Originally Posted by mdelgiorno17
I adore the Pfaff Synchromatic 1209 that I purchased for $16 at Goodwill. It came with some really useful snap-on feet, extra bobbins, and a cover. The feet and bobbins live inside the machine in a "secret" tray that slides out, and the snap-on feet are great and really easy to use. It sews straight and zig-zag stitches and has buttons for some utility stitches (elastic, overlock, blindstitch, etc) that can be combined to make a few more different stitches. The reverse function is really easy to use; you don't have to hold it as you sew or change your stitch length (reverse and stitch length on my Kenmore 84 are on the same lever thingy). My only real issue with it is that it doesn't sew through heavier materials/really bulky layers as easily as my Kenmore model 84 and Singer 99 do.
The Kenmore model 1941 that I picked up for a friend who showed an interest in sewing and ended up giving away to a lady in need of a cheap machine was AWESOME! I was so excited to find it (rather clean and in a case, too) for $13. Like my Pfaff, it converts from a flat bed to a free-arm machine; however, the flat-bed portion of this machine is metal, not plastic, and you can lift away a top portion to change your bobbin without having to remove the whole bed. It also has straight, zig-zag, and utility stitches. I found the reverse lever kind of annoying, because you have to hold it down while you sew. The other problem I had with it is that it is a super-high shank machine; I did find a nice set of vintage Kenmore super high shank attachments for $15 plus shipping though, so decently priced attachments can be purchased if you don't mind doing a little searching. If the Kenmore's reverse button had been a "set it and leave it" sort of deal like my Pfaff's reverse and if it had come with a set of attachments, I might have given away my beloved Pfaff instead of this machine! The Pfaff, despite being a really nice machine, felt and looked kind of cheap when I set it next to the lovely Kenmore 1941!
I love my other machines, but I can't really recommend any of them simply because they don't have all the same features and flexibility that I've come to love. My Kenmore 84 does a lot of stitches, but you have to insert a plastic cam to get it to do anything other than a straight or zig-zag stitch. It's also set into a table and doesn't convert into a free-arm machine. My Singer 99 is quiet and sews beautiful straight stitches despite having lived in the dank, dark basement level of an antique store for ages. It's got a little rust and some flaking paint, and it had to be re-wired, but it's still going! However, those beautiful straight stitches are all it sews, and it does not have a reverse.