With Christmas 2020 getting nearer, you may be thinking of getting a new sewing machine. How do you choose the right sewing machine that’s just perfect for you? You may have decided to upgrade from your old machine. Or even take the plunge and buy your very first machine as a beginner.
There are as many sewing machines on the market as there are projects to sew. Each available brand of machine has a range of models capable of carrying out every sewing task you can think of. From bag making to embroidery, the sewing machine of your dreams is waiting for you online, or at your nearest store. The problem is, which one do you choose?
It can be a daunting task to pick the sewing machine that’s perfect for you out of a million and one options. Especially if you’re not sure what you are looking for. Or if you’re a beginner starting to explore the world of sewing.
Fear not, you’ve come to the right place. These 5 top tips will narrow the search and help you find your ideal sewing machine.
#1 – What Do You Want To Sew?
Your very first question when looking for the right sewing machine should be, what do you need it to sew? From both a project perspective and the type of fabric you use.
Identifying the type of sewing you do is essential to selecting a perfect sewing machine fit.
Sewing covers a large variety of hobbies including embroidery, quilting, and bag and garment making. The sewing machine you buy has to be able to carry out the functions needed for your particular sewing specialty.
Quilting, for instance, needs a large throat space, a straight stitch, and feed dogs that can be lowered. Garment sewists will find sewing sleeves a lot easier on a free arm sewing machine. While bag making needs a machine robust enough to tackle the heaviest of fabrics.
So now we know what you sew, let’s dive into Tip 2.
#2 – How Often Do You Sew?
The next thing to consider when selecting the sewing machine of your dreams, how often do you sew? Are you a daily sewist, or an occasional stitcher?
It’s an important question to ask yourself.
How you answer it could make the difference between choosing the right machine, or one that doesn’t have the stamina to keep up with you. The durability of your sewing machine is mission critical to a happy and successful sewing partnership. An under-powered machine will undermine your sewing mojo. Leaving you frustrated with your projects and ready to quit.
So how do you match power to projects?
Using a sewing machine every other week, month or even year is considered light use. This is sewing at a sedate pace. A relaxed, easygoing workload any domestic machine can cope with.
For regular sewing sessions longer than one or two hours a day, you’ll need to budget for a sewing machine with a heavy duty motor. A machine with a stronger motor will have more power.
Not just to handle lengthy sessions.
With more oomph at your fingertips, the easier it will be to sew quilt sandwiches or work with utility fabrics like canvas, denim or leather.
Even domestic machines with stronger motors have limits though.
If you find yourself sewing for more than 5 hours a day, every day, you may need to think semi-industrial or even fully industrial.
OK, now you know what you sew and how long for, let’s get straight into Tip 3.
#3 – What Functions Do You Need?
Every sewing task needs a specific function on a sewing machine. Whether you’re garment sewing or quilting, or maybe even both, your sewing machine must have tools to perform the job you need it to do.
A garment maker is going to need a buttonhole function. Quilters will need to breeze through free motion quilting. Someone wanting to embroider personalized gifts, is going to want a whole range of decorative stitches.
Then there are the functions that aren’t restricted to the sewing you do. They are an individual choice. A wish list of gadgets or time saving devices designed to make your sewing life easy.
These are the gizmos you can’t live without.
Like an automatic needle threader, speed control, a needle up and down button, or even a bobbin that fills as you sew.
Add these important, non-negotiable, must-have features to your machine requirements. Because if you buy one that falls short of your wish list, it definitely won’t be the right sewing machine for you. And you may end up getting frustrated.
In a similar way, that fancy machine with a million decorative stitches will be useless if you find it too overwhelming to take out of the box. Particularly if you are a beginner or just starting to grow your sewing skills. The last thing you need is a machine that confuses you. Worse still, costs a fortune and has buttons you’ll never use.
Go for a machine that matches your current abilities with a little bit of growing room. One that has the features you need, a couple you can learn to use, but doesn’t blind you with science.
To recap, you know what you sew, how often, and what features you need. It’s time to check out Tip 4.
#4 – What Brand Are You Familiar With?
Even if you are a complete sewing newbie, the chances are you will have heard of at least two sewing machine makers. You might not be aware they make sewing machines, but you know them.
Think Brother, for instance. Famous for electronic items such as printers. They happen to be one of the biggest names in sewing equipment. Singer is another. A brand that has been around since sewing machines were first invented.
The reason you’ve heard of them is likely to be good marketing on their part. It could also be due to the popularity of their products.
When you really don’t know which brand to choose, go check out the ones you’ve heard of first. These brands will be tried, tested and have a known reputation when it comes to making reliable products.
Check with your family and friends, see which brands they know or can recommend. Join some online forums and see what sewing machines are mentioned the most. Forums are a great way to discover which brands perform best. As well as the ones that are best avoided.
Armed with a growing wish list of features and functions, we’re ready for Tip 5.
#5 – Stick to Your Budget
Sewing machines come in all price brackets. From cheaper, entry level to top of the range flagship machines that can cost thousands.
As with everything, you get what you pay for. The more expensive the model, the more features, functions and special gadgets the machine will have.
It’s easy to get carried away by the sheer volume of sewing machines available on the market. Each coming with some fancy gizmo guaranteed to catch your eye, leaving you drooling over the new must have function.
All sewists looking for a new machine are a little bit like kids in a candy store. Spoiled for choice, eager to go for the biggest and brightest pic-n-mix ever.
Not wishing to burst any bubbles, but… It’s time for a reality check.
You need to set a budget and stick to it.
This budget needs to allow for functionality, durability and usability. It also needs to be set within your means. Whatever limit you put on your budget, it has to be affordable.
Shop around and check prices before you buy. Consider a compromise on some less important features or even swap brands to get a machine that ticks all your boxes.
Budget is probably the one aspect of buying a sewing machine that is the hardest to stick to. Find out how to get more sewing machine for your money with our Bonus Tip.
#6 – Buy From a Dealer
The next decision in your sewing machine search is where to buy it. There are plenty of online retailers able and willing to fill your order. Most offer cheaper prices making an internet option budget friendly.
But, they can only sell you a machine, they can’t help you test one to see if you like it.
A sewing machine dealer in your area is one of the first places you should visit when looking for a new machine. Especially if you don’t know which one is best for you.
Dealers usually specialize in one or two brands and know their machines inside out. Give them your shopping list that contains your must-have requirements, and they will often be able to match you to the sewing machine that will be just right for you.
Most dealers also offer an after-sales service. This usually includes free lessons on how to work the different functions of your new machine.
A dealer will also let you test drive the sewing machine you are most interested in. Going with your local dealer allows you to try before you buy.
Another plus, for established stitchers, dealers sometimes offer a trade-in deal. You could reduce the cost of your new sewing machine by trading in your old one.
Having a ready supply of trade-in models, a trip to your local dealer could even bag you a sewing machine you thought you couldn’t afford. A second hand system is a great budget boosting option.
Better still, the trade-in models given to dealers are often refurbished and come with a limited warranty.
With these 6 great tips, you now have a better idea of how to choose the right sewing machine for you. Making your shopping trip both easy and successful.
And if you want some recommendations on the best machines currently, you can check out our list of best sewing machines in 2021.
If you have any questions or comments, lets hear them.
If you’ve bought sewing machines before, how did you go about yours? What has been your experience when shopping for sewing machines, and what tips or issues did you have? Lets hear them.