My mom came to visit over the weekend, and gave me the very special gift of picking out a new sewing machine. It took some convincing to get me looking at new machines, because I have a strong sentimental attachment to Sally, the Singer 237 I learned to sew with. But Sally has worked hard for years, and now her motor is on the way out.
So what I learned from buying Ethel is that reading reviews from other bloggers is only a first step, and there is no substitute for test driving a machine yourself. I tested the Pfaff Ambition Essential, a few Janome models, and the Bernina 215. I think that buying a machine is such a personal decision, because everybody has different preferences and does different types of sewing. I know I will never make a buttonhole, I have no desire to do machine embroidery, and my ideal machine will do 3 stitches: straight stitch, zigzag, and blind hem for invisible machine applique. Sturdiness was the most important factor to me, and having grown accustomed to the all-metal innards of vintage machines, the plastic bobbin cases on the Pfaffs and Janomes just seemed like flimsy toys, at least for my needs. So I decided that the slightly smaller harp size of the Bernina was easily outweighed by the metal bobbin case and sturdy vertical hook. When I tried the floor model at the dealership, it made a beautiful stitch in free motion with no adjustment to the tension. Yay!
So thanks again Mom! I am very excited to roll up my sleeves and learn to use my new machine!