Friday, January 20, 2012

Worst impulse toy purchase EVER

It looks innocent and cute...


But believe me it causes little girls to cry and almost makes moms swear.

We were at the store, and this was sitting on the clearance table for $9.  Miss C looked at it and turned to me and said, "Oh mom, it's a sewing machine just for me."  Her big brown eyes looked up at me sweetly.  "Could we get it please?  Then I can sew just like you."  What's a mom to do?!  We bought it, and she was soooo excited.

Then the horror began.  It just didn't work.  Now for $9 I wasn't expecting a Bernina, but it just didn't work.  We couldn't get it to sew for more than one inch.  Then it would jam up.  The needle would get unthreaded, it's next to impossible to thread.  She would cry because it didn't work and she was so frustrated.  I wanted to throw the thing at the wall.

Finally, much to her dismay, I told her we were returning it to the store.  She was sad about it for a whole day until she finally accepted the sewing machine's fate.  She loved the idea of sewing, and I want to encourage that in her little soul.

Now, I'm asking all of you for advice.  Are there any reasonably child-safe sewing machines out there that aren't cheap crap?  I would love to buy her something that is usable, but safe (AKA with the full needle guard).  And to clarify, of course this would be with full supervision.  I don't intend to leave her alone with a working sewing machine.  Everything I seem to find online is junk.  I haven't visited a sewing store yet to ask about products, but would love to hear any success stories.

The machine was returned today.  I now have my $9 back, but I have a sad little girl who misses her pink sewing machine.

52 comments:

  1. i don't know about 'child safe' (because to me anything with a sharp needle that goes up and down at high speeds doesn't seem like it could be), but i've got a tiny little janome that came from hancock's. i think it was around $50 on sale. i recommend it.

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  2. here it is: http://www.hancockfabrics.com/Janome-Sew-Mini-Sewing-Machine-Mini-Sewing-Machines_stcVVproductId48446188VVcatId539683VVviewprod.htm

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  3. Obviously you have to decide on your level of comfort with your own kids as far as safety goes, but I have a friend who started all her daughters on the sewing machine at 3. I believe she cut a bit of clear plastic like from a soda bottle to make a guard that little fingers couldn't fit under but fabric could and fastened it to the machine.
    Could you fashion your own needle guard and watch her super carefully?

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    1. If you don't mind, I am desperate for two of these for our twins who will be getting a sewing machine in a week for their birthday. I would LOVE to hear all about how she made a clear plastic one from a soda bottle. We bought them the little Janome sew mini 124 machines. Thanks in advance.

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  4. When my dd was young I bought her a Janome Sew Mini Sewing Machine. Cost was around 35.00 at the time. That was about twelve yrs. ago and we still have the machine and it still runs wonderfully. Now I let my granddaughters use it. It is a good machine for early learners as it does not go very fast and has good safety features. Check with a local dealer as I am sure they can help you out. Good luck...

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  5. Sam got Claire one for Christmas--it's an older adult machine, she put hello kitty stickers on it, and I think they made a guard for the needle...she could probably tell you more.

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  6. How old is your daughter? My daughter is 7 1/2 and she has done great on my $1,000 sewing machine since she was about 3 or 4 ... with supervision yes but now she is so good I let her do it alone!

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  7. You know, if you teach her the guidelines and monitor her use I can't see why she shouldn't go ahead with a 'real' machine.

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  8. My sister and I both have Janome machines (different models) with _speed control_. We flip the control all the way down, have a frank talk about how sharp the needle is and where there hands need to go, and then let them sew on it with supervision. The kids are 5 and 7 and we haven't had any issues so far.

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  9. Aww poor wee lamb! And poor you too, must've been hard to take it off her, but the right thing though. I dont know of a machine to recommend I'm afraid, but I really hope you find one!

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  10. I also recommend child-sized safety glasses.

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  11. I bought a half-size machine from Sears (Kenmore brand) for my 3-year old grandson to learn to sew - it works great and is simple to operate. Always with supervision of course! He has also sat on my lap and fed squares through my regular machine. I believe early exposure and safety lessons can do wonders!

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  12. Oh crap indeed - no help I'm afraid, but good luck!!!

