Post # 1
I have things around the house I would like to work on here and there. I’m not a serious sewer, but have been known to make a bag or apron in my free time. I have no idea what to look for in a sewing machine or how much to pay. Should I buy used since the quality machines seem to last years? Buy new because I get a warrany? Get an inexpensive model? Cheaper? Help!
Post # 3
Depends on your budget. 😀 Generally the brands at Sew’n’Vac stores are going to be higher quality than what you can get at a big box store/online. (Thought you can sometimes get entry level models of the good brands online.)
Post # 4
@cateyes: haha. I guess my budget is flexible depending on what the machine is worth. I don’t need anything super fancy, so I can’t imagine I would need to spend more than $150-200.
Post # 5
@OnceUponATime: This is the one my husband bought me… I’ve been wanting to learn to sew FOREVER so he did tons of research and found that this one is great for beginners and for those more advanced. I love it, it’s easy to use.
Post # 6
I would suggest before buying a machine, check out local fabric/craft stores and community centers to see if they offer any classes– there are so many different things to consider and they’ll be able to point you to exactly what you need.
If you can get a new machine with a warranty, that’s what I would recommend. There are a ton of little maintenance things that come with owning a sewing machine (not major disasters, but general upkeep), and so you will save money if those repairs are free each time. Just keep in mind, though, that most brands will require you to use an “authorized” repair shop/person, so make sure you have a couple near you before committing to a particular brand.
Post # 7
@BeeNumberBea: Hm. I’m not sure what you mean as for other things to consider. I thought all sewing machines were basically the same! (aside from things like embroidery, electronic controls, automatic things, etc) I’ve been using my mom’s sewing machine from the ’70s! Clearly I have a lot to learn!
I never thought about the upkeep. I’ll definitely keep that in mind! I don’t think anything has ever gone wrong with ours. Except the needles breaking. I think we put a new foot on it once.
Post # 8
I have the Singer Curvy sewing machine and it’s awesome. I also have a Singer serger. I bought them both at Costco for a few hundred each. I don’t do a ton of complicated sewing so they’re perfect for me. And very easy to thread!
Post # 9
I’d want a few basic stitches: straight, zig-zag, some kind of overcast stitch. Most also come with some decorative stitches, but I hardly ever use them.
I’d consider how easy (or difficult) it is to alter stitch length and width (can this be done with one hand as you’re sewing with the other?)
How easy is it to get to and fill/refill the bobbin?
How easy is it to change feet?
Would you ever want to do buttonholes? (maybe on an apron?) If so how difficult is the process on the machine?
Would you ever want to sew a baby quilt? Could you purchase a quilting foot later on?
How well does it handle thick material like denim – you may want to hem jeans at some point and going through the seamed areas of a hem on denim is a good test. Or, I just recovered dining room chairs, and the upholstry material was very thick. Conversely would you ever want to sew something silk?
Also consider the ‘throat’ and if you need or will have to purchase extra a plate to extend teh flat area you sew on.
Some of these can only be answered by trying them at a store. And you really have to be honest with yourself about what you see yourself doing.
Post # 10
I have a brother from Costco. It’s done really well so far, it was a gift and it’s my first sewing machine. To be honest sometimes I REALLY wish it had whatever the feature it is that it does lettering but oh well.
Something like this is probably enough for someone that doesn’t sew much. Personally I wouldn’t put too much thought into it unless you are super serious, and even if you GET serious you can always upgrade, at which time you’d know more about what you are looking for.
This one even has the lettering! Poop! I want it!
Post # 11
@OnceUponATime: I picked up an almost brand new higher end brother on CL for $40. I would look there. It needed a tune up, which would have cost about $30, but my mom was a seamstress so I knew how to do it myself. It’s something that should be done every few years anyway so I was expecting it. I’m now on the hunt for a serger.
Post # 12
+1 for CL. But I also really recommend a Sew’n’Vac store, if you have one…I have a low-mid range Janome…it’s going on 8 years old, and I’ve never had an issue with it. I think you might be able to get it online, but it’s more than $200, I believe! I just bought a Juki serger…I dunno if they even make sewing machines, though.
The holy grail brand for sewing is Bernina, but I’m sure you don’t need that…unless you see one on CL for $200. 😀
Post # 13
I agree with the couple of folks that suggested a sewing/vac store.
They tend to sell a bit better machines, because they have to “support” them, and you actually get to TRY them before buying. Take a few of the fabrics you typically sew with you so you can be sure the machine can handle them. Also, if something goes wrong with the machine you have someone to talk to it about and get it fixed, and many stores offer “how to use your machine” lessons.
If you buy from a big box store you are completely on your own. I’m not saying there aren’t some decent machines to be had, but I’ve heard way too many stories of beginning seamstresses buying finicky machines from big box stores and getting so frustrated that they stopped learning to sew. Don’t let that happen to you! The equpiment makes all of the difference.
I’ve been sewing for ~18 years and have two degrees in clothing design, and this is what I recommend. You’ll probably be looking at around $200 minimum by going to one of these shops, but the peace of mind is so worth it, in my experience.
Used can also be great, but a little trickier unless you know someone who really KNOWS older machines and which ones were awesome/not so great.
Post # 14
I have the same model and love it. When I got mine, a friend tried it out and loved it too – so much that she decided to upgrade her 70s-era hand-me-down, and got the same one!
Post # 15
I would recommend buying used for your first machine. They really do last a long time if they’re well maintained. Make sure it works and try to get the owner’s manual and any extra parts that they have. Then you can upgrade if you find you use it a lot and want certain features.
I don’t sew a lot but I kept one of my mother’s when she passed away (and gave awy the other two – what do you do with 3 sewing machines?!?). It’s really nice to have a machine for the projects that do come up. Plus I usually make our Halloween costumes, so it usually gets used at least once a year. But I have to reread the owner’s manual every time to figure out how to thread the thing!