Author Topic: portable sewing machines  (Read 7993 times)

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Offline annenet

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portable sewing machines
« on: January 01, 2008, 12:33:44 AM »
I've got a question - I seem to have a very good group of machines right now - two Bernina's, one old Singer, and another very old Singer on the way but now I'm thinking of adding a third - one light enough and handy enough to take to classes and retreats. My Bernina 165E doesn't leave the house except for maintainance and the Bernina 1010 is way too heavy for that too. The two Singers are vintage and heavy and one that's headed here is in it's Queen Ann cabinet so that won't work either.

Anyway, it looks like the Brother CS-6000 doesn't get many good reviews on Pattern Review, the Janome Jem Platinum looks nice and I don't mind the price but because I am a Bernie person and already have a lot of feet, the Activa 210 might fit the bill.  Any others out there? Anyone know about these?
Too many ideas, not enough time.

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Offline PatPrende

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2008, 02:10:43 AM »
I have three vintage suggestions:  Singer Featherweight, Elna Stella or Elna Lotus.  Both of the Elna's have the capabilities to do several stitches, including zig zag, and buttonholes.  All of these machines weigh less than 15 lbs.  I took the Featherweight as carry-on luggage when I flew  to one of Nancy Erickson's "Sewing Weeks" in Chicago. In March, I will be bringing the Elna Stella to a Loes Hinse seminar in Carmel, CA, traveling by car.  How much does the Bernina Activa weigh?
Pat/NV
"A really well-made buttonhole is the only link between Art and Nature"  Oscar Wilde

Offline annenet

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2008, 02:42:34 AM »
Not sure - I know about the featherweight (mine are a Stylist 647 circa 1968 and a 201-2 circa 1938) and I like the lotus but about the Stella - how big is it and how hard to get one? I love Swiss machines (as I've got some Swiss in me too)!
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Offline Doris W. in TN

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2008, 03:58:11 AM »
If weight is your biggest issue, the Janome Jem line only weighs 12 pounds.   I think the Activa may weigh more than that.

Offline Karen

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2008, 04:03:38 AM »
Other than the straight stitch featherweight I'm not familiar with those older classic models... I do have a used three times Janome Jem Gold I was just considering parting with....

As for teh Brother mentioned, if it's the one I'm thinking of (I think from Costco, couple hundred stitches, green or pink front?), I have been working at the Brother dealer on days when we got more than one of those in a day in for repair.  Just not heavy duty enough - and all this one lady wanted it to do was hem her son's khaki school uniform pants.  It wasn't weight enough to even sit still on the table with simple quilting cotton.  But the good news if you buy from a store like that you can return it if you don't like it. 
I like the Bernina Activa 3/4 size machines a LOT but they are not that lightweight compared to the Janome or Babylock xscape.

Offline PatPrende

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2008, 02:24:35 PM »
Not sure - I know about the featherweight (mine are a Stylist 647 circa 1968 and a 201-2 circa 1938) and I like the lotus but about the Stella - how big is it and how hard to get one? I love Swiss machines (as I've got some Swiss in me too)!

The Elna Stella, which weighs 12.5 lbs, is just a later version of the Lotus, incorporating a free-arm.  Several years ago I purchased my Stella on Ebay, then I sold my Lotus. Both have fold down sides/end which serve as a case and sewing surface, but with the Stella these side/end pieces are removable.  Another vintage, although full-size, consideration is an Elna Carina (same/similar to Elna Air Electronic, I think).  The weight of the Carnina is 17 lbs, including the removable sides which serve as the case. 

I think that finding out the weight of the Activas will help you in your quest.   I must admit that when the Activas first appeared, 5 - 6 years ago, I was interested . . . until I found out what they weighed!  At that point I purchased the Lotus and then, two years ago I "upgraded" to the Stella.

Pat/NV
"A really well-made buttonhole is the only link between Art and Nature"  Oscar Wilde

Offline Misha

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2008, 04:54:49 PM »
I think the best totables are the Janome Jem Gold and Jem Silver. They are mechanical models with no computer to worry about damaging when traveling. They are small and light weight discontinued models but can still be purchased new in box from on line dealers at reduced prices from $199-$249 with quilters kit plus the Jem Silver usually comes in a little blue carry bag with the ASG logo on it and on the machine.
These machines have the top see through bobbin with the jam proof rotary hook and slant spool with several stitches including some stretch, blind hem and buttonhole. From the start, the Jems were made for the ASG to take to classes and that is why the Jem Silver has the ASG logo on it and on the bag commemorating the 25th anniversary of the ASG.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2008, 04:57:18 PM by Misha »

Offline Doris W. in TN

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2008, 05:00:23 PM »
I think the best totables are the Janome Jem Gold and Jem Silver. They are mechanical models with no computer to worry about damaging when traveling. 
You make a very good point.     I have the Jem Platinum 760, and will not part with my Jem Silver just in case something happens with the computer.      Both weigh the same, too.

Offline quilteddogs

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2008, 11:20:08 PM »
I have an Activa and the Janome Jem.  The Activa is WAY heavier than the Jem.  However, I take both of them with me to class depending on what we are doing.

