my new sewing machine and some tips

1.26.2011



 Ok, I confess, I got a new sewing machine.  A while ago.  Actually, almost 6 months ago is about right.  I didn't really feel like posting on it right away, especially because I didn't know much about it myself.  So I've been busy breaking it in, testing it out, and sort of figuring out all the doodads. 
I decided I was in need of an upgrade from my free machine when I wanted these things:  a buttonhole setting, variable needle position, and a needle up/down function (really handy for free motion quilting with your darning foot). 

 

Here's the low down. 
  • Love it.
  • Still can't figure out why I keep forgetting where the backstitch button is.
  • I now know why people fuss about getting a new machine so much, it's a big change!
  • The tension is perfect.
  • It chugs through just about anything I throw at it except my brother's jeans with about 8 layers of denim.
Read on if you feel inclined to do so...

Okay, I might have mentioned it before, but my uncle is a sewing machine repair man.  I know, how did I get so lucky you ask?  Well, I married my husband and he came fully equipped with a super handy uncle!  Not only does my uncle repair machines, but he's an avid sewist himself.
  
Here's a little summary of what things I've learned from him:
  • To get a quality machine, you should plan on spending around $300.  Now, that doesn't mean the less expensive models won't work for you, but if you plan on sewing a lot and need something reliable, a machine in the $300 range is probably the ticket.
  • He didn't recommend buying any of the Bernina Bernette models, unlike the higher end Berninas which are made in Switzerland, the Bernettes are made in Asia.
  • Keeping a clean machine is really important.  I had been getting an error with my janome and it ended up that I just needed to clean out under the needle plate.  The needle plate on my machine is attached with one little screw (see pics below).  I unscrewed it, lifted off the metal needle plate and underneath the bobbin was a giant mess of lint!  I should have taken pictures for you, but it was really nasty.  And that's with only 6 months of sewing.  My uncle recommended that I clean out this area every 3 months or so.  To do this, he recommended using a vacuum cleaner and the lint brush that came with my machine, just wipe with the brush and the vacuum will suck up all the gunk.  Worked like a charm. 

The only other machine that I've looked into extensively is the Bernina 330.  I got to try it out at my local quilt shop and it's really nice.  My memory craft has tons of stitches and memory options (which I haven't really used much yet), but the Bernina would be a machine that I think I could sew pretty much anything I'd ever be interested in sewing. 

So there's my two cents, take it or leave it.  I'm no expert, but just someone who loves to sew.  Feel free to leave any notes or tips you have about sewing machines in the comments section.   I'm sure everyone would enjoy learning something new! 

73 comments :

  1. i have really been wanting to invest in a new machine. I've been working on a singer from probably 200/2001. Its just recently started to act up and the tension has been getting all screwy. I probably just need to clean it and get it looked at, but i really just want a new machine! How do you feel about the digital screen on your new machine? did you have a screen before? Do you find it easier to use versus the turn nobs and what not?

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  2. I recently learned that what I thought was a faulty machine was actually me using needles way too long. I had no clue you are supposed to use a new needle after ~8 hours of sewing. Oops. Sorry sewing machine, you didn't deserve all that cursing.

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  3. Awesome! I have a Janome too which is about 7 years old now, and I love it. It seems like they aren't quite as well known in the states as in Canada, where I got mine, so I'm glad to see someone else with one! You're so lucky to have an uncle in law like that :).

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  4. I'm saving every penny towards a new sewing machine. I have my eyes on a Husqvarna Viking Emerald. I have a ways to go still but I'm getting excited about when I can get my new machine! My current machine is a 50's/60's Singer "Slant-O-Matic". LOL

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  5. I got a new sewing machine six months ago as well! (and have yet to post about it. The one I got: Bernina 330. I'm in love with it. Glad you're enjoying yours as well.

