Folksy Ltd

Sewing machine recommendations

(Shirley Woosey) #1

I need to buy a new sewing machine.

I bought a Singer model in March of this year. It completely jammed up in June and was replaced.
It’s just jammed up completely again and I’ve had my money refunded.

I have a second hand Bernina Sport which is about 25 years old.
But it’s starting to wear now and it is really only my emergency sewing machine these days.

I don’t need fancy stitches. Just straight stitch and zigzag.
Also buttonhole stitch but it doesn’t have to be one step buttonhole.

It needs to be able to cope with several thick layers. ie Harris Tweed, interfacing and wadding.
And I would prefer a narrow flat bed arm to be able to sew narrow items.

I have been looking at a Bernina 1008 S.
Seems to be everything I want but I wondered if anyone has one and how they have found it?
Because the cost is quite high - around £650.

Shirley x

(Kim Blythe) #2

I have recently bought a Pfaff Ambition 1.5 and I am really loving using it. It has now been replaced by the Ambition 2.00, but there are still a few 1.5’s around and at a discount. I would have liked the Pfaff Expression 4.2 but couldn’t stretch the budget. They are good, solid machines.
I also have a mid range Brother and a combined sewing/embroidery Brother machine…all of which I love!
I would say that the Pfaff copes with heavier fabrics and multiple layers the best, and has the IDT which is great.
I also have a Bernina Activa 125, but I don’t use it very much…we have never really bonded, although there is nothing wrong with it.
Saying all that, I have heard good things about the Bernina you mention. From what I have heard it’s a good solid mechanical machine. Are you able to go and try some out? Always good if you can.


(Shirley Woosey) #3

Many thanks for your recommendation Kim @KBCreations

The Pfaff Ambition 1.5 certainly sounds a good machine.
And I like the idea of the IDT to stop the different layers slipping, which is a problem when I am making gadget covers.

They stock them at Hobkirks which isn’t too far away from me in Preston.
They also have the Bernina 1008 S which I was thinking about too.
So I will making a trip to have a look quite soon.

I have never used a computerised sewing machine and have always used a mechanical one.
My husband is also a very fixer when it comes to anything mechanical no matter what it is.
So I have been shying away from computerised models, but maybe now is time to try one.

Shirley x

(Fiona Thomson) #4

hey shirley,
i have a bernina 1000 - my 21st birthday present (circa 1993) - still my favourite and most faithful workhorse, and it’s taken a real hammering over the years.
if i ever had to replace it, the 1008 S is the model i’d choose.

i think you already know you won’t regret it, so if you just need someone to convince you it’s worth its pricetag…
it’s worth it!
you’re worth it!
bernina’s are worth it! <-- helpful cheerleading

(Shirley Woosey) #5

Thanks Fiona @fionaT
You are right, I have always, always wanted a lovely brand new Bernina, ever since I was about 15 years old, which is a long long time ago.

It is just the price tag putting me off.

Shirley x

(Fiona Thomson) #6

also, to add to what kim @KBCreations said,
i’ve also got a bernina activa model, a couple of years old now, (my treat-reward to myself for fiona t.) and i like it well enough, but it’s just not the same as the mechanical models.

i don’t use any of the fancy stuff, just straight stitching, and although modern things like making the needle finish in the down or push button reverse are “nice”… i dunno… the mechanical one does what i say, the computerised one… is too bossy.
i kinda wish i’d bought a replacement 1000 series instead.

(Shirley Woosey) #7

I know what you mean Fiona @fionaT
I think that’s what I am afraid of with a computerised machine.

Computers in general are too bossy and I also want a sewing machine which does as it is told! LOL

Shirley x

(Shirley Woosey) #8

Just pushing this up to the top again.
In case anyone else has any ideas.

Shirley x

(Kim Blythe) #9

If you prefer mechanicals, but the Bernina is still too much for you, have a look at the Pfaff Select range.
They are said to be real workhorses and the higher models have the IDT, like this Select 4.0

I belong to a couple of sewing forums and they are very highly thought of.


(Shirley Woosey) #10

Thanks Kim for the link.

I’ve got three good machines to go and have a look at now.

It’s always good to know that other people think of a machine.

Shirley x

(Leathermeister) #11

We have purchased heavy duty machines from these people. They offer good prices and have on occasion given trade in on old machines. i don’t know much about machines so cant advise but they do stock the commercial ones and at good prices worth a look.


(Shirley Woosey) #12

Thanks for the link Hazel @leathermeister
I have had a quick look around their website but they are too far away for me, in Derbyshire.
I prefer to deal with a local company for the after sales service but thank you anyway. They seem to have some good deals.

Kim @KBCreations and Fiona @fionaT
I am off to Hobkirks at Blackburn in the morning to try out three different models - the Pfaff Ambition 1.5 and Ambition 2.0 and the Bernina 1008 S.
Taking a partly made up Harris Tweed cover to see how they cope with the layers and thickness.

I have dealt with Hobkirks in the past. They are a family firm that used to be in Preston for many years.
They have a good reputation, so hopefully I will get sorted tomorrow.
I have raided my piggy bank!

