What sewing machine are you using now?
When answering this question, it is important to try and recall the reasons why you purchased your current machine (if you have one). Was it an impulse purchase or did you try some out? A lot has happened in the world of sewing recently so it is important to make sure that you are aware of the latest advancements in sewing. Also, think about the level you bought at last time. If your last machine was “top of the line” then you will be disappointed if you buy an entry level machine. While time has changed, quality sewing machines haven’t.
What features do you like about the machine you have now? Is there anything you would change or like in a new machine? Buying a sewing machine is just like buying a car. Do you want the power windows and A/C?
How often do you sew?
I like to break this down into three different categories; Menders, quilters and crafters. This will help narrow your search to the machines that are going to be most useful to you. Just like a carpenter will tell you that not all saws do the same thing, not all sewing machines are best for all purposes.
A mender is a person who uses their sewing machine a few times a year at most. They use this machine when they “have to.” A mender uses a sewing machine as a last resort. Some features to consider are a rotary hook that will not loop or jamm with denim.
Machines today can do magic…they can thread their own needles. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! If buttonholes and sewing on buttons are something you don’t like to do, then you may want to look at a machine with one-step automatic buttonholers and a button sew-on feature.
Quilters, on the other hand, find reasons to use their sewing machine. While a straight stitch is most important, they also love to embellish their works of art. Consider looking at an embroidery machine to make quilt labels and other decorations. One thing that is very important but not often thought about is the feed dogs (the teeth under the pressor foot). On older sewing machines the feed dogs were aligned to sew a 5/8″ seam allowance. This is primarily used for garment sewing. Recently, sewing machine manufacturers have redesigned the placement of feed dogs to better feed fabrics for a perfect 1/4″ and scant 1/4″ seam allowance. If the feed dogs are in the correct place, then feeding fabric and achieving a straight seam is effortless. Another dramatic change is in the size of the opening to the right of the needle. This is very important when you need more space to deal with bulky quilts or other large projects. Some models even have a built-in stitch regulator to help you achieve a perfectly even stitch! This feature alone can pay for the machine.
And last but certainly not least, the CRAFTERS!!!! You love all aspects of sewing. Mending, quilting, scrapbooking and anything else you can fit under the foot. Maybe even some things you can’t. Crafters sew for the love of it. Be sure to look at machines with a wide variety of stitches to use on different projects. Combination sewing/embroidery machines are great for crafters. Consider looking for one that can even incorporate your sewing stitches with your embroidery. Make sure that you can turn the thread sensors off… there is fun to be had even without thread!
3. Do you sew for fun?
In the past, people sewed because they had to. You used to be able to save a lot of money making clothes. Today it is cheaper to buy a t-shirt than it is to buy the fabric and make it yourself. However, you can alter bargain or used clothes and re-purpose them. We like to call this “upcycling!” If you are using a machine that does what you like, you are going to be happier and use it more.
Some people are intimidated by the word “computerized.” They don’t have to be. The fact is, on average, computerized sewing machines have 200 fewer moving parts. A little known fact is that almost all sewing machines have computer boards in them; even the mechanical ones with knobs.
Many of the newer machines offer features that make sewing a lot more fun! Auto-tensions, double sized bobbins, low thread sensors, large openings and big embroidery areas. WHAT MORE COULD A SEWER ASK FOR?
A SUPPORT TEAM TO HELP YOU DO YOUR BEST!
Don’t look for it…EXPECT IT!!!
4. Am I getting the most out of my dollar?
NEVER BUY A MACHINE THAT YOU CAN’T AFFORD! Before you head out, decide if you are looking for a disposable or permanent machine. Two things to watch out for are a pretty box with pictures, or the words “HEAVY DUTY.” No permanent OR commercial machine has “HEAVY DUTY” or pictures on the box. A sure fire way to find a quality machine is to look for a boreing box.
While price should be important, it is smart to consider the long term benefits that some retailers offer. Remember, a good deal is nothing if you can’t figure out how to use it. Think about where to take the machine if it isn’t working properly. The internet is a great place to get feedback about what people think, but don’t take everything you read to heart. Many internet sources don’t have your best interest in mind. A sewing machine should be an investment in yourself as much as dealer. Buy from somewhere that you feel confident in their commitment to you after the sale. You spend hours buying a sewing machine, and decades owning one.
5. Some final questions to ask yourself:
How long has this dealer been around? Do you sell extended warranties or do they fully back every product that they sell? (what is there commitment to you?) Does this machine have all metal parts? (this is a trick question; NO modern home sewing has ALL metal parts!!!) Do you give classes to anyone who uses my sewing machine? (are the classes just for you?) Do you offer a trade up program? (what if you need more?)
Buying a sewing machine has never been as easy as writing a check or swiping a card. Deal with someone that you feel comfortable with. Buying a sewing machine is about YOUR needs NOT THEIRS!!!
I thank you for reading what has to be the longest Blog entry ever made! There isn’t much you can buy today that carries a 25 year warranty. Think about that before you start your search.
I really hope this helps you make an important decision a little bit easier!
Robbie Tousignant III
6701 SE Foster Rd
Portland, OR 97206
Oregon City: 503-655-4414