Offline granmomus

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2008, 12:05:02 AM »
I bought the Brother CS6000i (on sale for $185) from Walmart almost a year ago & love it, no problems, sews very well. I use it for classes, travel & Stitch Camp weekends, on those weekends it does well with 2-3 days of sewing, performs well. I also have the ASG Janome Silver that I bought several years ago, I regret buying it, bought it mostly because I love the ASG, but it seems weak & unsturdy, but others in my group use their's constantly at Stitch Camp without problems.
Maire

Offline EricaB

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2008, 01:49:17 AM »
I have the Brother CS-6000i and I sew everything on that machine.  I've sewn leather, I've made jeans (several pairs) and I've had no trouble.  :smug:  If someone says that machine doesn't sew quilting cotton, that may be user error.  ;D

Offline granmomus

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2008, 02:24:12 AM »
Hi Erica, I'm happy to hear someone else loves that machine, I love mine, the decorative stitches are always precise. I've done many quilt blocks and last year I made about 20 pincushion-scrap bag combo's using the decorative stitches around the top, always perfect.
Maire

Offline annenet

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2008, 05:10:59 AM »
It's great to hear everyone's feedback. I was at my dealer today and she told me the classroom machines are Active 125s and they are going to replace them with 210 shortly. If they do they will be refurbished and will come with a warrenty as well as being heavily discounted. She's got my name and number so I think this is where I might be headed. Although the others sound great I have a lot of bernie stuff already so I won't have to get another walking foot for example.

I love this discussion so keep it coming! Until I buy it I'm still on the fence!
Too many ideas, not enough time.

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Offline Karen

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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2008, 05:41:02 AM »
On that Brother, as I said, if it was the one I was thinking of... which apparently it isn't because the customers i had bring it in had definitely gotten it at Costco, not Walmart (at least around here even those big box stores don't have teh same ones!) so it may have been way chintzier than the CS6000 - I help trouble shoot the machines when people bring them in and it was not stable on the table when I was testing it with the cotton, so seems they must have taken some "oomph" out of whatever model that one was.
That 125 sounds like a great deal, had one of those I loved, perfect buttonholes and all else precise, sewed as well as the 165.  Good luck!

Offline annenet

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2008, 02:38:21 PM »
Karen, as you have had a 125 and now have a 165 (me too, I love it!), was the 125 smaller and a bit lighter? I totally understand the great advice here, particularly about the Janome and Elna but I keep thinking of all the Bernina accessories I have! Also I'm not a particularly fragile person when it comes to dealing with the weight of a machine but the idea of lugging my all-metal 1010 to a class makes me cringe!
Too many ideas, not enough time.

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Offline Doris W. in TN

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2008, 05:20:55 PM »
I keep thinking of all the Bernina accessories I have! Also I'm not a particularly fragile person when it comes to dealing with the weight of a machine but the idea of lugging my all-metal 1010 to a class makes me cringe!

Since weight of the machine is not an issue and  you've got all the feet, I suggest you  buy the Bernina.     

If you have the #10 foot and like to use it, the Janome equivalent foot (called stitch-in-the-ditch)  is nowhere near as great a foot.   When I'm at Sit'n'Sew and have to do an edgestitch,  I'll leave my Jem and use the Berninas at the store for this reason.   I got tired of ripping out stuff I stitched with the Janome SITD foot.  The #10 foot is the one thing I bought for my new 630, even though I have one  for my old 1130.  You just cannot beat the quality of the Bernina feet.   

Also, if you use a walking foot, the Bernina one should be easier to use.  The Janomes have to be screwed on and off, just like their throatplates - a real PITA for cleaning & oiling.   

Something else to consider:   with the Bernina, you'll have more absolute control over needle positions, variable stitch width and length on all the stitches.  That just does not happen with Janome.    I llike my Janomes, including the Platinum, but I am aware of their limitations.  That's why I'm still a "Bernina girl"  when push comes to shove.   

Offline Pina

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2008, 06:58:46 PM »
Doris,I like my very old Bernina edge stitch foot,which use with
my old Berninas,better than my Janome stitch in the ditch foot
too.Bernina Edge Stitch Foot # 10 - 5.5mm - Video
Bernina Edge Stitch Foot # 10C - 9mm - Video
This foot is essentially the same as foot # 10.It is wider
however to accommodate the wider stitch width of 9mm
Bernina models.
BTW,I can watch the Bernina videos with Internet Explorer,
but not with Firefox.

My traveling machine is a
Brother CS8060
,the machine weighs only 12 lbs.I bought this
machine 4 years ago when my eyesight was really poor.It has the
quick-load cassette threading system,it automatically threads the needle.
The stitches are nice and I never had any problems with this machine. ;)




Offline annenet

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2008, 08:36:29 PM »
Pina, I love your avitar! A grasshopper! I wish I could justify one just for how cool they are!
Too many ideas, not enough time.

