Use this guide to help you find the right sewing machine. Ask yourself these questions to narrow down the sewing machines you should choose from.
This is the first post in a series of Learn How to Sew tutorials. I wish I could sit right along side you and help you learn how to sew, answer all your questions and give you fun projects to make. But this is the next best thing. The first step is to buy a sewing machine. But finding a sewing machine can be really overwhelming. Even for me. When I’m in the market for a new machine, it’s really hard to sift through all the options to find what’s best for me. So I’ve come up with some important questions you can ask yourself that will help narrow your results, and help you find the right sewing machine for you.
This post is part of a series for beginner sewers. You might also like these posts:
What thread to buy for your sewing machine?
5 tools you need to start sewing
11 more sewing tools you should have
Guide to Sewing Machine Needles
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.
What type of sewing would you like to do?
There are different types of sewing. Are you going to be quilting, sewing clothes, embroidering, making bags or blankets? There are four basic machines to choose from. Sewing machines, sergers, coverstitch machines, and embroidery machines. Sewing machines are great for quilting and other basic sewing projects. You can also make most clothes on a sewing machine. Sergers and coverstitch machines are more advanced machines for constructing clothes. If you start out with a sewing machine to construct clothes and decide you’d like a more professional look to your patterns, I would suggest a serger and coverstitch machine as an upgrade. If you would like to add beautiful embroidered designs to your sewing projects, embroidery machines would be the way to go. For todays purpose, we are going to assume you are looking for a sewing machine.
What is your budget?
The next thing to ask yourself is, what is your budget? There’s no point in looking at machines, unless you have a price range. Sewing machines can range from $99 to over $2000. So you want to be shopping in the right price category.
What kind of quality should you look for?
It’s important to buy a quality sewing machine. A quality sewing machine will last you a long time. There are machines made with metal parts that are going to last years and years, and there are machines made with plastic parts, that are only going to last a few years before needing to be fixed. Machines with metal parts are heavy duty. Heavy duty machines are built to get the job done, even the big jobs. That being said, sometimes we can’t afford the heavy duty machines. I still don’t have a heavy duty machine. So if you can only afford the machines with plastic parts, thats okay. Maybe your upgrade can be a heavy duty machine later. But I want you to know there are differences in the materials used to make the machines.
Should you buy used or new?
It’s totally okay to buy used or new. If it’s a high quality machine built with metal parts, I’m okay with buying used. Since they last a long time and are quality machines, I can feel safe buying a used one. If it’s a machine that has plastic parts, I’d prefer to buy new so I can get as much life out of it as possible. Check out your local sewing dealers for used machines that they have serviced and you know will work well. They will also let you try out machines to see if you like them.
What kind of stitches do you need?
You do not need anything super fancy in the stitches department. My machine has 100 stitches and I almost always only use the straight stitch and zigzag stitch. Almost all the other stitches are decorative stitches that I don’t ever use. My suggested stitches you should look for in a machine are a straight stitch, zigzag, button hole, stretch or knit stitch, blind hem, and utility stitches. You can sew almost anything with these stitches.
What special features do you want?
Sewing machines come with lots of special features. The more expensive the machine, the more bells and whistles it comes with. Research the different machines in your budget and look at all the special features they come with and decide which ones you can’t live without. The ones I would recommend are the automatic threader, needle position adjuster, good lighting, and a free arm. The other features I would like, but don’t have in my current machine are adjustable speed, and a thread cutter button.
Mechanical or Computerized?
For beginner sewers, I would recommend starting with a mechanical sewing machine so you can learn the basics of sewing without being overwhelmed with all the bells and whistles of a computerized machine. When you are ready to upgrade, get a machine that may be computerized and come with more features. If you upgrade to a computerized sewing machine, I would recommend keeping your mechanical machine in case you need to take your computerized machine to be serviced. Computerized machines need to be serviced by a professional and can take a couple weeks. That way, you still have a machine to use, if you need to. There are also combination machines that are mechanical and computerized. That’s what I have. It’s mostly mechanical, but the part where I choose stitches, is computerized. The picture of the singer above is the sewing machine I have.
What manufacturer should you choose?
There is no wrong or right manufacturer to choose from. In my opinion, they all make great machines. You can do your own research on each company to see if there is one you’d like better over the others. There are so many different manufacturers, that can be overwhelming too. For basic sewing machines with a smaller budget, I like Brother, and Singer. But if I were to get a Singer, I would choose a Heavy Duty machine. I have a lower priced Singer that has plastic parts, and I don’t love it. For my next upgrade, I’d like a Bernina or Juki. And if money wasn’t an issue, I’d buy a industrial Bernina or a Babylock.
Here are my recommended sewing machines
If you were to go to the store with me and pick out a sewing machine, these would be my recommendations.
Brother XM2701 Lightweight Sewing Machine, White
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i
SINGER Heavy Duty 4432
Juki HZL-LB5100 Computerized Sewing Machine
Save this guide to buying a sewing machine for later by pinning to your favorite sewing Pinterest board.
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If you are on a budget but want a quality machine, I highly recommend NOT wasting your money on a plastic machine. Look in your area for a used vintage machine, these often have metal parts and are made to last. Even if it needs servicing, that combined with the purchase price will be a much, much better investment and still cost you under $200. I service machines and have seen how the quality varies, a good vintage Kenmore will last a long, long time, and a vintage (pre 1962) Singer will last even longer.
I agree, that would be the first place I look to find a good quality machine.