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  6. I've got a Janome and was always losing my backstitch button too so I got a stick on diamonte from my craft supplies and stuck it on, it's only about .5" wide but does the trick nicely! Makes it super easy to find and use :)

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    1. Glad to hear others have trouble with the backstitch button on the Janome 4000. I thought it was just me! I went from a 1970's Singer Touch-and-Sew with a manual reverse lever(best described as a console automatic shifter in a car) to a Janome 4000 about 8 years ago. Making the change to an electronic, computerized, digital machine was not easy, to say the least. I'd been sewing on my Singer for nearly 40 years. It was like deserting an old friend. Just thinking about the college wardrobe, bride's maid's dresses, baby clothes, kid's clothes, 4-H projects, home decor, etc. that were made with my Singer makes me teary-eyed. Hey, I didn't even have a cell phone until 2004. Have I upgraded to a Smart Phone? No way! It's a flip-phone with a camera and no keyboard for me. I'm not giving it up until they pry it from my non-texting fingers. LOL

      Seriously, What is this "diamonte" you use to locate the backstitch button? I need one :)

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  7. I got my Janome last year, and love it. It is amazing how much lint accumulates on the feed dogs and around the bobbin case, so I clean it when I change needles.
    Congrats on your new machine!

    I've got my eye (but not the budget) on the Janome Horizon, it has a really wide throat for quilting.

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  8. Congratulations! I do all of my piecing on an antique Featherweight that belonged to my Grandma. She's a workhorse...the machine, not Grandma! I bought a Viking from my wonderful sewing machine man, for 200 dollars. It is a 25 yr old heavy duty model, with interchangable cams for stitches. It is a dream machine. However, I would love to buy one with more stitch options, and one more suitable for free motion machine quilting. Do you mind sharing the approx. cost of your machine?

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  9. Congrats on your new sewing machine Anna! How fun!

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  10. I bought a Janome about a year ago and I'd marry it if I could. I love the speed adjustment and needle up/down most. It has handled everything so far. I've used a Bernina before (the heavy Swiss ones) and I prefer my Janome, hands down.

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  11. Yeah for Janome. I have the Janome DC 3050 and LOVE it. You can see pics of it here :)

    http://sirbubbadoo.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-blog-new-sewing-machine.html

    I was using my mom's old one prior, and switching to this one took a couple of months of 'relearning', and I couldn't find the backstitch either!! I kept trying to push down on an invisible button on the right, but my brain finally made the connection :) I use pressurized air (you know the air in the can with the stray tip) to clean out under the plates, etc, actually anywhere that I see "dust" I use it and so far it has kept my machine super clean. Happy sewing!!

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  12. I have a Janome I got this summer, and I'm still super in love with it. I got the JNH1860. I wanted to tell you something I have discovered, and I don't know if you know this already, but using better quality thread will significantly cut down on the lint/junk accumulating under the needle plate. I use Guttermann (sp?), and the difference between the amount of lint between that and the standby Coats & Clark is ridiculous. I'd say about 1/5 as much lint, easily. Just thought I'd share my findings.

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    1. I agree with your comment on thread. I use only Guttermann. My thread hardly ever breaks and there's little "thread shed" resulting in less cleaning of the feed dogs and bobbin case.

      Great advice, Jade.

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  13. I have a Brother PC420 and I love it. It's fast and has some features that I would find hard to give up now that I have them...automatic thread cutter, knee lift for the presser foot and an automatic needle threader to name a few. The only thing I've had to add to it is the extension table for quilting.

    And yeah, the lint gets gnarly down under the bobbin case after awhile. I usually try to clean out after each big project.

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  14. I just got a Bernina 330 in December. My dealer offered a 2-part class, 6 hours each (for FREE), so we could learn all that our machines could do! The workbook was from Bernina, so it makes me think that maybe all dealers do this? They were offering 30% off if you paid with cash or check, plus Bernina had a $100 off coupon on their website (sorry, no more), so I ended up paying around $800. A serious upgrade from my $30 garage sale Sears Kenmore from the 70s. I had no idea that a machine could work so well!

    If you're in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I got mine at Quilter's Stash in Hurst. http://www.quiltersstashinc.com

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  15. I just invested in a Janome 4030 after Christmas. Love it! Glad I traded in my 30+ year old singer!

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  16. I scanned right past this post and down to the comments to tell you I can't even read it. You're going to make me want a new sewing machine and I just got a new one around Christmas. So just stop it, ok?! ;)

    Have fun with your new "baby"!

