How to Choose a Sewing Machine
From beginners to experienced sewers, the right machine enhances your ability to learn techniques and guides you into exploring new fabrics, projects and styles. The ultimate goal is to turn make sewing a lifetime hobby.
As you would guess, the sewing machine that’s right for you will depend on your sewing skill and budget. There are a wide variety in types; from your basic $50 model to the newer computerized embroidery sewing machines, it helps to know what uses you’ll have for it.
The good news is that you can buy a good beginner sewing machine in the $100 to $150 range. It will be able to handle most of the basic craft projects while also helping you in quilting. When you spend a little more, you get a Sewing machine that are equipped with more advanced and automated functions.
For advanced or intermediate sewers, the best range of machines can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,200 (or even more!). But these models will produce the best quality designs even when you have basic sewing skills.
Below I cover the top brands, machine variations and types, what to look for when shopping, and what to expect after purchasing. They are the lessons learned from buying over a dozen sewing machines (spanning 25 years).
Sewing Machine Brands
If you’re willing to buy a sewing machine from a top rated manufacturer and don’t want to break the bank, I would recommend a Brother sewing machine. Another good option is Singer, which offers a nice selection computerized and quantum stylist variants.
Janome and Juki are also two leading brands that offer a variety of models for all skill levels. In fact With any of these listed brands you’ll get A machine that performs flawlessly and is equipped with the best features and tweaks.
What to look for in a sewing machine
There’s a number of factors if you want to choose the right sewing machine. As technology gets more advanced there’s a variety of function, features, specialties and purposes.
Here is a quick review of what to look for!
1. Sewing machine build
When it comes to choosing the best sewing machine brands, the first thing that a consumer should consider is the sturdiness of the base. Therefore, try choosing a machine that has a case which is slightly heavy duty. This provides the best sewing footprints.
Some of the heavy duty and embroidery sewing machines come with a large built-in table. Depending on your price range the Singer 4423 sewing machine is an affordable, beginners or intermediate sewing machine. I recommend one of the Juki or Janome models for advanced sewers.
If your machine is really light, it’s likely to wobble if sewing heavy fabrics. This can eventually result in missed stitches or inconsistent lines. At the same time, don’t go for an extremely heavy case either because it won’t be portable in case you want to take it to a sewing class or sew with a friend.
For a true portable sewing machine you can find some that weigh as little as 8 lbs. Online there’s a few high-end models 10-15 lb range.
2. Automatic thread system
Another thing that you should look out for in your sewing machine is the automatic adjustable thread system. Your machine should auto adjust the tension of the thread, thereby making it easier for you to sew.
This is particularly relevant, if you are a newbie sewing enthusiast and if you are not really used to the entire process of sewing. In this case, it will be much simpler for you to break needles or snap threads.
3. Bobbin setup and style
Bobbin installation is a function that most of the leading brands come with. In this case, all you have to do is take your bobbin, get it loaded from the tip and finally get it stringed. Some machines can be more complex, but that’s for a lot of the advanced sewing machine models.
Ideally you should buy a machine that will automatically wind it for you. Try to get one with a bobbin winder so you won’t need a needle mechanism for getting your stuff sewed.
4. Position and needle threader
For sewing machines, the needle position is a feature that lets let move the needle across the stitching line, in your preferred direction. All you need to do is put the needle up or down when you are willing to stop.
As a result putting the needle downwards will make it easier to get the pressure foot lifted and turn the respective corners without missing out on stitches.
At the same time, the needle threader is an equally useful feature as it will thread directly through the needle’s eyes and prevent all scopes of squinting. In short, it makes stitching simpler and easier.
5. Sewing Presser feet
Before investing in a sewing machine, find out how many pressure feet are likely to come with your chosen model. If you’re into basic stitching, a multipurpose foot will be more than enough since it will help you get the straight and zig zag stitches right.
This is easier with an adjustable pressure foot which will tightly regulate the machine while it holds the fabric and help you sew more flawlessly. It also prevents stretching and puckers in fine fabrics.
Zipper and buttonhole foots are also useful in this regard.
6. Check for the power switch
As you would guess, a power switch is usually used for turning your sewing machine on and off. It’s a good safe feature, especially if you have children learning to sew.
Do not go for a machine without a power switch.
7. Adjustable speed toggle
When you invest in a new sewing machine, it is important to have a way to change speeds without losing sight of the project. Most of the top brand sewing machine models will have a stitch speed dial, while others will have a button or LCD screen.
When sewing try to keep a consistent pace. The larger the project, the more consistent you should be with speed. Go for a machine that lets you sew at a good and steady pace instead of stopping and starting afresh.
