Selecting a sewing machine can be a lot of pressure. They’re a big investment, so you want to make sure to do the proper research. It’s important to make sure the sewing machine you select has all the features you require, will last a long time, and is worth the money you pay for it. Plus, there are a huge variety of different machines out there, made by different companies for different purposes.
Today, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about purchasing a sewing machine, from the different types to the features to look out for.
Things To Consider Before You Begin Searching
Before you start doing your sewing machine research, it’s a good idea to go in with a good idea of what you’re looking for. There are a thousand different sewing machines out there for a variety of different purposes, at a variety of different price ranges. Before you start shopping around, consider the following things:
- How much do you want to spend on a sewing machine? This is a big one. Your budget will determine how heavy-duty your machine will be and how many features it will have. You can get a good quality machine for a few hundred dollars. There are cheap, simple machines for around $100 and extremely powerful, professional machines for $1000 or over. Think about how much you’re willing to spend, and only consider machines within that range.
- What will you mostly be using your machine for? Different sewing machines are better suited for different purposes. Will you mostly be quilting, or are you more of a garment-maker? If you don’t know yet, that’s okay! You can get an all-purpose machine that does a little bit of everything.
- Do you need a portable machine? If you’re a new seamstress, you may be taking your machine back and forth to sewing classes or groups. If you’re planning on traveling with your machine, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting one that’s lightweight and portable.
- How much power do you need? The bigger your sewing project, the more powerful sewing machines you’ll need. If you’re sewing projects that require heavy-duty materials all the time on a small machine, your motor is going to burn out very quickly. If you’re someone who plans to sew every day, you’ll likely want to invest in a high-powered, heavy machine.
- How common is this type of machine? A rare, expensive machine imported from another country may sound like fun, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting that machine repaired or finding replacement parts. The more common your machine, the easier it will be to get it fixed, find classes and tutorials, and source replacement parts.
Types Of Sewing Machines
There are two main types of sewing machines you’ll find on the market. Before you begin shopping, try to figure out which machine will work best for your needs. Also, try to familiarize yourself with how a sewing machine works. This will make it much easier to understand the functions each type of machine offers.
Mechanical Sewing Machines
Mechanical sewing machines are the most basic and the least expensive. If you’re looking to dabble in machine sewing on more of a strict budget, this should work fine. Mechanical sewing machines require you to manipulate most of the controls by hand, such as the stitch type, length, and width. Mechanical machines are good for basic garment repair, hems, simple clothing items, and craft projects.
Computerized Sewing Machines
Computerized sewing machines are more advanced than mechanical ones and are usually more expensive as well. As the name suggests, these machines come with a computer on-board that allows for a huge amount of helpful features. Computerized machines operate given the information you enter and allow for much greater precision and as well as many more features.
Computerized sewing machines come in a wide range of quality levels. Not all of them are super advanced and expensive. A basic computerized machine will automatically adjust things like stitch length, type, width, and tension for you. More advanced machines can even embroider complex patterns and can alert you when you’re running out of thread.
These machines are great for newer sewing machine users, as they’re incredibly user-friendly and simple to operate. Plus, they take a ton of the guesswork out of sewing by optimizing the settings based on the information you provide.
Questions To Ask Your Salesperson
Once you’ve determined your budget and what type of machine you want, you’re ready to start shopping. However, there are a variety of questions you need to consider asking before you take the plunge and purchase a machine. The answers to these questions can easily be found online, or you can ask a salesperson if you’re shopping in person.
- What type of warranty does this machine have? Warranties are super important when it comes to sewing machines. Like any machine, they can occasionally break down on you. Find out the length of the warranty, as well as what it covers.
- Where can I get this machine serviced? If your machine does break down, you want to know if there’s a place to get it repaired locally. Perhaps they can fix it at the store you purchased it in, or maybe they know of a repair shop nearby that fixes sewing machines.
- Are you offering any deals on machines right now? This seems like an obvious one, but it never hurts to ask. Sometimes, you can get a discount on a really great machine just by asking a sales associate.
- Does this machine come with lessons? Some stores will offer free lessons on how to use your machine that are included with the purchase. This is a great way to learn the ropes, plus a great way to meet other people who are passionate about sewing.
Controls/Features To Look For
Even the most basic sewing machines can handle a variety of fabrics and a variety of tasks. However, as the machines get more expensive, the features get more advanced. Below are a variety of features and controls that some sewing machines offer. If these features pique your interest, be on the lookout for a machine that offers them.
- Automatic Buttonholer: This feature allows you to sew a buttonhole in one step, so you don’t need to stop and turn the fabric or manipulate any dials. This comes in handy if you’re someone who sews garments with buttons often.
- Feed-Dog Adjustment: Some machines allow you to raise and lower your feed dogs, which allows you much greater freedom of motion when sewing. This is important if you’re a free-motion quilter or you want to use your sewing machine for embroidery.
- Ergonomic Design: If you spend long hours at your sewing machine, your arms and hands may eventually get sore. Looking for a sewing machine with a good ergonomic design that has controls that are easy to manipulate and reach is incredibly important.
- Needle Position: Some machines will allow you to adjust your needle’s position, as well as the stitching line. You can move your needle to the right, left, up, and down. Needle down makes it incredibly easy to lift the presser foot and to turn a corner without a jump stitch.
- Automatic Needle Threader: This function threads your needle for you, preventing frustration. Plus, it makes switching thread colors much easier.
- Presser Feet: Check and see how many presser feet come with your machine. Multi-purpose feet work well for basic sewing, but you’ll also want a zipper foot and a buttonhole foot as well. There are also adjustable presser feet, which can regulate how tightly the machine holds the fabric when you sew. This prevents puckering as well as stretching. There are hundreds of different specialty presser feet out there, designed for tasks like quilting, embroidery, darning, hemming, and more.
- Stitches: Computerized machines may have a huge variety of specialty stitches pre-programmed into them. Check and see how many stitches your machine comes loaded with.
- Top-Load Bobbin: A top-load bobbin with a clear cover is really handy because it allows you to see when your bobbin thread is running low.
Buying a sewing machine can feel daunting. They’re usually an investment, and you want to make sure you’re getting the best possible machine for your money. Plus, there are so many machines on the market, how do you know which brand is best? If this sounds like you, don’t worry. Buying a sewing machine can be easy and fun. By knowing the right questions to ask and doing your research, you’ll walk into the store prepared and ready to purchase the best possible machine for you.