Do you love to sew, but you’re finding yourself getting frustrated with your current sewing machine?
Or maybe you’re a beginner looking to buy your first machine, whatever your situation, buying a sewing machine can be very overwhelming.
There are so many options out there. How do you know what to look for?
In this blog post, I will review six key factors to consider when buying a sewing machine.
I’ll be going over
- Your intended use for the machine.
- Some features that you’ll want to make sure that you have
- How to get the best machine for your money
- I’ll go over some brands that I recommend and things to look for
- Whether or not to buy a used or a brand-new machine
- Tips from my sewing machine mechanic
There may be some things you don’t know about sewing machines that you’ll want to read below.
1- What are you going to be using the sewing machine for?
The first thing to consider, obviously, is what you are going to be using the sewing machine for.
Are you a quilter? Are you someone who just wants to sew basic sewing projects, maybe a few clothing items, or maybe you’re into embroidery?
Knowing this firsthand will guide you to the correct machine because they all do so many things.
If you’re wanting to sew on thicker fabrics or leather or bulky projects, you’re going to want something that has a good motor that’s able to handle those kinds of tasks and has a heavier motor.
2- Sewing Machine Features
Let’s go over the features. When considering a new sewing machine, there are a lot of options of features that are available.
And they’ll be features that you’ll really want your machine to have, so you have to decide what those are.
Most machines are going to have the basic features and stitches, and you can do a lot with basic stitches!
I do have a tutorial that shows how you can use certain presser feet and basic stitches to get an overlock stitch without a serger.
You’ll want to check that out.
So with features, it just depends on how much you want to spend.
Some of these stitches and features do make sewing a little easier and more enjoyable, and worth the money.
There are two types of machines: mechanical and computerized machines.
A mechanical machine will have just knobs or manual buttons to push.
Computerized sewing machines will have a digital screen, and have multiple options and even software that you can download onto your machine.
Some sewing machines will have an automatic threader, needle threaders, automatic thread cutting, embroidery stitches, quilting stitches, stitch memory, and all kinds of other fancy things.
However, something to consider is, do you need all that stuff.
Here are some basic features that I recommend getting.
Most machines, even the basic sewing machines are going to have most of these features.
zigzag stitch/lightning bolt stitch
- buttonhole stitch
- having a thread cutter is nice.
- needle threader (even a basic mechanical machine will have a little lever that you can push down, or there are fancy ones on some computerized machines that you push a button and it automatically threads the needle on its own).
Which is nice for those of us who are getting older and seeing that little hole is getting a little challenging.
- Needle position lever (Being able to move the needle to the left or right will come in handy when you want to sew closer or further away without having to adjust seam allowance and for zipper application).
Your machine will come with the basic presser feet.
There are a lot of cool things that you can do with presser feet and some of the feet that come with your machine, you may not even know what they’re for.
I have a tutorial showing the basic presser feet and what to use them for.
Another thing to consider is the size of the machine.
You can buy machines that are just really small, or you can buy some sewing machines that are going to take up a lot of room on your sewing table.
Now that you know some of the features that you want, let’s go over how much you want to spend.
Sewing machines can range from $199 up to thousands of dollars.
It’s all about what you want and what you can’t afford.
There was a time when I couldn’t afford a really fancy machine, so I bought a used mechanical machine.
I still have that sewing machine, and years later it is still running like a champ.
So if you can’t afford an expensive, fancy machine, just be patient and someday perhaps you will, if that is what you want.
(I’ll go over some tips for buying used machines later in the post).
The best thing to do is to try them out. Get into those stores or use your sisters or some of your friend’s machines and test them out.
Go into a dealership, see the options, and listen to their recommendations. They’ll let you sew on the machines.
You can sew on different fabrics, and test different stitches.
There were times when I thought I wanted a particular machine and I went in and test-drove it and I really didn’t like it. It just didn’t feel right.
So get in there and test drive them and see what feels good to you.
Most dealerships will have sales. They’ll even have floor models that they will sale at a discount.
Sometimes they’ll offer bundles, maybe add in a bunch of different presser feet or different accessories.
When you buy a new machine at a dealership, most likely, they will offer classes for free that will help you get acquainted with the machine.
4- Sewing Machine Brands
I’m not going to tell you what brand to buy.
All brands are going to have models that have strengths and weaknesses even within the same brand.
Different models may have different features.
It’s like buying a car, unfortunately.
Do your research and test drive them?
Some sewing machines will seem like a great deal and VERY low in price. (Like $99).
They’re often called “disposable sewing machines”.
I don’t know about you, but if you are thinking about buying a machine, I don’t think I want to buy a machine that’s “disposable”.
However, if you just need a simple machine for teaching your kids how to sew, or you just to sew here and there for projects like hemming pants, one of these machines would be okay.
This is something to consider as well, if you buy a $199 sewing machine and it starts sewing wonky or needs repair, most likely you will not be able to find parts and if you can, the parts and labor would be more expensive than buying another one.
I do not recommend buying a sewing machine from big box stores such as Walmart or Costco.
I was told that some sewing machine companies will make sewing machines for the big box stores and they’ll label it with the same sewing machine name and the same model, but the components inside are not the same.
