Learning how to sew is tough enough. It’s easier, however, if you have a good sewing machine that helps you along the way. If you have a sewing machine that continues to get stuck, can’t stitch quickly, or is unable to run smoothly, it makes learning how to sew just that much harder.
If you are beginner to sewing, then you definitely want to buy a sewing machine that isn’t too complicated, can be bought at a good price point, and one that gives you basic features you need to do most sewing projects. A Brother sewing machine is a wise choice for a beginner.
However before you think about buying a sewing machine, it’s better if you first learn all the basic features of the unit. The most basic sewing machine for beginners can handle various fabrics ranging from satin to corduroy and denim without stretching or puckering the fabric or even producing loose stitches.
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What to Look for When Buying a Sewing Machine
Before you buy a sewing machine there are definitely some factors that you need to take into consideration. Not all sewing machines are made the same and you need to really do your research and look at these key factors before you buy.
It used to be that most sewing machines were made of mostly metal but nowadays most of the sewing machines on the market are made from plastic. Although this makes it much cheaper for the manufacturer it also means that a lot of sewing machines nowadays don’t last as long or break much easier.
Once you have decided on your budget for your sewing machine you should look for the highest quality machine you can buy for that amount of money. You want a machine that was made properly and one that will last you years instead of something falling off it or breaking on it within the first year.
If you are going to be doing a lot of sewing with your machine you definitely want to look for a higher end model that has more durability to it.
Before buying a sewing machine decide what type of projects you are going to be using it for. If you need a sewing machine because you want to make baby quilts or to sew dresses for your little girl you need to make sure that the sewing machine you buy supports this function. If you are going to be doing any type of quilting make sure you buy a sewing machine that is made for this and has several decorative stitches that can be used.
If you just need a basic sewing machine for all kinds of different basic projects like hemming pants, mending a shirt or sewing a pillowcase then you want to look for a machine that has a greater variety of functions. You definitely want to look for a machine that allows for free arm sewing so that you can easily sew longer pieces like pants.
On the other hand if you are only going to use your sewing machine every once in a while for very simple things and may only need the basic stitches then you won’t want to spend a ton of money a machine that has all kinds of different stitches and functions.
Another think you want to look at are the other aspects of the machine such as how you load the bobbin and if there is an automatic needle threader. Most people prefer drop in bobbins rather than front loading ones since they are easier to work with. Look at other functions you want to have in your machine so that you can keep this in mind when choosing your machine.
Computerized or Traditional
Computerized sewing machines are definitely becoming more and more popular but that doesn’t necessarily mean this type of machine is for you. It all depends on what you are comfortable with.
For some people they couldn’t live without a computerized sewing machine or for other people a computerized sewing machine confuses the heck out of them. Often times a machine that is made to be easier and more convenient causes some people more stress.
Although you are able to do more things on a computerized sewing machine like download different stitches and even make your own stitches it doesn’t mean that you have to buy a computerized machine. Buy what is best for you.
The machine should be ergonomically designed with easy to reach and manipulate controls and easy to read machine symbols or LED display. Look for a machine which is responsive to foot pedal pressure and which doesn’t stall while stitching thick fabric or various cloth layers.
Sewing machines come in a wide variety of price points. You can buy some sewing machines for less than $75 while some other ones will set you back $1000. Most people tend to stick middle of the road and spend anywhere from $150 – $300 on a sewing machine but you may have another budget in mind. If you can’t afford a fancy machine right now you may just have to stick with a basic model for under $100. On the other hand if you have the money and you have a need for a fancier machine then go for it.
For some people portability may not be an issue but for some other people who may need to travel with their sewing machine or move it from room to room you will want to keep this in mind when buying.
A lot of sewing machines come with a nice carrying case but not all of them do. This may be something you look for or decide to buy separately if you have to.
Also, look at how heavy the machine is as well. If you are going to have to move the machine from a closet in one room to another room in your home you want to look at how heavy the machine is. The thing to keep in mind though, is most heavier machines are better quality and are good for heavier fabrics. You need find a balance on this aspect.
It’s better if the machine has more space to the right of the needle as it gives you more space for your hands and fabric. If you will be stitching clothes and have to make many buttonholes, look for machines with an automatic buttonholer. With these machines, you just have to insert a button into a slot and the machine sews your buttonhole in a single step without any turning or manipulating of the fabric.
Needle threader helps pull the thread through the needle eye without you squinting straining your eyes. If you plan to use the device for free-style embroidery or darning, look for a machine which lets you adjust the feed-dog below the sewing surface if needed.
The needle position feature lets you move the needle and stitching line from left to right or up or down when you stop. The needle down position makes lifting the pressure foot easy and helps turn corners without jump stitches.
Types of stitches
You can not only stitch basic stitches like straight and zigzag on sewing machines, but also do decorative stitching on the best sewing machines. So if you will need a variety of stitches, it’s better to choose a machine offering many stitch choices.
