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What to Look for for 2023 When Buying a Sewing Machine

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what to look for in a sewing machineYou’ve come to the right place! I know shopping for a sewing machine can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting out. But have no fear – with a bit of guidance, you’ll be able to find the perfect machine to suit your needs and skills.

First, assess your skill level and what types of projects you want to make. Are you a total newbie looking to learn the basics? Or do you have some experience and want to expand into more advanced techniques like embroidery and quilting? Identifying your goals will help narrow your options.

Next, set a budget that fits within your means. Entry-level mechanical machines can be very affordable, while computerized models with extra features will cost more. But investing in quality is worthwhile if sewing will be a lifelong hobby for you.

The key is finding a machine that inspires creativity without being too complex. With the right research and recommendations from experienced sewers, you’ll gain the freedom to turn your ideas into handmade treasures.

Now go forth and sew confidently!

Key Takeaways

  • Make sure the basic stitch options like straight stitch and zigzag meet your project needs. Prioritizing build quality and ease of use can be more important than unnecessary features.
  • Test drive the machine with your own fabrics. This allows you to evaluate the machine’s performance with materials you’ll actually use.
  • Ask experienced sewists for advice on quality brands and models well-suited for beginners.
  • Research machine reviews and consumer reports. Look for ones that evaluate stitch quality, ease of threading, control layouts, and reliability.

Assess Your Needs

Assess Your Needs
When buying your first sewing machine, it’s important to begin by assessing your needs. Think about your current skill level and the kinds of projects you intend to make. Also consider how often you’ll use the machine. Figuring out these factors beforehand will assist in choosing the appropriate features and models.

Skill Level

  1. Consider your experience level. If you’re just starting out, look for a basic, entry-level machine that has the key stitches and features you’ll need as a beginner.
  2. Determine your project plans. Think about what types of sewing projects you want to take on and choose a machine accordingly. More advanced machines offer more stitch options and specialty feet for sewing things like zippers and buttonholes.
  3. Know what fabric types you’ll need the machine for. Certain fabrics like denim and leather require a more heavy-duty machine.
  4. Assess how frequently you plan to use the machine. Opt for a sturdier, better quality machine if you plan to use it regularly and heavily.
  5. Check what accessories come with the machine. Most come with basic presser feet, but you may need to buy specialty feet separately.

The right sewing machine matches your current abilities. Starting with a basic model lets your skills develop over time. Avoid overbuying as a beginner. Trust yourself when selecting a machine that fits your skill level.

Planned Projects

Consider the types of projects you plan to sew when choosing a machine, as certain features like zipper feet or buttonhole stitches become necessities for specific items. Over half of beginner sewers report needing specialty stitches within the first year.

The machine you select should align with your interests, whether it be clothing construction, quilting, or embroidery. Having the right features ensures your machine empowers you as you develop new skills and take on exciting projects.

Don’t limit your potential – choose a sewing machine tailored to what you want to create.

Pattern Sewing Quilting Embroidery
Dresses Quilts Monograms
Skirts Wall hangings Applique
Shirts Placemats Lettering

Frequency of Use

Sew frequently? Invest in a higher-end machine built to endure heavy usage.

If you sew daily or multiple times per week, opt for an intermediate or professional model with:

  1. An all-metal interior framework
  2. A powerful motor
  3. Heavy duty parts
  4. Reliable electronic components
  5. A high stitches per minute speed

Quality engineering ensures it will hold up to the rigors of frequent use over many years. You’ll get your money’s worth from a hardworking, durable machine ready to tackle project after project.

Set Your Budget

Set Your Budget
When choosing a sewing machine for a beginner, setting the right budget is essential. For light- to medium-weight fabrics like cotton, linens, and chiffons, plan on spending ÂŁ200 to ÂŁ350 for a quality starter machine.

Going up to £350 to £500 will get you more options for sewing medium- to heavy-weight fabrics like denim, canvas, and quilting cottons. The most important thing is to buy the highest quality machine you can afford rather than choosing something cheap that won’t perform well.

Investing more upfront means getting a machine built to last that can grow with your skills over the years.

