Favourite sewing topics: No 1 Buying your first sewing machine!
Firstly, opinions do vary about buying your first sewing machine! It’s important to know there is no one answer to this topic, and I hope my tips will help you decide on what suits you best!
There is no doubt the choice out there is overwhelming; where do you start?
Let’s start with three questions!
1. Are you new to sewing and are you certain that this amazing hobby is for you or are you trying it out?
If you have never tried sewing but feel this could be something you would enjoy, I encourage you to try. There will be frustrations along the way, you will want to give up, but give yourself a good chance. Don’t expect things to be perfect at the start, know that there will be unpicking involved but after the trials and errors you may have discovered a wonderful creative outlet for yourself.
If you have access to a sewing machine you can borrow, that’s where I would start. I have seen it before where people invest time and money on machines that are, sadly, left to gather dust. No one wants that!
Machines are designed to bring joy and inspiration to our lives. Borrow one and see if you are ready to take the step into the world of sewing. You may find a local class where you can borrow a machine, try them out, gain some knowledge of how to sew and, how a particular brand of machine feels.
2. What is your budget?
Following on from that initial machine try our and feeling certain you are ready to make the investment consider your budget. Again, you have choices. Consider buying second hand. Take the time to research and inquire through your local sewing community if there is an outlet where second-hand machines are sold. I love Bernina machines, but they are on the pricey end. I am the proud owner of a second-hand Bernina I found through a local sewing repair shop. Trust me, machines can become addictive!
There’s a whole valuable sewing community out there. It’s worth getting to know them!
Chat to someone who is experienced with sewing machines, keep an eye on your local charity shop and if something comes up ask if they have time to go with you and get their valued opinion. I’ve seen old machines in good condition going for a song through charity shops. Take some scrap fabric with you and ask if you can test the machine out. It’s quite possible to stumble across a treasure!
The machine I have consistently had since my student days is a Janome. Janome are a middle of the range machine and a lighter more manageable weight, but still strong enough to be part of your life for decades. I have had my original Janome machine for over 40 years, and it is loved and used by others.
An important tip for all machines is get the machine manual! I know this is not the exciting part, but it can save you a lot of time and trouble with all the information you will find there! As a beginner you can photocopy pages, make notes, highlight diagrams, and start to make friends with that manual. If there is no manual with the machine you will more than likely find one on the internet. Google and be tenacious, a manual is a necessary part of your sewing equipment!
After all your research, meeting and talking to your local community, visiting craft fairs when possible, and narrowing down your options, you may feel confident you are ready to buy a new machine.
So, things to consider when looking at new are who has specials on or coming up. Promos are a great option and always inquire about what comes with the purchase of a new machine. Certain accessories are standard, but your dealer may be prepared to offer additional free bonuses. There’s no harm in asking what the deal includes.
It’s not only promos that your dealer may advise you on, find out if there are any ‘seconds’ as far as machines go. For various reasons new machines come up that cannot be sold as new. The machine could have been an unsuitable purchase, returned unused and the owner is selling at a discounted price through the dealer. Demo models still in perfect condition or a machine with surface damage somewhere that does not affect its performance are other examples that may be sold at a discounted price. Do ask!
There are advantages to buying new and if this is your choice, I would consider my third tip very carefully.
3. Have you thought about support for when you need help with your machine? A sewing machine dealer can be crucial to your network!
When buying a new machine, you have the option of buying through a reputable sewing machine dealer or through an outlet that sell machines without after sales support. This is something to be aware of.
You may pay more through a dealer but find out what the before and after sales support includes and consider paying the extra for that service. Dealerships do vary in what they offer in the way of support.
- If you can try out the machine before you buy
- The level of support you can expect for assistance with your machine other than servicing
- If they service your machine in house or send them away
- If they offer free lessons to familiarise you with your new purchase
An encouraging, knowledgeable dealer is well worth supporting. It’s reassuring to know you have expert advice to call on when needed. This is not the case when you purchase through a general outlet.
Unfortunately, dealers without much knowledge or interest will mean people will find answers elsewhere. I have not bought a machine without going through a dealer, but I understand if there isn’t a supportive local dealer, people will shop at other outlets or purchase and seek advice online. Purchasing machines online is an unknown entity to me and I can’t offer advice in that area.
I do hope this has given you a starting point and inspired you to go out and do your research. Enjoy the process, try machines out, visit craft fairs and trade shows or smaller local sewing groups and start chatting to people. Online groups and forums are another source of advice for buying machines.
I would love to hear your thoughts or advice on this topic. If there are other topics you would like to discuss I’m happy to hear about them too!
Please join in and comment below.