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  17. Besides cleaning the lint out (I usually do it after each project), oiling is very important! Check your manual to see what it says about that.

    My 40-yr-old Kenmore still runs like a charm, and I'd never part with it! :)

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  18. I have a Bernina, which I love. I have a problem remembering where the backstitch is too -- I thought it was just me!

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  19. Ohoo lovely :0) Is pretty much exactly like the Janome 4000 I have not long got, photograph looks very similar, I posted a little about it here on my blog http://marypoppins-homesweethome.blogspot.com/2010/12/giveaway-winner-and-my-christmas.html where You can see a photograph of mine.

    Ohooo super, now I to know wher to come when I need help ;0) Have fun and enjoy, xx

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  20. I have a Brother sewing/embroidery machine that I really use just for embroidery and as a back up. I have a Singer that I love! It can sew anything. I made a quilt from jeans and sew lether withno problem at all. I am being given a Bernina for my birthday from my MIL. She bought a new one a couple years ago and is giving me her "old" one. I don't remember what model it is but I have sewn on it before and I love it!!! I have been blessed to marry into a sewing family too!

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  21. I'm looking for a new machine myself and I ahve my eyes on a Brother inoovis 30 (which I can't find on the american market). At home, in europe (I am for now in Guyana) I have one of those bernina your uncle talked about. She is older than me and sew like a goddess !!!! here in Guyana, I have a very basic elna, which sew nicely but doesn't know how to do buttinhole....so for now, I keep dreaming....

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  22. My "new" machine is a Janome, too. (Only mine is going on almost a yr now!!) You're right...it goes through anything! I sewed only on Singers before and now I'm so hooked...Janome is awesome!

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  23. I have a Janome 8077, which seems to only be available in the US at Hancock Fabrics (it's not even on the Janome website). It's a simplified version of what you have, doesn't have all the stitches, fonts, stitch memory, etc. but has worked well for me. I love being able to control the speed, for instance. And this reminds me I really need to de-lint my machine!

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  24. From an "insider": NEVER NEVER NEVER pay the asking price for a machine! Especially if it's a "big name" machine (ie, Bernina, Janome, Baby Lock, etc.) The dealers are given a maximum and a minimum sell price - They will make money no matter what price you get it at - so ALWAYS negotiate... and don't be afraid to go elsewhere to get a better deal.... Happy Sewing!

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  25. oooooh, I'm lusting about a new machine now. I took some really good disgusting lint pictures a few months ago. Cleaning your machine just feels good doesn't it-

    http://alittlegray.blogspot.com/2010/08/zen-and-art-of-sewing-machine.html

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  26. I love my Janome too! Even if I did get another machine in time, I would still keep my Jaonome. My is not quite as fancy as this one but I sure do love it!

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  27. I love the tip from ladybug!!! Who knew!! Let me ask, what made you decide on this particular model of the janome?? I have a singer touch n sew that I believe I got in the 80's. Electronic and HEAVY!! It's a good one, but I can tell it might be time for me to start the process of deciding on the next one.

    Love your post!
    xox Rella

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  28. Great! Glad you like your new machine...I have two Janome machines....MC6600 and the Horizon...I love Janome and send everyone to check them out.

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  29. Fun! I got a Janome 6600 last year, and the reverse button is in the same spot. I don't like it, but it is the only thing I really don't like so can't complain much!

    January 26, 2011 12:27 PM

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  30. ooo. wow! congrats!! Love it. so bright and white and pretty!

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  31. My hubby bought me a cheapie machine for our first anniversary. I always wanted to really learn how to sew... so... I got that! :-D When I start really sewing.. maybe I will get a better one... LOL

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  32. I've had my sewing machine for about 15 years now. It's a Kenmore 150 - made by Janome. Looks very similar to yours. I love it! In the 15 years that Ihave had it - I've only had to take it in for servicing once. And then all it needed was a thorough cleaning. I love having the option to do all of the fancy stitches - even if 99% of the time, I don't use them.

