September 16, 2012

Drooling over Bernina... and the hunt continues!

On Friday my mom and I headed up to the local Bernina/ Baby Lock dealer in my area to check out some machines.

These are the ones I wanted to see in the store:

Baby Lock Elizabeth

I am more interested in the Elizabeth as it seems to be a bit more advanced than the Grace and has more features. My local dealer said they don't carry these models, espec. not the grace because most people don't like that turn knob for the stitches.

She quoted me $400 for the Grace and $950 for the Elizabeth. I was expecting a few hundred less for the Elizabeth to be honest so that was a bit disappointing, along with not getting to see it in person.
These are the 2 models that we will be using in our sewing classes for Sewing Summit. I was informed that last year after SS the Baby Lock dealer sold off the machines that were used in the sewing classrooms after the conference to interested participants. They are supposed to do the same this year and apparently last year they were sold at quite a discount so I may be able to get a REALLY good deal on the Elizabeth if I am lucky. If it is marked down to around $500-600 I may be bringing home a sewing machine with me ;-)
I was a little bummed that I took time off work to get up to the store because they are only open late one night a week, and I arranged to meet my mom up there so we could check them out together, and ended up not getting to see the machines I was interested in. On top of that, most of their other mid-priced Baby Locks were up at a trade show somewhere so there wasn't must in the way of comparison models for them to show us.
Then I made the "mistake" of asking about Berninas... this was a good mistake, but still... not good for me lol. I asked about the 440 because a friend has one and I was informed that they no longer make that model and it has been replaced by this beautiful machine..
This machine is so fancy - I think it would take me months to figure out all it will do! The computerized options are amazing and a bit overwhelming. The thing that got me drooling the most tho... the Bernina Stitch Regulator! If you have never tried one out, DON'T!... unless your budget can handle the purchase because you are going to want it immediately upon use lol.
If you don't know what a BSR does, basically it hooks into your machine's computer system and says "hey, I'm going to FMQ, please make sure it looks perfect!" When you free motion quilt and move faster, it sews faster to keep up with you, when you slow down, it slows down too. The result... beautiful FMQ with perfectly uniform stitches! Seriously, to die for... but also very pricey. I think the BSR on its own runs around $1000! This machine comes standard with the BSR and my dealer quoted me $2800 for it. Bernina's are expensive, the BSR makes this model moreso, and although I know it would be worth the money.... for such a short arm I def. cannot justify that price tag.
That being said, they do have a BSR compatible machine with a 10 inch arm:
She didn't have this one in the store and she quoted me $3500 for it - and I'm not sure if that included the BSR or if that would have been additional. I sure hope it was included otherwise OUCH!
2 amazing machine made by an awesome machine company... which I need to avoid like the plague if we ever want to buy a house before we retire lol.
After discussing these fun machines, I asked her if Baby Lock makes a machine with such a big arm/throat/harp space and sure enough - they do  and had one in stock!
 This is one massive machine with 11" for the arm/throat/harp space which is pretty impressive. The extension table was HUGE too - way bigger than the one I had for my Singer Confidence Quilter and I already thought that one was a nice addition!
The dealer quoted me $3500 for this one and ofcourse my first thought was - well, no BSR, I'd rather have the Bernina 710. However, it is a relaly nice machine but I didn't sew on it at all after hearing the price.
I know a Stitch Regulator isn't necessary... theoretically people CAN FMQ on a normal sewing machine with great results but right now, I am not one of those people, and would love to have a Bernina with a BSR :) However, my budget says "heck no don't even think about it lady!!" soooooooooo I'll keep drooling and dreaming for another day ;-)
After our little trip I was doing more machine research online, especially about Janomes because my mom and I will be heading to that dealer on Wednesday after work. (We only have 2 dealers in the area other than Joanns (gag!) and they are open past 6pm only 1 or 2 days a week and ofcourse not on the same days! Stupid! lol)
The 2 Janomes I am interested in are big dogs - aka both out of my price range - but I'm still interested in checking them out just for fun.
This one has 9" of sewing space which is a lot bigger already than my Singer Confidence Quilter which only had 6.5". Sure, I quilted a king sized quilt and a couple queen-ish sized ones on my Singer, but I sure didn't enjoy it lol. The extra space would be, soooooooooooo nice.
The reviews are pretty good for this machine and the price I was expecting was around $1200-$1500 according to what I'd seen in reviews from other buyers. Well, I called the local store to make sure they had this in stock and they only have a floor model, would have to order the machine from Janome directly, and it is on sale for around $2000. I was a bit shocked, that was WAY higher than I was expecting.
Oddly enough... the sale price on the below machine was the SAME!
I could not believe my ears... most people have paid around $3,000 for this machine and my local store is selling it for $1,000 less? Crazy!
A massive 11" of sewing space makes this baby a VERY interesting machine for us quilters who need more room and I've heard a lot of good things about this machine by browsing a bazillion blogs and online review sites.
Can I afford the Horizon? No way! I was hoping the 6600 might be more around $1000 and would have therefore been a viable option for me to get a bit more sewing space, 2.5" more than what I had, as well as a new sturdy sewing machine. However with such an inflated price tag and only having 1 dealer anywhere near my area, I'm a bit disappointed that this is no longer an option.
So right now... I'm kind of on the fence in between the Elizabeth, which I have yet to see or use, and the Horizon, which I will be "test driving" on Wednesday and definitely cannot afford. However, if the horizon is as amazing as the bernina and is just lacking the BSR... it might be worth it for me to figure out how to finance it and know that this will be my only sewing machine for the next 10ish years. But if it is only "nice" but not "amazing" and I think I really will want a BSR one day, I will probably go with something more like the Elizabeth... or atleast something more around the $500 range, and save up for a few years for a nice Bernina.
Decisions decisions... so many decisions!
In other news... I did take my Singer and my grandma's Janome up to the store on Friday because they do repairs on all makes/models and will give a free repair estimate before doing any work on it. I just wanted a second opinion on mine to make sure she really is dead and also wanted to see if my Grandma's can be fixed at all. Her machine seemed to run fine the one time I tried it after mine broke, but the reverse lever is broken and if that can't be fixed it is going to not be so much fun to sew with - especially for quilt piecing! I'm not sure it is an option for quilting on because it doesn't have any of the feet I need - walking foot, free motion foot, 1/4" foot - but it would be nice to get it fixed as a back up machine and maybe eventually I could get some of the piecing feet for it even if I don't decide to try and quilt on it.
Not sure when they will get back to me on the estimates and I'm not sure if either can be fixed but it was worth asking!
Will let you know how my Janome test drive on Wednesday goes :) They also carry Brother so while I'm there I'm going to ask about some more affordable Janome/Brother models that I might be interested in, in case the Elizabeth discount at Sewing Summit isn't as big as I am hoping. Realistically I dont want to spend more than $600 on a sewing machine and I expect it to be a workhorse that will last me 5+ years and can do a lot of quilting, piecing, garmet sewing, bag making, and even can stand up to the fuzzy fleece and other fabrics I used for softie making. We shall see...


