Skip to Content

7 Things to Know Buying a Sewing Machine: Expert Tips for Savvy Shoppers (2024)

This site is supported by our readers. We may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through links.

7 things to know buying a sewing machineWhen buying a sewing machine, determine your sewing needs – frequency, project types, and future aspirations.

Next, choose between mechanical (dial adjustments) or electronic models (with additional features like automatic buttonholes).

Consider the 7 things to know: machine weight and portability, budget for new or used options, growth potential with stitch variety and accessories, testing before purchasing, and prioritizing quality over excessive bells and whistles.

A quality machine with the right features for your needs will make all your sewing dreams a reality.

Ready to go deeper and find your perfect match?

Key Takeaways

  • You’ll want to be Goldilocks when it comes to your sewing machine – not too basic, not too fancy, but just right for your needs and budget. Don’t be dazzled by all the bells and whistles if you’re not going to use them.
  • Test drive that baby before you buy! Bring your own fabrics to a dealer and take it for a spin. You’ll know if it’s "the one" when you feel that seamless connection. Don’t settle for anything less than sewing soulmate status!
  • Look for a machine that can grow with you. Kind of like buying a pair of shoes for a kid – you want a little wiggle room for their sewing feet to expand into new skills and projects down the road.
  • Remember, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Prioritize quality construction over surface-level extras. A solid metal frame and sturdy components are the real MVPs when it comes to long-term stitching satisfaction.

Determine Your Sewing Needs

Determine Your Sewing Needs
Before choosing a sewing machine, you’ll need to assess your sewing habits and goals. Consider how often you’ll use the machine, what types of projects you typically sew, and what kind of sewing you’d like to do in the future.

Frequency of Sewing

Determining your sewing frequency is essential when purchasing a sewing machine. Consider:

  1. Weekly projects: You’ll need a durable machine with various features.
  2. Monthly use: A mid-range model might suffice.
  3. Occasional sewing: A basic machine could be perfect.

Your frequency impacts machine durability, repair needs, and feature requirements. Don’t splurge on a high-end model if you’re a beginner sewer with infrequent projects.

Types of Projects Sewn

Consider the types of projects you’ll tackle. Are you into garment making, quilting, or home decor? The fabrics you’ll work with and project complexity matter. Your skill level and personal preferences play a role too. Don’t forget budget constraints when choosing a machine. Match your sewing machine to your project needs for the best results.

Future Sewing Aspirations

As your sewing skills grow, you’ll want a machine that can keep up. Consider future projects you’d like to tackle. Are embroidery options or specialty feet on your wishlist? Think about stitch quality and user interface as your projects become more complex. A machine with room for growth will save you from outgrowing it too quickly.

Choose Between Mechanical or Electronic

Choose Between Mechanical or Electronic
When choosing a sewing machine, you’ll need to decide between mechanical and electronic models. mechanical machines use dial adjustments and are simpler, while electronic machines offer button adjustments, are more expensive, and often come with additional features for tackling heavier materials.

Mechanical: Dial Adjustments

Mechanical sewing machines offer simple operation with rotary dials for manual settings. You’ll adjust tension and stitch length using these dials. They’re reliable and easy to maintain, perfect for those who prefer hands-on control over their sewing experience.

Electronic: Button Adjustments

Electronic sewing machines offer button adjustments for precision control. You’ll find an intuitive interface with a screen displaying options. The button layout and menu structure streamline your sewing experience, giving you mastery over your projects with quick response times.

Solid State: Heavier Materials

Solid-state machines are your go-to for heavy-duty sewing. They’re built to handle tough materials like leather and denim with ease. Here’s why they’re perfect for industrial applications:

  1. Robust construction for durability
  2. Powerful motors for consistent stitching
  3. Specialized feet for thick fabrics

More Expensive

Electronic sewing machines with solid state components tend to be pricier, yet they offer unmatched stitch precision and capabilities—ideal for pursuing advanced sewing techniques.

Additional Features

Electronic machines also have additional features like LED lighting, needle threaders, and adjustable presser foot pressure. These extras can make sewing easier, such as:

  1. Automatic bobbin winding
  2. Extra presser feet
  3. Built-in tutorials and help
  4. Access to online forums/communities

Consider the Weight and Size of the Machine

Consider the Weight and Size of the Machine
When choosing a sewing machine, consider its portability and the space you have for storage. If you plan to move your machine frequently or have limited space, opt for a lightweight, compact model that can be easily transported or tucked away when not in use.