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  33. I got a Janome MC5200 for Christmas. I haven't had a lot of time to sew sicne getting it but I LOVE it!!! I had a Kenmore before that the tension was shot...I love that I can use all my feet from my Kenmore on my new Janome! Now to start some sewing projects and figure it all out!

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  34. ok so that is a lovely little machine & i'm jealous. it makes no sense for me to be jealous. i have a Bernina 230 Activia (which they no longer sell) & i love it. i kept my Husquvarna Viking #1+ with embroidery module. Both of those are awesome. I have had a difficult transition to the Bernina from the Viking because I had the viking for soooooo long. But it's like an old friend. it runs great & i could not get rid of her. i also have the Bernina 1300MDC overlock machine. that is sweet!
    congratulations on your machine. getting a new sewing machine is always such a nice event in life. plus if you want to be good at what you do you need good tools. that is the philosophy i stood by to get my husband to buy me the kitchen aid artisan mixer! he enjoys my baked goods even better now!

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  35. Looks fab! I got a new Pfaff machine (Expression 2.0) in November and am still totally in love with it! I'm still learning so much about it too...

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  36. OOOOHH! I have been struggling with the idea of a new machine. I have a 20 yr old Kenmore 30 stitch made by Janome that sews through everything and anything like it is butter. It does not have the foot stop up/down option which is the one bad thing. I also inherited a Singer Quantum XL 1 from my mother which scares me, and a 1948 Singer featherweight which is a new treat to sew on. Realistically...I don't NEED one but.......

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  37. I meant to say in my previous comment that I am so happy to see you write "sewist."

    I have been trying to come up with something better than "sew-er" because typing sewer is just wrong!

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  38. Oh my...I have tears in my eyes...haha. I love it. so shiny and purdy! Lucky lady you are :) I'm saving every penny..literally..for a new machine. I have no idea what I want and have no idea how I will decide but I'm looking into this one. Tell your Uncle he rocks for sharing his tips!

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  39. I've had a Janome Memory Craft Embroidery Machine for about 13 years and I LOVE it!! The only problem I've ever had with it was when I DIDN'T clean it and things got clogged up. Your uncle is right---it needs to be cleaned regularly.

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  40. I have to tell you that I have that exact machine and it sounds like we bought it on maybe the same day 6 months ago. AND, I just told my husband a week ago that I felt the only flaw in the whole beautiful machine was that I always forget which button is the backstitch button. I htink it's because it's in line with the other two buttons up there... and even though the reverse is on the bottom, it's hard to know you're hitting the right one unless you actually stop and look at it while you're sewing.

    But I love the auto-tension. I'd buy it all over again for the auto tension.

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  41. Congratulations! yes it does take a lot of sewing miles to get used to a new machine. i have a janome too but its over 5 years old. i have had one tip for you. I was using Klasse needles as they were the easiest for me to buy. After lots of skipped stitches and frustration it turns out those needles are not the best for your Janome (they are fractionally shorter but obviously enough to make a difference). I seriously had NO idea. Anyways I stocked up on Janome needles and Schmetz and haven't had a problem since. It goes like a trooper.

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  42. Anna, she's bee-u-tiful!! Seriously, your pics really show her off ;). Yea for you and a new machine!
    I love my Janome (MC6500) and am pretty sure it is way more than I need, but the long throat is very nice for quilting. I've had mine for about a year and a half and in addition to cleaning the lint, changing needles, etc. I also 'sent her to the spa' for her yearly ... bwahahahaha!! But it made a big difference ... of course I sew probably 2-4 hrs each day which is more than normal use, but it's still a good idea to have a routine maintenance done.

    Anyway, I love how purrty she is in your sewing room. I think I need aqua walls for better photos!

    Happy Day!

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  43. I should add that before my upgrade to the Janome MC6500, I had (still have) the Singer Confidence 7470 which is also an excellent machine in the $300-$500 price point range.

