How to Choose Your Sewing Machine?
To choose your sewing machine and start in the best way in the world of sewing, you must first ask yourself the right questions to identify the features you will need for the realization of your future creations. Buying a sewing machine is an investment designed to last for years, but like most beginners, you are wondering which sewing machine will be the best for you: Mechanical? Electronic? What features? In this buying guide, we will answer all your questions to help you identify your needs while deciphering a good sewing machine’s main features.
Compare Sewing Machines
Depending on your budget, the use you wish to make of it, your sewing level, or the time you want to devote to it, you will not necessarily choose the same sewing machine as your neighbor. Before rushing to buy a new device, it is imperative to think about your needs and the use you will have of your sewing machine to invest in equipment that suits YOU. Once you are clear on this point, you can start comparing existing sewing machines. Your level of sewing often determines the range of devices you should look at. When you are a beginner and only do small alterations or occasional sewing jobs, a simple sewing machine with basic stitches that is easy to store may be a wise choice.
Conversely, for sewing enthusiasts or those who wish to improve their skills, the choice will be made for electronic sewing machines, more comfortable, which offer more possibilities. These more complete machines allow, for example, to vary the sewing speed, manually adjust the stitches, or sew on thick fabrics. A sewing machine should not be confused with an embroidery machine or overlock machine.
1. Robustness And Power
A robust sewing machine is a machine capable of quilting the thickest materials and fabrics. They are usually equipped with a motor powerful enough to allow them to perform these tasks without cringing. This is a point on which low-priced machines, at less than 100€, will find it challenging to give you complete satisfaction.
2. Basic Stitches
Brands compete in ingenuity to offer us sewing machines with more and more stitches. However, don’t be blinded by these numbers because, in reality, you will only use a tiny part of them. Whichever machine you choose, make sure that it offers at least the following basic stitches: straight stitch, zigzag stitch, and buttonhole stitch (in one or four steps). These stitches allow you to sew almost anything you want.
3. The Length and Width of The Adjustable Stitches
To make it easier for beginners to learn, the stitches’ length and width are sometimes preset on some machines. At first glance, this may seem like a good initiative, but you will be too quickly limited in your creations. For your sewing machine to adapt to the specificities of all your fabrics, it is strongly advised to choose a device that allows you to adjust both the length and width of your stitches manually. In this case, there is no need to buy a machine with 100 stitches since you are free to adjust your stitches according to the thickness and material of your fabrics.
4. Size and Weight of The Machine
The size and weight of your future sewing machine is an essential factor to consider. There are many devices in stores of very different sizes and weights to meet everyone’s needs. For example, the lightest sewing machines (less than 6kg) can easily be transported for sewing courses or vacations. For beginners, these machines are easier to handle but have fewer features. However, when the weight and the size of the device are not your first consideration, you can opt for a heavier and more robust model that will ensure the machine’s better stability during your realizations.
Of course, your budget is a determining factor in choosing your future sewing machine. There are machines available at all prices (from 100 to 1800€) depending on each one’s features. It is up to you to determine the parts you need on your machine to find the right balance between the use you want to make of it and the price you are willing to spend on a sewing machine. For a budget of less than 150€, you should look for a mechanical sewing machine that will be ideal to start and try your hand at sewing despite its limited performance against the competition of more sophisticated but also more expensive electronic devices. Apart from the SilverCrest SNM 33 sold at Lidl once or twice a year in France, beginners avoid the low-end machines offered at less than a hundred euros. These models are often too fragile, manufactured at a lower cost, and very limited in their functionalities. In this case, you should instead buy a second-hand sewing machine that will do the work much better for a reasonable price.
Electronic or Mechanical Sewing Machine?
This is the eternal question when buying a sewing machine. The choice between an electronic or mechanical sewing machine will depend mainly on your budget and how you want to use it. The automatic sewing machine is usually less expensive than its electronic equivalent, but each one has advantages and disadvantages that can make you lean towards one model over another.
For many of us, the mechanical sewing machine refers to our grandmothers’ good old sewing machine. Although they have evolved in design, the way they work has not changed much. They are more challenging to handle because it is up to you to make the adjustments, putting off beginners. With no electronics for stitching and design operation, mechanical sewing machines have the advantage of being less fragile, easier to maintain, and more flexible once you start to master them. They are, however, a little less nervous and more limited in the number of stitches.
On the other hand, the electronic sewing machine is much easier to use by automating many stitch adjustments. The length and width adjustments are made automatically by selecting your stitch via the LCD/tactile display. The machine runs smoothly and makes buttonholes, for example, in no time at all. For a beginner, the device is more comfortable to handle than a mechanical machine. The little bonus is that they are also quieter, which is not insignificant for sewing at any time of the day or night with complete discretion. On the other hand, repairs are more expensive than on mechanical machines, mainly because of the electronic boards that often have to be wholly changed in case of failure, although this is still relatively rare.
Nothing prevents you from starting with a less expensive mechanical sewing machine, especially when you are not yet entirely sure to sew regularly. You can always resell your device and later switch to an electronic sewing machine. Conversely, if you are already convinced of your passion for sewing and your budget allows you to do so, you can directly opt for an electronic sewing machine. Beware of low-end or first price machines with which you will quickly be limited (fabric thickness, number of stitches, etc.).
Some Additional Options
Several other additional features can also help make your life easier when doing specific works and bring you significant comfort. For a complete overview of all the functions available on a sewing machine, I invite you to read our article here.
- The Presser Feet or Presser Feet : Presser’s feet are not automatically sold with all sewing machines, especially on entry-level models. Remember to check that you have at least one foot to put a zipper and one buttonhole foot to not find yourself limited in your creations.
- The Free Arm : This is the possibility to remove the removable part at the needle plate to free the machine arm. This makes it possible to sew all around the sleeves or pant legs. It is rare to find sewing machines that do not offer this option. But it is better to make sure.
- The Vertical or Horizontal Coil Holder : The bobbin holder of a sewing machine allows the thread reel to unwind smoothly. The bobbin can then be placed either vertically or horizontally on your device. When the bobbin is placed in a vertical position, it tends to be subject to a certain amount of inertia. Driven by the movement, when the machine stops abruptly, the bobbin continues to rotate slightly. As it continues to unwind, this can cause knots or thread tension problems. This is not an essential point, but it can make a difference when you hesitate between several machines.
- The Feed Claws : Driving claws are used to advance the fabric. The more the sewing machine has feed dogs, the more precise the work will be. Some brands such as Pfaff offer patented Integrated Double Feed Technology (IDT) for even more fluidity on thicker fabrics in particular.