Purchasing your first sewing machine can be a thrill...or a huge disappointment. When new sewers call to schedule lessons, I always ask if they have a machine -- if they don't, I suggest that they complete the beginning sewing course before shopping for their first machine.
While it's true that most independent sewing machine retailers offer lessons or training with the purchase of a new machine, that training is generally machine specific, and happens after you've made your purchase. So if you've never used a machine before, you're at the mercy of the sales person to tell you what you want. By completing a basic sewing course first you can go shopping armed with information, and reduce the risk of going too big, or too small. Click on "Read more" to continue.
Still, this is the time of year when non-sewers are considering buying a sewing machine as a gift for someone else, so here are a few tips on buying a machine for the new sewer.
1. Tempting as the prices might seem, don't purchase a machine on-line unless it's from a sewing/embroidery retailer that you know, and trust. There are many trustworthy on-line retailers out there, so just take a little time to check them out. When making on-line purchases, I prefer to deal with sites that list a phone number, and address.
Most of the higher end machines are not available for on-line purchase. Many "big box" stores, fabric & craft retailers, and most sewing machine retailers carry entry level, and mid-level machines. And there are some machines that have a "web only" availability -- I just purchased an American Home serger from Simplicity -- a model that is available only on-line.
2. Choose a known brand such as Singer, Babylock, Brother, Janome, or Viking. Those are all good machines, and more importantly it will be easy for the user to find accessories, and support for those machines.
3. Consider going to a mid-level machine for the few extra features that the new sewer will eventually want -- a stitch width selector, a one-step button hole (as opposed to 4 step), stretch stitches, and a drop-in bobbin. The total number of stitches that a machine features is much less important than those other features.
4. If you're purchasing a combo machine (sewing and embroidery), I would suggest a Brother machine. Accessories and support are readily available, as are additional embroidery designs. Be aware that many embroidery only machines, and some Singer combo machines do not feature built-in designs -- they require a computer to transfer designs to the machine. And if you are purchasing a sewing/embroidery combo (or embroidery only), do not purchase additional software -- I've seen too many people end up with very expensive software that is just too much for the new user.
5. Do a little research on-line before you shop. Search for sewing machine reviews, and go to the big box store's websites to read user reviews on various machines.
6. If you would like a second opinion on a machine you're considering, feel free to send me an e-mail -- I'm happy to help.