I get asked this and the questions below all the time so I thought it time I created a blog post
How much should I spend?
As with a camera or bike it’s always good to buy the best you can afford. That being said there is really no need to be spending any more than €200 on a basic machine, unless you are intending to be a seamstress or professional textile designer.
If you are buying for a complete beginner you should expect to pay at least €100 for a machine that will give you all the basic functions listed below. I myself have several machines but continue to use a Toyota sewing machine that I bought nearly 20 years ago for €70 and it’s never caused me any problems.
What brand should I buy?
Some of the most popular brands would be Singer, Brother, Bernina and Janome. For me if it does what you want who cares about the name. However I am used to working with and fixing machines. That being said I wouldn’t recommend own brands in some of the cheaper retail shops as many dealers will not fix/service them should something go wrong.
What type of machine should I buy?
This, to me, is the most important question really. Is the machine for general sewing i.e. craft sewing, basic clothes mending etc. or is it going to be for an advanced seamstress/dress maker/textile designer. Please don’t be lured by 50+ decorative stitches and embroidery options for a beginner as you will rarely ever use them. The basic stitches – straight stitch, zig zag, over locker and button hole are all you need 99% of the time. If you are an advanced sewer I would recommend going to a dealer where you can try before you buy and/or a trade show where you can speak directly to the sales reps for each brand and see demos.
What are the basics I need?
- · At least 10 automatic stitches.
- · 2 needle positions
- · Automatic bobbin winding
- · 4-step buttonhole
- · Zipper insertion
- · Push lever reverse
- · Clip-on feet
- · Stitch pattern indicator
- · Stitch length control
- · Stitch width control
- · Tension control
Most models come with a clear bag of accessories which include: Zigzag foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, large screwdriver, seam ripper/brush, oil bottle, pack of spare needles, bobbins, seam guide, darning plate and spool holder.
Apart from that I would suggest going for a top loading bobbin. It’s much easier for beginners. I would also make sure that the machine has a free arm – this will be useful for all sorts of sewing projects. Most new models do but it’s worth checking.
Final words of wisdom
Machines need to be used (like a car) to keep them in good working order. There’s no point buying a machine and leaving it sitting in a box under the stairs because you’re afraid to use it. I run Sewing Machine Basics workshops to help get you started. Find out more on my website.
What are your tips on buying a sewing machine? What would you say is or are must have feature (s) ?
Let us know in the comment section below.