Shirley x

(Kim Blythe) #13

I think the Ambition 2 is virtually the same as the 1.5. Just a couple of extra stitches, slightly updated screen and a couple more feet, from what I remember anyway…
Good luck, and enjoy choosing!!
Let us know how you get on…


(Fiona Thomson) #14

good luck making a decision @WhimsyWooDesigns
i’d be interested in your opinions about how each of them perform… and a picture of your new best pal when you get her home :slight_smile:
new machine is so exciting!

(Shirley Woosey) #15

Kim @KBCreations and Fiona @fionaT

Well I have spent every last penny in my piggybank! And now have no spending money for when we go to France next week. :frowning:
But - I do have a nice shiny new sewing machine! :smiley:

Went to Hobkirks at Blackburn this morning. Extremely helpful sales lady and salea man. Although the lady was an experienced dressmaker / tailor, she did not actually have a lot of experience in the different functions on the machines. The man was very knowledgeable about the machines but did not have much sewing experience! LOL
But between them they answered all my questions, were very helpful, very patient and let me try several different sewing machines. Made me a brew as well.

I tried the Bernina 1008S at £649 and to be honest didn’t actually like it much. The look of it to start with put me off. It looked quite old fashioned and there was not very much room to the right of the needle for the fabric to pass through.

I took a partly made up Harris Tweed kindle cover to check if it would sew through all the layers.
2 layers of Harris tweed both with fused interfacing on them, and one layer of bonded superliner (medium weight cotton fabric with fleece bonded to it) So 8 layers in all.

The Bernina couldn’t actually sew through the layers and jammed up quite quickly. It sounded and looked quite clunky.
It wasn’t easy to see how to change from straight stitch to zig-zag either, unlike my old Bernina Sport 802 which is about 25 years old, and will sew through the layers easily.
The only good thing was that is has a narrow free arm which I need for topstitching on the kindle covers.

Next I tried the Pfaff Ambition 1.00 IDT £599.
Very impressed, sounded and looked nice and sleek. Took all the layers very easily, especially with the IDT engaged, which makes it into a Walking Foot, to feed through the bottom and top layers equally.
No pulling, bunching or problems. The stitches stayed nice and even. It has lots of fancy stitches as well as several untility ones. Most of which I will never use.
The freearm is just about narrow enough for my smallest gadget cover, so that’s ok.
It has a tie off function at the beginning and end of stitching, so you don’t need to reverse backwards and forwards to lock the threads. Very useful once I got the hang of it.

I wanted to try to Pfaff Ambition 1.5 IDT but they had sold the last one and it is now discontinued.

So I tried the next step up - Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.00 IDT at £749.
I wasn’t very keen on it. It sound noisy but took the layers nicely with the IDT engaged.
The screen is a touch screen and it has a lot more fancy stitches than the Pfaff Ambition 1.00.
But it is not worth the extra £150, well, not to me anyway.

I also tried two different Husqvana Opals. Neither of them could handle the layers at all. The just bunched up and pulled and did not stitch them nicely at all.

So I have bought the Pfaff Ambition 1.00 IDT machine at £599 and paid an extra £85 for Hobcare, which gives me an additional 5 years no quibble parts and labour warranty with Hobkirks.
So altogether it has 7 years parts and labour warranty. I have to take it back to them if it needs repairs but that’s not a problem, Blackburn is not far from Preston and they have a nice big car park at the back of the shop.

It has a good hard case with it too. But I have had to buy some new bobbin spools. It’s not happy with the standard ones and they were a bit expensive at £8 for 10.
It does take standard flat backed needles though.
I like the way the top lifts up and there is a list of stitches and when it is closed it will help to keep the cotton dust out, while sewing.
Here are some pictures.

I have made up 4 bag linings with it so far and all seems good.

Shirley x

(Kim Blythe) #16

Congratulations on your lovely new machine!
I think you will find that it will do pretty much what the 1.5 would do, but yours is by using buttons rather than touch screen. My instruction book for the 1.5 also has instructions for the 1.00, so I think the functions are the same.
I don’t know if it’s any help, but my 1.5 is fine with Brother bobbins, the 11.5mm size ones, I have loads of those that I use with my Brother machine and now Pfaff.

Have fun playing with your new machine!

(Shirley Woosey) #17

Thanks for that about the bobbins Kim.

Bah! They have put the wrong manual in the box!
The manual is for the Pfaff Ambition Essential, completely different buttons and screen.

I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t make it “remember” a stitch sequence.
They are going to put me the correct one in the post. It will be like the one you have for the 1.5 which is also for the 1.00.
Shirley x

(Shirley Woosey) #18

Just googled and downloaded the correct manual!

(Kim Blythe) #19

It’s helpful to have the correct manual!!
I do have to refer to it occasionally, still, but I am really pleased with the machine.
My next big purchase will be another embroidery machine…but that’s a long way off…need to sell a lot more to fill the old piggy bank up!!


(Sarah Eves) #20

The lift up lid on the top is such a good idea!
My machine has a soft cover which I always forget to use, and the top does get dusty.

Glad you found what you were looking for,

Sarah x