Some tips to purchase a sewing machine you will love.
Whether you’re upgrading from an older machine or buying one for the first time, here are some tips to help you through buying a modern machine.
The ultimate purpose of a good sewing machine is to not notice it’s there.
Don’t be afraid of the word features! Features can be broken up into two categories; “ease of use” features, and “specific purpose” features. The first one is important for any sewist at all and the second is important for your style of sewing.
Basic things that make the machine easier to use can include:
• Speed control. Good for tricky sewing and an almost necessary safety feature for younger sewists.
• Needle up/down. This means that the machine has always completed a stitch and doesn’t have to be manually manipulated after every seam.
• LED lights. These are a definite improvement for those hard of sight or doing details and tricky work.
• Electronic stitches. This means that any stitch chosen already has the right characteristics selected and will always sew out correctly.
• Top loading bobbin. The easiest to thread, the hardest to jam, top loading bobbins are even better with a threading channel.
There are innumerable other simplified features that vary by brand and each brand has their own unique flavour. Don’t forget that new features and developments, both hidden and obvious are always evolving and being made better.
Other features that need to be looked at are specific purpose features. What is it you want to do with your machine? When looking for a machine, make sure you have a firm idea about what it will be used for. Do you want growing and learning room, or do you know your limits? Are you a quilter, dressmaker, cosplayer, costumer, crafter, embroiderer, thread artist or do you want to explore all these possibilities? Always explain what the machine will be for and we can match you up with the correct one.
Buying for a beginner
This can be tricky. The trap is buying a “cheap one to see if they like it”. The problem here is that they may find using the machine too difficult and dropping it for that reason. If you do spend a little more on the machine for a beginner and it is genuinely something they cannot get their head around, resale values are a little better on more usable machines. Also if you are buying for a younger person, safety features (see above) are important but so is their learning curve. In this age of buttons, touch screens and digital devices, think on what product their familiarity will help them learn with.
Buying as a gift
Now, this one is really important; does the person you are buying for actually want a machine? “Change of Mind” returns are not always accepted (and sometimes hard to resolve) so make sure the person for whom this is a gift, is ready to receive it!! (true story, very sad). If they are an experienced sewist and you have no idea what an upgrade from their old machine may look like, maybe a gift voucher is more practical and a lot less hassle.
Try before you buy
One thing we do like here is that you sit down to a machine (or more than one) and actually try it out. Is it comfortable? Does it sound good? Do I like the colour? Well, even if the colour isn’t important, it is good to get an idea of what to expect out of the box. There should be no surprises. Some machines are very noisy and some are whisper quiet. Do you know what you’re getting?
If you have brand loyalty, what then?
There are a couple of pitfalls when shopping by brand and knowing what questions to ask may keep you from making bad assumptions, such as: Is the brand known for the same qualities now as then? My old machine was great but do the new ones come with the same great features or better ones? How long has the brand been around? If you are replacing an older machine, how much money do you have to spend to get the same features? Asking us these question means there are no nasty shocks about how different one machine is to the other.
The internet… is it worth listening to?
The answer is yes and no. Advice on the internet is a fantastic way for garnering information about features preferred by this or that craft group. The thing the internet is not good for is opinions. Opinions on whether a machine is a lemon or not has no real value to you and should not sway your own judgement when you set out to make your choice. The person having the opinion may not have bought the right machine for themselves in the first place, or they had a one off bad experience. Take vehement objection to any single machine with a grain of salt and remember that any major problem a machine may have had five years ago will have certainly been fixed by the manufacturer in the meantime.
As a final comment, even the best machines require care and attention. Once you have purchased your new machine, we recommend you visit our common problems, sewing tips and FAQ section for tips on good habits and gentle treatment.