Unlike other home equipment, investing in a sewing machine can be an exciting, yet daunting task, especially if you are a beginner and you don’t know what are you looking for. Usually, beginners have a lot of problems finding a model that suits their needs. A quality machine can be an investment for life; that’s why it’s so important to make the right choice. Nowadays, the market is brimming with hundreds of brands and models with various features and accessories and this can be quite confusing for everyone, especially for those sewers who are not tech-savvy. In order to choose the right model for your needs, compare various models and determine what specific type of machine you will need.
Types of Sewing Machines
Mechanical Sewing Machines
Mechanical machines are the most basic of sewing machines. They are not operated by electricity, so you have to use the wheel or dial which is located on the side of the device. Compared to computerized machines, the mechanical models are rarely manufactured and most of them are vintage models, such as the iconic Singer machine. Despite the lack of impressive features and accessories, they are still great for basic projects. You can customize and personalize everything you want, including clothing, duvets, quilts, and the likes with ease.
Electronic Sewing Machines
As the name itself suggests, electronic machines are powered by an electric motor. The motor has the main purpose to power the needle, the bobbin, and the lights (in case it has lights). The foot pedal that is placed on the floor operates the machine and controls the needle. Therefore, the more pressure you will apply with the foot pedal, the faster you will stitch. The electronic machines are equipped with a lot of impressive features. They come with plenty of stitch patterns and the stitch length and width can be adjusted, which means that you shouldn’t worry about the thread tension, and sometimes you can even stitch on autopilot.
Computerized Sewing Machines
Computerized machines are typically used by advanced sewers. Most of them are equipped with a plethora of stitch functions, sometimes up to 600 different options. Instead of a selection dial, the computerized models feature a touchpad screen that allows you to choose what stitches you want to use. Also, on certain models, you can download embroidery designs and patterns from the Internet. Some of the best high-end models have USB ports and one-touch stitch selection convenience. Computerized machines are much more expensive than both mechanical and electrical machines. However, if you are looking to use it on an almost daily basis, this is definitely an option worth taking into consideration.
The overlocker is a type of finishing machine, specially designed for those sewers who want to create their own clothes. They are usually used for edging, hemming, and seaming. Some overlockers are equipped with built-in blades used to trim off excess material along the edges to give a professional finish. Also known as “serger” machines, the overlockers are great for simple projects where no extra buttonholes need to be added, as they are not designed to do this.
The embroidery machines help you create intricate patterns and designs. Most of these sewing machines allow you to make a wide range of programmed designs, download new patterns from the Internet and even practice free-motion embroidery ( free machine embroidery that comes with feed dogs and embroidery foot-on). There are hundreds of models available on the market, today, that it is quite complicated to find the right model for your needs. However, it’s important to know that there are 2 types of embroidery machines, such as:
- Embroidery sewing machines – it works with designs for embroidery and it is also capable of stitching out.
- Embroidery-only machines – it does only embroidery. It doesn’t do the regular work of a sewing machine.
Some of the most quality sewing machines are those models that include a quilting feature. They usually include an oversized work table, allowing sewers to work large fabrics with ease. Furthermore, they are equipped with a plethora of built-in stitch designs that allow you to complete even the most complicated sewing projects. Some models include a long-arm sewing option which helps you save time since you can quilt more than one piece of material at a time. The long-arm normally measures from 10 to 14 feet and it is often found in industrial machines. Quilting machines can be either mechanical or computerized, so if you are an advanced sewer and you have experience in quilting, you can opt for a computerized model, such as the singer 7256 or Brother CS6000i.
Some of the best monogramming machines are embroidery machines with lettering fonts. These pieces of equipment will do not only monograms but by using these models, you can also create embroidery designs as well. In simple terms, with a monogramming machine, you have the option to create various embroidery designs. If you just want to do monograms on gifts or home items, a home embroidery machine is exactly what you are looking for. Each embroidery machine has various features for monogramming. On the other hand, if you are an advanced sewer and you want to create large projects, a commercial machine will provide the durability and efficiency you need.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Sewing Machine
As it was mentioned before there are hundreds of types of sewing machines on the market, so it’s quite difficult to choose a model that matches your needs. Therefore, in order to make the best decision, take into account various factors.
Size and Weight
If you are on the hunt for a sewing machine, have a look at the size and weight of the product. If you want to move it around or take it with you to your sewing class, opt for a small yet efficient machine that can make you feel comfortable. Of course, if you are an experienced sewer and you have a space dedicated to sewing only, you can choose a bulkier machine. Also, it’s recommended to buy a machine that includes a handle or a carrying case for easy transportation.
