Dream Machine

blueeyesdesigns

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2010
Location
North/West Chicago Area
[ Preface: I am a TD/PM and the last person on Earth you want using your sewing machine. But it's my job to help coordinate equipment purchases, and I'm game, but completely ignorant to the to magic of costume construction. ]

I've been given a decent ($2000) budget to purchase a new sewing machine for our costume shop. I know that we already have a few basic machines, including a serger, that are in good shape. I'm under the impression that the best addition to the shop might be a machine that's capable of working with heavier materials, i.e. a couple layers of heavy materials for a period costume, or mending soft goods, etc. I'm at an educational institution, but most of our costume work is done by a pro (who I have also reached out to) and the occasional well-supervised volunteer.

Problem is, I have no idea which brands/models would be a solid investment. I would love to know if this wonderful community has any recommendations of where to look? Brands? Features to look for or avoid? Who's got the best warranties/customer service?
 

TimFrancis

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2015
Location
Texas
My sources like the Bernina 1008 which should be under $1000 new. She says that w/ the correct needle it can sew thicker material including leather.
Make sure the there is a local business that can service the machine which shouldn't be a problem in the Chicago area. You should also be able to get and educational discount.

She suggests avoiding models w/ computer stitching, which is rarely needed.

Pfaff, Brother, Janoe are also good brands.
 

rsmentele

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Apr 6, 2010
Location
Madison, WI
My wife is a costume designer/ lifetime seamstress. My knowledge is all second hand here, but my impression is that most folks are either 'Bernina' , 'Pfaff' or 'Janome' people.

I think that is because they are not overly distributed and to purchase one you have to go through a proper dealer/ sewing shop. Similar to an AV dealer. A business that the manufacturer has deemed to be capable of not just selling the product, but also servicing them properly as well.

I would echo @TimFrancis said. A simple feature set is all that should be needed. Nothing computerized or with all the bells and whistles. Unless you are quilting or doing something specialized, the extra features are rarely used.
 

jtweigandt

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2013
Location
Moline Il
My wife loves Janome.. local support and service. I'm guessing you will have a hard time finding ANYTHING mainstream without electronics these days.
For thick materials, either an older (early 60s era can research online) machine with metal gears. Or since I am also a sailor.... Look at Sailrite.com They have machines
used by sailmakers, upholsterers, and Tarp makers. Gonna have a hard time breaking one of those..
 

Van

CBMod
CB Mods
Premium Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2006
Location
Portland, Or.
Plus one for Bernina.
And perhaps petition for a maintenance budget if you don't have one. Sewing machines are like pianos; they need tune ups periodically.
 
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blueeyesdesigns

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2010
Location
North/West Chicago Area
Thank you, all! It's so helpful to at least get a sense of what's worth investigating.

OK, so we've come around to a couple different walking foot machines:


and

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BIPRRK2/?tag=controlbooth-20

Thoughts on these models? I've got to get three quotes for prices, so exact dollar amount TBD.
 

Van

CBMod
CB Mods
Premium Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2006
Location
Portland, Or.
For a walking foot, that is really versatile See if you can't find a Used Consew model 99. I made everything from velour curtains and canvass groundcloths to sheer curtains on my old Consew.
 

Ford

Sr Product Manager, Chauvet Professional
Joined
Oct 19, 2007
Location
South FL
I'm a lighting guy, so take what I have to offer with a grain of salt...
My wife just purchased a Husqvarna Viking (she got the Emerald 116). This model is what is commonly used in trade schools. It's very robust, does almost everything that you will need it to, and is designed to last, even with inexperienced/student usage (so, yeah, again with the Robust thing).

The self-threading is AMAZING. That is the absolute limit of my actual knowledge about this, but I thought it would be at least worth a glance.



 

JohnD

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Jan 11, 2012
Location
north central OK
My wife just purchased a Husqvarna Viking (she got the Emerald 116).
I wish they had the same ad agency as Capital One, I want to see those Vikings sewing!
 

derekleffew

Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
Premium Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2007
Location
Las Vegas, NV, USA
I think of this almost every time sewing machines are mentioned...
In the 1980s, one of my professors told the story of once when he was on a job interview. While bragging about the facilities, the interviewer said, "And last year our costume shop got two new black singers." My professor thought, but luckily did not verbalize, "Oh that's nice, the costume shop has a choir."