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I'm looking for a new sewing machine (my 42 yr old machine cannot be repaired) and wondered if anyone has any recommendations?  I do machine piecing, and quilt by hand  - which I absolutely love! Once I told a local dealer I quilt, she immediately showed me a quilting machine for $5,000 and another for $2,000!  What?!!!!  At this point, I don't machine quilt, but am pondering if I should at least buy a machine that I could use it for that in case I would like to in the future - ex: baby quilt.  A friend of mine has a Viking Opal 650, and another friend recommends Janome.  I don't want to spend a lot of money on one, but I also don't want to get a machine that's all plastic and won't last long.  Will welcome any thoughts! Thanks!

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I have an ELna that is about 3 years old.  I just bought a Featherweight today.  I will pick it up tomorrow.

Thanks Dona. I understand Elna is made by Janome.  Which one do you have?

I recommend the Featherweight for piecing. It may seem like a lot of money for an old machine (usually $400-$600), but the machine is worth its weight in gold. Just be sure the bobbin case comes with it and that the foot pedal works. If it doesn't have a case, you can get a nice substitute case for not too much.

Check out the Necchi's listed on eBay.  The most expensive one I've seen on there listed for under $200.  Have to admit, not much under, but still ... I've got a Necchi Lelia 513 that my husband bought for me shortly after we were married--that was 50 years ago.  The machine is still going strong; I made most of my own clothes when I was working at an office job, and frequently my husband's shirts and pants.  I also did a lot of outdoor sewing, i.e. down parkas, sleeping bags, fitted cargo bags (out of waterproofed Cordura) for our canoe, etc.  Plus I also used that machine to sew replacement canvas for our houseboat; side rail covers, bimini top and cover, and a cover for the upper helm station.  The only trouble I had there was when I had to sew through 5 layers of canvas--couldn't do it!   Not because the machine wouldn't have put the needle through the canvas, but I couldn't get that much bulk under the presser foot.  The only problem you might have with Necchis are, they are an "orphan" machine, i.e. the manufacturer is out of business so you can only get only generic walking feet or free-motion feet and no tech support,   But then, you really shouldn't need any--if I haven't managed to destroy my Lelia, I doubt anybody could.   True they don't have all the bells and whistles that the newer machines do, but if you're only using it for piecing quilt tops--how many bells and whistles do you need?  My best quilting buddy recently got herself a new machine, one of the $5,000 jobbies, and had to take lessons to learn how to use it.  Necchis are not and never have been plastic--good cast and machined metal.  I love my Necchis and will freely recommend them to anybody who's looking for a good reliable sewing machine.

Last year I bought a Janome HD 3000 for about $350. I do a lot of utility quilts for charities and needed a basic machine for heavy duty sewing. I am not a good machine quilter but recently did one on it and every stitch was perfect. I also have an Elna Quilter's Dream which was about $1000 and doesn't have such a perfect stitch. I didn't want to wear out my more expensive machine, but this Janome has become my favorite. They have a similar machine, the Janome HD1000 at about $250. These are all metal inside and very well built.

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