Tips for Buying Your First Sewing Machine

by Leanna Levine | Last Updated: March 20, 2017

Sewing is One of the Best Hobbies You Can Pick Up

If you're reading this, you are probably looking for the perfect sewing machine that will suit your needs. Whether you want to experience the joy of making your own clothes, or just want to save money, choosing the right sewing maching is a great place to start.

There are so many reasons why we think sewing is one of the best hobbies you could pick up. You'll be able to:

  • pick out the perfect material to make cushions
  • alter your outfits so everything is tailor made
  • adapt to growing children can all be easy
  • look good in dresses that are made from your favorite material and in your favorite style
  • feel good knowing everything fits you perfectly
  • save a lot of money if you are able to re-use children’s clothes
  • make your own home furnishings.
  • have a unique wardrobe and household while on a shoestring budget

There’s no end of advantages to being able to sew yourself. If you're here, you probably already know all of the advantages that come with having a sewing machine.

Take your time and spare yourself some headache

It can be tempting to jump in and buy the first one you find. This can lead to you buying something too complicated or simple for your purposes, or spending way more than you need to.

To really make the most of those advantages, you’ll need to know exactly what to look for when you buy your first sewing machine.

Something that is simple enough for a beginner, is the correct price, and will fit into your home are all among the factors that can be considered to make sure you buy your perfect sewing machine.

We know that the clothes, cushions, and gifts that you can produce are infinite, and once you unleash your talent you’ll find you have no end of inspiration for a unique home and wardrobe. We also know that there are thousands of options, from high-tech computerized machines to golden oldies you find in your granny’s attic, and we want to make your choice simple.  

How to Buy your Fisrt Sewing Machine (10 Things to consider)

Following these tips will help you find your dream sewing machine, allowing you to explore your creativity to the full.

1. Think About What Can You Afford

If this is a relatively new hobby then you would understandably be hesitant about dropping thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if you feel like sewing is your calling and you’ve finally discovered your life’s one true passion, then you may want to invest in something sturdy and fancy. Be conscious of your financial situation and be realistic.

Everybody has a budget of some sort, and once you know for sure what your budget is, you can find the best quality sewing machine available. There are some great low cost options, and it is possible to find something awesome and inexpensive as long as you’ve done your research. Plus, don’t forget, once you’ve bought the sewing machine, you’ll still need to buy needles, thread, and materials to experiment with.

It’s also worth noting that it’s possible to spend thousands of dollars and still be unhappy with your sewing machine -figuring out a budget is only the first step in finding what you want. Sturdiness and reliability should be valued over fancy features, as long lasting machines end up being way better value for money.

2. How Often Will You Use Your Sewing Machine?

There are a couple of different aspects to consider when it comes to frequency. If you’re looking for something that can simply stitch and fix the odd piece of clothing or take up a hemline every now and again, then a basic machine will suffice.

You don’t need a range of accessories or hundreds of options when it comes to stitches if you only occasionally sew. If you sew all day every day then you may need more options and accessories, as what you are sewing will be more varied.

One thing all budding sewing enthusiasts should bear in mind is that metal is a lot more durable than plastic, and easier to replace. A metal frame inside your sewing machine will ensure it is long lasting, even if it’s not regularly used.

3. Think About How Many Stitches You Need

When you’ve decided how much you have to spend, and how often you will use it, then you can start thinking about how many stitches you will need. If this is your first sewing machine and you will be sticking to basic techniques, then you would be able to rely on a machine with a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch.

No other bells and whistles are necessary to sew successfully, as these two stitches allow you to sew almost anything.

While it can seem appealing to have a machine with hundreds of stitches, it’s worth considering how many you really need, and if extra stitches are really worth spending hundreds more dollars.

Being able to change the length of your stitch however, can be a really valuable asset. Some sewing machines that are less expensive don’t offer different lengths or widths, so be sure to double check before you buy.

4. Think About What You’ll Be Working On

Some people invest in a sewing machine to simply to alter or repair clothes, while others want to make their own garments from scratch. Some might want to learn to sew in order to jazz up their home, while others are into crafts and artwork, such as embroidery or quilting. A basic machine is completely adequate for most of these tasks.

Dressmaking, repairs, or crafts in particular are easily handled with a simple sewing machine, although a machine that can offer ‘buttonhole stitches’ may make your life easier.

A feature known as ‘free arms’ can make sewing sleeves or trouser legs a lot simpler too. However, for anyone with lofty ambitions involving craftwork, embroidery or quilting, or upholstery, a more heavy duty machine s necessary. A wide range of stitches is needed for this kind of work, and something sturdier is required as the fabric used is generally a lot heavier.

