What do I need to know to buy a sewing machine?
Where do you start? And how do we help you?
We make your buying decisions easier. We give you facts about the sewing machines before you start getting into the details and researching which models you want.
There are 4 easy steps to buy the right sewing machine.
1. Learn what type of sewing machine do you need?
2. Decide on the features you will need in your sewing machine
3. Compare the different brands and models available that match your needs
4. Choose and buy with confidence because you have done all the research
Step 1: Learn
What type of sewing machine do you need?
Ask your self some questions. This will help you have a clear idea of the projects you might want to sew.
- What will I be sewing?
- How much do I want to spend?
- How many stitches will I really need?
- How often will you be sewing?
- What is my skill level? Beginner, intermediate or advanced? Remember, knowing what you want to sew makes choosing much easier and you are more likely to buy the machine that’s right for you.
If you are just thinking about beginning to sew, you can decide what machines are not for you and cross them off. You will be getting closer to knowing what you need each time!
You will find the following types of machines mentioned as you research
Manual machines are very basic machines which don’t need electricity. The user will have to peddle the machine to make it sew. Generally available as ‘vintage’ models.
Mechanical sewing machines have a motor running the machine by use of a foot pedal. The pressure on the pedal which controls the speed. Most functions need to be adjusted by the sewer. Dials control the types of stitches and length. These can be great for learning but also more time-consuming to use.
Automated machines are the same as the mechanical machines. These machines have automated tension control and stitch length. Some are automatic so you won’t have to worry about threading needles or adjusting the tension. They range from basic to complex machines with intricate embroidery stitches and design editing options and memory.
Computerized sewing machines are the most technical and great for the experienced sewer, however, beginning sewers can enjoy their features as well. They can have a huge range of inbuilt stitches. You will connect to the internet to download a huge variety of stitches and patterns. The best of these machines have single touch stitch selection, memorize past projects and have connectivity with USB ports.
Machines for different types of sewing
Embroidery machines. If you plan on making quilts and embroidering, even customizing your designs to create unique quilts or monogramming towels, and pillowcases with ease. Modern embroidery machines are computerized with a USB port to connect to your laptop or computer for truly custom designs. You can add flair and patterns to suit any project.
Quilting machines are regular sewing machines with added features that make them suited for quilters including drop feed dogs, the ability to feed multiple layers and customizing stitches.
Serger machines. Also known as overlock machines, give the final professional finish to your seams. A serger trims, sew seams and neatly finishes your seams in one
action. To create the stitch, these machines use from 2-9 threads and multiple needles. You can also create professional-looking ruffles and other customized effects.
You will find machines that provide combinations of these stitches, will be better with thicker materials such as denim and upholstery fabric. Thinking about what you want to sew will help you decide what type of machine you need.
All machines come under these two categories
- Industrial machines are very durable, generally intended for heavy-duty use and built to last. They are larger than machines for home use and costlier.
- Home use machines are built to perform a range of tasks using a variety of materials and fabrics. They generally can work up to five hours without the motor getting hot.
Our Buyer Guides give information on the different types of machines and other information such as buying sewing machines for beginners.
Step 2: Decide
Decide on the features you will need in your sewing machine
What do I look for when comparing sewing machines?
There are many features to compare and you will decide the features you are looking for depending on what you want to sew. Some are basics, with variations from machine to machine such as stitch speed and buttonhole features. While even more will be extra features offered in higher-end machines.
If you’re a beginner you will want to look for quick and easy bobbin installation and quick needle threading so you can get started quickly. If you can, have bobbin winding that’s not connected to the sewing device. Look for stability so the machine doesn’t move when you sew because this will make it skip stitches.
- The features that impact on sewing performance have been listed first
- The features which are the ‘good to have’ but not essential
- Can add later and are not significant
|Features that effect sewing performance|
|Number of stitches - how many do you want. You can get up to 600!|
|Stitch width - this is a worth paying a little bit more for this to be adjustable|
|Thread tension - controls the sewing quality. You can have automatic or adjustable. Most prefer automatic. There is plenty of help on the internet if you can't get this feature|
|Adjustable foot pressure - allows sewing a range fabrics more easily|
|Speed control - you will want at least 2 speeds, some machines come with sliders which can prevent sewing at the maximum - really useful for intricate sewing|
|Reverse stitching- should be instant and is best with a button action|
|Feed dogs - are the small teeth that will help feed materials at consistent speeds without bunching up the material at the needle.|
|Needle positions - don't often come with basic machines. Often needed when you want to sew up against another seam without forcing it.|
|Jam proof bobbin - this is great if you find a machine that has this technology|
|These features are the 'good to have' but not essential|
|Stitches per minute - important if you want to be sewing fast|
|Stitch function - the ability to adjust the built-in stitches|
|Needle functions - there can be up to 10 functions. If you can't set the function your material will slip so you want your needle in the fabric when you stop sewing|
|Bobbin loading - there 2 types; front load and drop-in. The difference comes down to the bobbin being either plastic (top loading) or plastic and metal(many machines with front loading). Everyone will have their own preferences on this point|
|Automatic needle threading - just makes life a breeze|
|Buttonholes - automatic buttonholes functions makes this a breeze and your work look professional|
|If you need custom bobbin, you want independent, automatic winding|
|Needles with eyes facing the front|
|Attachments - a range of feet is advisable as these can increase what sewing you do. You would want the following buttonhole, zipper, blind hem, walking foot for quilting, embroidery foot feet of different widths.|
|Heavy duty - heavy enough so that it is stable when you are sewing, of it wobbles your stitches won't stay as they should|
Additional features to keep in mind
|Lighting - not all have the same quality and depending on your circumstance you may need additional lighting when sewing|
|Pattern memory - in more advanced machines|
|A Hard cover- best for protection but often machines come with soft covers and dust covers|
Yet more features to consider
- Motor size generally determines the strength of the machine. You will need a stronger motor if you sew heaving materials.
- Weight can be important if you have to carry your machine and move it regularly.
- Brands are important. There is a range of leading brands that provide good sewing machines. These include Brother, Singer, Janome, Bernina and a few others. They have a history and a proven record
- Noise can be important depending on where and when you are sewing
- Additional surface for sewing
- Thread Cutter always a convenient feature to have
- Stitch recorder is a special feature on some machines. Definitely for the more advanced specialized sewer
Steps 3: Compare & Choose
Read our reviews to make the right choice of sewing machine that will give you long-term service and professional-looking results.
Whether you are looking for a home sewing machine or a specialist industrial style machine, we provide the information to help you make a decision that will work for you for years to come.
Step 4: Buy your machine
Your are ready to get your machine, knowing you have done all the reseach you need to get the right machine for you. ! Go to the review and click the botton!