Because I do a lot of sewing I am often asked, ‘What sewing machine do you use?’ The person asking is usually looking to buy a new sewing machine and as there are so many machines available today, they are wanting a little guidance so that they can be more confident in buying a sewing machine that has been recommended. This tends to indicate that the machine has been tried and tested by someone else so should be reliable and perfect for them.
I am always happy to let them know what sewing machine I am using but just because the machine is perfect for me does not mean that it is perfect for everyone. Before you rush out and purchase a sewing machine, you must first ask yourself a number of other questions:
What do I want to sew? If you are only going to do general sewing and occasionally sew some gorgeous doll clothes for your grandchildren, why would you spend a small fortune on a fancy electronic machine with gazillions of stitches when a good basic machine would be suitable? If, on the other hand, you are like my Mom who sews for hours making fancy embroidered table cloths, doilies, cushion covers, skirts, fancy collars, quilts, etc., then you would be frustrated with a basic sewing machine and would be wise to invest a little more in a good quality embroidery or quilting machine that is able to do the fancy stitches and patterns that you want to sew.
- How often will I sew? If you are just learning to sew and not sure whether you will like it, I would probably see if I could borrow a sewing machine from a friend or relation or see what second hand machines are available in your local area. If you know you will only be doing some occasional sewing, you would probably not spend as much as if you were going to be using it every other day. Because I spend a good portion of my day at the sewing machine and rely on it for income, I want to ensure that my machine is easy to use, reliable and most importantly, robust. I bought the sewing machine that I use after having it demonstrated to me and having it described as a ‘real workhorse that will last for years.’ And touch wood, it has!
- What features do I need on the machine and what features would I like? Knowing this will allow you to disregard any machine that does not have the features that you need and if a machine has features that you need as well as some, or all of the features you want, then it will make it onto your ‘short list’ for more consideration.
- How much am I prepared to spend? This question is important as it will narrow down the range of machines you look at and keep you focused on the machines that are most suitable for you in the price range you set yourself.
Now that you have answered these questions, you need to do some research. Look online for sewing machine reviews, being careful to look beyond the machine manufacturer’s website. Talk to friends that sew or seek out local sewing/quilting groups that get together? These people are usually happy to share their experiences with the various machines that they have used and can put you in touch with a reputable sewing machine dealer in your area. The last thing you need is to spend half your time rethreading, un-jamming it or running your sewing machine back to the workshop to be fixed so these personal recommendations are priceless.
Whether you decide to buy second hand or new, always ask to try the sewing machine. It is important to do this so that you can feel how smooth or jerky the machine is and if it is noisy or quiet when sewing. Is everything easy to access? Do you need a degree to work the settings out? Is threading the bobbin a breeze or a nightmare? Can you change from one setting to another easily? Most reputable sewing machine shops will be more than happy to show you how the machine works, let you try it and many offer free sewing lessons on the machine you purchase.
‘Sew’ when you go looking to purchase a sewing machine remember to take your time, consider your requirements, do your research and where possible try the machine out. Doing all this will ensure you purchase the best sewing machine for your needs based on your budget.
By Rosie Saw