Sewing machine service vs. upgrading?
February 8, 2012 3:14 PM   Subscribe

Sewing machine issues: should I go for a service, or upgrade to a better model?

My wife has a Brother XL3500 sewing machine which I bought for her second-hand about 2 years ago, for £60 (I'm in the UK). She's having some problems with it, and is right in the middle of sewing costumes for a amateur dramatics show which is being performed in two weeks time - so we need to get it fixed fairly quickly.

We've taken it to a local sewing machine shop who said that it will need a full service, at a cost of £60, but that the problem should be solved fine with the service (they think its timing-related). Of course, the cost of the service is about the same as the price I paid for it in the first place!

My wife is getting very into her sewing, and is hoping to be sewing clothing and other items for sale on Etsy and similar when she finishes her degree (in the summer). In an ideal world she'd like to go into business doing it full time, but we're not sure how well that will work out. If she does go into it properly she's likely to need to upgrade her machine, as the one we've got is a beginner model that won't do quite as well as she will need it to for proper professional sewing.

The shop that we went to has a better sewing machine (Janome J3-24) for sale for £180, which seems to do everything she'd need. That's only the price of 3 services of our current machine...

So, my questions are:

1. Is £60 a reasonable price for the servicing of a sewing machine?

2. Is it likely to be worth going for the new machine as the old one is likely to have lots of problems?

3. How often are machines likely to need servicing? She travels around with it a fair amount (taking it with her to costume fittings for the show, for example), might that affect it? Obviously if the machine is likely to need servicing a lot, at £60 a time, it'll be better to buy a new machine...

I'm generally interested in what people think. The £180 for the new machine is a fair amount of money for us at the moment, but we can afford it - what do you think?
posted by robintw to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My family are intense quilters. My grandmother has her machine serviced yearly for $75 to $100 CAD. She finds that this gives her better performance as she uses her machine daily. My mom likely serviced her machine twice in 20 years and used it once a month or so. I am about to send mine in for a service for the first time in 4 years as I used my grammies machine and it was so much better than mine it reminded me it was time. My machine is a hand me down and is 15 yrs old. Moms is 25 years old and grammies is 5 years old all would be sold new at a $600 price point today.

Long way of saying, the service fee seems fine. Any machine in regular service should be tuned up now and then. Also $260 (maybe my conversion is wrong) seems kinda low for a decent sewing machine that your wife is looking to use for work. Is it powerful enough?
posted by saradarlin at 3:40 PM on February 8, 2012

For a Brother? Yes, low-end Brothers tend to cost about as much as the price of a servicing.

I'd be cautious about the other machine, though. saradarlin is right that that seems low for a workhorse machine. And in my experience, things purchased because you need it RIGHT NOW have a tendency of not working out well. (Also, the new machine will still need to be serviced.)
posted by pie ninja at 3:43 PM on February 8, 2012

What I meant to add is that maybe you should go for the service now and see what her sewing needs will be in a year or so then get a machine that fits her needs then.
posted by saradarlin at 3:43 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pattern Review has reviews of sewing machines, which might help you decide which option you prefer.

I usually service my Bernina about every 1 1/2 years, because I haven't been using it a huge amount. They do not recommend you do the lube yourself, and since it's an expensive machine, I wouldn't. Previously, I had a machine (Kenmore, sold by Sears) that I rarely serviced, because I could clean it out and lube it myself, for the most part.

Many people, when buying sewing machines, like to buy older machines because they are made of sturdier metal parts, instead of plastic. Newer machines have more capabilities, like fancy stitches, etc. You can get heavy duty machines specifically for professional-type use.

I agree that the service fee is about on par, I pay about $75 US for a servicing.
posted by annsunny at 3:49 PM on February 8, 2012

Get it serviced. It shouldn't need another service for another 10+ years. If it does, don't pay for a 2nd service and replace the machine instead.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:50 PM on February 8, 2012

I vote for the servicing, especially because she is in the middle of a time constrained project (if the service can be completed quickly). She would have to adjust to the operation of a new machine.

Later if you do get a fancier machine, there will still be things this machine does better or faster, and it will be a backup.
posted by caclwmr4 at 5:00 PM on February 8, 2012

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