Portability

You’ll also want to evaluate the machine’s portability and weight. If you plan on traveling or taking classes, a lightweight model is ideal. Heavier machines can be challenging to transport. Here’s a quick reference on typical machine weights:

Machine Type Approximate Weight
Basic 10-15 lbs
Advanced 15-25 lbs
Quilting 20-30 lbs
Embroidery 25-40 lbs
Industrial 40+ lbs

Assess your portability needs realistically. An ergonomic, lightweight design eases transport without compromising features.

Storage Space

You’ll also want to think about the sewing machine’s dimensions and where you’ll keep it. Measure your available space and note any constraints. For limited space, look for:

  1. Compact models
  2. Built-in storage compartments
  3. Folding/detachable extensions

Portability is a plus if you’ll be moving your machine often. But don’t sacrifice quality for size alone. With some planning, even large machines can fit nicely into your sewing nook.

Set a Budget

Set a Budget
You’ll need to set a realistic budget for your sewing machine purchase, considering whether you want a new or used model. Some retailers offer payment plans with no interest, which can help make a higher-end machine more affordable.

New Vs. Used

When setting your budget, consider both new and used machines. New machines come with warranties, but used ones can offer great value if properly inspected. Research brands for durability and resale value. Reputable used models often last for years with basic maintenance. Scour sewing blogs and forums for needle comparisons between new and used options within your price range.

Payment Plans With No Interest

You’ll find many affordable options available if you’re on a budget.

Major sewing machine dealerships and some big-box stores often offer financing or installment plans for no-interest purchases over a set period. This can make that dreamed-of machine attainable through friendly, bite-sized payments.

Just be sure to understand all terms and make payments on time to avoid interest charges down the road.

Look for a Machine With Growth Potential

Look for a Machine With Growth Potential
When considering a sewing machine, look for one that can accommodate your current and future stitch needs.

Determine if you require advanced features like computerized controls for precise stitch settings, an automatic buttonhole function for tailoring projects, a selection of decorative stitches for adding embellishments, specialized quilting feet for intricate patchwork, or a free-arm design for sewing cylindrical items like sleeves or pant legs.

Stitch Needs

Your machine should grow with you, offering stitches like:

  • Zig zag for appliquĂ©
  • Tri-motion for stretch fabrics
  • Blind hem for professional hems

Consider your current and future needs when selecting stitch options.

Computerized Vs. Mechanical

You’ll choose between mechanical (dial adjustments) or computerized (button adjustments). Computerized models are pricier but offer solid state capabilities for heavier fabrics and additional features.

Automatic Buttonhole

Another great feature to look for is an automatic buttonhole function. It saves time and guarantees consistent buttonholes on:

  • Shirts and blouses
  • Pants and skirts
  • Jackets and coats
  • Bags and accessories
  • Home decor items

Automatic buttonholes make sewing garments and more a breeze, especially with different fabric weights.

Decorative Stitches

Don’t overlook decorative stitches if you’re eyeing future embroidery, freemotion quilting, monogramming, heirloom sewing, or applique projects. Machines vary greatly here.

Quilting Feet

Additionally, consider a machine with quilting feet—these specialized presser feet allow for improved fabric control and stitch accuracy when quilting.

Freearm

You’ll want a freearm machine for circular sewing like sleeves or hemming tubular fabrics easily.

Test the Machine Before Purchasing

Test the Machine Before Purchasing
You’ll want to purchase your sewing machine from a trusted dealership, as their experienced staff can guide you through the features and have you test each machine by sewing on it with your own fabric types. Testing the machines firsthand allows you to experience the feel, operation, and performance with the materials you commonly use before making your final selection.

Purchase From a Dealership

Purchase from a dealership to experience machines hands-on, gain expert guidance, and access additional services. Reputable dealers offer sewing classes, repairs, and a curated selection tailored to various skill levels. This immersive approach ensures you make an informed decision about your investment.

Test Sewing on the Machine

When testing a sewing machine, put it through its paces – adjust thread and bobbin tensions, try different needle sizes and fabric weights. You’ll quickly sense if the machine meets your needs. Does it handle thick fabrics easily? Are the stitches consistent across various materials? A thorough test drive guarantees no unpleasant surprises later on.