Impera_Magna said...

No doubt about it... sewing machines are expensive. Hopefully at the Sewing Summit, you'll come across some really good deals as none of the vendors want to cart unsold machines home.

Good idea to check out models and prices before you go to the Sewing Summit... so you'll know what to look for and what a good deal.

Katy Cameron said...

Good luck on your hunt! Interestingly someone recently posted on their blog about their machine hunt and had been told that Brother do all the electronics etc for another company - that Crescendo looks exactly the same as my NX2000, and I'm sure the Brothers had the cheaper price tag...

Cherie said...

Some great looking machines there! What hefty price tags on some of them, I couldn't imagine spending that much on a sewing machine!
I hope you see some that you like that are in your price range and you actually get to try some out. It's hard to buy a machine when you cant see it in person! I hear the Janome horizon is really popular =D

Karen said...

Janome! I got my 6500 used 4 years ago for is used alot and has been in the shop twice for me mistakes and cleaning...far better price :)

**nicke... said...

i have the grace and i really like it. it is a good machine and it sews very very well. i hate that it has such a small throat space though. it makes quilting a very difficult job. it is not impossible but i swear a lot when i am doing it. ;)

Fiber of All Sorts said...

Love this post. Keep on exploring and hopefully the right machine will drop into your lap.

Unknown said...

Do consider buying used. Both of my Berninas were purchased used and for a great price. Both were local buys via Craiglist ads. You can also ask your Bernina dealer for used machines as most take machines in trade in and then re-sell them.

Another option is the sewitsforsale Yahoo group - I've purchased 3 machines from sellers on this group and couldn't be happier. One is Babylock Quest 2, which is similar to the Janome with the 9" harp. Got the machine for $600 and it is like's great to free motion quilt on due to the large space. Good luck!