Know Thy Machine


Today I am posting as part of Shruti’s Know Thy Machine Blog Hop.  Be sure to visit Shruti tomorrow, she’ll be asking a question related to my post – and answering puts you in the running for some great prizes from our sponsors!

1. What machines do you have? Brand and Model.

I have, and regularly use, three different machines:

A Janome 7700 purchased new in June 2010; a Bernina 830 Record (made in 1978, purchased used in 2010); and a Singer Featherweight 221, gifted to me by a friend of my Mom.

2. Why did you buy these particular models?

I purchased the Janome Horizon 7700 about one month after the model was first released.  I bought it primarily for the deep harp (or throat area–11.25 inches!), the built-in lighting on the underside of the machine neck, and the free-motion capabilities.  Because I sew clothing as well, a free-arm feature was essential.  I believe I paid around $2200 (retail at the time was $2999).The Bernina Record 830 was purchased off eBay, from out-of-state, sight unseen.  Could have been a nightmare, but it turned out to be one of the best purchases I ever made!  I bought this machine a few months prior to finding the Janome, when I really needed a good, reliable machine, and the purchase was based on the reputation of this vintage machine; which it has definitely lived up to– a solid, metal component, work-horse sewing machine.  I suspect I will keep – and use – this machine forever.

The Featherweight gets used at quilting retreats when I don’t want to haul the much heavier Bernina along, and it is a foundation paper-piecing wonder!  I will have this machine, forever, and I suppose leave it to some well-deserving soul in my will.

3. What do you like about your machine? Have you named it? Have you made a cover for it?

Bernie (the Bernina) and Fannie (the Featherweight) live in their boxes when not being used (the Bernina has a red plastic case that came with it originally, and I use a perfectly sized Sterlite Show-Off container for the Featherweight), but I really do need to make a dust cover for the Janome that sits in the drop-in table my husband and I custom made for it.  p.s. the Janome has not been named.

4. Does your machine give you any problems? Could you tell us a few? 

I’ve had machines in the past that gave me fits; and the most minor sewing tasks with these machines usually led to a headache.  But with these three machines, I have very few problems.  On occasion, I have trouble, but it is typically because it has been a while since I used the machine in a particular way (i.e. free-motion quilting) and forgotten how best to adjust the machine for that particular condition.

The Featherweight never gave me trouble until the last time I needed to replace the belt, and I now have some trouble with the wheel operating easily when I first start sewing with it; once I get it going, it sews wonderfully.

5. What do you sew on it mainly? Quilts, Clothes, Bags etc. How much time do you spend sewing on it? What are the features of the machine that help you improve your work?

My Featherweight is used primarily for paper piecing and simple chain piecing (if you have one, and have not tried paper piecing with it, give it a try–you’ll thank me!).  I sew and mend clothing with the Bernina, use it when making handbags, and I use it whenever I am sewing on heavy fabrics such as denim.  In addition, this is the machine that travels to most of my retreats with me.  The Janome is used for making quilts, primarily.  It came with various darning feet, which was yet another selling feature that attracted me to it.  This machine has improved my free-motion skills considerably, but I suspect if I could find more time to play with it I could do some awesome free-motion quilting!

6. What advice would you give others when deciding about which machine to buy? 

Try out several.  If you have the chance to attend a larger quilt show with vendors, you can visit each companies booth to try out the different models first hand and question their “experts”.  If you are not fortunate enough to have such an opportunity, I would focus on brands that you could have serviced locally or at least within a reasonable distance from where you live.  If the closest Janome dealer is 500 miles from your home, you may want to cross that brand off your list.  Should you have machine trouble, you don’t want to have to pack it up and ship it off to have someone look at it.  In my metropolitan area (population is approx. 600,000) we have a dealer for nearly every brand of machine on the market.

7. Will you share with us a special memory associated with your machine?

I mentioned that this machine was gifted to me by my Mom’s friend, Elaine.  The machine belonged to Elaine’s mother, and she inherited it when her mother passed away.  Elaine knew I enjoyed sewing, so she gave the Featherweight to my mom, to give to me.  I love that I am essentially the second owner of this treasured machine.

8. If you had unlimited resources in the world, which machine would you choose to buy and why?

I don’t expect to buy any other sewing machines in the near future, as I’m very happy with these three (I went through years of having one inferior machine after another — I learned exactly what I wanted and needed!).  But if I had unlimited resources, and could buy any machine on the market, I’d probably go with a new Bernina.

Don’t forget to pay Shruti a visit tomorrow, she’ll be asking a question related to my post – you can win a great prize from one our Blog Hop sponsors!

Your turn…

Do you have more than one machine?

Do you have a favorite machine?

What is your dream machine, if you had unlimited resources and could buy any machine on the market?


12 thoughts on “Know Thy Machine

    • I have a good friend that started out with a roughly $400 Husquvarna… she eventually upgraded to a $2000 Pfaff, which worked well, but she still favored the Husky… I don’t use that many of my decorative stitches, but they are nice to have available when I do. And yes, there is something to say for sturdiness.

  1. Oh my… Loaded question for me. My main machine is my Janome 7700 Horizon (named “Heywould Janome”). I use a Singer Featherweight 221 (Sophie) for travel (yes, she rocks paper-piecing and has the BEST straight stitch!). I have a vintage White (Madge, named after the Palmolive dish soap lady), a treadle under restoration named Mary Gertrude (She’s an heirloom from my old neighbors), and a few other White machines from the 20s and 30s (hubby’s restoration projects). Oh and I have a Singer Futura for embroidery.

    I would love a better embroidery machine, but I rarely use it because the design field is so small. I’d love one with a larger field.

    I’m fine with what I have. Now I’m debating on donating Madge. I got her for a few dollars and she was well-loved and taken care of by her previous owner. She doesn’t get used. She sits there and just looks pretty!

    • Oh, Jeanie, make sure you are ready to part with Madge before you give her up! of course, it’s always nice to gift a machine to someone who really needs one and will use it and love it!

  2. I have three machines: a Bernina 440QE, a Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 and a Babylock Jane (that I just bought last month). Plus a have a Viking/Husqvarna serger. I like all of them for specific reasons, but I wish I could find one machine that did everything great. I tend to favor my Bernina for most things, but I love my Pfaff for machine applique. I can’t wait to try out my Babylock for FM quilting because it’s only a straight stitch machine and does 1500 stitches a minute. It’s super fast!

    I don’t know what machine I’d buy if I had all the money in the world, because I don’t think there’s a machine out there that does everything I want perfectly. I think I’ll stick with the machines I have for now. But I would like to try out a Featherweight. I’ve only heard great things about them.

  3. I have a Janome 6500. LOVE IT! I have a Featherweight. LOVE IT! I have a VIking Designer 1 for embroidery. LOVE IT! I have a treadle machine…..mostly decoration. Need to get it working. I have a Janome serger….don’t know how to use it very well. My dream machine right now is a longarm! Gammill would probably be my first choice….Or AQS. But I’ll probably never be able to justify the cost of these and will go for a cheaper one! Fun post, Doris!

  4. Pingback: Machine Madness & Costume Craziness | made by a brunnette

  5. Pingback: Know Thy Machine Blog Hop · Quilting |

  6. Hi
    I reas your intresting blog about your mashines!
    The black Singer you owed fr.o.m your friends mom is gorgeous is it still running? :))
    I ve joined manyn sewing classes at One of the most forward schools
    And they re equiped with older faster mashines and they are very ligh to go with the feeling is awesome!

    My question is if your Bernina Electric” is just standing without beeing used do you enat to sell it?
    I have a bernina 800 but without buttonhole reglage

    Let me know!!

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