Sewing Machine Buying Guide
Tips For Buying a Sewing Machine
Purchasing a sewing machine can be an exciting event, particularly if you are a beginner and it is your first machine. It’s pretty exciting when you are not a beginner too, but then you have the advantage of knowing what you are looking for so can focus on exactly what you want. There are a lot of machines available to choose from and some of them can do a lot of complex stitching. While this is impressive, how do you know if this type of machine is what you need? How do you choose between machines and how can you know if you are making the right decision?
These are just some of the things that can present a dilemma and tone down the excitement of your new purchase. However, there are always a few, fail safe criteria to fall back on to help you make the right decision. These can make the difference between being very happy with your purchase or leaving you feeling like you have just wasted a lot of money on something you will not use very often. This can be a bit like throwing cold water on your excitement, so let’s look at how you can avoid that. The following tips for buying a sewing machine will make sure you end up with a machine which not only leaves your excitement intact, but actually helps you make a good buying decision.
Identify Your Sewing Needs
This is fairly straight forward, but your excitement can take your dreams to places you never meant to go. If you are only going to do a little bit of mending or hemming, there is little point in purchasing a machine which will do everything but make your breakfast. Top of the range machines are truly magnificent, but unless you are going to take advantage of all these machines can do, you are better off with a basic machine and saving your money.
Questions You should Ask Yourself
1. What are you going to sew?
Are you planning to make clothes for yourself and/or others, or perhaps soft furnishings like cushion covers and curtains, or maybe just a little mending?
If you are only going to use the machine occasionally, or if you are a complete beginner with no intention of developing your stitching skills, a very basic machine is going to be your best buy. You should look for a machine which has a zipper foot, buttonhole foot and possibly a plastic foot for delicate fabrics. You will also need the machine to do several different lengths of straight stitch, a choice of zigzag stitches and an automatic buttonhole.
If you think you might want to progress to making more complicated items in the future, make sure to choose a brand that has additional accessories you can buy when you are ready.
2. Are you going to make clothes or soft furnishings with the machine?
Do you think you might want to make clothes, cushion covers and curtains and/or use decorative stitches in your work?
A mid range machine with a wider range of features will be best for this. It should also have a free arm, an over-locker stitch and a range of machine feet including a zigzag foot, blind hem foot, concealed zipper foot, narrow hem foot and piping foot. A computerized machine which calculates tension and stitch length will be best.
3. Are you going to use the machine for craft or embroidery?
You will need a more expensive sewing machine, top of the range if you can afford it. This will provide you with pre-programmed patterns and will create multi-colored hoop embroidery patterns. These sewing machines can generally handle three spools of thread at once.
4. Are you intending to be a home professional?
You will need a high end machine which can handle heavy duty fabrics and workload, as well as store stitch programs for you.
If you are going to set up your machine and leave it in place, it won’t really matter how heavy it is. However, if you will need to pack it away after each use, or take it to classes, you will need to be able to easily carry it about. It will still need to be sturdy enough for heavier fabrics though.
Always choose an established brand because they generally have good warranties, accessories (if you should need more) and tuition. Some of these include, Janome, Brother, Elna, Bernina, Singer, Husqvarna Viking and Toyota.
Machine Requirements for Fabrics
The machine will need to have different functionality and accessories for different types of fabrics so you also need to consider this as part of your research due diligence before you buy a machine. Most machines are perfectly fine with medium weight fabrics and cottons, however if you plan on stitching curtains, thick woolens or even delicate and/or sheer fabrics, you are better off knowing if your machine can handle these fabrics appropriately before you buy. The best thing is to see one in action in a store if possible, where a sales assistant can answer your questions and even demonstrate the machine’s capabilities for you.
You will need a machine that has either a large sewing bed or an extension table and which can handle different thicknesses and weight simultaneously.
These should be handled lightly and the machine should be able to release pressure on the presser foot in order to avoid snags from the feed dogs. A plastic presser foot can sometimes be a little gentler on fabrics than a metal foot too.
A machine with a stretch stitch is essential for this and if possible, a plastic foot will also be helpful. You will need fine needles and/or special needles for stretch fabric, which your machine of choice can accommodate.
These generally need a longer stitch so the machine you are thinking of purchasing should always have a good range of stitch lengths.
Sometimes a carrying case will be included with the machine and sometimes not. A hard case is better than a soft cover and it’s good if you don’t need to pay extra for it.
Threading machine needles manually is a challenge and often time consuming. It’s always a good idea if your machine of choice comes with this feature to save you time, eyesight and sanity.
The machine you purchase should have a wide range of accessories. If it doesn’t, you will need to make sure the machine you purchase has everything on it that you are likely to need or be willing to buy the accessories separately.
If you are able to heed all this advice, you will end up with a machine which will serve you well for many years. Hopefully, your new machine which will do exactly what you need it to do. What many people end up doing, especially if they become dedicated stitchers, is to purchase more than one machine, one of which is often a portable. This is so you can go to craft and quilting events with your machine and perhaps work on group projects with your peers. It’s all a lot of fun and purchasing the machine is a pleasurable exercise as well, especially if you use your newfound knowledge when you purchase the tools of the trade.