How To Buy The Best Sewing Machine

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How To Buy The Best Sewing Machine

If your sewing activities go beyond mending the occasional ripped seam or displaced button, you have probably considered buying a sewing machine. Far advanced from the machine your mother used to lovingly stitch your school clothes, today’s sewing machines offer a wide range of functions ranging from simple seams to complex embroidery.

Buy The Right Machine For You

When choosing a sewing machine, it’s important to consider what you will be doing with the machine and your skill level. Many beginners make the mistake of buying a complex machine geared for the advanced tailor, then become so overwhelmed by all the options that the sewing machine gathers dust in a closet. If you plan on infrequent, simple sewing, there is no need for every bell and whistle offered.

On the other hand, if you are an accomplished seamstress who quilts, embroiders or has been custom designing your own wardrobe for years, you will benefit from a machine offering a wide range of features.

Only Pay For The Features You Need

Budget is another important consideration. The simplest mechanical sewing machines cost less than $50, while very advanced, computerized machines can sell for several thousand dollars. Don’t pay for features you will never need. Generally, a good quality machine that will handle whatever a moderately skilled, casual tailor throws at it will cost in the $100 to $200 range.

Some higher-end brands, such as Bernina, Pfaff and Husqvarna Viking, are normally only sold through dealers. These are more expensive options, but usually include personal instruction, lessons and a higher level of customer service. Brands such as Singer and Brother are widely sold at discount stores, big box shops and online. You will pay a lower price, but won’t receive the instruction and customer service available through a dealer.

Types Of Sewing Machines

Are You Looking For A Simple Option? A mechanical sewing machine is the kind your mother probably used. Mechanical sewing machines have a limited range of stitch options and require manual adjustment of thread tension and stitch length. Knobs and dials must be turned and tweaked to the desired settings. A foot petal allows you to control the machine speed. While the need for manual adjustment makes the mechanical machine a bit more work to use, if you are looking for an inexpensive sewing machine to fix your son’s ripped shirt or sew a simple hem, a mechanical machine will probably be sufficient for your needs.

Are You A Home Sewer Who Sews Often? Much more popular and common these days than mechanical machines, the electric sewing machine offers the convenience of pushing a button to set your desired stitch, adjust the thread tension or sew a buttonhole. A foot petal is still used on most electric machines to control the sewing speed while you work, but many settings are automated and manual controls are simpler than on a mechanical machine. Electric machines are the best choice for home sewers who will use their machine on a regular basis, want to do more advanced stitching or enjoy making their own clothes.

Are You An Advanced Seamstress? Computerized machines are the most advanced type of sewing machines, with dozens of stitches available at the touch of an LCD screen. Most offer a selection of buttonhole styles, embroidery options and will “remember” your past favorite stitches to further simplify your sewing. A foot petal is optional with many computerized machines, though some tailors prefer to use one. Computerized machines are the most expensive option, though the price has come down considerably for lower-end computerized machines. This is the choice for the advanced seamstress who quilts, embroiders or makes more complicated clothing or home furnishings.

Sewing Machine Terms And Features

Here are some terms you may come across when searching for a sewing machine.

  • Tension: This refers to how tight the thread is while stitching. Thread that is too tight puckers fabric, while thread that is too loose gives an insecure seam.  While automatic tension adjustment is a feature on some machines, most require a manual adjustment.
  • Stitches: Standard stitches include straight, zip, stretch and blind. Most machines offer far more than these standards, and computerized machines might offer dozens of specialty stitches.
  • Feed Dog: This is a serrated plate underneath the fabric that works to feed fabric to the needle.
  • Drop Feed: This allows the feed dog to be dropped which is useful when you want to freely move fabric.
  • Needle Threader: A useful option that threads the needle automatically.
  • Presser Foot: This holds the fabric firmly against the feed dog and guides the fabric through. Many sewing machines have snap-on presser feet with guides for different sewing options, allowing you to easily change the presser foot for your needs.
  • Free Arm: A common feature, this attachment allows you to easily sew rounded objects such as sleeves or pants hems.
  • One-Step Buttonholes: A handy feature that allows you to sew consistent buttonholes with one touch.
  • Top-Load Bobbin: No need to manually wind thread onto the bobbin. With a top-load bobbin, you just drop the bobbin into its compartment.

Whether you are a beginner or more advanced sewer, there is a sewing machine that will fit your needs. With the ease of single-touch controls and automatic adjustments, you might be inspired to start sewing an entire new wardrobe.

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