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Offline Pina

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2008, 08:56:42 PM »
Thank you very much,annenet ! :)
I just bought it a few weeks ago for fifteen dollars.  :laughalot:
It only came with a straight stitch presser foot though.Now I'm on a mission to
find the speed stopper and other accessories and maybe a new needle plate.The
motor is so quiet I can hardly hear it and the stitches are lovely.I will never part
with this cute Grasshopper ! ;)

Offline runnerchicki

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2008, 04:40:51 AM »
I have the Bernina Activa 220 and also the 630E.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the way the 220 sews.  For a compact machine it has a LOT of features: needle up/down, needle threader, and the optional knee-lift being my favorites.  It comes with the shank adapter and 5 snap on feet, but it uses the standard one piece feet as well.

It is more expensive than the Janome Jem, but the Activa is so nice and has so many features that I do not consider it strictly a "portable" machine.  It sews just as nicely as my 630, and has a smooth, powerful feel to it.  The 210 model sews just as nicely, but for the money it really is lacking many features.  I'd spend just a little more money, for a lot more machine.
There's no such thing as too much fabric.

Offline Misha

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2008, 07:33:42 PM »
My local dealer had the Activa 210 priced at only $399 till closing on Dec. 31st. The price has now gone back up to $599. Maybe it will go on sale again if somebody is interested in a nice machine for travel.

Offline annenet

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2008, 08:13:47 PM »
Wow, that was a great price. Where is that dealer?
Too many ideas, not enough time.

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Offline mcgintie

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2008, 09:43:24 AM »
Hi,
I haven't posted in ages due to computer problems. Has anyone any experience of the Janome Gem Gold 2(661). I am tempted to add it to my stable of machines!

Offline Judi73

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2008, 04:34:27 PM »
I have the janome Gem gold. I purchased it for taking to classes and sewing/quilting retreats (it came with a quilting kit).  My DH made me a portable extension table for it, which I've found to be very helpful for doing the quilting.  For my purposes it fits the bill. It's sturdy, has good stitch quality, makes an OK button hole, very light weight and easily transported, automatic needle threader that works!.  The down side for me, not very speedy and no needleup-needle down capability (it always stops with the needle up). I never realized how much I like the needle down option until I didn't have it on this.  If you are looking for a low cost machine to use for classes, this is definitely one to consider.  HTH

Offline marciae

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2008, 04:52:29 PM »
Hi,
I haven't posted in ages due to computer problems. Has anyone any experience of the Janome Gem Gold 2(661). I am tempted to add it to my stable of machines!

I have the janome gold that I 'carry' around.  I have three Vikings - and these gold rates right up there.  It's not computerized but sews a wonderful stitch.  It makes buttonholes - like my old Bernina 830 - but I haven't tried them - want to just curious how they do!  The stitches are limited - test one and decide - you'll like it!
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Offline Misha

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #25 on: January 08, 2008, 01:12:52 AM »
annenet, the dealer that had the great sale on the Bernina 210 during the holidays is in Az.
As for the little Jems, I had the Jem Silver which is the same as the Gold but it is White with Black and has the ASG logo on the head and the little blue carry bag because the the ASG's Silver Anniversary I believe. It also came with the quilters kit. I gave my Jem Silver to one of my daughter's when she got married. It is a great little machine. The closest dealer in my state could not find it for me since it was discontinued so I purchased it new in box from on an line dealer for only $199 with free shipping which is almost half of the original price.

Offline mcgintie

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2008, 09:26:12 AM »
Hi,
Thanks for all your feedback - I think I will phone the dealer today!

Offline mcgintie

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #27 on: January 09, 2008, 03:51:42 PM »
Drat - it looks like the Jem Gold 2 is no longer available - and I don't want the computerised replacement. The money will have to continue burning a hole in my pocket (I am in the UK).

Offline Doris W. in TN

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2008, 05:17:31 PM »
Drat - it looks like the Jem Gold 2 is no longer available - and I don't want the computerised replacement. The money will have to continue burning a hole in my pocket (I am in the UK).

It is no longer being made, but it can be purchased here in the States, so surely it can be bought in the UK or Europe.   There may be some online dealers, or perhaps eBay.   Don't give up hope!

Offline mcgintie

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2008, 09:15:06 AM »
Hi Doris W,
Thanks for giving me the push to keep on looking - I picked one up on Saturday after phoning all the dealers in my area. For those of you in the UK, I paid 175 with no freebies. The dealer couldn't understand why the supplier told me twice that they had none left.

Offline Doris W. in TN

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2008, 11:49:17 PM »
I picked one up on Saturday after phoning all the dealers in my area. For those of you in the UK, I paid 175 with no freebies. The dealer couldn't understand why the supplier told me twice that they had none left.

I'm glad you found one!    They're good little machines.  No bells or whistles --- just a good hard working machines.   Enjoy!  :)

Offline mcgintie

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Re: portable sewing machines
« Reply #31 on: January 15, 2008, 09:27:57 AM »
Doris W,
It looks lovely - the external design is very similar to my Husqvarna Huskystar 224 (a great workhorse) and the 215. Although it doesn't have a needle up down feature, all you need to do is tap the foot pedal to change the needle position.
And best of all, the manual is very clear, and ONLY written in one language. Thank you again!

 

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