Do you walk around shops thinking you’re wasting money buying garments and furnishings that you could be making yourself? Is it time to invest in a new sewing machine? With the right machine and materials anything is possible.
Whether you’re just starting out or experienced in sewing, the machine you choose will be an extension of yourself. You may have your ideas, patterns and materials, you’re ready to take the next step. It’s an exciting venture and you might not want to wait but choosing the right one for you and your projects is not a decision to be made in haste. Purchasing the perfect sewing machine will allow you to explore your creativity, increasing the quantity of successful projects you complete and developing your love for sewing.
So how do you decide which one is right for you? There are many factors to take into consideration before making the commitment. Here’s a few to start you thinking!
Set Yourself a Budget
This may be an obvious consideration. You need to have a clear budget in mind, remembering that you also need to take into account future costs for replacing parts that may become worn or break through good use of the machine and purchasing materials. Prices for sewing machines vary greatly, with the lowest priced basic electric model starting at around $50 rising to machines costing in the region of $2000, which have a widely varied functionality.
Who’s the Manufacturer?
It’s often an instinctive reaction to say “I’ve never heard of that brand!”. Reputation counts for a lot but just because a manufacturer isn’t well known doesn’t mean you won’t get a quality machine. Luckily, there is an abundance of review websites available at the click of a button, and fast methods to carry out research on manufacturers.
What do the Product Reviews Say?
Again, it’s essential that you do some research. This time into the product itself. Once you’ve found a make and model that you’re interested in, make sure you carry out relevant research. It might not be a machine that you know much about so you need to be sure. If it’s reputation isn’t well known, be cautious be not dismissive – don’t rule out until you’ve found out!
Is there a Manufacturer’s Warranty or Company Guarantee?
A warranty from the manufacturer or a guarantee from the company selling the machine can save you from future expenses and is an important factor in your decision making. The length of time these last vary according to the manufacturers and the products. If the sewing machine you’re interested in comes with either, take the time to read the small print and understand exactly what is covered and what’s not.
What do you want to make?
Have a clear idea of the projects you would like to complete with your new machine. The type of machine you choose needs to be suited to your needs. Don’t waste money on features that you won’t need or use, but at the same time be sure you won’t be limiting your creativity.
What Fabric Types Can It Sew?
This follows on from the type of projects you will be making. Once you know how you intend to use the new sewing machine, you need to make sure that it is capable of sewing the fabric types you will be using. Some machines are designed to sew light-weight fabrics some are designed for heavier materials such as leather, whereas others are good for the full range. Find out about the range of fabrics that the machine can sew and ask about the adjustability of the foot pressure, thread tension, stitch length and speed.
What Features Does the Sewing Machine Have and How Useful Will They be for You?
You can expect some basic features on most sewing machines. These include the stitch length and width regulators, spool and bobbin holders and reverse stitch lever. Check them for quality and positioning. For example, a badly designed or placed spool pin could break or bend, leaving you to deal with a problematic cotton reel situation. Similarly, when looking at machines with more extensive features such as a wide range of stitches or embroidery functions, consider their quality but also whether you will get enough use out of them to warrant the extra cost. Find out how the instructions are presented. While some machines come with a basic hard copy manual, others come with a usefully visual, easy-to-follow CD Rom.
How Easy is it to Thread?
If a machine is difficult or cumbersome to thread it can diminish the enjoyment of being creative. This doesn’t only involve threading the needle, the bobbin threading can also cause problems. Look at the instructions for threading the machine – a lot of instruction manuals are available free to download. If you can’t access one for the model you’re interested in, or you’re still not sure after reading the manual, visit a retailer and ask for a demonstration. Many people prefer a top-loading bobbin but you may prefer a side-loader. Ask to try threading a machine before you commit to buying.
All sewing machines need to be maintained and cleaned due to the dust and fluff that accumulates in the nooks and crannies from the fabrics and cottons. Oil and brushes will probably be provided in the accessory pack but it is important to consider the ease of cleaning the machine and maintaining its smooth working order. That includes changing needles and other working parts if necessary. Again consult the manual or ask a retailer for a demonstration.
Transportation and Storage
Why is transportation and storage important? You may have a class or a workplace that you want to take your machine along to. If you’re going to be regularly transporting your machine you need to consider its weight and whether it comes with a sturdy case to protect it as you move it around. In terms of storage, if you’re not fortunate enough to have a designated sewing room or area then you need to consider how and where you will store it safely. It needs protection from dust, spills and become damaged from accidental knocks. Also, if you have children in the home you need to make sure that they won’t hurt themselves on the sharp equipment. Consider the size for storage but again think about making sure the machine has a suitable case. If a suitable case isn’t included, consider the cost of purchasing one.
Shop around for the best selection of free accessories with your chosen make and model. These can include a selection of feet, empty bobbins, attachable extension tables, button hole makers, repair and maintenance kits and lots of other useful parts.
A Few Favorites
- Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 An impressive machine with an extensive range of features including 600 stitches, automatic threading and automatic tension.
- Brother PC420PRW A computerised sewing machine from Brother with a range of features including the option to create a “custom stitch”.
- Janome 8077 Not as versatile as the previous two machines, this would be great for beginners to learn the basics.
- Janome Citrus Circus Perfect in terms of portability, this includes essential features and weighs just 5 pounds!