Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A question for you?

This Friday afternoon, (with the hope that the babysitting stars are aligned) I'm popping along the road to the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexander Palace! With one job in mind...other than petting fabric and wool....... to buy a sewing machine!
It was the very clever Katy of The Littlest Thistle who suggested when I moaned in an email about lazy dealers!! that I should go along to a show to try out several sewing machines and haggle a good deal on one!
I've started a list of things I want my machine to have and am amazed that for the price of them they don't seem to have tea making, school runs and feeding children options!!!!

So, my question to you is, other than the major missing options I listed above(!)

What is the best gadget/feet/bit of your machine that you can't live without?


What is the worst gadget/biggest waste of money on your machine?

I am planning on going there with an open mind, although the people of IG are swaying me with those inches on the Janome!!!
and I did already like the pfaff
and I know ever brand has a 'Friday Afternoon' machine, but I would love to know

Is a auto needle threader/cutter good? I'm lazy and this sounds great! 
Do I really need to have an alphabet? A message on the binding does look so cute!! 
What about a start/stop button? Just to give my feet a rest and stop a toddler from leaning on it and setting the machine off! 

Baring in mind that my current machine is the basic John Lewis one, I know that anything will be an improvement. 

Thanks so much for any tips!!!


  1. I recently bought a new sewing machine - a JL 330 (apparently a Janome underneath, useful but not mega-fancy or expensive.) I love the threader - didn't bother with it on my last machine but now it saves so much short-sighted faffing about. Highly recommended. Another really useful feature is the dial which allows you to set a max speed. It overrides the foot pedal and means you can go verrrrrry slowly if you need. It also has auto thread lock and stitches in one spot at the beginning and end of your stitching if you set it - experience will show if this works well but I like the idea. Start stop button is very useful, as is the button which sets the needle in up or down position (great for pivoting your work when turning it.) So threader definitely, start-stop great, speed override invaluable, needle up-down useful, auto-thread lock probably. Alphabet is up to you. If you like trying out new stuff it's always good to future-proof your purchase by getting all the bells and whistles. I would if I was feeling very flush and if you get it I am sure you will use it to fab effect! Sorry for wittering on - hope it helps:-)

  2. I so could do with a threader on my machine. I have a brother - it is basic but does what I want it to do. To be honest, I am not using it to his full capacity, and learning quite a lot. Start stop button is great. I don't have the alphabet but that sounds clever - although I am not sure how much I would use it for... I quite like basic because it is easy to research when I need to learn something - help is always there, and I would rather than a basic machine and a serger, instead of splashing out on one machine. But I probably do not quilt as much as you do...

  3. I broke the clip on my automatic needle threader and I missed it like mad, so would definitely go for that if I was you. The needle up/down I also find great when I am struggling with lots of layers and I use the auto lock stitching all the time! My machine, an Elna, has a variable speed setting, from a tortoise to a hare, but it is always set at the same speed so I might have to look in to that a bit more:)

    I don't have an extension table for the Elna, which I had with the Singer in Latvia, and it is another thing I miss, so would certainly see if that was something that could be thrown in with the deal.

    Enjoy testing and haggling :)

  4. Ok - having just done this here are my pearls. Think about what you really want your machine to what about the machine you have now would you like to improve? Don't be afraid to try different brands. Will this be just another step or your forever machine? Lots I tried were nice but not really enough of a step up from what I already had - of course budget will restrict this but I wanted to feel like I had a machine that I would used for a long time without needed another upgrade. I went around with a tape measure because I wanted a bigger throat plate space. Also go with what gives you the Wow factor - the machine I bought was the only one that made me go 'Oooooo'! because it had lots of exciting gadgets like an auto needle threader, auto thread cutter, auto stitch reinforcement...not stuff that was essential but in the end the things that set what I got apart from some other ones and I love all those features. I would be happy not to have loads of stitches or alphabets - I would have been happy to have a machine without them - but the other functions I mentioned I now wouldn't be without! I also got a free quilting kit with what I got which was a show certainly adds a bit more wow to the deal to get that thrown in for free - some companies dont offer a kit and you have to buy all the quilting feet separately - so good to check how much all that might add up to. For my £600 budget there wasn't a janome that offered me any of these features - I had to spend another £100 to get those and I didn't get any extra throad plate space. I got a brother Innovis 350 - Never tried a brother before but I really like it, very easy to use and sews like a dream. My other option was the Viking Opan 650 as it's a long arm machine but it was very basic and didn't come with any quilting stuff for it's £600 price tag.
    there you go - hope that helps a bit. Have fun and I can't wait to hear how you get on! x

  5. Great to read Jo's remarks about the Brother Innovis 350se with free quilt pack. I have just ordered one after testing out the Janome options. I also looked at the Brother 550 but that did not have the creative quilt pack thrown in. The quilt pack has the extension table, walking foot, open toe and 1/4" foot. I would have like a long arm but my budget was around £600. The 550 could sew sideways and diagonally, looked very clever but not sure I needed. The Brother was also a nice quiet machine and seemed sturdy.

    1. Thanks Catherine! I hope you like your new Brother machine when it arrives! I feel like I want to be picky and get a bit of lots of different machines all in one!!! I'll definitely remember about the extra feet and table to factor in if its not in the price!

  6. I have a Brother Innovis NX2000 (don't die of shock at the price) but for the throat space, free arm and its workhorse capabilities it was well worth the money, plus it came with millions of add ons and things.

    Things I love:

    It can sew through/over anything without a hiccup or tension problem, including elastic
    It has needle up/down, thread cutter and a ton of settings, including a thing to lock your stitch selection in place in case you accidentally knock it during a project
    It has variable speed (mine's always set to flat out ;o) )
    It has a huge throat, which can nicely digest quilts, bags and clothing.
    I can load a bobbin with thread from a different spool than the one I'm sewing with, so I don't have to unthread the machine each time - not that it's exactly a difficult hardship to do that.
    I came with an extension table, which I use for projects besides quilting

    Things I can live without:

    The needle threader - I've never met a machine yet I could make one of these work on, I'm sure it's me, but I find it easier just to shove the thread through the eye of the needle!
    It has about a million stitches, most of which I hardly remember are there, let alone use them. I think manufacturers think that the higher the price to reflect harder working machinery, the more extra crap they need to throw in! Mine sews forward, backwards, sideways and diagonally too. Not entirely sure I need that either lol

    PS, I'm glad someone finally recognised my brilliance ;o)


I know time is precious, so thank you so much for taking the time to leave me a message xxx

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