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10 Tips for Buying a Sewing Machine That Fits Your Budget

Buying your first machine or upgrading to a new one can be overwhelming. Here’s how to find the perfect machine.

Posted in: Fabric & Textiles • September 28, 2022

If you're buying a sewing machine for the first time, you might not know what to look for or how much to spend. And if you're upgrading your machine, you might still be overwhelmed because you want something you can grow into without breaking your budget.

Below are 10 tips to help you find a machine for your budget—one that works for you now but also leaves you room to grow. If you find these tips helpful, listen to episode 109 of Seamwork Radio. Sarai and Haley share all these tips and talk about the machines and features they like to use most.

10 Tips for Buying a Sewing Machine

  1. Do you really need all those stitches? The must-haves are a straight stitch, zigzag stitch, and buttonholes. The nice-to-haves include a stretch or lightning stitch for sewing knits, a faux-overlock stitch to replicate the look of an overlock on your machine, and a blind hem stitch.

  2. Pay for what you actually need versus things you won’t need. For example, start with basic sewing quality. Does it do a good job with the regular straight stitch? Don’t skimp there. Then move on to the features. Which ones do you really need? Just because something seems really cool in the store, it doesn't necessarily mean you need to pay for it.

  3. Buy from a dealership. If you can buy from a dealership, you'll get better long-term support for your machine, and you'll also have a place to ask questions and get help in the future. But if you can’t find a dealer, read tip #4.

  4. Look for a webinar. Find a video on YouTube that gives you an overview of the machine. Then you can explore multiple brands and figure out which is best for you. This initial research can help you avoid overwhelm when looking at machines.

  5. Sit down and sew on the machine. Sometimes you'll find things you don't like about the machine when you're sewing—like the sound it makes. Or you might find unexpected things that you actually really love about it. Sewing machines are like cars, and they all drive a little differently.

  6. Take swatches of the fabric you expect to sew the most and try sewing with them. For example, bring sturdy fabric like denim if you want to sew jeans or stretchy fabric if you want to work with knits. Try it out and see how it feels. If you’re working with a dealer, you might even be able to get some help to adjust the tension and try different stitches. You might learn more about how you would interact with the machine than you would if you're just using the fabric they provide.

  7. Think about Goldilocks. Look for the sweet spot in your budget. You want to get a machine that you can grow into but not so big that you feel intimidated to use it. You don't want your machine to become an obstacle to sewing.

  8. Be mindful of reviews. You want to gather as much information as possible, but reviews are very subjective. For example, the reviews might not be relevant to garment sewing but might apply to quilting. Look for reviews that specifically mention the type of sewing you will do.

  9. Don’t be afraid to buy used. You can find some really good deals on used machines because most high-quality machines are designed to last for decades. They're not like a computer you need to replace every few years. So if you decide to go for used, just make sure you can still buy any parts or accessories you might need, and be sure to get it tuned up before you sew.

  10. If you get stuck, ask for help. The Seamwork Community has regular sewing machine discussions. Chances are there's someone on the community with maybe the exact same machine as you or the one you're looking at. Or maybe they have some tips for similar types of machines. It’s a really great resource for you to explore when you are considering a new machine.

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