Comparison shopping for a decent sewing machine is a daunting task. Unless you are a formidable sewer who knows exactly what you need, the different brands, price ranges and a vast variety of features will leave your head spinning. Even if it is tempting, do not grab the first affordable machine you come across. A machine that was not designed for your intended use will only lead to hours of frustration.
Before You Invest In A Sewing Machine, Consider The Following:
- How often will you really use the machine? Adjust your budget accordingly. A machine intended for daily use will require more features and functionalities than a machine used for the occasional loose seam or zipper replacement.
- Which features will you be using on a regular basis? Is automatic needle threading a priority, or adjustable pedal speed? By narrowing down your search criteria, you can hone in on machines with the exact features you are looking for.
- Consider the kind of fabrics you will mostly be working with, and take a few scraps with you to test on a couple of models.
- Do you get any extra accessories with your standard machine? In some cases, it might be more economical to purchase a machine that can handle the little extras as your skill increases, as opposed to buying these accessories separately.
Now that you are armed with your checklist, you have a better idea of what you are looking for. Never buy a new machine without testing it first.
- Ability – Testing the machine might seem like an obvious thing to do, and yet few first time buyers take the time to test the machine’s ability to handle different fabrics. Chances are that you will not just be sewing cotton and polyester, but also sturdier material like denim and curtain fabrics. A decent machine will be able to handle a wide range of fabrics, without causing the fabric to bunch or tear.
- User Friendly – Changing the needle or winding the bobbin might take some practice if you are a novice, but it should not be a mission of epic proportions. Any new machine must come with an easily-understandable user manual, and a live customer care line.
- Noise – How loud is the machine? If you will be spending hours on end in front of your sewing machine, the last thing you want is a decibel-induced migraine.
Must Have Features
Based on sewing machine reviews online, the best machines will have at least a combination of the very basic features:
- Drop in bobbin – This is the thread wheel that fits beneath the needle plate. The tread gets picked up by the needle and is responsible for the bottom part of a seam. A seam from two threads is much stronger and neater than one without a bobbin.
- Free arm – A removable plate that allows you to sew cuffs, collars and seams with ease in a circular motion.
- Stitch length control
- Stitch Width Control
- Adjustable pressure foot – The “foot” controls how tightly the fabric is held in place when sewing. Different settings will allow for fabrics of various textures.
- 1 Step button hole – A buttonhole foot, included in the machine, will calculate the size of the button hole for you.
- Speed control
- A few decorative and collecting stitches
- Adequate built-in lighting
An automatic needle threader deserves a mention. It is not an essential feature, but a very convenient time saver. This aligns the thread and needle for you, which is especially helpful to newbies and people with weak eyesight.