The Art of Purchasing A Sewing Machine OR How Not to Waste Several Hundred Dollars

This past Wednesday I sold my sewing machine. To be frank, I was sad to see her go, but it’s on to bigger (well, actually about the same size) and better things.

Before I start in with machines I’m considering, I have a list of needs and wants for the machine I buy. I need a machine that:
-costs under $250.
-is capable of quilting.
-either comes with a darning foot and an even feed foot, or has reasonably priced feet available for purchase.
-has a drop-in bobbin.
-comes with a variety of decorative stitches.
-has buttonhole feature.
-has automatic tension.
-has adjustable stitch length & width.
-has adjustable presser foot pressure.
-A quilting table would be nice, but isn’t a necessity.

Here’s a list of the current candidates I’m considering:
Brother XL3750
Brother XL-3750 Convertible Free-Arm Sewing Machine with Quilting Features

Average Review on Amazon:
4/5 stars (25 reviews total)


Recommended on PatternReview.com?:
No, not yet reviewed.

Reviewed on SewMamaSew?: No.

Pros:

-under budget

-has quilting features

-drop-in bobbin

-35 built-in utility, decorative, and heirloom stitches, each with multiple stitch functions

-Free-arm/flatbed convertible sewing surface

-Over sized sewing table

Cons:

– No mention of buttonhole feature.

-No mention of automatic tension.

-No mention of adjustable stitch length & width.

-No mention of adjustable presser foot pressure.

-Subject to tension issues, according to some reviews I’ve read. This makes me hesitant to purchase this model.

-A newer model, which technically doesn’t give it a real chance to have thorough reviews. The fact that it’s newer also means it’s likely not as sturdy as its predecessors, with more parts made of plastic rather than metal. It’s also a “lightweight” model, which isn’t really a feature I need or want — I’m looking for a machine that won’t “walk off” my sewing table.

-Patternreview.com’s Brother Sewing Machine Review section has no mention of the XL 3750. Not a good sign, as this tells me that either this machine has a reputation I’m unaware of, or it’s simply not that popular of a buy.

Other considerations:
This model is on eBay for $134.99 and is listed on Amazon.com for $118.26. My previous machine was $99.99 and had similar reviews and issues. Considering that my budget is about $200, I’d rather come close to number, unless it’s an antique and well reviewed machine that happens to be available for a bit less via eBay or Craigslist.

Brother ES2000

Brother ES2000 77 Stitch Function Computerized Free Arm Sewing Machine

Average Review on Amazon: 4/5 stars (72 reviews total)

Recommended on PatternReview.com?: Yes, by 1/1 users. Also received several accolades in the review’s comments.

Reviewed on SewMamaSew?: No

Pros:

-costs under $250.

-is capable of quilting.

-Free arm sewing machine.

-77 stitch functions.

– tension adjustment control.

-has a drop-in bobbin.

-comes with a variety of decorative stitches.

-has buttonhole feature.

-has automatic tension.

-has adjustable stitch length & width.

Cons:

-No mention of adjustable presser foot pressure.

-No quilting table.

-like the XL 3750, this machine is a lightweight model, which does worry me. Additionally, the reviews are good but not great. It also seems that the negative reviews point to a lack of support from Brother, which bothers me.

Other considerations:

$142.00 on Ebay, $158.57 on Amazon. This model is computerized, which I don’t necessarily need, but it’s an interesting addition to consider.


Brother XR 7700

Brother XR 7700 Computerized Sewing Machine w/Free Bonus Feet

Average Review on Amazon: 5/5 stars (1 review)

Recommended on PatternReview.com?: Yes, by 1/1 users.

Reviewed on SewMamaSew?: Yes, reviews are here and here.

Pros:

-Needle Up/Down Setting

-Buttonhole feature

-Drop in bobbin.

-Adjustable stitch length/width.

Cons:

-Not enough evidence to make me want to purchase this model! Only 2 reviews between Amazon and Patternreview, which does worry me a bit.

Other considerations: Computerized model. Again, I’m not sure how I feel about computerized models on the lower end of the price scale.

Brother XR9000

Brother Xr9000 Computerized Sewing Machine

Average Review on Amazon: 4.5/5 stars (2 reviews)

Recommended on PatternReview.com?: No.

Reviewed on SewMamaSew?: Yes, find the review here.

Average Review on Costco.com: 3.75/5 stars (9 reviews)

Pros:

-costs under $250.
-is capable of quilting.
-comes with a darning foot.
-has a drop-in bobbin.
-comes with 80 stitches, as well as an alphabet for monogramming.
-has buttonhole feature (8 styles of buttonholes).
-has adjustable stitch length & width.
-A quilting table.

Cons:

-no mention of adjustable presser foot pressure.

-has adjustable tension control.

Other considerations: Goes for $269.00 on Amazon, currently available for $149.99 on eBay. This machine was originally available only through Costco (for $179.99), which explains the lack of Amazon reviews — the Costco.com website has several reviews posted.

Bernina 811 Sport

Bernina 811 Sport on eBay

Average Review on Amazon: Not available on Amazon

Recommended on PatternReview.com?: Yes (1 review here)

Reviewed on SewMamaSew?: No.

Pros:

-Embroidery Stitches

-Adjustable Stitch Length and Width

-Adjustable Needle Position

-costs under $250.

-is capable of quilting.

-has a drop-in bobbin.

-comes with a variety of decorative stitches.

-has buttonhole feature

Cons:

-comes with a darning foot and an even feed foot.

-has automatic tension.

-has adjustable presser foot pressure.

Other considerations: This is an older model that is only available used, so I may have trouble finding parts for it. Additionally, I’m worried about having to get a machine serviced, since I don’t have a convenient way to quickly access a service center. Besides that, I have several projects currently in the works that need finishing, so obviously the machine that will work best immediately is the one I’m most likely to buy. This model is currently on eBay and the bidding is at $26 (!!) as of 11/30/09 at 11:52 am.

Bernina Nova 900

Bernina Nova 900 in Yellow

Average Review on Amazon: Not available on Amazon

Recommended on PatternReview.com?: Yes (1 review here)

Reviewed on SewMamaSew?: No.

Pros:

-Free Arm

-Adjustable Stitch Length and Width

-Adjustable Presser Foot Pressure

-Adjustable Needle Position

Cons:

-possible foot pedal circuit board

-side-loading bobbin, which I really want to avoid.

Other considerations:

Currently at $125.00 on eBay (+$25 shipping), not a bad price for an excellently reviewed machine. It’s pretty basic, so I’ll have to take that into consideration.


More machines to come as I analyze them to death! 🙂

-K

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