I'm going to be in the market for a new machine sometime over the next year. I don't have the luxury of going to dealers and all my research has been done online. I will make a trip once I narrow down the possibilities. I thought my research might help others, so here ya go!
I want a mid-level machine that I won't outgrow in the next few years. Prices vary from $1799 to $399. Most of the research has been done at each brand's home page, Pattern Review, and Amazon.
330 - MSRP - $1399 Cheapest I've heard of: $1100.
97 stitch patterns with 1 automatic buttonhole 1 sewing alphabet, 3 quilting stitches, start-stop button, speed control, built in needle threader, 900 stitches per minute, max width 5.5, max length 5. 30 memory locations for stitch patterns.
Included: Reverse pattern foot #1, overlock foot #2, buttonhole foot with slide #3, zipper foot #4, blindstitch foot #5, slide on free arm extension table. Accessory box or bag and dust cover.
350PE - MSRP - $1799 Cheapest I've heard of: $1500.191 stitch patterns with 2 automatic buttonholes, 2 sewing alphabets, 11 quilting stitches, start-stop button, speed control, built in needle threader, 900 stitches per minute, max width 5.5, max length 5. 30 memory locations for stitch patterns, bobbin winding while sewing.
Included: Reverse pattern foot #1 overlock foot #2, buttonhole foot with slide #3, zipper foot #4, blindstitch foot #5, open embroidery foot #20, slide on free arm table, accessory box or bag and dust cover.
These are labeled beginning machines by Bernina.
Elizabeth - $669.00
178 built in stitches, 10 one step buttonholes, 3 uppercase alphabets, auto needle threader, start/stop button, auto thread cutter, drop feed, pattern repeat, mirror image, hands free pressure foot lift.
Included accessories: buttonhole foot, overcasting foot, zipper foot, zig-zag, blind stitch, button fitting, walking foot, quilting foot, open toe foot, nonstick foot, monogramming foot, adjustable zipper/piping foot, hard case.
Sofia 2 - $749.00 perhaps on sale through Jan. 5.
168 built in stitches, embroidery capability with USB direct connect and embroidery designs built in, 10 styles of 1 step buttonhole, 3 alphabet styles, 6 font styles, 5mm stitch length, 7mm stitch length, automatic needle threader, automatic needle cutter, 12 memory pockets, mirror image, programmable speed control, needle up/down, thread cutter.
Included accessories: Stylus, soft cover, buttonhole foot, embroidery foot, overcasting foot, monogramming foot, zipper foot, zig-zag foot, blind stitch and buttonhole fitting feet, 4 x 4 embroidery hoop.
Grace - $399.99 per Pattern Review
40 built in stitches, 1 built in buttonhole, built in needle threader, thread cutter, top loading bobbin.
Included accessories: Satin stitch foot, buttonhole foot, overcasting foot, blind stitch foot, button fitting foot, zipper foot, zig-zag foot, soft case.
DC5100 - $599 at Amazon.com
167 built in stitches, 5 one step buttonholes, drop feed, needle up/down, 50 stitch memory capability, speed control, locking stitch button, built in needle threader.
Accessories included: hard case, Straight stitch foot, Zigzag foot (set on the machine), Satin stitch foot, Zipper foot, Automatic buttonhole foot, Overedge foot, Blind hem foot, Darning foot, 1/4" seam foot, Walking foot, Quilter.
Information on accessories included taken from a Q & A on Amazon regarding this machine. At the time of this writing, Janome didn't have included accessories on their website. The link took you to available accessories vs. included.
DC4030PR - $549 at Amazon.com
30 stitches, 6 one step buttonholes, 820 stitches per minute, auto tension, needle up/down, drop feed, start/stop button, speed control, extra high presser foot, foot pressure adjustment, 5mm stitch length, 7mm stitch width, stitch elongation.
Difficult to find included accessories but the brochure states a walking foot and 1/4" foot is included also a hard plastic cover.