Don’t forget to check the machine’s maximum stitch length and width too as its better if you can adjust the stitch’s length and width. Long stitches prove worthy to baste new designs you work on while short stitches give small and tight stitches. Adjusting the zigzag length and width proves helpful with appliqué and for finishing off edges.
Although the accessories the machine comes with shouldn’t be as important as other factors they are still things to consider.
For example, how many presser feet come with the machine? Will you have to end up buying additional presser feet because the machine you bought didn’t come with the one you need?
The accessories the sewing machine comes with may help you make your final decision as they can help save you money or may cost you more money in the end.
Types of sewing machines
There are various types you can buy based on your budget and sewing requirements.
This should be just fine for you if you sew occasionally and are on a budget. You have to manually manipulate controls for basic repairs, stitching simple clothes, hemming and crafts projects.
Electronic machines are for those who can spend more, and who sew frequently. These machines have most tedious sewing jobs in computer chips and typically come with an LED screen, touchpad controls, settings for various stitch types and various presser feet to use for different sewing challenges like piping and topstitching.
Embroidery or sewing machines
These machines have all the features of an electronic machine with additional monogramming features and can be used for embroidering designs on clothing like garments, pillowcases or bedspreads.
Mini sewing machines
People usually buy a mini machine for children or if they want a machine to carry along to retreats. The main benefit of these device is obviously that it is portable, handheld and easy to use. In fact, they are considered the best sewing machine for beginners as the big sewing machines are rather difficult for sewing beginners to understand and use.
Besides ease of use, people buy these sewing machines for beginners as they are lightweight, portable and have a simple and straight forward design. Moreover, these cheap sewing machines are perfect to use for simple and small tasks and the right machine to introduce interested children into the world of sewing.
If portability is what you are looking for in your sewing machine, then a handheld device may be what you are looking for. With a handheld sewing machine, you no longer have to sit on your sewing workstation to attend to repairs. You can now sit back and watch TV on your sofa while sewing and even do repairs while travelling.
While handheld sewing machines definitely give stronger stitches than sewing by hand, it does not give the same stitching precision as regular machines. This is mainly because regular machines are set up properly and thus stable.
As portable machines don’t have this stability, it can lead to uneven stitches especially if you haven’t mastered the art of using a handheld machine. However the steadier your hand is while sewing, the better the handheld sewing machine’s stitches are.
However hand sewing machines are popular as they give better and more accurate stitches than stitching by hand and they can be used anywhere. These portable machines are also lightweight and compact enough to fit into your bag and lots cheaper than regular sewing machines to comfortably fit an average family budget.
How to Use a Sewing Machine
Sewing machines use the most basic stitch, the lock stitch to make simple straight seams. It makes the stitch by inserting the threaded needle into the fabric. Once it reaches its deepest level, it starts its ascent back through the fabric.
While pulling up, its friction against the fabric and thread forces the thread out of one side of the needle to create a loop without friction. It is at this moment that the bobbin shuttle’s hook catches this loop and interlocks it with the bobbin’s thread. The threads interlock around the fabric pieces to make a lock stitch.
How to Thread a Sewing Machine
It’s only if you know how to thread a sewing machine will you have an enjoyable sewing experience. There’s nothing more frustrating than having the thread continually break while sewing or tension created because of a poorly threaded machine.
So to thread the sewing machine, you need to unwind and attach the spool of thread found on the top of the sewing machine. This is done by taking the thread and pulling it through the thread guide on the top and then brought down and round the take-up lever. You will find small numbers and arrows printed on most machines showing the right way to thread the machine.
There are two general patterns for threading the machine; ‘ going left, down, up, down, into a hook and through the sewing machine needle’ and ‘from spool pin, tension, take-up lever, needle while using the thread guides provided in between’.
The needle can be threaded from left, right or from front to back. It it’s threaded it can be used as a clue for the direction. However if it isn’t, the last thread guide before the needle is found near the direction for threading the needle.
Keep both threads out
It’s important you have threads from both the bobbin and needle thread out. To do this, hold the needle thread taut towards you in your left hand and with your right hand, turn the hand wheel towards you to make a complete needle down/up revolution.
Now pull the needle thread in your left hand up as the bobbin thread which was caught while the threaded needle went down loops over the needle thread. Pull the bobbin thread tail by pulling on one side of the loop or by releasing the needle thread and passing a pair of scissors between the presser foot and plate.
You thus have both thread ends; one each from the needle and bobbin. It’s better to hold both these ends for the first few stitches to prevent them from retreating into the fabric. You can of course let go after stitching for a short distance and use both hands for controlling the machine and fabric.
So you can see that buying the best sewing machine is a cinch only if you know all about it, it’s parts, types and brands. You need to choose a machine fitting your stitching needs, how often you stitch and also something you can afford. This sewing guide aims at helping you choose the best sewing machine. Moreover, here are a few reviews compiled for your benefit, with its individual features, pros and cons.