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Sewing Machine Companies & Brands

Which sewing machine is best for you. Learn about the sewing machine companies and brands.

by Jessica Harris / Love to Sew Studio Manager/Instructor/Costume Designer/Fashion Show Director

 

     If your trying to decide which sewing machine is right for you, I’m sure you’ve come across several different brands. If you’re new to sewing (and even if you’re not) the company names may mean little to nothing to you, except having heard of them before, which isn’t very much help. Hopefully the, this page will be! Below is a brief review of the major different sewing machine companies. You will learn a bit about their history, where the products are made, and the current types of sewing machines that they sell. The list is in alphabetical order.

Bernina

Bernina is the name brand of a Swiss made sewing machine company called Fritz Gegauf AG. It was founded in Steckborn, Switzerland when Karl Friedrich Gegauf invented the hemstitch sewing machine 1893. Before then, hems could only be sewn by hand, and his machine could sew 100 stitches per minute. In 1932, Fritze Gegauf, Karl Fridrich’s Gegauf’s son, invented the first household sewing machine, called the Bernina.  
Today, Bernina’s high-end models are still made in Switzerland (they also have a factory in Thailand) and are considered to be elite, with machines sold in high price ranges. Most of their machines are computerized, and either are both a sewing machine and an embroidery machine, or can have an embroidery machine attached later, can be connected to a computer to download software for embroideries. 
Bernina’s more affordable line of machines, the Burnette for Bernina consists of both electronic and computerized models. It is considered a quality line, however, it is said (but unconfirmed by the company) that the Burnettes are not made by Bernina. Bernette sewing machines are rumored to be made by Janome and their sergers (overlock machine) by Juki.   
Read this page to learn about, read reviews, compare several different Bernina and Bernette for Bernina Machines.
 

 

Brother
Brother sewing machines are made by the Japanese company Brother Industries, which was established in 1908 and originally called the Yasui Sewing Machine Co. In the early 20th c., sewing machines in Japanese were mostly made by Singer (an American company). However, in the 1930s, the Brother company (now named after the founder’s two sons--brothers--inherited the business) made improvements on the sewing machine and began to successfully mass produce. Now, Brother machines are sold all throughout the world, with the European head office in Germany. The United States Corporate office is located in Bridgewater, NJ and was established in 1954. Brother Industries also make printers, fax machines, typewriters, and knitting machines. Brother sewing machines are made in Japan. 
Currently, Brother offers a wide range of electronic machines for sewing and quilting. The Brother Project Runway machine model CE5500PRW won the Consumer’s Digest Best Buy award. Most Brother machines are sold at a mid-ranged price. 
Read this page to learn about, read reviews, compare several different Brother Machines, including the different Project Runway models.

 

Husqvarna Viking
Husqvarna Viking is perhaps the oldest company in the sewing machine industry, with its routes as a Swedish royals arms factory in 1689. It began to make and sell sewing machines in 1872. The first model was called the Norsdjernan, or Northern Star. From 1883-1925 the Freja model was a great success, as it’s mechanical parts were placed internally, and it had superior stitching quality. One hundred years after the Northern Star, in 1972, the company produce the first lubrication-free sewing machine, and the first sewing machine with letters in 1980. 
Presently, Husqvarna has the Sapphire and Emerald lines of sewing and quilting machines, both electronic and computerized, as well as overlock machines. Most of their machines will be in the higher end price range. Husqvarna Viking is owned by SVP Worldwide, which also owns the Pfaff, Singer, and White sewing machines brands.
Read this page to learn about, read reviews, compare several different Husqvarna Viking machines.

 

Janome 
Janome is a Japense company founded in 1921 by Yosaku Ose, originally called the Pine Sewing Machine Company. The name Janome was chosen because it means “eye of the snake,” which was the look of the new bobbins the company was using at the time of its founding. 
Today, Janome makes quality sewing, quilting, embroidery, and overlock machines at a high to mid price range. They are made in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand. Janome provides information about their factories here: http://www.janome.co.jp/e/e_corporate/qca.html#factories.
Read this page to learn about, read reviews, compare several different Brother Machines, including the different Project Runway models. 
 
