lack of support but that was it. box
machine; training in the box by reading manual; not even a videotape
like the Vikings
klh in va
i'm a guy so i have the serger, a viking huskylock 936 ....
just think of a serger as a powertool with thread.
Looks like a upper low-range to lower mid-range model for those times.
I had one quite similar to that from the same era (and paid $115 for
it), and honestly, they are real work horses. My oldest son has it now
and it was still going strong when I gave it to him.
But see, even the low-end Kenmores back then were wonderful, durable
There is a free-arm version of the Singer 401--sorry, don't remember the
model number. The free-arm 401 I saw was produced in a Singer factory in
Germany. My other machine is a 401 and it was made when engineers were
supported in producing excellent comsumer machinery of all types. In the
world of planned obsolescence, it doesn't do to make things too durable. I
have my 401 mostly because I like using the old-style mechanical
buttonholer. I can hand sew a buttonhole or eyelet but they're never as
neat looking as the machine stitched ones. My mechanical Viking can
actually do heavier work than the Singer but it's also young enough to be
the Singer's granchild.