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  13. Sounds like you are getting some good advice. I am taking note as I have no advice to offer. Sorry about the return!

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  14. Ugh. We had the SAME issue, maybe even the same machine, this Christmas! My daughter was so frustrated trying to get it going, tears, etc! In the end, I pulled out an old machine I had that (sometimes) works....I use it as my back up.....and let her go at it. It had no special safety features, but she is only 6 and made out with all of her fingers, I just supervised and showed her the "no touch zone" and all was well. Some "real" machines out there are really cheap- maybe that is the best option? My daughter made a few drawstring bags and was happy as can be!

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  15. I've heard great things about the Janome Hello Kitty machines. No clue how much they are though.

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  16. I hear you on the crappy buys front...my son gets bought some cheap stuff here, which breaks within 5 minutes (that is no exaggeration) and I`m left to pick up the pieces...literally. I have no advice but good luck - sad when there`s tears and you don`t want to quash her enthusiasm.

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  17. I know that !&$^% toy. H got one for Christmas. The worst!!! I was looking at the cute Hello Kitty Janome, but not sure how much she'll use it. Actually both kids were excited, ages 6 and 4. Ok, thanks for letting me vent. Gonna go read the other comments now...

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  18. My young neighbour (she's 9) went through two crappy little sewing machines that are geared towards children. She would bring them here to try out because she thought she was doing something wrong when, in fact, they just didn't work properly.
    When my mom went looking to buy a machine for my niece, she went to walmart & picked up a Brother on sale for $100. My niece has totally lost interest for now, but I use the machine from time to time. It is better than my machine! (An 8yr old Kenmore)
    The 'moral' - you would probably be better in the long run if you just get a regular machine? Decorate it up with vinyl decals or stickers to make it cute...? No advise on the safety aspect though, as I have only worked with older girls who knew the danger of the needle.

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  19. Oh my, I think I saw that machine on clearance today!?!?!?! I'm wondering. =)

    I think she'd be fine with a machine...of course you'll watch her, but she's getting older...I'm sure she's old enough to understand not to stick her finger under the needle. Don't buy the small junk ones...get her something that's basic that will last. I picked up a small one for my daughter and it didn't work...it wasn't a $9 one either...just a word of caution.

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  20. We had a similar machine that my husband picked up at a garage sale. We actually used it unthreaded, and my daughter loved it. Then it was broken somehow when we had a playdate at our house. :(

    My daughter now has the Janome Hello Kitty machine. It sews really well, but it's pricey. I think it's about $100. Oh, and it doesn't have a finger guard. But I'm always right next to her when she sews, and she knows not to get near the needle. (She's 4.5 and has been using it for a year now.)

    I *think* only Bernina makes a foot with a finger guard? Tho it's not a great guard.

    Good luck!

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  21. We bought one of those and it was horrible too (different model and I paid $29 for it). I would say go to Target and buy the $79 Singer...at least it will sew more than an inch (we didn't even get an inch) and if you teach her, she won't sew her finger. I learned to sew at 9 and I haven't stopped since (I'm 42) and if you teach her now, she'll love it for life!

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  22. One of our guild members brings her 9 year old daughter in tow to every meeting. She has a Hello Kitty Janome and she sets right there with us and sews along. I'm not sure of the safety features on it though.

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  23. Your poor daughter! I was going to suggest the Hello Kitty Janome (just cause it's cute -- I haven't used one), but I see more knowlegeable people have already done so. :)

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  24. Nicole at You Sew Girl got her daughter an Elna mini for Christmas that she loved so much she even abandoned eating dinner before bed so she could squeeze the last little bit of sewing time out of it! She seems to have been using it regularly since with no issues either.

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  25. I've let my daughters use my sewing machine . . . one was as young as 4. No needle guards either, just careful instruction about keeping hands away from the needle . . . they understand. I think a cheap-o machine that causes frustration is just going to leave them with a sour taste for a wonderful hobby.

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  26. Well Katie... you only paid 9 bucks for it... I would be royally p1$$3d if it cost more than fifty!! I sympathize with your daughter... you don't want to lose her inner drive to create. Best wishes!!!

