I got my Riccar RE 571 sewing machine about 20 years ago as a Christmas present from my parents. A couple weeks ago it stopped working. I took it in to be serviced, at first it seemed like it just needed a deep cleaning and a tune up. But once it was really looked at, it turns out the motor is dead and the cost to repair it would be more than buying a new machine. I don't like that mentality, as I like to keep fixing things, but I decided it was time to say goodbye to an amazing machine.
It's a pretty simple machine, able to do basic straight and zigzag stitch variations and buttonholes. The body is metal, so it's got a nice weight to it, it feels and is very sturdy.
While this wasn't the machine that I learned to sew on it has enabled me to make tons of different things. I made my portfolio pieces that I submitted to the Fashion Institute of Technology where I went to college, studying both fashion and toy design. A lot of the sewing skills honed on this machine came in handy there plus I learned so many more new things.
This machine has moved with me to most of the states I've lived in up to this point: New Mexico, Illinois, California, Vermont, and a brief trip to Colorado. I didn't take it to school with me in New York because FIT has tons of sewing labs.
I didn't toss this machine around, the paint has worn off just from years of pushing fabric through it.
With this machine I've sewn hundreds of plush toys. It has both mended and sewn tons of custom clothes. It enabled me to start freelance designing by being able to make prototypes and up to this point just about every sewing project posted on this site was sewn with this machine.
For the couple of weeks when the Riccar was in the shop and I didn't know if it could be fixed, I borrowed by mom's sewing machine, a Necchi model BU. It just happens to be the sewing machine that I learned on when I was about 8 years old. It weighs a ton and continues to works beautifully.
After a little bit of research, I ended up buying a Janome HD 3000 to replace the Riccar RE 571. I do pretty basic stitching, but I do a lot of it, so I was looking for a simple but tough home machine. This one has great reviews so I'm hoping it will last me through the next 20 years.