For those who start sewing by machine, choosing the first machine is always difficult.
So I thought of writing a small practical guide to illustrate the basic criteria on which to base such an important decision and which models are the most suitable for starting to sew.
Are you really decided?
Have you understood that creative sewing is your passion and you can no longer live without it?
Then it’s time to buy your first sewing machine!
But how to do it?
Looking around, one gets confused by the large number of models and brands on the market.
It seems easy, but the more you read up on it, the more ideas get confused, so much so that in the end one wonders:
- But which machine is right for me?
- Am I getting my money’s worth or am I going to regret it?
So here are some practical guidelines to take into consideration in your choice.
How to Choose a Sewing Machine for Beginners
Before any evaluation, keep in mind that today all the brands on the market offer models intended for domestic use, both mechanical and electronic, with common characteristics that can be taken for granted, namely:
- these are portable machines equipped with a removable cover, rigid or in fabric, with a plastic handle for transport;
- they can be guessed as regards the threading of the upper thread, the lower bobbin, and the choice of stitches during sewing;
- they are equipped with some basic accessories such as the most used presser feet, some bobbins, and tools for machine maintenance;
- have a comfortable work surface;
- they have a double foot lift for sewing heavier and thicker fabrics.
Well, these features can now be found in most domestic sewing machines on the market.
Do you like creative sewing, tailoring, or both?
First, you need to figure out what you like to sew. It may seem strange, but there are people who only love to make clothes and never try their hand at creative sewing projects such as fabric bags, accessories, rag dolls, or home furnishings.
Conversely, those who approach sewing to make clutches, make-up cases, bags, or accessories for the home, if they have not attended a tailoring course, hardly engage in the making of a dress, which requires specific technical skills, even if several newspapers with patterns included are available on newsstands.
Understanding which area to try is important because, on the basis of this choice, the technical characteristics of the sewing machine will also be evaluated differently.
If you plan to work purely in the field of tailoring, the first machine must have among the basic stitches, straight, zigzag, reinforcement, and elastic stitches, while decorative stitches will be important in the case of creative sewing.
Also as regards the type of feet available, in the case of creative sewing it is important that the machine can mount the dual feed, free motion, or patchwork foot. Not to mention those feet that allow you to make special seams such as circular ones.
If, on the other hand, you haven’t taken your path yet and you are in an experimentation phase, then the advice is to look for a machine that has a bit of all these characteristics.
What is the budget you have available for the choice of the first sewing machine?
This is the second fundamental criterion to evaluate.
For the choice of the first sewing machine, when one’s inclinations are not yet clear, it is good to fix a budget and look for the machine that can satisfy one’s needs within that range.
Given the very high number of models and the variety of sewing machines that are on the market, it will not be difficult to find one that encompasses the main features required for the amount available.
The basic advice is not to buy a super-equipped first machine, thinking that everything can be useful. Often, despite the potential of the machine, we persist in always using the same functions without experimenting with new possibilities.
For this reason, if you don’t first develop an awareness of your own tastes in handmade sewing, it’s good to prefer a machine with basic functions and some decorative stitches, without overdoing it.
Is an electronic or mechanical machine better?
Given that today the industrial manufacture of sewing machines is steeped in technology and therefore even the simplest machine, in reality, can allow a good use of the same without major problems, also in this case it is good to know what are the differences between the two types of sewing machines.
Mechanical sewing machine
The mechanical sewing machine is not equipped with electronic media.
The choice of stitches and buttonholes is done by hand, usually by means of a knob.
The stitches are the basic ones: straight, zig-zag, elastic stitch, reinforced, and normally only one type of buttonhole that is sewn in 4 stages.
The needle position is unique, there are no decorative stitches or alphabets. In some designs, you can move the needle in a couple of positions using a hand knob.
It is possible to vary the length and width of the stitch within a short range, always using the appropriate knobs.
Electronic sewing machine
Conversely, the electronic sewing machine allows you to choose at least two needle positions.
Stitch selection is usually done via a button, as is the adjustment of stitch length and width.
Within the basic categories, it is possible to find some decorative stitches, but not the alphabets which are the prerogative of higher-ranking machines.
It can be said that the electronic machine allows greater dexterity and ease of use and a greater choice of stitches.
On the other hand, the most complex and performing sewing machines, including embroidery machines, are all electronic.
Do you sew a lot or a little?
Also, this parameter should not be underestimated.