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  27. I've taught sewing for 35 years. I learned on my mother's machine when I was 4. I taught my daughter when she was 4 on my Bernina. I taught children's sewing classes for years(although 5 was the minimum age). The quickest way to teach someone to hate sewing is to make them use poorly functioning equipment - if you wouldn't want to make a project on it, why would you make your child. By the way, I never had a child sew through a finger. Most manufacturers make a finger guard foot and I have heard of people fashioning them out a various items attached to the foot. Go to the website of your machine's manufacturer and look up the finger guard or safety foot. Once you see how it is made you will understand how it works. The biggest safety feature is a patient parent right by her side carefully teaching her. By the way, the best practice for straight seams is to use a ruler to draw straight lines on construction paper or use notebook paper and let her sew along the lines. Good luck - you are giving her the gift of a lifelong skill. At 28 now, my daughter completed her first quilt of many at age 10 and still loves sewing today.

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  28. I have been teaching my kids using my sewing machine. They have been sewing since they were about 4... at first on my lap, just directing fabric, and now my 8 & 10yos can sew with me just in the room. My 6yo is getting pretty good especially if we put the foot on a box, or the machine on a lower table.

    My Janome (and they have one too) is computerized and has speed control. I often draw the lines on the items they are sewing to keep the lines straight, or use the 1/4" foot

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  29. My daughter sews on my machine..with supervision, and has done since she was about 6. I just put the foot pedal on a box and turn the speed down. She's now 11 and has pieced her first quilt top!

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  30. Thank you so much for this post, and for all the wonderful comments! Good information all around. I'm going to file this for future information for my son, who at 4 is eyeing my sewing machine and looking at it like it's one big lego and loves to count how many times the needle goes up and down. I feel your pain with your daughter and her disappointment :( Thanks again for sharing the emotion and info :)

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  31. "That girl that quilt"'s blog just did a post on a new kid sewing machine. I'm thinking she bought her daughter a Janome brand. You might try over there.

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  32. Bless her heart and yours. That would be a disappointment.

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  33. Awww! So sad! Juliana got my old machine for Christmas. I just put some cute little Hello Kitty stickers on it. It is a Kenmore and it is actually quite nice for a kid b/c it has speed control. It goes super slow and she can control the fabric better.

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  34. I'm with those that say to just put her on a regular machine. I was taught on our antique treadle machine when I was 4, then on to my mom's electric machine probably by the time I was six...no needle guards on either. The treadle was great because at first I was on mom's lap (who ran the treadle and thus the speed) and then I was allowed to run the treadle after I got the hang of it and my legs grew a bit. :) Good luck, it's such fun to teach kids to sew!

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  35. oh, no, that's so sad! I saw an adorable Hello Kitty childs sewing machine at Costco if you are a member. I think Target has some also? But I don't know how well either of them work. My little one isn't ready for the machine! Good luck, she'll have fun with whatever you find for her.

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  36. I have to agree with "maryc". I think the best thing you can do is sit down with her and be patient. If you don't want her to use your machine then purchase her a cheap one - regular machine NOT a toy - and let her try. If she is very young (not sure how old your daughter is) then maybe you can do the foot petal and she can do the rest. You know her better than anyone and what she is capable of. Just stay by her side and be PATIENT (probably the hardest part).

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  37. What a sad experience for your little girl, but make it a learning experience - not everything we buy works the way we think.

    My granddaughter has been sewing on her mom's regular machine with no incident. She has been taught how to safely use it. Most new machines have speed control and she sews on the slowest speed and is happy with her results.

    I own a little Janome GEM - it is a perfect size for kids, but may be more than you want to spend at this stage - but she would grow into it! :)

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  38. I have heard great things about the Hello Kitty machine. It's really cute, too.

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  39. I have a Brother cs6000i. It has a speed control that you can set so it sews really slow (perfect for kids). When you take your foot off the presser foot the needle stops in the down position (you can change that setting somehow but I have never bothered). They aren't at $9 machine but I think it would be a good learning machine for a kid. I'm sure any machine with a speed control for the needle would be nice though.

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  40. Oh, that's too bad! And how ridiculous that it won't sew—even if it was only $9!

