Day 7: Buying a sewing machine

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Today is Day 7 of 31 Days of Sewing School.

I know many of you are starting from square one when it comes to sewing, and one of the things you”re most scared of is buying a sewing machine (and then using it, of course).

The thing is, there isn”t one easy answer for choosing and buying a sewing machine. Well, actually, there is. But it might not be what you expect.

My best advice for those who want to buy a sewing machine?

Talk to friends, family members who sew (find out what machines these people –and bloggers you read– love), and if you”re serious about buying a new machine, visit your local sewing machine shop, where you can try out and “test drive” various machines, and see what you like and what fits your needs. Many sewing machine shops even offer free classes to learn your machine after you buy it.

Brand new to the craft? Ask around and see if someone has one you can borrow while you figure things out. Lots of people have a sewing machine collecting dust in a closet so it can”t hurt to ask. We”ll talk about different stitches on another day, but as long as the machine does a straight stitch and a zig-zag, you”re in business.

Buying a sewing machine is not unlike buying a car. We all have different needs, and a different budget. So unfortunately, I can”t sit here and type a list of the top ten machines. I can tell you about my own experience though. As can others.

Old does not mean obsolete, but new can be a nice treat

I recently listened to my friend Tsh”s podcast with Maggie (from Gussy Sews), a successful blogger and sewista, and one thing Maggie said was that the machine she loves best is her old, metal Kenmore machine.

I loved that because I learned to sew on my mom”s old, metal Kenmore and it totally got the job done for many years. Later, when my mom finally upgraded, she handed me down her next machine, a much more advanced Pfaff. I loved it, but it did more than I even needed.

After a long life (around twenty years), the mother board (something you don”t have to worry about with a simpler, non-electronic machine) on the Pfaff crapped out, and I had to trade it in… for my first brand-new machine. A high-quality machine retains its value, too. I got a great trade-in on the broken one which helped me afford my new sewing machine.

don”t worry, Gigi wasn”t left unattended in the Bumbo

That was five years ago, and I”m still very happy with my Brother (mine is an older version of this one) that I got when Gigi was a newborn. It has a lot of stitches, and is a bit fancy in that it”s electronic and has a variety of special features, but it”s also simple– it”s not too computerized and it”s easy to use. Basically, it does everything I want (and more!), and that”s what matters.

With regular maintenance, a sewing machine should last many years, maybe even multiple generations.

I recently read about the machine Amanda Soule”s children use (my heart is full just thinking about giving Gigi her first sewing machine– what a happy day that will be!), and oftentimes crafty bloggers are as passionate about what sewing machine they use as a photographer is about her camera.

If you are shopping for a new machine, Sew Mama Sew! has an about sewing machines.

If you have a machine, let”s hear about it! Leave us a comment and tell us what make and model you have and how you like it. Tomorrow, we”re talking about my secret weapon for sewing with a machine.

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About Nicole

Nicole can be found blogging at her lifestyle blog GidgetGoesHome.com, and is the editor of Simple Homemade. She loves to read, sew, make ice cream, take pictures, watch baseball and go for walks by the beach with her hubby and three little kiddos. She loves anything handmade and is affectionately known as a bit of a hippie among family and friends.

Comments

  1. My husband bought me a Kenmore 36 machine in 1994 after a friend taught me to sew from a pattern. I won a new Singer sewing machine from Maggie a while back, but still love my old Kenmore. I’m so used to how it works that I don’t even have to think about switching stitches or changing needles. I also like the fact that it’s so heavy duty. (I do love the buttonhole capabilities on the newer machine and use it mainly for that purpose.) I’ve thought of upgrading a few times, but chickened out. ;)

  2. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I use a Singer ‘Simple’ that I bought three-ish years ago after my daughter accidentally snapped the spool pin off my older Singer & I couldn’t fix it. It was on sale for $79 or something like that at Joann Fabrics & I bought it because a *good* new machine wasn’t in the budget just then. I am still saving for a good machine, but in the meantime my little Singer is still going strong, which is pretty incredible given the amount of use it sees & the fact that it really is not a well-made machine!
    I learned how to sew on my mother’s machine—I don’t even know what she has; I haven’t seen it in probably 20 years…—and she has promised to send it along to my house for my children to learn on, when the time comes. I’m really excited about that. xo

  3. I have sewn for 45+ years (25+ professionally) and worked in or owned a fabric store for almost 30 years. Here is what I would tell my customers when they asked me about buying a sewing machine.

    If you already know how to sew and maintain your sewing machine, then make a list of what you want your sewing machine to do and start looking around. You may have friends or people in local sewing or quilting guilds or an estate sale that is selling a great machine at a good price. You can even look on EBay or Craig’s list. Of course, you can also buy directly from the sewing machine ‘stores’ and they will provide you with classes and support…but you will pay a lot more. And if you want the newest bells and whistles – go to the better sewing machine dealers – they can help you with that.

    If you are new to sewing and really don’t know much about sewing machines….you really should buy your machine from a sewing machine dealer. Most of these dealers will have ‘refurbished’ machines that others have turned in to upgrade to a newer and fancier model. These ‘used’ machines should be totally serviced by the dealer and will often also come with a warranty. They should also offer you some basic classes on how to use and maintain your sewing machine. When you are new to sewing – the classes and maintenance are super valuable to help you get the most out of your investment and to know how to take care of your machine. DO take with you a list of what you want to do with your sewing machine. If you only want to mend, sew simple clothing or craft types of items – you do not need to pay for a fancier machine. But the dealer’s ‘job or goal’ is to sell you the fanciest (most expensive) machine they can talk you into. Stick to your list. Take a sewing savvy friend with you if you need to. Don’t pay for features you won’t use!

  4. My Mom and older sister are excellent sewers. I thought it could possibly be genetic. It’s not. LOL

    I agree that one of the best places to start is at a place that sells sewing machines. I started at a local chain store, bought a machine, brought it home, and…cried. It was too much machine for me. I returned it, and I found a small boutique-type sewing store. What a difference! The prices were comparable, but the help I got in choosing was superior. I ended up with a small, portable sewing machine that I just love.

  5. For my 11th birthday my parents gave me a Brother sewing machine. I still use it an it works lovely, 20 years later.

  6. Top 10 Sewing Machines Available In USA – Under $200 read http://www.best-home-ideas.com/2013/11/top-sewing-machines-usa.html

Trackbacks

  1. [...] you have any questions on supplies? Tomorrow we’ll begin talking about the most important tool for machine sewing- sewing [...]

  2. [...] books on my shelf: Part 2 Day 5: Basic sewing tools Day 6: More sewing equipment and useful tools Day 7: Buying a sewing machine Day 8: Your secret weapon Day 9: Getting to know your sewing machine Day 10: How to choose (and not [...]

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