If you have undertaken a tailoring course and you want to make sewing your job, then for your first machine you have to focus on something durable, which can withstand the daily hours of sewing, as opposed to those who sew for pleasure, perhaps in their free time.
Sewing a lot implies choosing a machine that can withstand the wear and tear of time and which is therefore built with metal and not plastic pieces, at least in the internal structure.
It is necessary to carefully evaluate that the machine, although simple, is solid and is able to produce a regular stitch with uniform thread tension, furthermore that it can allow you to tackle the sewing of heavy and thick fabrics such as jeans.
This is possible thanks to a double lift of the foot and the use of a larger needle.
The choice of the machine
Once you have clearly evaluated these parameters, all you have to do is go in search of your first sewing machine, possibly with the opportunity to try it directly.
Let’s say right away that a machine for beginners, equipped with basic stitches, with some decorative stitches, which is sturdy and easy to handle, can be easily purchased at a price ranging from $100 to $300.
Price range $100 – $250
In this price range, it is possible to find mechanical sewing machines with basic stitches and elastic stitches. The latter is very useful if you are sewing a tailoring project with stretch fabrics.
These are really basic machines, excellent for those who don’t yet know which path to take in sewing and want to test themselves without spending a fortune.
These machines have the advantage of being very simple to use, but they are not as efficient as the electronic ones can be:
- the functions present on the machine are activated only manually;
- there are few decorative stitches present;
- often it is necessary to pull the thread behind the foot for at least 10 cm before starting to sew, to avoid slipping the needle.
Some of the models in this range are also available for purchase in large-scale distribution, supermarkets, and hypermarkets in shopping centers.
The most popular Sewing Machine models in this category are:
- Brother XM2701
- SINGER Heavy Duty 4452
- Brother GX37
- SINGER 4423 Heavy-Duty
- SINGER M2100
- Brother CS5055 Computerized
Price range $250 – $400
In this price range, it is possible to find models of more advanced mechanical machines. For these models, the number of stitches available increases, for example, or you can select more needle positions.
However, various electronic models also belong to this range of machines. These are intuitive and very comfortable machines as regards their use.
The functions of these models are many: automatic needle threader, lots of decorative and utility stitches for those who sew tailoring, buttonhole in one step, etc.
Usually, however, due to the large number of functions present, its use is not recommended for beginners because they could be even more confused and frustrated: too much information to assimilate.
In this price range, there are so many models to choose from. It also depends a lot on the functions you want to have available.
A model that I would recommend, especially to those starting out, because it is very versatile is the Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine
Price range above $400
This price range already begins to present a variety of remarkable machines, only of the electronic or computerized type.
These are machines whose performance increases as the price goes up. The number of points is remarkable. There are not only decorative stitches but also quilting and patchwork.
Usually, this type of machine requires a mastery of its use that beginners do not have. This means that its full potential cannot be exploited.
For this reason, it would be advisable to do some practice before deciding to purchase a machine of this range.
In this price range, I recommend evaluating the following brands:
For a machine of the “Singer” brand, my absolute favorite, you need to have a budget of at least €900.
Where to buy the sewing machine
Today there are various purchasing channels, including specialized retailers, online e-commerce, electronics stores in shopping centers, or even large-scale retail stores that offer offers even below $100.
Before choosing how to buy your sewing machine, consider 3 important factors:
- possibility to test the machine, to evaluate its level of functionality and your approach with the different models;
- warranty coverage, which is usually 2 years. This allows you to return the machine if it has manufacturing defects and to have it replaced free of charge;
- possibility to easily and quickly access assistance in case of need.
These are elements that objectively you will not have difficulty finding at a retailer.
Except for the guarantee, you will not find technical assistance for the machine or the possibility of physically trying it at a shop in the shopping center or an e-commerce site, much less in large distribution centers such as supermarket chains.
Whether you are drawn to tailoring, creative projects, or a combination of both, thoughtful consideration of your preferences, budget, and machine features is key.
Your first sewing machine is more than a piece of equipment; it becomes a trusted companion in your exploration of fabric and thread. Take the time to understand your sewing needs, evaluate available features, and align your purchase with your budget. Remember that the right machine for you is the one that complements your current skills while offering room for growth.
Explore various models in different price ranges, keeping in mind that simplicity might be your ally as you begin this journey. Consider reputable brands, test machines whenever possible, and prioritize after-sales support and warranty coverage.