Lastly, you should the number of built-in stitches the machine includes. Even though the number varies between basics, straights and the zigzags, it is highly essential on your part to check the maximum length and width of the machine.
8. Tightness of the thread
Also known as tension adjustment, the process of knowing how tight your thread is going to be is extremely important for choosing the right sewing machine. A thread that’s too tight can produce puckered fabrics, and excessively loose threads can result in sloppy stitches. Try to figure out a well balanced tension adjustment.
Among the brands the Juki sewing machines are probably the easiest for adjusting.
Types of sewing machines
Depending on the type of projects you expect, advanced and intermediate sewing machines may be geared toward a specific style, fabric or project. Below is an overview of the three major types of sewing machines.
1. Serger machine vs. sewing machine
Serger machines are the manually operated sewing machines and they end up adding a finishing touch to all design projects. An example would be the hems you see designer clothing.
Overlocker machines (aka: sergers) are specifically designed for people who enjoy working on super detailed projects. They are a favorite for sewers who specialize in clothing. In this machine, you might have to manipulate some controls by your hands, but they are incredibly useful for hemming, basic repair, DIY home projects or simple clothes.
2. Embroidery vs. sewing machine
This machine comes with all the features of a manual machine and a mechanical one. At the same time, it will also help you with your projects which focus on monogramming and embroidery.
It is particularly useful for stitching garments, quilt covers, bed covers and pillow covers.
Whether you are willing to create squares on your quilt, or come up with new monograms on your pillow covers this is the machine to vouch for. The embroidery machine will hold a hoop right below its needles. While you stitch, it will move the hoop in all the four different directions, as your needle is going to sew.
You can start out by getting a fabric stretched over any hoop. Right after that, you will have to get this hoop secured under a needle. The machine comes with in-built design right from the time you purchase it.
This design will either be built in to your machine’s memory or can be uploaded via USB port. A lot of the newer embroidery machines will connect to your home WiFi – for instance the Brother embroidery machines can download new styles using the LCD screen. Or you can go onto iBroidery.com and upload manually.
>>> Embroidery Machine Prices <<<
Lastly, embroidery machines are also user-friendly which why they are popular for beginners. The user-friendly controls allow you to seamlessly switch colors or change stitch style.
3. All in one machines
To illustrate If you are someone who spends a huge chunk of their time sewing, the all in one machines can be a perfect option for you. In fact with these machines, the complex job of sewing is transferred from your hands to small computer chips. They come with an LED screen, touch controls and a huge range of presser feet for more challenging stitches like piping and topstitching.
It can also lead the setting for several thousands of stitch types. One of the best parts of using an all in one machine is simply the fact that it will come with both the options for serger and straight stitching. Most brands have this type of sewing machine.
The all in one machines are one of the best machines in the industry and they help you to come up with professional quality stitches. These machines, however, can be a little expensive.
How to Choose a Sewing Machine
Well, this completely depends on your skills, experience and aptitude for sewing. Your sewing needs itself will help you to figure out the best machine. In case you are willing to take the next step from a boring entry level sewing machine, any of the given options can help you to come up with exciting and incredibly cool stitches.
The best way to make your pick here would be by browsing through the detailed sewing machine reviews from the leading brands. Once you get an idea about the possible features and advantages, making your pick will be a lot easier. As a result your sewing experience too will be better than ever.
Sewing Machine Prices Online
Since sewing machines are complex systems, there’s only a handful of brands producing them. Below is a shortlist of the brands I recommend looking into.
Some of the best brands for sewing machines come with a wide and extensive range of pricing options. As a result, everyone will get a chance to effectively get their requirements met.
Most of the entry level and basic sewing models are available in the range of $75 to $150 (with $75 being a super basic machine).
This will help you to develop your sewing skills. Right at the other end of the entry level range is the high priced sewing machine which is more suitable for professional requirements. Additionally These machines can cost anywhere from $500 and beyond.
If you are looking through the online stores, you will see that the average price that you are likely to pay for a solid, well featured machine is in the $250-300 range. At this price, you get a model that usually offers 50-100 built-in stitches and adjustable speed up to 900 SPM (stitches per min).
Advanced or expert sewing machines offer more built-in stitches, faster speeds, and new features such as monogramming. Expect them to cost $300-600 with prices up to $1200.
To sum it up, sewing machines have gotten increasingly more complex with features and functions. The upside is that they are much easier to set up and w/ user-friendly controls.
If you’ve made it this far you are obviously doing your homework, which is definitely a good sign!
Please let us know if we missed anything in the comments!
Infographic: Sewing Machine Buy Guide