 
 
Juki
Juki is a Japanese sewing machine company that was founded in 1947. Juki opened its first U.S. home office in 1974 and continues to market sewing machines all throughout the world. The company is noted for developing the fist automatic thread trimmer and needle threader in 1978. Juki is perhaps best known for its distinguished line of industrial sewing machines, but the company also sells mechanical, electronic, and computerized home sewing machines. 
Read this page to learn about, read reviews, compare several different Juki home sewing machines.

 

Kenmore 
Kenmore is the brand of a variety of household appliances sold by Sears, including home sewing machines. The behemoth department store that we all know has its origins as a mail-order company called Sears Roebuck & Co, which was found in 1893. Sears Roebuck & Co. began selling Singer sewing machines early on, and were able to market them significantly cheaper. Despite being identical to the products currently on the market, the Sears catalogue described the machines as improved versions. 
Kenmore brand machines were first marketed in 1913 Fall catalogue, and as of 1926, Kenmore machines were made by White Sewing Machine Company. Kenmore machines did not reappear on the market again until 1934, when they sold steadily until the start of WWII. This is because the White company stopped its production of machines during the war because of lack of supplies and the need for developing products for war. In 1958, White and Sears parted ways, and Sears switched the production oversees to Japan. 
Sears still sells the Kenmore brand home sewing machines, which are currently made by Janome or other companies. Kenmore brand currently has a mechanical, electronic, and serger (overlock machine) on the market. 
Read this page to learn about, read reviews, compare several different Kenmore home sewing machines.

 
Pfaff 
Pfaff was founded in 1862 in Kaiserslautern, Germany by guitarist and instrument maker Georg Michael Pfaff. In 1885, Georg Michael’s eldest son, Jakob, opened up the first Pfaff sewing machine shop in London. After 50 years of production, Pfaff was selling machines in sixty-four countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.  
Today, Pfaff’s top line products are still made in Germany. Pfaff is owned by SVP Worldwide, which also owns the Singer, Husqvarna Viking, and White sewing machines brands. The first Pfaff sewing machine can be found at the Munich Museum of Technology.
Read this page to learn about, read reviews, compare several different Pfaff home sewing machines.

 

Singer
The Singer Corporation was founded by Isaac Merritt Singer in Boston in 1851, then called I.M. Singer & Co. Singer is credited with inventing the first motorized sewing machine. His was the first mass produced sewing machine, and the first machine wherein the needle moved up and down, rather than side to side. The company soon expanded and opened factories in Canada, Germany, Russia, with the largest sewing machine factory in the world in Clydebank, Scotland, which closed in 1980. 
Now, Singer Corporation is owned by SVP Worldwide, which also owns the Pfaff, Husqvarna Viking, and White sewing machines brands. They have a wide range of models, including mechanical, electronic, and computerized machines. All Singer machines (except the earliest models, from 1851-1870) have serial numbers which you can use to look up the year your machine was were. Presently, most Singer products are made in China. 
Read here to learn about, read reviews, and compare several different Singer sewing machines.

 
White
The White Sewing Machine Company was founded in 1858 in Massachusetts by Thomas White, and moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1866. Thomas’s son Rollin convinced his father to allow him to build an automobile in one corner of the sewing factory, which soon turned into The White Motor Company, which built automobiles, trucks, bicycles, and more from 1900-1980. Later, these companies were called White Consolidated Industries. In 1909, President Taft chose a White automobile as the first official car of the White House. 
During WWII, White temporarily stopped production of its machines to help manufacture war-related items. In the 1960s, the White sewing machine brand merged with the Husqvarna Viking brand, after it became increasingly difficult for American-made machines to compete in the foreign market. In 1986 Electrolux, a Swedish appliance company, purchased White Consolidated. In 2006 the White line of machines became consolidated with the lower end of Husqvarna machines. 
There are no longer White brand machines on the market. From a personal point of view, this is quite sad, as Love to Sew studio’s first machines for our students were mechanical Whites that were sturdy, excellent starter machines for children.
 
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