There are also sewing machine manufacturers that will make machines with the same innards, but they just put different COVERS ON THEM.
For example, one particular Brother sewing machine (MODEL NS80PRW) is the same thing as a Babylock Jubilant (BL80B)
I had no idea that existed.
Sometimes the Babylock will be more expensive in some dealerships and sometimes it won’t.
These two machines are good and at an affordable price.
The recommendations of brands that I’m going to share below are because I’ve had experience with them and used them.
I’m sure there are other great machines out there that I’m not aware of.
(SHARE YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW)
5- To Buy a Used or New Sewing Machine?
Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of whether or not to buy a used or new machine.
Both options can be great choices. It just depends are what you want and need.
USED SEWING MACHINES
Where to find used machines
Many sewing machine repair shops will carry previously owned and refurbished machines to buy, which is a good option.
Other places to look for used machines are Facebook Market Place, your local classified ads, and by word of mouth.
There are a lot of good machines sitting in closets being unused.
Some people inherit machines and they’ll sell them at a good price just because they want to get rid of them and have no idea what they are worth.
Some cautions to be aware of when buying a used sewing machine
When you buy from an individual, make sure to ask a lot of questions.
- Does it have all the components?
Do they have the presser feet you want? (If not, you can buy individual feet online).
Do they have the manual? (And if they don’t have the manual, don’t get too freaked out about that because nowadays you can usually Google or download any model of sewing machine).
Ask if you can plug it in and test it.
Another benefit of buying used is that many times the owner will have accumulated a lot more accessories and added them to the package.
Now, let’s talk a little about sergers. Sergers don’t last as long as a sewing machines, so if you are thinking of buying a used serger, ask if they’ve used it a lot. If it’s really old, this can be a little risky.
I would suggest buying a new serger if you can.
NEW SEWING MACHINES
If you have the money and a new machine is what you want, there are some benefits.
You’re going to get a warranty.
Classes. (Most sewing machine dealerships offer classes after you buy a new machine, which is nice because you can get some great tips on how to use the machine).
You know that straight out of the box, it’s going to work well.
6- Advice From A Sewing Machine Repairman
When researching what kind of sewing machine, I thought, who better to ask than someone who gets to work on all kinds of machines?
Surely he has opinions on what is good and what is not.
I went into the shop that has been servicing my machine and had a chat with Dave at Sewing Machine Exchange.
He was really great to share with me some awesome tips on things to watch for when buying a sewing machine.
He talked about brands and we were on the same page as to what were good machines and what were not.
Some of the things that he mentioned:
If you want to spend less than $600 on a NEW machine, he would recommend getting a mechanical machine.
Because when you spend less than $600 on a computerized machine, the quality’s not going to be the best.
Mechanical machines are workhorses and are good machines.
But if you want a computerized machine with more bell bells and whistles, then you’re probably going to spend more than $600 on a new machine.
Get your machine serviced every 2 years.
You may not think that you need to have it serviced especially if you haven’t been sewing on it very much.
You still need to have it serviced.
He let me know that having your machine sit unused is probably the worst thing that you can do for a sewing machine.
Just like an automobile. You don’t want to park it in the garage for years and then all of a sudden start using it again.
You’re going to have problems.
Sewing a lot on your machine is not going to wear out your machine, it’s going to be better for it.
So get out your machine and get sewing.
How to keep your sewing machine in top shape and have it last longer.
- keep your machine cleaned and oiled.
I was told when I bought my last machine NOT to oil it. There are machines that they recommend not oiling.
For those machines that do require a little oil (your manual will tell you where and how if you are supposed to).
DO NOT USE 3 IN 1 OIL! Make sure you are using the correct type of oil for your machine. Most likely it will come with a little vial of oil.
The place that you’ll want to oil the machine is just in your bobbin case, whether it’s a top loading or a front loading right on the hook.
Look in your manual. (I’ll be doing a tutorial in the future on the details of cleaning and oiling your machine, so watch for that).
Don’t go crazy and put a bunch of drops of oil in there. All it takes is ONE DROP!
If you see other holes on your machine that you THINK may be a place to put oil into….DON’T!
The manual for one of my machines, specifically states NOT to oil the machine.
How often do you oil your machine?
He said every eight to 10 hours of sewing.
Keep your sewing machine free of lint and dust.
Get out your little duster that comes with your machine, or you can use a little paintbrush.
Remove the bobbin case and the top plate. You’ll be surprised of all the little dust bunnies you’ll find in there!
Keep your sewing machine covered when you are not using it.
If your sewing machine does not have a cover, take a towel and put it over the top.
It will get dusty just like everything else in your house.
Whatever your scenario is, do the research and get out and test drive some sewing machines so you can get a feel of what you like and what you don’t like.
Another thing to know is that if you buy a machine and you’re not in love with it, you can always choose a different one and sell that machine.
I’ve never had a problem selling a sewing machine.
I love to sew.
Having a nice machine, something that functions well, even if it’s just a basic model, can either make your sewing experience either enjoyable or frustrating.
I hope these tips and things to consider are helpful for you when it comes to choosing and buying a sewing machine.
Please leave a comment if you have any great suggestions or have a question.