Buy a Real Sewing Machine! - There is, of course, the temptation to buy something cheap for learning to sew. In fact, some of the cheaper models are little more than toys, and they will cause you endless frustration if you try to complete a project with them.
You will never learn to love sewing if your sewing machine doesn't work well. Buying the right entry level sewing machine can be the difference between success and failure.
Your first sewing machine should be a basic model.
Plan to spend about $200 for a new basic sewing machine of high quality (or less for a used one), and you will be much happier. If you choose well, you will have a nice basic machine that works well and that provides you with many hours of fun and enjoyment!
Don't Buy More Machine than you Need - Buying a sewing machine with all the bells and whistles for your beginner sewing machine will be a big mistake. If your first machine is too complicated, you may never get around to learning how to use it. Or, if you do try, you may end up totally frustrated!
Ask any experienced sewer, and I'd be willing to bet that there are features on their sewing machine that they have never, ever used. That's OK, except that you DO pay for extra features. Don't pay for more than you need!
Assess your needs - Decide what kind of projects you would like to do. If you will limit your projects to scrapbooking or crafts, you can probably buy a more basic sewing machine than if you will be making clothing or quilts.
Do Your Homework - All sewing machines are not alike. When you know what you need, compare the machines in your price range and the ones that offer the features that you need.
Read reviews and opinions about the machines that you are considering for your first sewing machine so that you know which machines other people like best and which ones they don't like!
Features for Beginners
That having been said, there are some common features that you should consider when shopping for your entry level sewing machine, whether it's for you or for one of your children.
Take the time to consider which features you must have and which features would be nice to have. Don't get caught up in upselling (whether on the internet or by a salesman) to get you to buy more features.
Here are the most important features to consider for your first sewing machine:
Stitches - Decide how many stitches you really need. At the least, you should have straight, zigzag, reverse, blind hem and perhaps a few decorative stitches.
Buttonholes - Most sewing machines will make buttonholes. The better machines will provide an automatic one step buttonhole. Others have buttonholes that require up to 4 steps, and some require that you manually do things.
Decide if you will even use buttonholes on your projects. If so, then make sure you get a machine that will do an automatic one step buttonhole. Your life will be so much simpler.
Drop Feed - If you plan to do quilting, mending or free hand embroidery, consider this feature. If not, it won't be important to you.
Free Arm Sewing - This is a nice feature if you make anything that is smallish and hard to position when sewing. The machine has a section that can be removed (often a little storage area), leaving a smaller area (kind of like a tube) for sewing, but one that you can slip a sleeve or pants leg onto easily. If you plan on just doing straight seams on larger items, you won't need this.
Sewing Machine Manual - Make sure your new sewing machine has a manual—and make sure you read it. The best instructions for using your machine are in the manual, and reading it will insure that you understand how your machine works and help you take care of it so that it will last (almost) forever!
That's all there is to it! For your very first sewing machine you don't need all the bells and whistles. You do need a reliable basic machine.
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