Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sewing Machines: How Do I Choose?

I'm perplexed. I've decided that I finally want to get a sewing machine, and I've never had one before. The problem is that I've never used one and I'm not sure what to look for. I just picked up Diana Rupp's book Sew Everything Workshop, and I think I've come to the following conclusions:
1. I am thinking that it would be best to purchase a sewing machine from a dealer who can provide a limited warranty on used, refurbished machines or can sell new machines with a warranty. I would also like to be able to take classes from the place that I buy the machine and have the opportunity to ask them follow up questions, and possibly take my machine to them to be fixed if there are any problems.
2. I am leaning towards purchasing an older machine because I want a machine that has metal parts. If I buy a newer machine I will make sure that only the case is made of plastic.
3. I don't care about fancy stitching options. I need a straight stitch and zigzag options. Anything else is just extra.
4. I may want a one-step button hole option on my machine.
5. I definitely want a drop in bobbin loader.

Sewing machine veterans: What other advice do you have for someone looking to purchase a new machine for the first time? What features do you find useful?


  1. maybe you're already aware of this, but joann's fabrics stores offer classes on sewing machines.

    i've inherited my grandmother's machine, but i've yet to pull it out and fiddle with it. i know absolutely nothing about them, but luckily i do have a friend who uses one. i hope she'll be able to help!

    there is a gal who's blog i read ( who recommended a bunch of sewing instruction manuals on her site. maybe she can offer some tips? she's a real sweetheart.

    good luck!

  2. I had heard that Joann's offered classes, but I was hoping to be able to take some classes for free with the purchase of a new machine. Sometimes dealers will throw that in as a bonus. I'm leaning towards buying an older machine now. Today I looked at a Viking Classica 100 (circa 1980s) in GREAT shape that has been inspected and tuned up. It has a one year warranty and a free tune-up certificate redeemable after my first year of sewing on it. The dealer agreed to give one on one classes until I was satisfied with my ability to use all the functions. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with this machine over the other ones I looked at today.

    If you pull out your machine any time soon you should blog about it. I'd love to read about your sewing adventures. Maybe we can struggle through some of the learning together. :)

    Thanks for that blog link! I'm definitely going to check it out.

  3. Will do! I am thinking I ought to have some time come August. It's kind of just dawned on me that I'm doing a show this come weekend AND next, soo I need to get my tuckus in gear!

    that sounds like a stellar deal on the Viking. one on one learning is always the way to go. I hope you'll post some photos once you've acquired it. :)

  4. If you buy a machine, make SURE it will sew felt. I have always preferred older machines for felt, personally. I don't know if they're still around, but there is a repair shop in Oshkosh, and I am sure they would be more willing to work with you than a big box craft store. Plus, if you buy from them, you know they can service your machine if something goes wrong.

  5. Jennie,
    Good advice! I did buy the machine, and it seems to really like felt. I've sewn two little pincushions with felt bottoms on them, and it did a great job.

    The guy who runs the store is an amazing teacher. He taught me how to use all the stitches, thread the bobbin and the top thread, wind the bobbin, change the feet and make adjustments for sewing on different fabrics. I can't believe I was able to start simple projects the very first day. The machine was a little pricier than I would have liked being that it was used, but I know for sure that I'm going to get great customer service down the road from this ship.

  6. Did you go to the repair place in Oshkosh?

  7. Nope, I went to a sewing/vaccuum shop in Appleton. I can't believe those types of shops still exist.