Monday, April 4, 2011

Choosing a Machine

Someone just asked me "what is the best machine for a beginner"? Well I don't have a very simple answer for that but I can help you decide what you think will be the best for your needs. Ask yourself:

How much am I willing to (or able to) invest in a machine?
  • You don't need to spend a ton of money on a machine. If you buy new, a simple mending machine will be $100 or less, a good machine will be $150 or less a better one $200 or less
  • You can find great deals on used machines! Check out your local craigslist or Ebay or Amazon. When getting a used machine you want to make sure that they are including all the original parts and if they have the manual great! Its not a big deal if they don't have the manual because you can download them usually. But you will want the original power cord and foot pedal AND BOBBIN! My old machine used a slightly larger (and metal) bobbin and because of that I couldn't switch bobbins between my machines or the stitching would be all messed. You don't need to have all the bobbins that came with it but it will be good to have just one so that when you buy more you can be sure that they are the same size.
  • Don't feel the need to tie yourself down to a specific brand. I have had Singers and Brothers and completely random brands that I don't even know the name for! They all do the same things! BUT I will say that a major brand will be easier to get replacement parts for if need be.
What am I going to use the machine for?
  • If you are just mending some of your old tattered clothes then you just need a simple 2 or 3 function mending machine. I actually just scored an old Singer Tiny Tailor at my local Disabled Veterans Thrift Store for $3! It was missing a couple parts but after spending $10 on parts it is up and running!
  • If you plan on doing regular crafting and making some clothing you will want a machine with a few more options than just a plain mending machine. You will want to be able to do straight and zig zag stitches at least. Most machines (even the very basic ones) today have at least 5 different stitch options.
  • If you plan on quilting (which I honestly don't know the first thing about!) you will want something with a few decorative stitches along with the standard stitches. You will want it to include the quilters walking foot for when you need it.
  • And if you plan on making things to sell you may want a commercial machine or even a serger to finish edges. I will be asking Santa for a serger this Christmas! But for your every day homemade clothes and crafts you wont need anything too fancy.
How often will you be using the machine?
  • Some machines come built into nice tables (or you can buy a separate table... my sewing table has been my favorite sewing accessory!) so they fold under and you could never tell that it was meant for a sewing machine. These are good if you don't have a specific room for sewing but you want your machine accessible at all times. They keep your crafting area nice and neat.
  • most machines will come with a case of some sort. Some are hard, some are soft. If you don't plan on using the machine often and you wont have a sewing table then a hard case will keep it safe when you store it.
In my experience there are a few options that I can not live without when it comes to a good machine.
  1. It must be able to wind a bobbin. You can buy a bobbin threader but why when you are buying a sewing machine that should be doing it anyway!
  2. It should have a self threading option. That is just a luxury that I can not live without anymore. I have been spoiled and I will never buy another machine without that option again! But did you know that old sewing kit that you bought has a little tool to help you thread a needle? I never knew what the heck it was when I started out but I use it all the time for when I am hand stitching something.
  3. You will want a machine that allows you to make a button hole. You may not use this all the time but you will want to have that option for when you need it.
  4. You will want a good accessory package. Most machines will come with a screw driver, extra needles, extra bobbins, a seam ripper (If it didn't come with one GET ONE!), a couple different presser feet (including the button hole making foot) a thimble, and maybe a few pins.

My best advice is to do your research before you get to the store. Or if you are already at the store but not planning on buying yet then snap a picture of all the brands they carry and when you get home do some research. Read the reviews and make your choice. I really love Sew-Z! She is much better than my old machine. If you are like me you will be forming a long relationship with this little machine. You want to be as happy with it as you can be. You can also ask the workers in the fabric store (or fabric department if you are at Walmart) most of the people who work there do so because they enjoy sewing also!

If you want me to compare a couple specific machines for you just let me know and I will see what I can find out for you. if you aren't sure if something is really a good deal ask me and I will check into it. Also let me know what you go with or what you already have. Do you have any specific functions or accessories that you cant live without?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for these really helpful tips!!! I am off to search Craigslist! I was overwhelmed and didn't want to even purchase a used one without some guidance, and your tips have been so valuable!