Your Personal Best Buy: Part 2

Mid-level, sewing-only machines are the most popular overall category of machines I have carried in the store over the years. Features of this above-entry-level group include a large sewing area on the machine, more of the most necessary presser feet, and more room to grow in terms of the user’s needs as their skills improve.

Once again, I’ve include four machines in this category.

Janome DC2015

Janome DC2015

The Janome DC2015 LE model represents an annual tradition started by Janome 5 years ago that features a machine for the year with a wide variety of stitches (60, in this case) with features that would be used by most quilters and sewers alike. All the basic utility stitches are on this model including added one-step auto-adjust button holes (regular, keyhole, bound, and rounded), eyelet stitching, blanket stitching (for appliqué), and unique designs for embellishing children’s clothing and other craft type sewing projects. At $599*, a $200 savings, this machine is loaded with features.

You can choose to have the needle stop either up or down and program it either way to work every time. The penetration power of this machine’s motor will sew through 9 layers of denim like warm butter (we do not recommend sewing on butter, however). Cleaning and lubrication are simple and made to be done by the user; no complicated deconstruction required. In comparing the DC2015 to anything else in the market at this price, it stands alone!

Janome DC4120

Janome DC4120

Next I’d pick the DC4120 Janome, a quilter’s machine that comes with over 100 stitches, and has programming capabilities for stitch combination sew outs, as well as lettering in 3 fonts. What’s amazing about the DC4120 is that it is 12 pounds; by far and away the lightest of all the machines we’ve tested.

The DC4120 is being offered at $999*, a price point $300 below its asking price. It’s the perfect machine for taking to classes or for the sewing studio. The machine also has an automatic thread cutter built into the bobbin case and comes with a Quilter’s Slide-on Table to give the user a large piecing area for putting your quilt together.

It’s a full featured machine only lacking an automatic embroidery unit (and the added $500 dollar price point). Pound for pound, it’s one of the very best machines available here in the store.

Bernina 350SE

Bernina 350SE

Rickey Tims and Tula Pink, two very well-known sewing personalities, have been chosen to design the covers of the full-featured Bernina 350SE models with extras including a walking foot, free motion quilting foot, large sewing surface table and ¼” Patchwork foot. My most favorite feature is the added 3rd hand, a knee lever device that allows you hands-free sewing and repositioning of the fabric making your sewing much faster. This feature is included in factory machines everywhere to make sewing more efficient. This Bernina has it as well.

Also light weight in comparison to models other than the Janome 4120, the 350SE comes with its own case and is Bernina Quality; stainless steel component parts, auto tension, and perfect sewing quality. Its $1599* price point (valid May 19 – June 18, 2015)  is a good $400 dollars lower than the factory price and this baby will last forever! Remember we are comparing our best Toyota and our best BMW when we look at Janome and Bernina. The 350SE is our bestselling Bernina, as of now.

Bernina B530

Bernina B530

When I talk to other professional sewers out in the world of garment creation, design, and quilting, and ask them to name a machine that they feel represents the basic necessities needed for the “pure” sewer, the Bernina B530 comes up every time. With a larger frame to support the 100 built-in stitches, it’s probably one of the strongest running machines in any category with its complete assortment of presser feet, slide-on table, and carrying case (and did I mention the Hand’s Free system?). The price point of $2499*, with options, puts this machine at $400 dollars off its regular price (valid May 19 – June 18, 2015).

The 530 is the first of what I would call a crossover machine. It bridges a span, if you will, between a pure home-use machine and a commercial sewing machine. For the ETSY sewer, who may be building a cottage business making things for others, or for the hobbyist sewer who is venturing into sewing with vinyl or leather products, the 530 is perfectly suited to grow with you. Because it’s BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator) capable, being able to use the free-motion stitch regulating of Bernina exclusive quilting foot, this machine can grow along with its master’s wishes. I would call the 530 one of the classic machines that we’ll note as we go along on this journey. It’s the favorite of most of my colleagues who in this industry really know their products.

Next time we’ll review entry level top-of-the-line machines.

* NOTE: prices mentioned in this article are valid as of May, 2015.

Part 1: read here
Part 3: read here
Part 4: read here