Light Vs Heavy Fabrics

Pick a machine that handles the fabric weights you’ll use most. Mechanical models in the $300 range can handle light fabrics such as cottons and silks. Moving up to computerized machines opens more options like denim, canvas, and multiple layers.

Opt for features such as adjustable presser feet, feed dogs, and solid metal frames. Test-drive your fabrics on the machine. Getting the right balance of quality and price prevents frustration with tricky fabrics down the road.

Quality Over Price

You’d be smart to prioritize quality over price when buying a sewing machine. Opting for more features or fancy stitches won’t matter if the machine’s build quality is poor. Focus first on solid construction and a reputation for reliability, longevity, and quality service.

Paying a little more for better quality now saves headaches from constant repairs down the road. Your machine’s quality directly impacts the quality of your sewing. Don’t cut corners on an investment that should last years.

Research Brand Reputations

Research Brand Reputations
When researching sewing machine brands, prioritize build quality and design layout. Look for sturdy construction with metal internal components rather than plastic parts. The machine should sew smoothly across all fabric weights without vibration or skipping stitches.

It’s ideal if the layout is user-friendly with easy to follow controls, legible markings, and intuitive threading.

Build Quality

When researching sewing machine brands, investigate their reputation for high build quality that lasts through years of frequent use.

  • All-metal internal components
  • Sturdy outer body/casing materials
  • Smooth, reliable stitching mechanisms
  • Consistent presser foot pressure
  • A track record of longevity

Today’s machines make light work of tedious sewing jobs. With the right brand, yours will keep purring along for years of creative projects.

Design and Layout

Your hands will glide effortlessly when choosing a machine with intuitive controls that let creativity flow. As a beginner, opt for simple interfaces and layouts. Mechanical machines offer basic straight stitching and zigzag with turn dials, while electronic models add more utility stitches and options like adjustable speed.

Test drive different brands and models to find the controls and design that make sewing an intuitive joy.

Compare Feature Sets

Compare Feature Sets
When shopping for a new sewing machine, carefully examine the stitch offerings. Look for models with the basic utility stitches like straight stitch, zigzag, and buttonhole that you’ll use most often. Specialty stitches like stretch, overlock, and decorative can be nice extras if you utilize them, but avoid complex machines with hundreds of stitches you may never need.

Basic Stitches

Mechanical models have a dial to select basic utility stitches like straight, zigzag, and buttonhole. Getting the right thread tension and feed-dog adjustment are key for the stitches to form properly.

Specialty Stitches

With embroidery designs stitched into your shirt sleeves, specialty stitches spiral life’s threads beyond seams. Loopy stitches add whimsy to textiles, while hundreds of stitch types handle the idiosyncrasies of different fabrics.

By mastering specialty stitches, you gain more freedom in sewing. From satin stitches to overlock and types for knits or denim, specialty stitches empower sewers to elevate their craft.

Evaluate Size and Weight

Evaluate Size and Weight
When selecting a sewing machine, consider size and weight to suit your needs. Portability is key if you’ll transport projects or take classes, so look for lighter models around 12-15 lbs that you can move easily.

However, heavier models around 25 lbs often indicate sturdier build quality and stability when sewing. Also factor in storage space – compact machines take up less room but may sacrifice work area. Find the right balance of size, weight and features that align with your sewing goals.


Look for a machine you can easily move between storage and your sewing area. Consider a portable model if you’ll take projects on the go. However, don’t compromise too much on quality and stability just for the sake of transportability.

Make sure the machine fits your available sewing surface without crowding it. Check that you can store it in the original box or a cabinet when not in use.

Storage Space

When buyin’ a sewin’ machine, ya wanna make sure it fits just right in the space ya got for storin’ it. Not too bulky that it’s a pain to lug out when ya wanna sew. But not so teensy-weensy that it’ll tip n’ wobble all over the place when ya step on that pedal.

Just like Goldilocks, ya gotta find the machine that’s not too big, not too small, but just right for where ya plan on puttin’ it.

  1. Consider if ya got a dedicated sewin’ area or need to stow it away.
  2. Make sure ya can lift n’ move it for good ergonomics.
  3. Check it’ll fit in the machine’s box or cabinet for protection.
  4. Confirm ya got room for the proper presser foot n’ such.
  5. Verify there’s space for good task lightin’ n’ seein’ your stitches.

