Sewing MachinesOr Don't Believe Everything the Nice Salesman Tells You
(And I say that only because I was one once.)
The debate over which sewing machine brand is the best rages in much the same way as the debate among high-school age boys over who makes the best car: continuously, and with very little real value. I imagine there's even someone, somewhere who has a little sticker of Calvin relieving himself on the company logo for a machine s/he dislikes.
I own six machines that I use regularly: two Singers (a 7005 domestic and an 811 walking foot industrial - I had a 31-15 industrial, but retired it after the motor blew), a Brother production serger with gathering attachment, a Brother industrial straight stitch, a Juki domestic serger, and a Chandler blind hemmer.
I have each of these machines for exactly the same reason: they were there when I had money to spend and I had a use for each one.
I have used (not including the ones I own): Brother (domestic and industrial), Singer (industrial - costume shop, MWSC), a Juki (industrial), a Bernina (at a friend's house), a Pfaff (costume shop, MWSC), and a Wertheim (appraising it for an antique shop).
Hell, I liked them all. This is not to say that I have never found a machine of any of those brands that I didn't like. Far from it. I've used one or two that I absolutely hated and wouldn't accept if you paid me. But, by and large, the reputable manufacturers got over the "how innovative can we be with that piece there" of the 70's and "crappy-little-onboard-computer-craziness" of the 80's and settled in to making some pretty nice machines. Those that didn't went out of business.
I get quite a few emails asking for recommendations on what sewing machine to buy, and here is my pat answer: You Get What You Pay For. Don't expect to go to your local Wal*Mart (or whatever passes for Large Discount Store in your area), pay $150.00 for a brand new MagicStitcher1 and go home and hem your jeans on it. The casing is cheap plastic, and the motor is a simple induction P.O.S. with just enough torque to sew a hankie without smoking.
My dad used to have a saying about restaurants: "never order steak from a fish place, and never order fish at a steakhouse." If you want a good machine, one that'll hem jeans and a fine linen hankie with the same smoothness, purchase it from a dealer of SEWING MACHINES (duh) and be prepared to shell out some bucks (personally, I wouldn't pay less than $500.00, and that's for a used machine. The last machine I added to the collection, an Evolv� Coverstitch machine, was $1600, and my wife's Quilter's Companion was $1300.) When I walk into the business where I buy my machines, the owner (that's right: owner) greets me by name, asks about my daughter, and always - ALWAYS has the answer to my questions.
Nobody does that at the discount store.
1 I made that up, but some of the names are that stupid.