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7 Things to Consider Before Buying a Sewing Machine

Buying your first sewing machine can feel like a daunting task. There are so many options to choose from. We’re going to discuss a few things you should think about in advance.

There are pros and cons when considering who to buy from. When you buy online from a store like Amazon you’ll probably get a better prize. You’ll also have many options of machines. You can read sewing machine reviews from those who have bought specific machines and hear if they are satisfied with their purchase.

Buying from a dealer has other advantages. You can actually use the machine before you buy it. Often the dealers will offer classes and do repairs and maintenance on your machine. If you have questions they are available to answer.

They can also show you available attachments and explain their use. But before you buy a machine based on those advantages be sure and ask that specific dealer what they offer in the way of service.  

Here are a few of things you need to consider when making your purchase.

1. Basics

Experienced sewers offer these recommendations when looking for a machine.

You want a metal full rotary hook. This will avoid a lot of jams. You need a hook that goes around in a circle, not spins back and forth.

The machine should open so you can clean out the lint that will accumulate. Though you may eventually want professional maintenance done such as cleaning and oiled, you don’t want to have to take it in for every cleaning. And if it’s not cleaned, it will clog and ruin your machine. 

Always get a machine with an open arm. Most new machines have this so it shouldn’t be an issue. You need this to sew sleeves or pant legs that need to slide onto the arm of the machine.

Universal pressure lets your machine automatically adjust for materials of varying thickness. This will keep your machine from jamming with thicker materials.

Machines that thread easy are preferable. If possible, try this out in the store and see how it works. If buying online see what past purchasers say. This is especially useful for sewers who no longer have perfect eyesight.

Avoid: Lots of plastic. You’ll prevent problems by buying a quality machine without cheap plastic parts that can break easily.

2. Stitch Options

Here are the basic stitches you’ll need on your machine.

Straight stitch – This is the stitch you will use most often.

Zig Zag – Used when you need a finished look for raw edges.

Stretch straight – This is the stitch to use on anything you need to be secure after much use. It’s a precision stitch and you want a machine that can produce it correctly.

Tri-motion – finishes your edges and prevents unraveling.

Blind hem – Used to make hems that cannot be seen, or barely seen, from the right side of the clothing.

Button hole – A one step button hole option will save you lots of grief if you ever need to make button holes for clothing or other projects such as shower curtains.

Other stitches will be needed based on the specific projects you work on; but these are the basics you will need.

3. Mechanical or Electronic

With a mechanical machine you will need to turn dials to get the stiches you want.

An electronic machine will make adjustments for you. You simply tell it which stitch you want by pressing a button.

computerized sewing machine lcd

A solid state electronic machines allows you work with several layers of material not just two. It also makes it easier to work with heavier material such as leather, denim, or canvas. They are also more expensive.

4. Bells and Whistles

You want to be sure the machine you purchase can do everything you need it to do. There may be skills you want to learn in the next few years that will require having additional features. Some machines can have features added at a later date so find out if that is possible. That allows you to add as you need.

Though the extras are nice if you need them, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself at first by getting a machine that is too complicated.

5. The Weight and Size of the Machine

This is a factor if you have to put the machine away when not in use or if you take the machine with you for craft fairs, etc. But even small portable machines can vary in weight so try lifting it before buying or at least check the weight listed before buying online.

If you plan to only use your machine at home in a designated place, then a heavier machine can represent a better quality machine made with metal instead of plastic parts.

6. Budget

It would be nice if this weren’t even a consideration. If every sewer could simply buy exactly the machine they wanted with no worry about the cost. Sadly, this is not often the case.

When searching for a machine you probably have a limit on the amount of funds you can spend. This can leave you weighing pros and cons.

A good, high-quality mechanical metal machine can be found for under $300. If that is not in your budget you might consider a used, reconditioned machine. A used, high quality machine is often a better buy than a cheaper new machine.

When buying your first machine you don’t want to over buy if you haven’t been sewing for long. You want to be sure you’re going to continue to enjoy this new hobby.

If you plan to use your machine a lot or as your sewing business, you should look at a higher priced, professional style machines that can withstand constant use. They will cost a lot more, up to several thousand dollars.

7. Service and Warranty

Find out the length of the warranty and what it covers. Also, ask if you can get your machine serviced locally or will you need to mail it somewhere. Talk to other sewers and find out the experience they’ve had with customer service with the company you’re considering buying from.

There are many Facebook groups and forums for sewers online. You can ask questions about their favorite machines and what they recommend. But be prepared; you’ll get a host of different answers and they’ll all believe their choice is the best.

In the end, you need to do your own research and choose the machine that is right for your particular needs. Remember, quality is more important than added features.

A machine with numerous features that continually breaks down or jams will be nothing but a constant annoyance. Choose quality first.

sewing to the bank

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