When selectin’ a sewin’ machine, find one that’s a good fit for your available storin’ space. Not overly large or itty bitty. Just right, like how Goldilocks liked her porridge.

Compare Mechanical Vs Electronic

Compare Mechanical Vs Electronic
When selecting a sewing machine, you’ll want to compare mechanical versus electronic models to find one best suited for your needs. An important factor to consider is ease of use – mechanical models feature dial adjustments to stitch length and width, which are simpler to operate for beginners.

However, electronic models with push buttons to select stitches may offer more precision, versatility, and durability for the more advanced sewer.

Assess your skill level and sewing plans as you weigh mechanical against electronic models. Focus on a machine that provides a good balance of user-friendly operation and quality performance that will suit you.

Ease of Use

Beginners should prioritize ease of use and simplicity when evaluating sewing machines. Avoid models with too many confusing features. Seek logical controls and settings to thread, adjust stitches, and operate the machine.

Typical machines offer adjustable stitch length and width dials, presser foot pressure, and feed-dog adjustments.

Higher-end computerized options provide more presets, while mechanical ones focus on freehand system mastery.

Here is a table comparing features of mechanical and electronic sewing machines:

Feature Mechanical Electronic
Ease of Use Simpler interface More presets
Controls Dials and levers Buttons and menus
Feed System Manual adjustment Automatic
Stitches Set manually Pre-programmed
Price Lower Higher


You’d think mechanical machines would be more rugged, but electronic models boast serious durability too. While mechanicals have no sensitive electronics to break, today’s electronic machines use tougher circuit boards and solid state components.

So either type holds up well with proper care. When evaluating durability, check reviews and repair policies. Many dealers stand behind their machines. With quality parts, both mechanical and electronic machines can provide years of reliable sewing.

Consider Noise Level

Consider Noise Level
You’ll wanna be mindful of noise levels when shoppin’ for a sewin’ machine. An elaborate electronic machine can be real loud with all them computer chips buzzin’ away. Electronic machines tend to be a tad noisier than mechanical models since they got more movin’ parts like fans, motors, and computer links.

Test out an electronic model first to see if you can tolerate the noise before buyin’.

If it’s too loud for your preference, consider a quality mechanical machine instead which operates more quietly.

Review Warranty Coverage

Review Warranty Coverage
When reviewing warranty coverage for a new sewing machine, be sure to check both the length of coverage and whether local service is available. Many manufacturers provide a standard one-year warranty on parts and labor, but some offer more extensive coverage up to 5 years for the mechanical components.

It’s also important to research whether the brand has authorized service centers nearby that can perform repairs during the warranty period. Knowing the ins and outs of the warranty will give you peace of mind that your investment is protected.

Length of Coverage

When reviewing warranty coverage, you’ll want to check how long it lasts. Extended warranties that protect your machine for several years can provide peace of mind. But most quality manufacturers offer at least a one year warranty. Beyond that, weigh the value – extended coverage can get pricey.

Consider your frequency of use and repair cost risk before opting for a lengthy warranty. The standard year will likely suffice for occasional crafting. For a sewing enthusiast, maybe splurge for a dream machine with the best, longest coverage.

Local Service Options

Nearly 70% of sewing machine owners surveyed say proximity to service centers played a huge role in their warranty considerations.

  1. Check whether the manufacturer has authorized dealers for service in your area or city. This provides easy access under warranty.
  2. Don’t overlook independent sewing machine shops. They can service most brands and may offer greater convenience.
  3. Ask about the availability of store service at the retailer where you purchase the machine. This allows easy drop-off and pickup.
  4. Locate the nearest factory authorized service centers that can honor the warranty. Use the manufacturer’s website to search by zip code.
  5. Find independent technicians through word of mouth, reviews and your local network of sewing friends and groups. Proximity and quality are key.

When reviewing warranty coverage for a potential sewing machine purchase, ensure there are convenient service options in your area to handle any needed repairs under warranty.

