A sewing machine will likely be the most expensive sewing tool you’ll purchase. And you have so many choices
these days, both in types of machines and available features.
Here’s a guide that can help make the task of choosing and buying sewing machine a little less overwhelming:
First assess your needs
What kind of sewing do you plan to do?
- Simple mending and repair?
- Sewing clothes?
- Sewing home furnishings?
- Professional sewing?
- Making quilts?
- And what kind of fabric will you be sewing? Sheer, lightweight fabrics? Heavy denim?
This will determine what features to look for. For instance, if you plan to do just simple mending and repair,
you probably don’t need more than a very basic model.
Other questions to ask yourself:
How often will I be sewing?
If you plan to use the machine often, you may want to make quality a top priority.
Where will I be sewing? Where do I plan to store the machine? Do I want or need a cabinet?
Will I need to transport the machine?
If so, look for a machine that’s lightweight with a handle. Or one that comes with a carrying case.
How long do I plan to keep the machine? When would I plan to replace it?
The longer you plan to keep the machine, the better quality and more features you’ll likely want.
How might I want to use the machine in the future?
You may want to purchase a model in anticipation of your future needs or you may want to go with a
basic model for now and upgrade later.
Next consider your budget
You, of course, need to balance your wants and needs with what you have to spend. New machines range
in price from less than one hundred dollars to several thousand. If your budget is tight, consider
purchasing a used machine (see further down). If you have an unlimited budget, you still may not want to
purchase more of a machine than you really need.
Do some research
Also consider checking out sewing-related message boards. Ask members for recommendations, finding out
what their experiences have been with various brands and models and what they’ve been pleased with.
Another good source of information can be a sewing machine repair person. He may be able to tell you
which models are better made verses the ones he sees in for repair most often.
If you’re new to sewing, consider taking some classes before purchasing a machine. This may help you get
a better idea of your needs.
If you have a sewing machine dealer near you, go try out some models. Bring your own fabric to sew, from
fine, lightweight fabrics to heavy denim. Also bring your own thread. Try out all of the stitches. Adjust the
tension, pressure foot settings, etc. Take your time and ask lots of questions. And consider visiting the
store during a quieter time, calling ahead to find out when the store is least busy.
Questions to ask yourself about a machine you’re considering:
- How quiet is the machine?
- Is the machine easy to use?
- Do I feel comfortable operating the machine?
- How many stitches does the machine have and will I use them all?
- If the machine has an LCD screen, can I read it clearly?
- Does the light illuminate my work area without glare?
- How do the stitches look? Are they straight and even?
And keep an eye out for these features:
- The ability to sew a straight stitch that’s adjustable
- The ability to sew in reverse
- The ability to do a zigzag stitch
- An automatic buttonholer
- A see-through window for the bobbin
- Automatic tension adjustment
- An adjustable needle position
- An adjustable pressure foot
- Choice of speed
- A power switch that turns the machine on and off
- A light
- Several types of pressure feet included
- The ability to lower the feed dogs
- A built-in needle threader
- A free-arm for sewing sleeves and pant legs
- Storage in the machine (a place to keep bobbins, needles, etc.)
Make a list of the features you want
After considering your needs, doing research, and trying out several sewing machines, make a list of the
features you want and your preferred model(s).
Other questions to ask when purchasing a sewing machine:
- What accessories does the machine come with?
- What kind of warranty does the machine come with?
- If purchasing from a dealer, do free classes come with the machine? (This can help you learn all of the
features of the machine.)
- If purchasing from a dealer, do they do repairs in house or would the machine have to be sent out for
Tips for buying online
Purchasing a sewing machine online has its advantages. You’re likely find a larger selection and better prices
than you would locally.
However, the main drawback is that you don’t get to try out the machine before you buy it. But if you don’t
have a sewing machine dealer close to you, buying online may be your best option.
If you choose to purchase a sewing machine online, make sure to buy from a reputable company. And you
may want to keep an eye out for sales. And since you won’t be able to try out the machine first, know what
the company’s return policy is.
Consider a used machine
Consider purchasing a used sewing machine, especially if your budget is limited. You could actually end up
with a better quality machine than you would by spending the same amount of money on a brand new
Tips for buying a used machine:
- Consider purchasing the machine from a repair shop or dealer. They may “recondition” it – cleaning it
and making sure it’s in good working order before selling it to you. They may also offer a warranty for
- Check the condition of the machine before purchasing. Examine the machine’s exterior. Does it appear
to have been well cared for? Is the wiring in good condition? Does it have all of its parts and
accessories? Does it have the manual?
- Make sure the manufacturer is still in business in case you have problems with the machine or need a
- Try out the machine. Make sure it runs smoothly. And look for even stitching – no skipping stitches or
loose or looping threads.
|Sewing Information, Advice, How-to
How to Buy a Sewing Machine