So....you're in the market for a new sewing machine. Where to start? How do you find the right sewing machine? We've gone down that rabbit hole and have some top tips for you as you start your sewing machine buying journey.
First, let's think about what you need.
Assess your sewing projects. Are you a quilter? Or more of a garment sewist? Or is home dec or bag-making more your jam? Think about the types of stitches you'll need. Quilters may want embroidery and specialized stitches, while home dec and garment sewists will depend on their straight and zigzag stitches and other utility stitches.
While it seems that many sewists gravitate towards one particular type of project, there are plenty of folks who dabble amongst them all. BUT it is your sewing practice that lays the groundwork for determining the stitches and ultimately the type of machine you need.
If you're upgrading, determine what you do and don't like about your current machine. Is it too slow? Or conversely, too fast? Does it chew up your fabric? Is it too heavy to get out/set up? Is it complicated to use? Is it missing features that you want? Does it have a free arm? Does it hum nicely and is it easy to maintain?
Sometimes, after you've made this list of pros and cons about your current machine, you'll discover that your machine is, in fact, pretty good. And maybe you just need some accessories, like different feet, for your projects. For example, I'm a garment sewist, but recently started machine quilting. I thought for certain I needed a new machine with an integrated walking foot that could handle the layers of fabric and batting. I hadn't realized I could add one to my current machine! Purchasing an add-on set of presser feet greatly enhances your machine's current capabilities.
Once you've got a clear idea of your needs and how the machine will suit your purposes, it's time to take the next steps.
Find a local dealer. Yes, you can buy sewing machines from a big box store, but chances are that same store will not offer after-sale service or support. Local sewing machine dealers have extensive training and knowledge of the brands they sell, offer tutorials and classes for those machines (often one-on-one), and often have an on-site maintenance and repair person. Personally, I have visited many quilt/sewing shops, and the retailers are VERY generous with their time and knowledge. Use that resource, build that relationship--you won't regret it.
If a local dealer is prohibitively too far away, each sewing machine manufacturer will have a list of online retailers as well. Make some phone calls and build that relationship.
Set a budget. Let's be honest. A sewing machine is just that...a machine. And good ones are priced accordingly. You are asking it to make bedding, curtains, or a pair of pajamas. If you're going to spend the money on fabric and the effort on the project, you want the best result possible, right? So take that list of features you need for the projects you sew, and start looking. Of course speak to sewing friends, they'll have good insight on their own machines. And keep your local dealer in mind, too, as most local machine dealers, in addition to being a font of knowledge, also offer refurbished and trade-in models, and can keep you in budget.
Every year myriads of sewists are attracted by new machines, new stitches, new features--but before jumping in feet first, take some time, assess your practice and needs, proceed with a budget in mind armed with research and you'll certainly find exactly what you need!
Want to get the most out of your current machine? Our presser foot sets can help you expand the ease and effectiveness of your current machine.