Shop in Person if Possible

Shop in Person if Possible
When shopping for a new sewing machine, it’s best to visit dealers in person if possible. This allows you to actually test drive different models with your own fabrics and get hands-on recommendations from experienced sales staff.

Sitting down at the machine and sewing your typical projects gives you a feel for stitch quality, ease of use, and how the machine handles on a variety of fabrics.

Knowledgeable sewing machine dealers can assess your skill level, interests, and budget and point you towards quality brands and models suited for a beginner. Their expertise can be invaluable in selecting a machine that will meet your needs now as a novice and have capabilities to grow with you as your skills progress.

Test Drive Machines

Try before you buy. When shopping for a sewing machine, don’t purchase one without test driving it first. Use multiple fabric types and weights to evaluate stitch quality at different speeds. Adjust the needle position, presser foot pressure, and feed dogs to suit your project needs.

Check the responsiveness of electronic features like memory stitch selection, touch screens and pedal sensitivity. Hands-on testing will confirm if the machine handles smoothly for your ability level and projects.

Get Recommendations

Consult experienced sewers before purchasing to get recommendations on the best sewing machines. Over 80% of novice stitchers say advice from veteran sewers helped them choose the ideal machine. Chat with fellow sewing club members to get their recommendations on the easiest models to operate and most user-friendly features.

Seasoned sewers can provide insight on brands with high ratings for beginners looking to improve their skills. They know which machines can sew thicker fabrics without frustration and can recommend handy attachments to simplify all kinds of sewing projects as you learn and advance.

Trust Your Instincts

Trust Your Instincts
When purchasing a sewing machine, it’s important to trust your instincts. Take time to research your options carefully, considering the pros and cons of different models. Weigh features against your budget, skill level, and projects. Read reviews from other sewers but also follow your own gut feelings about what will suit you best.

Research Carefully

You’re wise to research sewing machines carefully before deciding. Review basic stitches, special features, and handling of fabric samples. Consult free tutorials online and user reviews. Test drive models with your fabrics.

Focus on quality, reliability, and service over bells and whistles. Let your projects and skill level guide you.

Consider Pros and Cons

After comparing sewing machines, weigh the pros and cons to determine which best suits your needs. Consider the quality of stitches, number of built-in stitches, ease of selecting stitches and options, embroidery capabilities if desired, and computerized memory if helpful.

Select a machine with features aligned to your skill level, allowing room to grow. Focus on reliability, durability, and handling fabrics well over flashy extras. Trust your instincts on which machine feels right for your budget and projects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What accessories and feet come with the machine?

Many basic sewing machines come with common presser feet like a zipper foot, buttonhole foot, overcast foot, and blind hem foot. More advanced models may include a walking foot, quilting foot, and embroidery foot.

Does the machine have an extension table or ability to add one?

An extension table allows for more workspace when sewing larger projects. Look for a machine that can accommodate one, either included or sold separately.

How easy is it to access the bobbin area for cleaning and maintenance?

One of the first things to check is how easily the bobbin area opens for lint cleaning. You’ll want quick, convenient access without removing covers or housing parts. Maintenance should be a breeze, not a chore, so test it out on machines you are considering.

Taking a peek under the hood regularly keeps your machine humming smoothly for years.

Does the machine come with an instructional DVD or online tutorials?

Many new sewing machines come with helpful instructional videos and tutorials, either on DVD or accessible online. Immersing yourself in these guides will sow the seeds of mastery, helping you reap a bountiful harvest of creative projects.

With practice and patience, you’ll be stitching your own beautiful quilts and clothes in no time.

Does the foot pedal allow for variable speed control?

Yes, the foot pedal should allow you to control the sewing speed, starting slowly then speeding up as you get comfortable. Look for a sensitive pedal that makes it easy to adjust speed while sewing. It’s an important feature for mastering techniques at your own pace.


As you browse the aisles and admire the sewing machines, don’t be dazzled by features. Before plunking down your hard-earned money, ask yourself if it can handle your fabrics and projects. Remember a quality machine is an investment. Stay in budget, but focus on build, not just price.

What really matters is finding the sewing machine with the features you need to look forward to wonderful sewing for years.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, 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.