What to look for when buying a sewing machine for a beginner sewer. Below are my opinions based on years of teaching sewing to adults and kids as young as 6.
This article will share my must have features as well tips on what you should look for when buying a sewing machine for new sewers.
Here are my top 3 functions
- Speed Control – This little feature will take all the stress and fear out learning a new skill like sewing. Set it at a comfortable speed and focus on controlling your fabric.
- Automatic Buttonholes – You might not be thinking about making anything with buttons now, but trust me on this one. Some day you might and wouldn’t it be nice if you had the automatic one instead of manual ones. The difference set it up and watch it sew vs. sewing each of the 4 sides of a buttonhole individually. Good luck getting multiple buttonholes all the same size!
- Needle up/down – This little button allows you to program the needle to stay in the down positions every time you stop sewing! Why is this important? Think about turning corners…without this button, you have a 50 / 50 chance that the needle lands down. If it lands up, then you need to use your handwheel to drop it back into the fabric to make your corner. Automatic or manual?? You decide.
Most commonly used feet – Make sure you have them
- All purpose foot
- Open toe / Applique foot
- Zipper foot
- Overlock foot
- Blind Hem Foot
- Walking foot
- 1/4 inch foot
What else do I need to consider?
- Service / Training – This is more important than anything in my book. Buying on line is great if you’re the kind of person who is good with figuring things out on your own or following instructions from a manual. (assuming you get one). Buying from a local shop not only offers you help with purchasing the right machine, but they also offer classes on using it. Servicing is also available at most shops. Therefore, when things do go wrong you can get it back much quicker than shipping it out.
- Test drive – Try before you buy. There are lost of local shops selling machine who are more than willing to let you test drive that sewing machine before you buy.
- How do I plan on using this machine? – This is probably the most important question you can ask yourself before buying a sewing machine. You might say ” how do I know what I will sew, I don’t even know how to sew yet”. While that may be true, you can start by thinking about what made you start looking for a sewing machine. Was it to do repairs? if so, what types of materials will you need to sew? Make sure the sewing machine can handle the fabrics (especially if it’s denim or other heavy materials). Was it because you want to sew for your kids? If so think about what kinds of projects you might make: quilts require special feet, and maybe even a larger throat on the machine.
- Price – Today you can find machines under $100 and you can take out a second mortgage on others. What your budget is will be up to you. My only concern here is you get what you pay for. Therefore, buy what you can afford, but know that the cheaper machines cut costs on the quality of parts. Therefore, these machines may not last as long as some others. Buy what you can afford…you can always upgrade!
In conclusion, there is really no one machine that fits all sewers. However, my suggestion is don’t just buy the first one you see just because it’s on sale. Understanding what you intend on using that machine for, (what projects you might want to sew) will help you pick one that will likely get the job done, and hopefully with minimal frustration.
Once you pick up that new shinny machine, don’t forget to reach out to me and schedule a lesson to learn how to use it! My sewing machine 101 is a great place to start.