It’s ironic to think that when I wanted to “upgrade” my commuter bike, I bought a 1973 Raleigh bicycle, but now that I’m considering upgrading my sewing machine, I’m going the opposite direction and looking at machines probably more high tech than the computer on which I write this blog post.

My old new bike, Bletchley

My mom bought my sewing machine for me in December 1990 (!!!!!). It was my first year in college, and it was probably my Christmas present. A White Jeans Machine, I chose it originally because it was (as I remember) double-belted to handle heavy duty fabrics, and at the time, I had dived into the local Shakespeare theater company and was sewing corduroy and tapestries, making medieval and Renaissance costumes.

First version of my Renaissance Faire costume, 1991, complete with hoops and boned bodice, made on my then brand new Jeans Machine!

Since then, my sewing machine has moved into multiple apartments, gone on tour (when I was the wardrobe supervisor for Disney on Ice, 1996-1999), collected dust, and been recently revived. The last attempt to take it to a shop to get serviced resulted in waiting 6 weeks for some part that never arrived, so I reclaimed it and have stitched on ever since. We know each other well, this machine and I. Nevertheless…. my mother and I have had recent conversations about the fact that it probably is time to consider replacing it. I no longer sew as much heavy fabric (although I did just start a pair of corduroy pants), I’ve been exploring nicer, finer fabrics, knits, the reflective fabric, and frankly, I am not happy with the buttonhole function on this machine. So maybe it is time for something newer, something fancier.

But what?!?

We all know that Bernina is the top of the line when it comes to sewing machines, but ye gods, expensive!!!! I hadn’t quite appreciated how “top of the line” they are until I started hunting around. I mean, who needs a computer built into a sewing machine that does super fancy embroidery?!? Not me. Although… I do like the super cute Cotton & Steel Bernina 350 SE machines….the free hand knee bar is really cool; I loved that function when I worked on industrial machines. And I have to admit, all those different stitches are pretty cool….

Cotton & Steel Bernina 350 SE – aren’t they lovely?! (Image from website)

So I decided I would take these fancy, modern sewing machines a bit more seriously, and was surprised at what I found. First of all, I’m impressed at the auto-thread snip option, although I’m not sure about that, since I like a long thread tail, to properly tie off my seams and hems. And automatic tension adjustment seems pretty magical too. Multiple buttonhole options AND the ability to sew buttons on *with the machine* make me a bit starry-eyed. And although initially I didn’t think I’d see any use for the fancy embroidery options, now that I think about it, I can see how much fun that would be. I could see if the reflective thread would work, or maybe embroider reflective fabric appliques for jackets and dresses. Suddenly, the possibilities seem endless!

I am currently drawn to the Husqvarna Viking machines, and the large sewing space to the right of the needle. That space is probably mostly intended for quilters and large rolls of quilt fabric, but I know I could really use that space for garments. I was leaning towards the Husqvarna Designer Topaz 50 anyway, but then noticed one of the fancy stitches is BICYCLES!!!! OMG how fabulous! Would I hem clothes with tiny potentially reflective bicycles? Ja, you betcha! And with the computerized embroidery options, you bet I’d start embroidering rabbits on everything too! Well, maybe not, but I’d definitely try it.

How cool is the bicycle stitch?!? (#10)

Of course, they don’t have any price info on the website, and I will need to schlepp out to the ‘burbs to find a dealer to look at either the Berninas or the Husqvarnas in person. As eager as I am to go check them out, my next three weeks are pretty solidly booked, with no free weekends (and no time to sew, weep!), so it will be a while before I can get my hands on a test machine.

What type of sewing machines do you use, Dear Readers? Do you have a fancy machine with all the bells and whistles, or do you still sewing on a beloved older machine? Do you have experience with a brand you love? What suggestions would you make to someone who is looking to up the professional look of the clothing they make? If money were no object, which sewing machine would you use?   Or want?

Muslin of Simplicity 6434 – impatiently waiting for the new Charley Harper fabric I ordered from to make the “real” version of this



4 thoughts on “Possible (Sewing) Machine Upgrade

  1. Goodness you were ambitious with that Rennaissance costume dresss! I used to sew my own corduroy jeans, coats, etc.

    I have a Kenmore sewing machine that my parents gave as a graduation gift after I finished my university master’s degree. So I sewed my work “career” clothing for lst decade… 🙂 That was back in 1983.

    For past few months, the sewing machine is not behaving right….bobbin thread seems to get squirrely easily. So nowadays I only do minor alterations…which is still a cost-saver. Do you really think you would use much of the embroidery stitches??? I have eased off from sewing my clothing since the cycling bug bit me in 1992.

    Still, I don’t want to throw away my machine away.

    I haven’t looked at sewing machines in decades. So I look forward to see what you buy in the end.

  2. I really enjoyed my Viking and had it for years. At that time it had metal parts, however have not seen one in you ages. If you get one, just be sure there will be a place to take it-I always had trouble.

  3. I have a Brother embroidery sewing machine. I don’t think it is super expensive but it is computerized and is a dream to use when compared to my old manual brother. Some of the features are similar to those you mention, auto threading and snipping. I enjoy both of those. Also the bobbin is way more simple to thread. One of the things I enjoy most is being able to control the speed with a hand dial rather than a pedal, I am able to control the speed much better an I used to be able to with a pedal and my stitching looks much straighter as a result. I love being able to sew a button hole by just pressing a button. With my old machine I had to get out the manual every time to make sure I was doing all of the steps correctly.

    I haven’t really used the embroidery options much to be honest. It seems I am always in a hurry to get my projects done and never want to take the time to sit down and figure out how to use it. Your idea to use reflective thread does sound exciting though. You might just be able to motivate me to get around to it.

    Happy sewing and biking!


  4. I have a pretty basic sewing machine. It’s some basic form of a Singer. My boyfriend bought it for me a few years back because it was recommended by Martha Stewart and he knows I’m a fan. I like it because it has *mostly* metal parts. I say this because the sewing machine I grew up with in our house was my mom’s sewing machine that she had gotten from a factory she worked at. She’s now a technical designer but she got her start sewing pieces in a factory. Her first job, she was actually paid per piece. Her sewing machine is GIANT and powerful. It literally powers up when you start it and I’ve sliced my hand on it before as a kid. There’s no fancy computer but I miss her sewing machine. I still feel myself reaching for that back stitch lever when I use my tiny sewing machine.

    I definitely don’t sew as much as you. Honestly, I don’t ever see myself being into one of the fancy computer models but that’s just me. Something that my mom uses a lot that would be nice in a sewing machine is a serger so if you like to serge your seams, it might be something to consider (I don’t even know if they make sewing machines with sergers!). As for me? I mostly do repairs or alterations on existing items. I haven’t built something from a pattern since I was a kid. Although, your blog posts are definitely inspirational! I’m always looking for ways to add reflection details to my outfits.

    Good luck on your search and thanks for blogging!

    daniella [image: Inline image 4] Homebrewer, Cycling Enthusiast, & Devoted Yelper! Web Developer

    On Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 9:23 AM, tinlizzieridesagain wrote:

    > TinLizzie72 posted: “It’s ironic to think that when I wanted to “upgrade” > my commuter bike, I bought a 1973 Raleigh bicycle, but now that I’m > considering upgrading my sewing machine, I’m going the opposite direction > and looking at machines probably more high tech than the com” >

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