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The November 2010 Consumer Reports Best Products of the Year lists the Brother Innova-is 40 Project Runway Limited Edition sewing machine as the best sewing machine for under $500.

It sells for $400, and they say it "sew it circles around machines that cost as much as $2,200.00. Easy to use and it has an automatic needle threader, variable speed control and thread cutter."

It may be worth taking a look at. :)

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The Juki TL98Q is a very good machine. It has the 9" throat and is a very heavy duty machine. You can find them for around $800.00.

I've had mine for about 5 years now. I started out using it on a frame and upgraded to a mid-arm machine. I now use it for all my piecing and binding and any heavy duty sewing.

Judy in MO

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I have always had really great luck with the older (1940's) Black Singer's. I have several and they pound away without missing a beat. The most I've had to do to mine is replace motor brushes on a couple of the machines when I got them. I've went through 8 layers of fleece, 4-8 layers of denim, & tons of cordura (heavy awning type material) over the years on a regular basis.

I also have a nice Babylock that I've totally beaten up. It did much the same thing for me, has taken a tumble off my cutting table onto concrete, had multiple smallish parts replaced (spool hooler, needle threader) over 14 years because I am rough on it and accidentally snapped both of these items off when hauling it around.

I have also had a couple of brother & juki commercial machines that totally fly. Great simple straight stitch type machines, good for piecing and won't wear out. I believe I paid a bit more, around $1000 for these, but they would last forever.

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I had a Juki TL98Q and I sold it!!~ DARN IT! It made a perfect stitch and held a 1/4" seam perfectly! Darn, darn, darn! Now, I'll have to pay about $800-$900 to get one!!

I only sold it because it was on a Grace frame. I wish I'd kept the Juki and sold the frame, but at the time I was gathering $$ to buy Millie.

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I called a shop 40mi from me to compare machines and they said they weren't allowed to give prices over the phone. However, she did give me some model #'s after I told her my price range. One was the Pfatt Expression 4.0 that Sharon mentioned. I looked online but still can't find a price. She also suggested Brother. She has Brothers on display that you can try out but no Pfatts on display.

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DebLou, The Pfaff 4.0 does have the integrated dual feed (the Pfaff ones are slim and smaller than other brands, but don't get in the way of sewing or make noise). The one at the shop I go to was in the sale range of 600 I think. Go to Pfaffusa.com (I think that is the address) and see what dealers are close to you. I hope you find one that fits your needs well---and soon! Merry Christmas early maybe!!!?

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My LQS sells used machines that customers traded in when upgrading to a newer or better machine. The shop gives them complete tune-ups and sells them at a good price. They often have Berninas that are a few years old in your price range. I would think other shops do the same thing with the other brands, as well. It might be worth checking into.

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Buy a used Bernina from ebay.

They are work horses. I ride mine hard and put her away wet and she is always ready for more. ;)

You can find a real nice used one for between $500 and $1000.

And remember you get what you pay for. If you buy a cheap brand you are gonna get the same type of results. It drives me crazy to have to work around quirky things on a sewing machine. I just want to go go go sew sew sew zoooom!

Invest in something that is quality made, user friendly and works. In the long run, you will be much happier investing a little more $$ on a machine that will last forever.

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I am a Bernina gal too, and have had my first one for over 25 years and it still sews and perfoms as well as the first day. It is the 1130 model and good for piecing and free motion quilting. It is all metal parts and has needle up and down, easy needle threading (but not auto) and many decreative stitches. I also have the newer 730 Artista with embroidery and BSR (Bernina Stitch regulator) for quilting. It's good for all the items mentioned above plus more. I only have it cleaned by the dealer once a year (for good measure) and it runs great. As Shana said, I use both of mine hard and they keep on ticking. (Usually don't put them away wet, though! :):P

My dealer takes trade ins and has both Berninas and Pfaff used ones. He's not too far from Decatur, but is in Missouri. Good Luck

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I am a Bernina fan. I had a horrible experience with a Viking machine that I purchased several years ago when I decided to replace my thirty year old Swiss Elna. I lost a lot of money on the machine when I got rid of it after only seven months, it never worked properly. I traded it in for my Bernina and it was the best thing I could have done. The Viking dealer in my area was terrible and hadn't a clue how to repair the machine. My advice to you would be to make sure that whatever brand of machine you buy you also have access to a good reputable dealer. Ask around in your area and see what the responses are. When I asked around at guild the name that continually came up was that of the local Bernina dealer. In your area it may be a different brand. It doesn't matter how good the machine is if you cannot get it fixed should you have a problem. Just another point of view!

Good luck with your shopping.

Sue

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  • 3 weeks later...

If you are looking for a machine to do quilt piecing-not dress making- an old (read 50 year plus old) Singer is the best thing going. You can't buy a better machine. They only straight stitch but do it better than any new machine. The APQS quilt machines remind me of the Old Singers not made quite as nicely .but the same straight forward robustness. I'd recommend either a Featherweight, or her sister the 301. Both are aluminum portables so they they transport well. The cast iron machines sew just as well, but not as nice to move. The throats on both of these lightweight portables are probably bigger than most new machines. Everyone in our quilt club leaves her Bernina in the closet and uses an old Singer.

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I am a Singer and Pfaff girl...love them both. My upper end Singer XL1000 is a real workhorse and has never had a problem. It's now known as the best model Singer has made since the Featherweight. It's not in the price range mentioned either, sorry, but is a great machine.

Originally I bought a Bernina, but they ended up buying it back as it had so many electrical problems - it was in the shop more than at home! I then went and bought the Singer XL1000, which I love. However, when I get ready for another machine, if I can't get a Singer XL model, then my next one will be a Pfaff. My mom used one for 40+ years...and I love that dual feed! Since I use that, and a straight stitch, more than anything, I'll buy one that handles it easily. I won't spend the money for another embroidery machine, since I ended up rarely using it after all! Something to consider - what you really want the machine to do, and do well, and buy for that.

By the way, I do not know what Singer model mentioned above takes special needles that you have to order. I know that there is a model (Janome?) of a straight feed type machine (similar to the Brother/Juki straight feed) that takes a special needle that you have to order...but it's not a Singer. Singers take ordinary, normal needles that you can buy anywhere.

Good luck in finding the perfect machine for you!

Debbie in Austin

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Deb Lou: Also forgot to mention how powerful these old machines are. The little Singer Featherweight was used by the Navy during WWII as an on board ship sail making machine. Did a lot more repairs than sail making, but that's how powerful that little machine that looks like a toy, is. The 301 is even better. You can sew just about anything with it. These are very simple machines. Rotary bobbin system like the Longarms. Nothing goes wrong with them. Clean them, and oil them, and they will still be going strong long after we're gone. Jim

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