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  44. Hi!! Just wanted to tell you that I just completed my first zippered pouch from your tutorial and it was my first zipper project! I am so proud of myself and I want to thank you for being an inspiration to me!! Keep up with the great tutorials :D

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  45. Congrats on your new machine! I have a Janome, too. It's a Memory Craft 6500p, which I got about a year and a half ago. I love it! I was sewing on an old Singer, which I still have, but the Janome is wonderful. And it's so funny ... I always seem to be "losing" the backstitch button, too! I don't know why I went with this model, because I only use a couple of stitches on the machine! Oh well, perhaps I'll get adventurous and start trying them out! Have fun with your machine!

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  46. I've got the Janome 6600 and love love love my machine! it was one of the best investments I've ever made in my little sewing world!

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  47. Thanks for sharing. My husband bought me a Janome Memory Craft 6300 for Christmas (and my birthday). I had a sweet little Singer for 20 years that finally didn't seem to be sewing well despite maintenance. I debated between getting another cheaper machine or making the jump to a more expensive machine. I selected mine because of the extended space between the needle and side of the machine. I make T Shirt Quilts and this feature will make it much easier to machine quilt. I also love the needle up and down feature, as well as the auto cut. To get the extended bed in the Bernina or Husquervana was a substantial price difference over the Janome. So far I'm still learning, but I'm very pleased with it!

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  48. Very interesting and glad you like your new machine so much. I've never sewn on a Janome.
    I have a Bernette 440 that I bought over 20 years ago. I have sewn everything from leather to lace and silk on her and never ever had a problem. The best buy I think I ever made. A very sturdy metal machine that has been a real workhorse.

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  49. Once you have a Bernina, you will never look back. Mine is 35 years old and has sewn everything from wedding and prom dresses to saddle bags for the motorbike! This machine has been for a tune up once (I went through withdrawals just thinking about it) and all that was needed was a new rubber washer for the bobbin winder! A real workhorse!

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  50. nice! i got a great sewing machine as a graduating present after high school. At first I despised it because I wanted a trip to europe instead, but now i love it and am so happy my parents got me a good quality machine .... though the trip would have been equally as nice, just not as useful!

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  51. At my Corpus Christi-Texas Quilt guild meeting a guest speaker told us that the best selling sewing machine in the United States is the: Janome Threadbanger.
    I have an Elna 2006 (Swiss) that I bought in Austin,TX over 12 years ago. I've never had any problems with it & I rarely clean it after sewing, but will do so now. I do however, take it in for its yearly tune-up/cleaning. My only complaint about my machine is that it is noisy compared to my quilter friends sewing machines. Thanks for the info & to LadyBug for her post regarding negotiating the price on a machine--best advice ever!!! I'm also curious as to why you selected the machine you did, was it your uncle's recommendation---inquiring minds want to know :)

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  52. Hello!

    I got my very first proper machine in October, a Janome 6125Quilters Edition. When I first looked at it I was both in love and intimidated, REALLY intimidated, I coulnd't imagine working regularly on it without feeling like that. I now do, of course. I love that janome comes with so many extras, like all the needed feet and the extension table, I love it! I really wouldn't know how to get all these things I didn't even knew I needed until I got them. Mine is still electronic, but not computerised as I don't trust computers and a mecanical tends to last longer, I hope. As for cleaning, I used to be quite disciplined at that, until my cat stole my lint brush, so I now have to get a new one, as I have no idea where he hid it. I particularly love also that you can throw anything at it and it doesn't even hesitate. Congrats!

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  53. Thanks so much for this post Anna. The timing was perfect since I was in the market for a new machine myself. I blogged about my new machine with a link to your tips here: http://zaaberry.blogspot.com/2011/01/new-friend.html

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  54. I've got a Janome and totally love it. I completely understand about needing to "get to know" your machine. You've got to take it on a few dates before you can introduce it to the world!

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  55. I also have a Janome. It is the repackaged "heart" model. Not too fancy, but I love it. Love the needle up/down button and the blanket stitch. Love them.

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  56. I ended up with the Bernina 330 and love it so far. In my research I learned a lot of the same things as you did. For anyone that is interested I did an detailed blog post about the details of the Bernina 330 (http://sewingnovice.com/2011/01/18/the-bernina-330-my-new-machine/)

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  57. Oh my gosh I am so excited to find this post. My machine bit the dust and I was spinning in circles trying to figure out what to get. By the way I LOVE your blog. THANKS!!!