DC3050 $449 at Amazon.com
50 built in stitches with 3 auto buttonholes, auto needle threader, auto stop/start, drop feed, auto tension, extra high presser foot, bi-directional blanket stitch, stitch width and length same as the DC4030.
Included accessories: Zipper foot, satin stitch foot, buttonhole foot.
HZL300 - $699 at Amazon.com
106 Stitch Patterns with 3 fonts, 16 auto buttonholes, auto needle threading, auto thread trimming by heel of foot, 900 spm, adjust cutting width of buttonholes, atuo needle stop.
Included: Standard foot, Overcasting foot, Blind hem foot, Auto Buttonhole foot, Manual Buttonhole foot, Zipper foot, quilting foot and quilt guide, Hard Case.
HZL400 - $799 at Amazon.com Computer Sewing/Quilting Machine
157 stitches, 3 font patterns, 16 types of buttonholes, auto needle threader, adjustable presser foot pressure, auto thread cutting by button, auto thread trimming by heel of foot, adjust cutting width of buttonholes.
Accessories included: in addition to the above included with the HLZ300, a patchwork foot and free motion walking foot, a knee lift lever and a quilt guide.
Juki has a unique box feed dog system and the company previously made industrial/commercial machines.
These Pfaff machines have IDT dual feed
Pfaff Ambition 1.5 Sewing and Quilting Machine MSRP $1299 - $855 on Ebay
195 Stitches, 4 alphabets: block, outline, script and cyrillic, 4 memories, large LCD screen, stitch selection through touch screen, 3 LED light sources, needle up/down, programmed tie off, 29 needle positions, 7mm length, needle threader, start/stop button, speed slider, feed drop, mirror image, bobbin thread sensor, extra high pressure foot lift, adjustable pressure foot pressure, stitch elongation, two spool pins for twin needle sewing, larger sewing space to right of needle for quilting.
Accessories included: At the time of this writing, an extra extension table plate is included, standard foot, fancy stitch foot with IDT, fancy stitch foot, blind hem foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, hard case.
Doesn't say how many buttonholes but I'll try to find out later.
Pfaff Select 4.0 - MSRP $1150 - $687 on eBay
40 stitches, stitch selection through push button, high pressure foot lift, stitch length 6mm, bobbin winding through the needle, two spool pins for twin needle sewing, free motion sewing position through push button, needle threader,
Accessories included: Darning foot, rolled hem foot, fancy stitch foot, edge guide/quilting foot, zipper foot, clear view foot, buttonhole foot, blind hem foot, hard case.
Viking Sapphire 835 - eBay $749
105 stitches with 7 buttonholes, 3 alphabet fonts, dual lights, 10" throat space, needle down, one touch thread cutter, 10 memories, mirror side to side, bobbin winds from needle.
Accessories included: Thread nets, non-stick guide plates, Utility feet A and B, buttonhole foot,, one step sensor buttonhole foot, blind hem foot, zipper foot, edging foot, 1/4" piecing foot, embroidery/darning foot, light bulb remover, hard cover.
Viking Emerald 116 - eBay $299
Mechanical sewing machine, 16 Stitches, one automatic buttonhole, built in needle threader, 4mm stitch length, thread cutter, drop feed, needle up/down, adjustable pressure foot pressure.
Accessories: Hard case, 8 feet.
Cost of Feet
I'm going to use a walking foot as the comparison:
Bernina: $150, Baby lock: approx. $60 - with a fast search, I found one for the Essante made by Baby lock and others were $40 or so for the unbranded. Janome: $49.99. Juki: $69.99, Pfaff: not needed, Viking: $95.
Warranties vary but the usual seems to be Labor for one year with the exception of Juki which is 90 days.
All prices were good as of 12/31/12. When I couldn't find the MSRP on the machines, I took prices from Pattern Review, Ebay and Amazon.