How To Buy Your First Sewing Machine by Mary Wilkins
There are many brands of machines out there and everyone boasts different features. Some machines appeal to quilters, others want you to embroider everything including the toilet seat and the shower curtain. Searching for the right machine is going to take some time.
Shopping for a new machine can make your head spin. The girls on my boards discuss which machine is best every time someone needs a new one. We all know the name brands but I am not going to suggest one, that decision is yours. It's a personal one and an important one. I will, however give you a few basic questions you should ask yourself.
1. What type of sewing do you plan to do?
- repairs and alterations
- home decorating
2. Where will you sew?
- sewing room
- kitchen table
- integrated into other family living area
3. How will your machine be stored?
- in its own cabinet
- in a closet hiding behind the coats
- leave it out to sew every spare moment
4. Consider your budget and buying habits? How long will you keep this machine?
- 6 months
- a few years
- forever and a day
When you answer these questions, you are on your way to making the right decision. Obviously if you are going to sew from the kitchen table, you don't want a machine with lots of accessories or add-ons that will take up too much room. If you are doing repairs and alterations, you don't want a machine that duplicates the quilting stitch. If you have small children around, your machine needs to be tucked away safely. Just a few things to think about.
Research is the name of the game here. Check out the latest consumer reports. Visit the forum discussions on sew-whats-new.com and see what the girls are using. They will gladly tell you what works and what doesn't. Another source is the well known sewing magazines. Sew News and Threads do comparison studies all the time.
If you are lucky enough to have local dealers, pay them all a visit. Test drive all their machines and ask lots and lots of questions. Take fabric with you that you use and test out things like stitch length, reverse and some of the different presser feet. Find out about lessons. Lots of dealers will give you a few free lessons to get you acquainted with your machine. Above all, take your time. I cannot stress this enough. Don't let anyone rush you thru the process. Leave the kids at home so you have no distractions. While you are in the shop asking questions, you can see how the staff relate to customers and if they have the answers to all your questions. If they seem impatient or brusque, imagine how they might be after the sale. If they are not helpful now at the prospect of a sale, they probably won't be later if you need help.
On the other hand, a strong sales pitch can also steer you in the wrong direction. Paying for a top of the line model doesn't mean you are getting the machine you will be happiest with. You must resist the urge for that impulse buy. Go home and talk to someone who sews. Find out their experiences and listen to what they have to say. Again, take your time with this decision.
If you have visited all the dealers, and test driven their machines visit them all again. Visit again when you are rested and can make a clear decision. Go back and take a second look at those machines. You are looking at them with new eyes now. Maybe there are a few things you never noticed the first time that stand out now. What about that foot pedal, is it comfortable? Do you want the even feed feature? Does the machine run smoothly and quietly? Are there more programmes than you will ever use? If so, make a mental note and you can scale down your possible choices. This second visit will tell you more than you expect.
Ask about the warranty that comes with each machine. Be sure you know who is responsible for standing behind it, your dealer or the manufacturer. Are repairs made locally or will you have to pack everything up and send it away.
Be very sure you understand what is included with the sewing machine. Which feet, how many bobbins and what about a manual. The manual is very important. You will refer to the manual time after time so it should be a good reference guide to all the accessories and stitch designs along with any other functions. The manual should be full of pictures and diagrams for the basic sewing as well as clear directions. If your manual isn't helpful, do you want to go searching out the answers every time you have a problem. I wish I had a penny for every time someone has emailed me with a problem that their manual doesn't answer.
Be sure you get your sales agreement in writing and keep your copy in a safe place. Nothing less will do.
The bottom line is you must do some work before you ever sew your first stitch. If you make the effort and educate yourself, the rewards of a great sewing machine are yours.
Mary Wilkins has three grown children and six perfect grandchildren. Completely self taught, she has been sewing, and crafting for over 30 years. Her website http://sew-whats-new.com has been recognized in many sewing magazines and newsletters alike.