So, you're ready to take the plunge and buy yourself a sewing machine! Yay!!! But, now that you've started looking, all the choices are overwhelming. There are so many different brands, models and options! How is it that you can pick up a machine at a big box store for just over $100, but you go into your nearest sewing machine shop and find sewing machines listed at over $1000 (and waaaaay up from there!)?
Here's the scoop - you get what you pay for. (I bet you saw that coming, eh?) New sewing machines with a cheaper price point are not made as well as more expensive models. They include more (lots more) plastic parts inside that are subject to breaking and wearing down much more quickly. They come with fewer and more cheaply made accessories. They also have motors that aren't as strong, so the needle just doesn't have that "punching power" to get through multiple layers of thicker fabrics like denim or canvas.
WHAT YOU NEED VS. WHAT YOU DON'T NEED
What about all those stitches? Should you pay more for a machine because it comes with 250 stitches? Well, that does really depend on what you want to do, but the reality is that you will mostly just use these few basic stitches:
Zig zag stitch
Much less frequently - some form of a stretch stitch and a button-hole function
In sewing, you'll use straight and zig zag stitches most of the time. Those fancy stitches are cute, but don't get used too often.
At Hello Stitch, we help people learn how to use sewing machines every day, and we've found a few functions that really help make learning to sew more fun and easy.
Speed control: the machine can be made to slow down
Needle up/down: the machine can be made to stop with the needle up or down. It will also ensure that the complete stitch cycle has completed before you remove your fabric. This is not a feature that is automatically included on all machines and it can take a bit of a learning curve to remember that it is a VERY IMPORTANT part of stopping/starting your line of sewing.
Good tension control: Some of the lower end machines don't do as good of a job with tension as they should. Bad thread tension = lots of sewist tension. Nobody likes bad tension!
SOME FANCY EXTRAS TO CONSIDER
The scissor feature that cuts the top and bottom thread at the end of your line of stitching is icing on the cake. While it's certainly not a necessity, it's one of those features that our studio members LOVE!
A knee lift that lifts your presser foot is great. However, it's one of those things that if you've never had it, you probably won't miss it.
While needle threaders come standard on many machines, we tend not to use them. We've found that they're often trickier to use than just getting the thread through the eye of the needle on your own! (The trick to getting the thread through that little eye - BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT!)
WHAT SEWING MACHINE DO WE RECOMMEND?
At Hello Stitch Studio, we really love our studio classroom machines, the Janome M7050.
We recommend this machine because it can grow with you as you learn to sew and it is so user friendly that you'll WANT to use it EVERTY DAY! It has features that make sewing easy and that lower end machines do not have, such as:
Easy to understand threading guides
Easy, drop-in bobbin threading
Simple machine controls
Speed control - great for younger or new sewists!
Enough stitches to make sewing a fun adventure, but not overwhelming or confusing
An assortment of feet that fit most specialty needs
A portable sewing platform that gives more stability for larger projects
It prevents you from sewing when the presser foot is raised
The scissor feature that cuts your thread
Come spend the day sewing on one of our machines in class, or with a daily membership and see what you think before you make a final decision! We have a few different models at different price points available. If you have more specific machine needs, or want to come by and test out a machine, get in touch. We're happy to answer any questions you may have!