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  58. I´m a brazilian, living in Paraty, a small city in Rio de Janeiro state. It´s the most beautifull place to live. I just discovered your blog. I´ve loved your posts, bags, and your love for your sew machine. Pretty beautifull the way you love it. Kisses from Paraty - Rio de Janeiro - Brazil.

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  59. I love your site. It's a visual feast and full of crafty inspiration. I do want to say though, that made in Asia doesn't need to equate with 'avoid' as the Bernette comment implies. Janome is a Japanese company after all and I believe most if not all of their manufacturing is in Asia.
    Respectfully - Layla

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  60. Thanks Layla. And thanks for the point on the Bernette. I think maybe what I was trying to convey was that most Berninas are made in Switzerland and that the Bernettes, even though they're part of the bernina line, are made elsewhere. Oh and don't worry, I love my janome, and it's made in taiwan. :)

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  61. Thanks for the guide useful tips and tricks for maintaining the sewing machine

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  62. Hello! I sew on a Bernina 550qe, and I love it! I don't know how I sewed in the past without all the fancy functions. I know you said you tested the 330 extensively, and I wanted to let you know that after sewing on both, the 550 is so much better. When I went shopping, I was seriously considering the 330. I bit the bullet and spent more on the 550. With that said, I am sure the 330 would have been an amazing machine and an upgrade to what I was sewing on in the past. But after experiencing both, there is no comparison. The 550 is a dream. (I'm sure someone owning a 7 or 8 series would say the same about my 550 :) So if you are ever considering Bernina, make sure you try out the 5 series! You are so right about the Bernettes. They also have plastic parts whereas Bernina does not. I have heard wonderful things about Janome. Sewing machine shopping should be fun, but seriously, it's a headache with all the choices out there! :)

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  63. Love my Janome 6600! Have had or sewn on many-many other brands, but this one is awesome, which other machine has such great results with free-motion quilting "using your feed-dogs-up?!" Yup, I didn't believe it myself until I tried it, now I'm forever teaching classes with it. Horizon? nice by too expensive for me.

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  64. I am buying a Jamone 5200 today from a private party...I found your post very helpful. (Oh, BTW, is your "sewist" uncle available?

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    1. oh good! that's nice to hear. :) hehe, nope, he's taken (by another sewist)

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  65. Hi Anna! Everything on noodle head is wonderful! Ur inspiring! I just wanted to ask are you still using the mc2500? And how are you finding it? I'm upgrading at the moment and deciding between this machine and a brother nv610. It's such a massive decision haha, and I would very much value a follow up opinion on the mc2500.
    Thank you!

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  66. Great blog! Another wonderful feature of the Janome 4000 that I just couldn't sew without is the needle threader. I don't know how I ever managed without one. Maybe it has something to do with bifocals :)

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  68. Hi,
    if you are ever interested in selling your old machine (your bernette 440) please contact me! you can email me at: thefabricandsuchplace@gmail.com
    Thank you!

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  69. I have had a Bernette 440 for 20+ years and it's been very good to me. It's never been serviced, but likely should be, but I am next to anal on keeping it oiled and the lint cleaned from the bobbin areas. Much of the lint could be caused by the type of thread used. Polyester thread will give you much more and is easily removed by an accessory attachment to your vacuum. There is a kit that can be purchased which has a fitting to go over your vacuum hose. It includes a tube and small crevice tool for use in real small places. Another option is to use a thick makeup brush to clean out the lint particles. Works great!
    For the young lady who has an older 'slant model' Singer, she may want to keep it for heavy duty projects. I found a Singer 301 at an estate sale for $40 and it will sew multiple layers of heavy denim, as if you're putting a knife into a piece of warm butter. It is a real work horse and called the "Big sister to the Singer Featherweights" 221 and 222's and only weighs about 2-3# more than the 221 and 222.
    I have been a sewer for 59 years and find a lot of relaxation in doing so. It's nice to know so many still enjoy this skill. I began sewing in 4-H at the age of 10.
    Shirley K. / GR, MI

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