5. Where Will You Be Using The Sewing Machine?

Sewing machines are available in a whole host of shapes and sizes. Getting something that meets all of your needs but is too big or heavy renders it useless.

If you have small children wandering around the house, then you may want something that can be stored away easily after you use it. If you’re learning to sew in a classroom environment and need to be able to transport it to and from school or classes, then something light and portable is necessary.

If you’ll need a space to store the accessories that come with the machine, then you can look for something with space underneath, while covers are also available for dust protection, and bags can be useful for transportation. Knowing where you need to use or store your machine can give you the best idea of the size and weight you should look for.

6. How Big And Heavy Is It?

While considering how big and heavy your machine is may sound a lot like the previous tip, it’s actually a little different.

The heavier the motor is, and the heavier the actual physical machine is, the stronger the machine tends to be. The motor is most important, and a heavier motor can withstand plenty of use, as well as heavy fabrics.

Sewing machines that are largely plastic are a lot less durable and won’t withstand the kind of use metal machines will. The problem is balancing out something lightweight that you can move around when you need to, and something strong enough to be long lasting and able to beautifully stitch heavy fabric.

7. Do You Need Attachments Or Feet?

Almost all new sewing enthusiasts already have an idea of what they plan on making. Most people enter into the craft aware that they want to make dresses, cushions or quilts.

This means that very early on, you’ll know what attachments you’ll need, as they’re specific to the projects you’ll be working on. If you’re looking to get into quilting, then you will need some feet, for example a walking foot, a spring action foot or a ¼” foot.

If you want to get into dressmaking then a zipper foot or a button hole foot may be necessary. There are plenty of machines out there that come with all of these feet, however lower cost machines might have less options to choose from. More expensive machines come with a wide selection that can be specialized.

Some brands may charge more for additional accessories than others, so you should double check what additional products you’ll need to buy before you think you have a bargain.

There’s no need for a dress maker to spend a fortune on a quilting sewing machine, and an upholsterer would be left sorely disappointed with the quality of their work while using a machined specific to garments.

8. Do You Want A Mechanical Or Computerized Machine?

While many new sewing enthusiasts will be looking for a mechanical machine, some people who may be looking for a perfect stitch and intricate embroidery may opt for something computerised. Mechanical frames are generally more familiar and in line with the regular image of a sewing machine. They are generally less expensive, and can be a welcome break from technology.

Computerized machines are a lot more expensive, and once you get the hang of how to use them, they can guarantee a perfect stitch every time.

You can also get a lot more features with a computerized machine, and they can also be a lot quicker to use. So while you save time and can enjoy more control, you may not feel like you are sewing in the traditional and nostalgic sense.

So, this depends on your budget, and whether you’re looking for the perfection of a computerized machine, or want to enjoy the old fashioned skills of a classic machine. It’s a very personal choice, and entirely depends on why you’re getting into sewing.

9. Don’t Forget To Shop Around Online

You can benefit massively from shopping around online and being aware of what you should be able to get for your budget.

This means that you won’t be ripped off, or fall for fancy advertising. When you’re buying your first sewing machine, you want to be sure that you don’t end up ripped off, or end up with a machine that will need replacing after only a few months.

Some of our favorite sewing machines brands include:

These often come with a hefty price tag too.

For lower end sewing machines, under $200, your machine will be largely plastic, and will likely need replacing at some point. Up to $600 will be appropriate in the long term for weekly use, but may crumble under constant daily use.

Sewing machines can vary in price all the way up to $2000, and this price range normally includes the best sewing machines that will last for a lifetime, have replaceable parts, and more available accessories, feet, or stitches.

Many of these high end machines are only available from specific sewing shops, rather than in regular department stores. While there are machines available at over the $2000 mark, this is a very steep investment for a first sewing machine, and is normally only used by professionals.

10. Always Test- Run Your Sewing Device

You want to try out to see if your Machine is either new or used. What you need to do is to run some stitches on the Machine. When you work with the motor, you need to listen to the sound of the sewing device.

Find out if it has a louder or a tickling sound. What you should be looking out here is a machine that will run smooth without making a loud noise.

After you run a line of stitch and listen to the sound of the motor, you'd want to look at the stitches. What you are looking for is the even length of those stitches. If one stitch is twice as long as the others, that means it is skipping a stitch. And that'd be a recipe for disaster which is going to lead to a lot of trouble down the road.

Also, the stitches should look the same front and back. You don’t want loops or anything like that hanging on it. So, just look and make sure the stitches are even and smooth.

Our Selection of the Best Sewing Machines for Beginners

There are several aspects that beginners should look for in a sewing machine, and in reality what you want depends on where and why you will be using your machine.

Without further ado, here is my list of the top 5 sewing machines for beginners includes varying models, at least one of which is perfect for any kind of new stitching aficionado.