    I bought Elsa the Hello Kitty Janome for Christmas. I got it on Overstock for $109. I figure she can use that for years and years and not need another one. I also justified it by the fact that I can use it myself as a back-up machine if necessary (my machine hasn't been in for service in 3 years, because I can't bear to be without it!) With the amount I sew, I really should have a back-up available, right? : )

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  41. maybe someone mentioned this but if you have the bernina then you will have the motor speed control, if you push it all the way to the left then it will only let the needle move fairly slow. that will make it a bit safer for her. you can also get a fully functional machine for $60 at walmart if you just want something simple for her to start on without much worry. maybe there's something that's sold out there as an add-on attachment for a finger guard. i still remember a girl in 7th grade home-ec who stitched her thumb when we were sewing stuffed animals. they had to remove the needle from the machine to get her de-tached. it wasn't the end of the world, but no fun for her obviously. i guess that's a horrible story to tell when you're thinking about having your daughter sew. anyway she will learn how to use it and will learn safety rules as you are patient with her and teach her. good luck!

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  42. My son started sewing on my Pfaff when he was 7. I talked to him about safety & he made sure to keep his fingers well away from the needle. We never had an issue. I don't have a speed control, but there is a button that makes the max speed only half speed. That worked well for him.

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  43. My sister-in-law just bought an inexpensive Brother model for my niece, who is 7 1/2. It sounds like they are having a great time with it. They live on the opposite coast, so sadly, I can't "see" her little projects.

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  44. Oh that is a bummer!! I started Shelby on an old Kenmore. I never had a needle guard on it, I just sat with her till she "got" it. I did buy my neighbor girl a Brother from Walmart. She hasn't had any problems with it and I think I paid around $100.00. I have also heard good things about the Hello Kitty Janome too!
    Good Luck
    Nadine

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  45. The Big W (walmart) does have a decent selection of beginner machines; some for under $100. My midrange Brother lasted 12 years and if you cut the neck off a soda bottle and use a bit of tape to secure it, she should be fine on it.
    And she's your daughter...I'm sure by next week she'll be cranking out Dresden plate quilts and in a month she'll be starting he first Dear Jane!!!!
    Best,
    Shannyn

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  46. If it is side loading, the bobbin should move clockwise when pulling the thread- major tension and jamming otherwise. Janome has some hello kittys, but they start at 100. I may buy one in the future instead of lugging my 30 lb bernina around. Check craigslist and have the owner show you it works. In other words, meet up with some straight line sewing attached still under the needle when you meet up. You might be able to find a gem on the cheap.

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  47. So, I didn't thoroughly read all the comments, butI have the Janome Hello Kitty machine as my travel machine and you will not be disappointed with it. Not only is it cute, it works well and is smoother than my old Kenmore ever was. Good luck!

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  48. I hear your pain - I bought the exact same machine for my daughter at a thrift shop for $5. What a waste! I've finally upgraded my 5 year old to my old standard - 1962 Elna Super. It requires both of us to use, but once she gets it she'll have a solid workhorse of a machine able to do most anything she needs. Best of luck with your next purchase.

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  49. Claire saw one of these machines at Joann's one day, and fell in love. She was convinced that Santa was going to bring her one. In my research online, none of the kids ones were recommended. So, after lots of thinking and hours looking online, I finally decided to get her a small real sewing machine and just really teach her. I was going to get her the Janome Sew Mini from Hancock. It was about 50 I think. My mother in law had a Singer featherweight from the 90's. It was perfect. We were going to buy a small length of clear flexible tubing from home depot as a needle guard, but she has been so fantastic about keeping her fingers away, we haven't needed to, and she is only 3 1/2. Good luck!

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  50. We went through the exact same thing - Hello Kitty toy one from Costco. WHAT a waste. And now the two year old won't even play with it as pretend play. I've let the four y/o work on my new machine (speed control) but I'm going to ck out the Mini mentioned a few times. I read reviews, scoffed at them and now really wish I'd listened.

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  51. My son started when he was 4 on my old Brother PE-300 because he didn't have to reach the pedal. I adjusted the speed to super slow and he pressed start and stop. Now he is 6 and sews on my Featherweight. Not sure if that's any help.

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