Test With Your Own Fabric

When you visit a sewing machine dealer, bring along the types of fabric you’ll be working with. Test the machine by sewing with your own fabrics to verify it can handle the weight, stretch, and quality you need. This step is critical because different machines handle various fabric types better than others.

Prioritize Quality Over Features

Prioritize Quality Over Features
While additional features such as embroidery capabilities, automatic thread cutters, and stitch designers can be appealing, it’s essential to prioritize quality over superficial enhancements.

Focus on reputable brands that provide sturdy machines with reliable feed systems, robust metal components such as oscillating bobbins, extended workspace options like an extra-large arm, and extensive warranty coverage.

These practical elements will guarantee your sewing machine’s durability.

Service Plan or Warranty

You’ll want a service contract or warranty for peace of mind. Consider:

  1. Length of coverage
  2. What’s included/excluded
  3. Cost of repairs without a plan
  4. Availability of local authorized service centers

Protecting your investment is wise for quality machines.

Embroidery Capabilities

If embroidery designs and appliqué techniques excite you, consider a machine with digitizing software and various embroidery hoop sizes for the best thread selection.

Automatic Thread Cutter

An automatic thread cutter saves time and effort. Verify it’s compatible with your sewing machine and thread type to avoid tension issues or bobbin problems.

9 Hook Oscillating Bobbin

Another quality feature is a 9-hook oscillating bobbin – it provides smoother stitches and easier maintenance. Look for this type of bobbin system when evaluating sewing machines for high-quality performance over time.

Extended Arm

You’ll want an extended arm for sleeves, cuffs, and larger projects like:

  • Quilting
  • Embroidery
  • Monogramming

The extra workspace simplifies sewing bulky items.

Stitch Designer

Take control and customize stitches with the stitch designer feature. Create unique patterns or adapt existing designs – the possibilities are limitless!

Stitch Patterns Embroidery Designs Quilting Templates
Geometric Florals Intricate Borders
Decorative Nature Scenes Classic Motifs
Text Styles Cultural Symbols Modern Abstracts
Novelty Holiday Themes Freeform Shapes

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should you consider when buying a sewing machine?

When buying a sewing machine, consider your sewing needs – from beginner to advanced projects. Test drive models at a dealer, read reviews, and choose quality over excessive features. Don’t overspend; invest wisely in a machine built to grow with you.

Why should you buy a sewing machine?

You’ll save money, ignite creativity, and gain control over sewing projects by owning a machine designed to meet your needs – empowering you as a skilled crafter.

Where to buy sewing machines?

You’ve got options – shop online for great deals and reviews, or visit a dealer for hands-on expertise. Either way, take your time and test machines thoroughly before committing.

Are computerized sewing machines worth it?

Say you want to monogram custom designs – a computerized machine opens up endless creative possibilities. While pricer, they’re absolutely worth it if you crave that high-tech precision and array of modern features for advanced sewing.

What accessories come with the sewing machine?

Sewing machines come with basic accessories like bobbins, needles, a seam ripper, and presser feet. Top-tier models include extras like walking feet, quilting bars, and embroidery hoops to open up creative possibilities. Consider what you’ll be sewing to make sure you have the right tools.

How to clean and maintain the machine?

Clean your machine regularly – brush off lint, use canned air for hard-to-reach areas. Oil all moving parts as instructed in your manual. Proper maintenance guarantees smooth operation for years of use.

Can it sew through multiple fabric layers?

Yes, most sewing machines can handle multiple layers of fabric with the right needle, thread tension, and stitch length adjustments. Just take it slow and test the settings on scraps first for thicker projects like quilts or jackets.

What is the maximum stitch width available?

Like a skilled archer, your sewing prowess hinges on having the right tool. Stitch widths typically range from 0-9mm, allowing you to master intricate designs or bold patterns with ease.

Is a dust cover or carrying case included?

You’ll want to check if a dust cover or carrying case is included – it helps protect your investment. Many machines come with a basic soft cover, but heavy-duty cases can often be purchased separately for travel or storing your machine long-term.

Conclusion

They say the right tool makes all the difference.

When buying a sewing machine, these 7 things to know about budget, weight, features, and quality will guarantee you find your perfect match.

Test before purchasing – the ideal machine handles your current needs while allowing growth through stitch variety and accessory options.

With this expert guidance, your savvy shopping leads to sewing success.

References
  • designmycostume.com
Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of sewingtrip.com, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.