Whether you are a beginner or a professional sewer, you definitely want to use a quality model that comes with additional features. An impressive set of features has a big impact on the performance and capabilities of the machine. For example, if a sewing machine is equipped with dozen of stitch patterns, it allows you to create more elaborate stitching. More than that, when purchasing a machine pay careful attention to the maximum sewing/embroidery speed. For larger projects, you will need a model that will sew up to 750 stitches per minute. Once you become more experienced at sewing, you can go for a machine that sews up to 1500 stitches per minute (heavy-duty machines). Tension control is also very important. While some machines automatically adjust the tension to match the project you are working on, other machines are equipped with a dial so that you can manually adjust the tension to fit your projects.
Ease of use
As it was mentioned before there are different types of sewing machines on the market. Each one of those models comes with impressive features and advanced technology. However, the computerized machine is more versatile than mechanical machines. They are more efficient and provide more accurate and strong stitches. Of course, if you are planning to buy a model that is simple and easy to use, you might want to choose a mechanical machine instead. Due to the fact that it comes with fewer functions, they are much easier to operate than the computerized models. Actually, they are specially designed for kids and beginners and are best suited for basic projects.
Nowadays, most sewing machines come with a nice bundle of accessories to help you complete most projects. The standard accessory for these models is the presser feet which makes the machine adapt to various projects. Additionally, a sewing machine can include needles, bobbins, screwdrivers, a seam ripper, a cleaning brush, a soft-sided dust cover, and an instruction book with foot control and a power cord. All these accessories will help you maintain your machine in proper condition.
Best Sewing Machines for Beginners
Sewing machines can be quite daunting to most beginners: indeed, the mechanisms coupled with all the knobs and buttons can look quite inaccessible and difficult to use. Contrary to popular belief, however, the market does offer a great variety of models that are specifically designed for users who don’t have a lot experience. The good news is that, unlike commercial machines, these models are easier to understand and operate and can be found at much lower prices, which means that you can very easily afford it even if you’re on a limited budget.
It is quite important for starter machines to be easy to operate because more advanced models may have disastrous consequences if you don’t know how to find your way around them. However, choosing a model of the appropriate level is not so easy when you’re new to sewing and looking to buy your very first sewing machine. So, in order to help you choose the most appropriate model for your skill level, sewing needs and -most important- budget, here are our top picks
Singer 4423 Heavy Duty
Like its name suggests, the Singer 4423 Heavy Duty is ideal for everyday use which makes it ideal for starting a small business since you’ll be able to exploit all the different features to the maximum. With a price tag between $100 and $200 this model isn’t among the cheapest but, since it does not compromise on quality and provides you with some commercial-grade features it is well worth the price.
The Singer 4423 can sew at a whopping speed of 1,100 stitches-per-minute, which enables you to complete your projects as quickly as possible, again making it great for the small business. Other features worth mentioning are its 23 built-in stitches that include but are not limited to, decorative, stretch, essential, automatic 4-step buttonhole, and the likes.
The Brother CS6000i is one of the cheapest and most popular computerized models. Because it is entirely computerized, this machine allows you to navigate through the different functions simply by flicking your finger across the touchpad. The widescreen LCD display is easy to read, even from a distance, and the screen is designed to help you view the current stitch design that the machine is set to.
This model comes with a stop/start button for greater control over your sewing. Users can also benefit from a variable speed control, enabling you to adjust your sewing speed in the blink of an eye. You can also make the most of the oversized table to indulge in projects that require larger expanses of fabric like quilting. The automatic needle threader is also ideal for elderly people or anyone who suffers from poor eyesight. It even includes a variety of additional features such as the jam-resistant and quick-set top drop in bobbin that provides extremely easy access to the bobbin thread. This certainly saves you the hassle of having to constantly fish around for the bobbin thread- something that can be something of an issue, especially for beginners
Brother Project Runway CS5055PRW
The Brother Project Runway CS5055PRW is a versatile machine that can be used for both sewing and quilting projects. Enhanced by an automatic needle threader, this apparatus is entirely computerized and can easily be used with several types of fabrics: indeed, while lower-quality apparatuses tend to jam with elastic fabrics, this machine can be used with elastic, spandex, fleece and other such materials. The 50 built in stitches are quire varied and includes heirloom, decorative and utility stitches, among others.
While it’s undoubtedly more expensive than some other models, the CS5055PRW is easily worth every penny. Users will also be able to refer to the handy stitch chart to guide them through the various designs. The work area is enhanced by bright lighting designed to help users use the apparatus at night with minimal risks of eye strains.