Sewing Machines - Computerized vs mechanical
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Which is better? I am looking to buy a sewing machine for a beginner (me). Does anyone here have a computerized one and do you have any technical problems with it? Is it any safer to go 'old school' and have mechanical dials?
btw, I'm tossing up between Brother XL 2230 (mechanical) and Brother NS 20 (computerized)
Posted at 10:43pm Jul 23, 2010 EDT
Hi Soda,I work in a sewing machine shop.If it was a toss up between the two machines I would 100% go with the ns 20.This is similar to the ns 30 and we have sold stacks! I can honestly say it is our top seller if a customer has less than 500 dollars to spend.We sell bernina,pfaff,husqvarna,babylock and brother and we all think the ns 30 is the best value for money,easiest to use and we have not had one back with any trouble.The ns 20 or 30 would be a great choice.Good choice darl
Posted at 10:50pm Jul 23, 2010 EDT
Hello Nooshka, wow, that's good review. I went to a craft show yesterday and the NS 20 jumped out at me. One thing I was curious about was the 'stop/start' button, I've never really seen that before (inexperienced me have only seen the foot pedal do all the controlling). Is that easy to get use to? and does it ever get confusing if you need both hands to control the fabric?
I see you live on the Goldy, I'm moving to Brisbane in a week, maybe I'll pay your shop a visit :)
Posted at 11:02pm Jul 23, 2010 EDT
If you're new to sewing go SIMPLE. 90% of new sewers never use all the crazy features on their shiny new machines, and when they break they just leave them in a corner somewhere.
Go with a simple sturdy model - you want zig zag, buttonhole, some elastic and overlock stiches, but you don't really need all that fancy stuff. Most professional seamstresses use an industrial straight stitch only machine and a serger and rarely use any fancy things except for decoration. You simply don't need it.
Things worth paying for - a walking foot (this feeds fabric from the top as well as the bottom making straight lines and heavy fabric easier to control)
Front load bobbin (top loaders jam more than anything. not worth it. also look for a machine that uses metal bobbins not plastic)
All metal parts - most machines aren't made this way anymore. Look for older model Pfaffs, Berninas or Singers. They're sturdy, you can still find parts for them and they'll last and last. As a student all the lab machines were 20 year old Berninas. We had them serviced once a year and they still worked great.
Posted at 11:25pm Jul 23, 2010 EDT
If you are planning to use a home machine to earn a living or paying hobby go with the mechanical if you are restricted in how much you can spend. Speaking from experience I have had several computer home models give up on me when used for several hours with out a brake. My local machine and repair shop explained that the lower end machines suffer from vibration and heat build up when used for more than about 20 min none stop running time.
Posted at 7:01pm Jul 24, 2010 EDT
ah now I'm torn again but I agree with you guys. I will need to get something simple (I dont really need decorative stitches), and yeah, I would prefer if it doesnt overheat after using it for awhile.
Thanks for the list cresentwench, I'll keep my eye out for those features.
One other thing, is a lightweight machine good or bad? I need it to be transportable but I also dont want it falling over all the time. Any thoughts?
Posted at 8:11pm Jul 24, 2010 EDT
I would get the NS20 by Brother for these reasons:
1 - Easy to learn with a bobbin that loads from the top rather than from underneath with a bobbin case.
2 - Easy to thread.
3 - Reliable (just like nooshka says).
4 - Top rated model (it is the NS40 in the US) by Consumer Reports.
5 - Buy from a reputable dealer that offers classes on how to use for free (I worked at the store where I bought my Brother machine - I have 2 of them).
I also have a Pfaff Select 3.0 which is a mechanical machine - it is a workhorse but I HATE having to open up the machine to load a bobbin and I can't tell when I am out of bobbin thread.
Hope this helps - go to a dealer and try one out.
Posted at 9:44pm Jul 24, 2010 EDT
Sodalight - a lightweight machine isn't necessarily bad, but it can mean that lots of the parts are plastic. I have a Pfaff 2024 Expression which is mostly metal parts and it's not terribly heavy. I also own a vintage machine made by toyota which weighs what feels like half a ton. I'd say look for the features you want in the price you need and then worry about weight.
Most of the models from 1980 up to more recent models aren't terribly heavy like older antique machines because the bodies aren't made out of heavy metals. Basically no sewing machine is ever going to be as light and portable as a laptop.
If you really need to transport it regularly I suggest purchasing a wheeled carry case for it. Lots of companies make them especially for sewing machines and they usually have compartments for anything else you might need to take along - like your current project, scissors, pins, etc.
also my two cents on top loading bobbins:
Top loading bobbins are notorious for messing up thread tension and being impossible to adjust on your own. The minute of inconvenience required to load the internal bobbin case it totally worth it. Also top loaders are usually plastic and you want this part of your machine to be metal - it's doing a really large amount of the work and you want it to be sturdy and last a long long time.
Posted at 10:05am Jul 25, 2010 EDT
I agree with cresentwench about the top loading bobbins. I have one machine with a top load and it has frequent tension problems and needle jams due to thread balling up. Aside from that you can not see into the case when sewing as it is under your work.
Posted at 1:34pm Jul 25, 2010 EDT
Don't buy any machine that is under &150.
Don't buy any machine that is light when you lift it. (It's all plastic inside.)
While there is a place for both mechanical & computerized machines. Once you sew on a computerized machine, you won't want to go back to mechanical.
Buy the best you can afford.
DON'T buy Singer! Gimicky junk! (My opinion!)
Posted at 1:41pm Jul 25, 2010 EDT