A sewing machine can help a lot around the house. Even if you are new to sewing, it’s not hard to make decorative pillows, curtains and other household items that are expensive to buy yet cheap to make. Sewing machines can also make it much easier to modify clothing or repair ripped items, saving you money on your wardrobe. When you search for a machine, it should have the basic functions you’ll need to handle these jobs.
When buying a sewing machine, quality matters a lot. Many basic machines have the essential functions you need, but are not built strong enough to handle thick fabrics like denim. You probably won’t run into tougher jobs every day, such as upholstery, so commercial duty is not necessary. Check customer reviews on any machine you consider, looking for comments on sewing tough fabrics and problems with machines that break down easily.
It's also important to make sure that your new machine will be easy to use. Some machines work very well, but make bobbin loading harder than it needs to be. Before you choose a machine, check into what other buyers say about stitch problems caused by improperly loaded bobbin. If getting the bobbin in correctly is too difficult, steer clear. The reverse function (used to reinforce a line of stitching) should be easy to reach for quick access when sewing. It’s better to find one that has a button to engage reverse stitch, instead of forcing you to change the stitch dial. Accessory design is important as well. You shouldn't have to fight to change presser feet. Make sure switching them out is easy.
Most everyday sewers don’t need computerized machines. They cost more, break down more easily and include more bells and whistles than the average sewer will ever use.Basic FunctionsThe everyday sewer needs the option of a straight stitch, zigzag stitch, stretch stitch, one or two decorative stitches, buttonhole making and the ability to reverse direction easily. Any machine worth its salt will allow you to adjust the stitch length and zigzag width too.
Most affordable machines come with a buttonhole attachment that includes a 4-step process in which you change the dial for each side of the buttonhole. These work fine, but are a little more work, requiring patience and precision. If you can find a one-step buttonhole feature without paying a lot more, get it.
Other attachments to look for include a zipper foot (for sewing close to the zipper edge) and blind hem foot (for hems in which you don’t want the stitches to show). These make your life much easier when performing basic repairs on garments. The machine should also have a bobbin-winding feature that’s easy to use. In addition, you should be able to change the needle position to right, left or center so you can adjust the position for any project.
Some machines will have plenty of work surfaces, but allow you to take off a section to reveal a narrower working area called a free arm. This makes it a little easier to sew narrow, tube-shaped items full circle, such as pant hems or sleeves. By simply adjusting the fabric while you sew, you can accomplish the same thing, so don’t pay extra for the free arm feature.
Additionally, you may want to choose a sewing machine that comes with a warranty. Make sure you find the longest warranty you can afford, but don't settle for less than 90-days.Find out where you can take the machine for repairs first, because if you can’t take the machine to a local repair facility, any warranty is useless. Sewing machines are heavy and shipping costs to the repair center can quickly add up.
Also, carefully check all the items included in the purchase. If a machine includes a buttonhole feature but no attachment, you can be sure you’ll be shelling out extra cash for that attachment down the line. Machines also should include extra bobbin holders because some replacements are hard to find.
The most well-known makers are Singer, Janome, Kenmore and Brother. Expect to pay at least $75 for a quality machine that covers all the basics. Brother is the only maker that can offer you a good machine that cheaply. Brother instructions are sometimes hard to read though, making these machines best for experienced sewers. Beginners should spend a little more on a Singer, Janome or Kenmore.
Whether you're looking for a new hobby or have been sewing for many years, having the right sewing machine can make or break your experience. Choose a sewing machine that features at least basic stitches and easy-to-use instructions, and make sure that replacement parts are easy to come by. Because a big purchase like this should last many years and while making all of your sewing tasks as easy as slicing butter.