One of the most common questions we get here at Stitch is about the purchase of a new machine – where do you go as a beginner? Cheap… Convenient… Super duper nice with buttons that allow the machine to sew for you while making your morning coffee as well?
We don’t sell machines at Stitch because we just don’t have a favorite brand or type of machine! When we are asked about choosing a machine we usually suggest a few things:
Try it before you buy it! Visiting a dealer is a great way to get your hands (and fabric) on a machine that you can try before making a big purchase. I like to feel the machine. When you start to sew does it hesitate? Does if feel sturdy? I really hate sewing on a lightweight machine that travels across the table while I am trying to work!
Choose a machine that allows you to choose your own stitch length and width. Some machines have presets where you can only choose 3 different stitch lengths or widths. You really want to have more choices then that! Find a machine that allows you to change the settings yourself.
I love a good walking foot! Walking feet vary from machine to machine. Many machines come with them already attached. This is great! Especially if you have the ability to raise and lower it at your discretion. Walking feet help the feed dogs push/pull the fabric through your machine steadily. This is especially important if you are working with fabrics that are stretchy, heavy, or very fine. In straight sewing you may not notice a marked improvement in the stitches, but when the going gets tough you’ll be glad you have this feature! You can purchase an aftermarket walking foot. They are a little more cumbersome then having them already attached but with some practice it will become second nature.
One step buttonholes are awesome! Most new machines have one step buttonholes now. Basically, it allows you to make a no fuss buttonhole without measuring and marking… your machine will measure the button for you up to 1″. One step buttonholes are very even and neat looking. Manual buttonholes (which usually consist of 4 or more steps) are sometimes difficult to create evenly and symmetrically.
Stitch options… know what you need! It can be mind-blowing when a sales person shows you the thousands of stitches that your new machine does! Most of these you will probably never use! Be sure your machine does a zigzag, multiple stretch stitch, and a straight stitch. You should be able to move your needle position from right to left as well… This will come in handy when you are installing zippers!
I always advise people to stay away from the cheap stuff. Expect to spend between $200-400 for your first machine. You really do get what you pay for in this situation. Buying a cheap machine can make sewing very frustrating. We have a lot of students who had walked away from sewing because they were frustrated… it is usually their machine’s fault! After you purchase your machine be sure to treat it well. Clean it regularly, have it serviced when it needs some attention… In return, it will treat you well! When you come in to Stitch for lessons, we have lots of machines here for you to try out. After a few lessons you will get a feel for what you like! Trying before you buy will make you a better informed consumer.