Three Tips For Buying Your First Sewing Machine

A new sewing machine is still a “fabulous gift” 🙂  but when you are in the market for one, sometimes all the options out there can be overwhelming, and especially when you are looking for your first one, you may not really know where to start or what to look for!

In this post, I give my recommendation for the best sewing machine for beginners (and why I love it!), but maybe you saw a different one on sale, or you found a great deal on a used machine…

Here are a few tips that can save you a lot of headaches later:

1.  If you are buying a machine for a child, don’t buy one of the “kid” machines

I know, they are really super cute, and kid-sized, and they are inexpensive, but I don’t think I have ever met someone that didn’t end up having to buy another machine anyways. It doesn’t end up saving money in the end because they are so prone to breaking!  I always recommend to the parents of my students that it is better to wait and save up for a full size machine.

The little machines aren’t able to do much, maybe they can sew forward, but they can also be really hard to control, which in my opinion can present some safety issues.  I have heard students of mine complain that the thread tends to jam up frequently as well, which can be really frustrating!

2. Machines that are more “manual” still work but are not as easy to use.

This little guy was my very first sewing machine, the Kenmore Mini Ultra in Baby Blue!  It still works, and I will always keep it around for sentimental reasons, but when I sit down to sew, I always use my Brother CS6000i’s now. Why? Because they are just easier to use, sew smoother, and have all the sewing options I need.

Sometimes with Singer or Brother machines, there is maybe a $50 difference between models, but the ease of use in the more expensive model might be worth it.  Budget machines have fewer stitch options, usually no speed control, a manual lever for backstitching, and a different type of bobbin loading.

In my opinion, it is worth the extra $50-60 for the extra features that will make the machine easier and more enjoyable to use and will have the functionality you need as you move beyond beginner!

3.  If you are interested in buying a used machine, try it out first.

This one seems kind of obvious, but unless of course you have been gifted with a free machine, make sure you test out the used machine of interest to make sure the basic functions work and you are not inheriting someone else’s problems. If you don’t know how to sew yet, you can ask the seller if they can demonstrate it, or you can bring along a friend who knows how to sew to test it out. But you want to make sure everything is working well just in case that good deal ends up being a lot more expensive with a trip to the repair shop!

Unless you are getting a used machine, price tends to correspond to the available functions (or another way to say this is you get what you pay for!). All machines budget and up will have basic stitch functions (straight and zigzag stitches, ability to change the stitch length and width to some degree, backstitch lever or button), and as you go up in price you find things like speed control, more stitch options including more automated buttonhole sewing (I love this on my Brother CS6000i as opposed to having to do it manually!), buttons for raising and lowering the needle, buttons that cut your thread for you, automatic needle threaders, and more – I once saw a machine that has a camera (like a backup camera!) so you can really line up your presser foot for accuracy!  So I guess why I like my Brother machine so much is because it’s a nice balance between affordability and functionality – I don’t need a “backup camera” or something to cut my thread for me, but I like how smooth it sews, how easy it is to use, and all the things it can do for a price I am happy with. (If you haven’t already, you can read more about the reasons I love my the Brother machines here.)

At the end of the day, whatever machine you decide on, whatever brand, whether used or new, you want a machine that does what you want it to do, with a minimal amount of problems and that is enjoyable to use, so that you can focus on creating rather than troubleshooting!  I hope that these pointers will help you in finding the right machine for you!

Happy sewing!!!

-Jamie



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