6 Important Things To Know Before Buying a Sewing Machine

buying a sewing machine

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.

sewing machine stitches

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!

over lock sewing machineI 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.
  • sewing machine needle threaderneedle 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).
sewing machine presser feet

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.

You can get all the details here.

large sewing machine

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.

3- Budget

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).

sewing machine dealership

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.

SEWING MACHINE TESTINGYou 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.

SEWING MACHINE CLASSESWhen 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.

SEWING MACHINE TYPES

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”.

DISPOSABLE SEWING MACHINE

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.

  • Bernina
  • Babylock
  • Jenome
  • Viking/Husqvarna
  • Brother

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.

sewing tips sergerNow, 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.

SEWING MACHINE REPAIRMAN

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.

SEWING MACHINE EXCHANGEI 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.

SEWING MACHINE SERVICE
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).

3 in one oil sewing machineDO 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. 

oiling sewing machine 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!

do not oil sewing machineThe 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.

cleaning sewing machineGet 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.

jan3

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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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7 Sewing Machine Presser Feet and How To Use Them

presser feet youmakeitsimple.com

Have you ever gone through the sewing machine attachments that come with your sewing machine and wondered, “What the heck is this used for?”

I certainly have! In this post, I am going to walk you through the 7 most basic sewing machine presser feet and how to use them.

Whatever type of sewing machine you have, it will come with some basic presser feet attachments.

Some of them may look very intimidating and seem complicated to use. NO WORRIES.

By the end of this tutorial, you are going to be all ready and hopefully, excited to tackle any sewing project.

What are presser feet?

Presser feet are small attachments that are added to the machine to help feed the fabric through the machine while you sew.

There are many types of presser feet and each does something different to make the sewing task easier.

hump jumper tip

Make sure to use presser feet that are compatible with the model of the sewing machine! Some feet are universal and can be used and several models of sewing machines, but others are not.

When you purchase a new foot, it will tell what models it can be used on.

 

7 Basic Presser Feet

Standard Presser Foot

This foot is most likely the foot you’ll be using for most of your sewing projects. It’s used for standard and decorative stitches.

  • Straight stitch
  • Satin stitch
  • Zigzag stitch
  • Overcasting
  • Other fancy stitches
  • Zipper Foot

Most machines include a zipper foot. There are several types of zipper feet and different ways to attach them. Depending on the setup of your machine, will determine how you attach it.

It’s pretty obvious what the zipper foot is used for, but how does it work?

Most commonly a zipper foot has gaps on either side of the foot. Depending on which side of the zipper you are sewing you position the zipper tape under the relevant side of the zipper foot. You stitch along one side of the zip then repeat for the other side.

The gaps in the foot allow you to sew close to the zipper teeth on either side of your zipper. If your sewing machine is capable, you can also adjust the needle position to more precisely place your stitching.

You can also use the zipper foot to attach trimmings and that have a tape, just like you do with a zipper. A zipper foot can also be used to apply piping. (There is a piping foot, which makes the task even easier

Overcasting/Overedge Foot

This foot is wonderful if you need to finish the raw edges of fabric but don’t have a serger or overlock machine. 

There is a little bar in the center of the foot that works to wrap the thread around the edge of the fabric for a neat finish and to prevent fraying.

There are usually a couple of options for overcasting stitches on most machines.

ou may need to play around with the length and width of the stitch to get the result you are looking for.

I always recommend practicing on a piece of scrap fabric first.

You can watch the video tutorial where I will show you in more detail how to do the overcast stitch on your sewing machine.

The overcasting stitch can be used even if you have a serger. It comes in handy for quick, small, and hard to reach places.

Blind Hem Foot

This foot is a nice option if you want to hem a pair of pants, curtains, skirt, or other items that you don’t want to be able to see the seam and you don’t want to sew it by hand.

The foot has a gap down the center and the right side of the foot is wider than the left side.

The left side is also slightly raised compared to the right side because once the fabric is folded correctly there will be three layers of fabric to fit under the left side of the foot (two layers of the garment fabric itself plus the hem allowance), but only one layer on the right side

You can watch the detailed blind hem video here

As I mentioned before, take a piece of scrap fabric and test it out there before sewing on your project.

It takes a little tweaking to get the stitch how you want it.

Select the blind hem stitch on your machine and position the foot with the right side of the foot snugly against the fold in the fabric.

The right side of the foot will act as a guide as you sew making it easy to sew accurately and ensure the stitches are falling correctly.

As you sew the stitches will be straight and then it will jog over to just catch the main garment fabric as it joins it to the hem allowance.

You may need to play with the needle position to get your stitches in the correct place.

You will see a minimal amount of stitching from the right side, especially if you are using thread that is the same color as your fabric.

Buttonhole Foot

This foot can look intimidating, as at least it did for me until I used it. 

There are different types of buttonhole feet and some are fancier than others. I’m going to show and demonstrate how to use a one-step buttonhole foot.

Most machines will come with at least a sliding or adjustable foot, which is similar to the one-step.

The one-step buttonhole attachment looks similar to the sliding and adjustable buttonhole feet, but it also has an area at the back of the foot where you can insert your button.

You slide the foot until the button is fitting snugly in the gap then engage a lever or similar on your machine (instructions for this feature will be in your manual).

This allows the machine to measure the button and stitch out the correct-sized buttonhole in one simple step. I LOVE IT!

Practice on a scrap piece of fabric first. It’s actually quite fun making buttonholes!

Button Foot

You can always just sew a button on by hand but if you’re not a fan of hand sewing this foot could be a very welcome addition to your sewing kit! This foot allows you to sew a 2 or 4 hole button, and in different sizes, depending on the size of the button you are using.

Some machines will have a special setting for applying a button. But if it doesn’t NO WORRIES!

Simply set the stitch width according to the gap between the holes on the button and set the stitch length to “0”. The machine does all the work. If your machine does not have the special button setting, when you complete the stitching, move the needle position to the left or right and set the width to “0” and take several stitches in the same hole to knot the thread. Or you can just manually knot the two threads on the underside.

Viola!

Applique Foot

An appliqué foot is shorter in length than most presser feet and has a wider area for sewing all kinds of decorative stitches. The foot is shorted in length which makes maneuvering curves and angles easier.

The front of the foot sits on the fabric to maintain the required pressure; however, the back of the foot is raised to allow stitches and fabric to feed through easily.

Simply attach the foot to your machine, select an appliqué stitch of your choice, and sew around your chosen design quickly and easily. One of my favorite stitches to use is the blanket stitch.

There you have it. I hope this was helpful and allows you to feel more confident and familiar with those foreign-looking attachments that come with your sewing machine.

hump jumper tip

It’s always a good idea to read through the manual that comes with your sewing machine. There may be some good tips in there to help make your sewing experience a lot easier.

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Picture of Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More