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Does anyone have any pointers on what to pay attention to, and perhaps even which models are a good place to start when shopping for a beginner’s basic sewing machine? Where is the balance between saving money by not getting extra features, and not wasting money by getting such a low quality machine that your time is spent fighting with it? Longevity would be a plus.

Thanks and happy creating!

Hannah Clark


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  • Patti_12-28-2011_large

    Feb 23, 2012, 06.32 PMby patti-r

    Go test a few different brands (they may vary depending on where you live) check a few local dealers, many box stores do not allow you to do this. Compare prices, look for sales.

    Take few strips of different fabrics you may wish to sew (they often have strips of heavy starched or interfacing where stitches look great but not regular fabric). Do not overlook Floor models or even some used machines. See if you can get a few lessons to get familiar with the machine.

    Features may differ per person, I like, Auto Thread, Up and Down Needle Stop, different needle position selector, auto buttonhole maker, blind hemmer, prefer that it has tensions, stitches that can be adjusted (even if it has auto settings), snap on foot attachments. I do like a selection of zig zag and other stitches.

    Avoid some machines that are super light weight, they will bounce like a wind up toy.

    Remember to respect your machine by cleaning and oiling if needed, read the manual. “Buy the best you can afford”. Check for reviews on make and model you may like.

    I am sure you will get more input.

  • 20596winter_20fairy_large

    Feb 23, 2012, 06.45 PMby sewingfan1

    I bought my brother VX860/VX855 as a beginner years ago and it’s still going strong and I’m still growing into it – there’s some features I haven’t made use of as yet and others I’ve only recently started using. It has basic stitches (general zigzag and straight stitch), with extras of button hole stitch, triple stretch, elastic overlock, elastic stitch, blind stitch and scallop stitch. I’ve not used the scallop stitch as yet, nor the blind stitch much as I can never work out how to fold the fabric to get the correct hem width. I didn’t even realise it had an elastic overlock stitch til now (but I bought an overlocker anyway so probably wouldn’t have used that feature). It came with a range of useful feet (zipper,buttonhole, straight, zigzag) which I only started using over time. Basically it is a really simple machine to use so was great for me as a beginner and even though I’m more advanced now I don’t feel any need to upgrade to a better model. It wasn’t particularly highly priced either from what I remember.

    Another machine that was recommended and which I bought for my mum recently was the Janome J3-18 (http://www.sewingmachines.co.uk/Janomej318_info.htm). It came with a ton of threads which she shared with me :-) but that offer’s only available in the UK I think :-(

  • Bored_polar_bear_large

    Feb 26, 2012, 07.37 PMby 20beverly08

    A machine that does straight stitch and zigzag stitch, sews backwards and forwards, makes at least a bartack buttonhole, and has a self bobbin winder is a good one to start with. The less computer ‘fancy bells and whistles’ it has, the better—because it will last longer, and the software on the computer versions goes out of date quickly—making it harder to replace parts and software that is ‘out of date’ or no longer working properly. I had a nice compter model for years, but the repairs were too expensive, so I gave in and bought a Viking Emerald 116. It has all the above mentioned features, and I bought it on sale, and it’s ‘terrific’! There are many other great brands out there. My first machine was a Singer Touch n Sew.

  • Bored_polar_bear_large

    Feb 26, 2012, 07.42 PMby 20beverly08

    Oh goodness! Always ask for a demonstration of every option. And, take notes, so the demonstrator knows you are serious about what you are planning for your sewing machine. The sales person will spend more time with you and allow you to make a more educated, well planned purchase. You will find that the machine you were initially interested in may not be what you are looking for. And, stores that are willing to demonstrate their machines usually have a free class or two for you after you buy your machine from them.

  • Bored_polar_bear_large

    Feb 26, 2012, 07.44 PMby 20beverly08

    Please let me know how it goes for you! I am always happy for someone when the get their first sewing machine! It’s a great experience!

  • Img_0958megarnoldwaterphoto_large

    Mar 4, 2012, 01.19 AMby HannahClark

    Thanks all for your great advice… I took it to heart and today was the big day- got a Brother Innov-is 40 to start my sewing “career”! Already finished a skirt that I’d been sewing by hand, and have loved playing with the different stitches. The foot changing system is easy, button-hole process was a breeze, and I’m excited to see what else it can do.

  • Img_0958megarnoldwaterphoto_large

    Aug 15, 2012, 12.53 AMby HannahClark

    I made the handbag in the BurdaStyle Handbook (2010), it was super fun and the machine whipped right through it. Just a fyi for anyone searching for a good beginner machine (and project maybe)!

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