A Guide To Buying Your First Sewing Machine

A while back I posted about what you need to learn to sew no matter how small your budget. I suggested that when you first start it's pretty easy to borrow a sewing machine. That is still true. But you can't borrow something indefinitely. At some point you reach the stage where you need to actually invest in a sewing machine yourself. So I thought I would write a little guide about what to look for when you want to make that investment.

First of all I want you to know that I think your investment will be worth every penny. It may seem like a big outlay at the moment but if you choose wisely you will have a piece of equipment that you can use for decades to come. You will probably end up saving money in the long run, especially if you start to make your own furnishings and clothes, but even if your goal is to just break even you will also have hours of fun ahead of you.

Work Out Your Budget 
The first and most important part of making any purchase is working out your budget. Maybe you don't have to worry too much about this, you know that on your next pay day you'll have a few hundred pounds ready to spend or it might even already be in your bank account. Well if you're like me then this probably isn't the case. Buying a sewing machine might require a few months of saving, maybe some birthday/Christmas money too. Have a realistic think about how much you can afford to spend or how much you can save over the next few weeks and months and set yourself a maximum budget. This figure should be your top amount and you should be stubborn about sticking to it. However bare in mind that this is a longer term investment too, if your savings over the next couple of weeks will only get you the cheapest machine then it is probably worth saving for a bit longer. Aim to spend at least £100 and you'll be able to find a decent machine. If you can afford more you'll be able to be a little more choosy about the make and model you purchase.

Choose a Brand
Choosing the brand of your sewing machine is half the battle. Once you have made this decision you will only have a few sewing machines that match your budget to choose from. There are several big brand names for sewing machine to consider. Singer, Janome and Brother are 3 of the most famous but there are others to consider. Most of these can all offer similar quality machines so there isn't much in it. I suggest you ask yourself these questions about the brands your considering:

Which brand can I buy locally?
If you can shop locally for your machine then this is a great bonus. You'll be able to see the actual machine before you purchase it, if you have any problems with it you know where to go and its much quicker and easier than sending it off somewhere and you'll be supporting a local business.

Which brand do I know?
If you have been learning to sew chances are you already have an affinity to one particular manufacturer. Ask yourself what you like about this brand and what you aren't so keen on. It might be that these things are unique to that make or model, or it might be that every brand has them in common. Do a little bit of research into what the other brands offer before you decide but you may find you have all your need with the one you know.

Which brands have I been recommended?
You might know some one who sew often and has tried about a few machine, give them a quickly call and ask them about what they use and why. It might they have just always stuck with the same thing but they might be able to offer you some insight that you hadn't thought of before. Plus reading review online is all very well but that tends to be only a very small sample of the people who actually use it and you don't know them. Asking someone you know and trust is always a good idea.

Make a List of Your Minimum Requirements
Once you've chosen a brand you can start making your lists. Write down what you think are the absolute essentials for a sewing machine. Depending on the type of sewing you will be doing this list will be quite different. This would be my recommended list of what you will need your sewing machine to do:

Sew straight and zigzag stitch
Sew a button hole
Have a standard foot, zipper foot and be able to attach other feet that you can purchase later

And that is really it. Then you can think about what other accessories are important to what you're planning to make. After the next step (making a wish list) you might bump up a few of those onto your essentials list.

Make a Wish List
This is where you can start to think about what you'd sew if you could do anything. Maybe you desperately want to start sewing with leather in which case you'd need a more heavy duty machine. Perhaps you love the idea of sewing lots of pretty blouses then maybe looking for some fancy decorative stitches will be useful. You might have in mind that you want to sew while you watch TV or while your kids are sleeping so you'd like a quieter model. Whatever you are hoping for write it all down. Everything you can think of is important.

Then once you have your wish list work out which of these things is the MOST important and which are the least important. If you can put them in the right order. You might realise that some of these things are so important to you that you want to bump them up the the essentials list. Then you'll have one list of essentials and one list of 'nice to haves' ready to have with you when you go shopping.

Ask Lot's of Questions
This is easier to do if you are going into an actual shop but don't be afraid to ask questions. Tell the shop keeper your essentials and some of your wish list and share your budget with them (maybe say a little less than your actual budget). Ask questions like "How often to people have to have these machines repaired?"; "How much does a service cost?"; "How much do the extra footers cost?" and "How many layers of Denim can it handle?" Or any other question you come up with. Read some review too and see what other people think. If you can try it out and see if you like the feel of it.

Remember that if you are in a shop the shopkeeper will be trying to get the best sale he can out of you though, he might be trying to get you to buy a machine that's £20 more than one that will be perfect for you. You don't have to spend your entire budget just because you have it, you can spend your change on fabric if you have some!

Take Your Time
If you are borrowing a machine then there is absolutely no reason that you need to buy your machine TODAY. I know the feeling of saving up and having the money burning a hole in your pocket but I would suggest once you've had a good look around think on it for a couple of days (at least) before actually making your purchase. Then you'll be sure you buy the right machine for you.

I love my sewing machine (by the way its a Singer Confidence) and I don't know what I would do without it. I hope you can use this list to find a machine that you learn to love too. Once you do I would be delighted if you wrote in the comments section what you chose and why and then others can learn from your shopping decisions too. Happy shopping. Zoe x

1 comment :

  1. Hello,can i ask you what should i base on to choose a machine if i wanna use it to work on my jeans ? Thank you.


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