What type of sewing machine would you recommend?

3

Besides sewing lighter fabrics, I need to have the ability to sew light and heavy denim.

I am also very interested in any recommendation as to brands, specific models, accessories, etc. that you have found helpful.

The brands I have found locally are Singer and Kenmore.

Any advice and help is sincerely appreciated.

namaste
Not everyone who sews is a seamstress and if you look at my avatar you might well realize I will never be a seamstress in this present manifestation or life time although I might be a tailor.

namaste

Take a look at Kate Dicey's essay on choosing sewing machines at
http://www.katedicey.co.uk (and take a look around at her site…
there are a lot of nice little tutorials there!). The FAQ she
refers to is at http://preview.tinyurl.com/l5rzu6 now.

What I want for beginners in sewing:

– a machine that doesn't scare you

– a machine that isn't balky (cheap new machines are often very
balky or need adjustments often and are rarely repairable — just
too frustrating to learn on!)

– very good straight stitch

– good zigzag (4-5 mm is fine, more than that is gravy)

– a method of making buttonholes that makes sense to you

– adjustable presser foot pressure (which helps some fabric
handling issues)

– accessory presser feet that don't cost an arm and a leg
(machines that use a "short shank foot" typically handle generic
presser feet pretty well. Some brands of machines use proprietary
or very expensive presser feet)

If the budget stretches far enough:

– blindhem and stretch blindhem stitches

– triple zigzag (nice for elastic applications)

– a couple of decorative stitches (you won't use them nearly as
much as you think)

– electronic machine because of the needle position control and
because the stepper motors give you full "punching force" at
slow sewing speeds — mechanical machines often will stall at
slow speeds.

Please go to the best sewing machine dealers around and ask them
to show you some machines in your price range, *especially* used
machines you can afford. You'll get a far better machine at a
specific price buying used than new and a good dealer is worth
their weight in sewing machine needles when you get a machine
problem — often they can talk you through the problem over the
phone. While you're trying things out, try a couple of machines
(sewing only, not combo sewing-embroidery) over your price limit,
just so you can see what the difference in stitch quality and
ease of use might be. You may find you want to go for the used
Cadillac. Or you might want the new basic Chevy. Might as well
try both out.

Suggested reading: John Giordano's The Sewing Machine Book
(especially for used machines), Carol Ahles' Fine Machine Sewing
(especially the first and last few chapters) and Gale Grigg
Hazen's Owner's Guide to Sewing Machines, Sergers and Knitting
Machines. All of these are likely to be available at your public
library.

Used brands I'd particularly look for: Elna, Bernina,
Viking/Husqvarna, Pfaff, Singer (pre 1970), Juki, Toyota

New "bargain brand" I'd probably pick, if new, decent and budget
was my choice: Janome (who also does Kenmore).

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Comments on What type of sewing machine would you recommend? Leave a Comment

February 5, 2013

Age of Reason @ 2:59 pm #

You buy from a local dealer, not a department store
A dealer gives you a warranty, service and support. You can bring pieces of the fabrics and test drive the machines and see which on meets your needs.
An $80 machine will give you trouble with thick materials since the needle shaft if not strong enough
Recommend you buy a Used Machine from the dealer. The best machine would be an older Singer Featherweight if you can find one.
References :

seamstress @ 3:11 pm #

Sewing machines are like automobiles. There are many models and features available along with a vast range of prices. You could spend a couple hundred to several thousand dollars on a sewing machine. There are many sewing machine choices within each brand, depending on your needs.

First of all: It is important to purchase a sewing machine knowing in advance where you plan to get the machine serviced. You may want to call a local sewing machine repair shop to see which brand of machines they service. Go to a local sewing machine dealer or perhaps one in a near by city and test machines in their showroom.

I have had great personal experience with Pfaff and Elna. I have sewn hours on end, day after day on these two machines for decades and have only been in the repair shop twice!! Honestly.

Test out machines and see which one fits your needs. Do not be tempted to get a machine with all of the bells and whistles unless you already have a use for those features. A good sewing machine does not have to be all that complicated with features you will never use. Must have features are: straight stitch, zig zag stitch, button hole, stretch stitch, blind stitch and an overcast stitch.

Remember: One who sews is a seamstress, not a sewer. A sewer is a series of underground pipes that carry waste water and sewage. Ewwww.
References :

kay @ 3:18 pm #

Take a look at Kate Dicey's essay on choosing sewing machines at
http://www.katedicey.co.uk (and take a look around at her site…
there are a lot of nice little tutorials there!). The FAQ she
refers to is at http://preview.tinyurl.com/l5rzu6 now.

What I want for beginners in sewing:

– a machine that doesn't scare you

– a machine that isn't balky (cheap new machines are often very
balky or need adjustments often and are rarely repairable — just
too frustrating to learn on!)

– very good straight stitch

– good zigzag (4-5 mm is fine, more than that is gravy)

– a method of making buttonholes that makes sense to you

– adjustable presser foot pressure (which helps some fabric
handling issues)

– accessory presser feet that don't cost an arm and a leg
(machines that use a "short shank foot" typically handle generic
presser feet pretty well. Some brands of machines use proprietary
or very expensive presser feet)

If the budget stretches far enough:

– blindhem and stretch blindhem stitches

– triple zigzag (nice for elastic applications)

– a couple of decorative stitches (you won't use them nearly as
much as you think)

– electronic machine because of the needle position control and
because the stepper motors give you full "punching force" at
slow sewing speeds — mechanical machines often will stall at
slow speeds.

Please go to the best sewing machine dealers around and ask them
to show you some machines in your price range, *especially* used
machines you can afford. You'll get a far better machine at a
specific price buying used than new and a good dealer is worth
their weight in sewing machine needles when you get a machine
problem — often they can talk you through the problem over the
phone. While you're trying things out, try a couple of machines
(sewing only, not combo sewing-embroidery) over your price limit,
just so you can see what the difference in stitch quality and
ease of use might be. You may find you want to go for the used
Cadillac. Or you might want the new basic Chevy. Might as well
try both out.

Suggested reading: John Giordano's The Sewing Machine Book
(especially for used machines), Carol Ahles' Fine Machine Sewing
(especially the first and last few chapters) and Gale Grigg
Hazen's Owner's Guide to Sewing Machines, Sergers and Knitting
Machines. All of these are likely to be available at your public
library.

Used brands I'd particularly look for: Elna, Bernina,
Viking/Husqvarna, Pfaff, Singer (pre 1970), Juki, Toyota

New "bargain brand" I'd probably pick, if new, decent and budget
was my choice: Janome (who also does Kenmore).
References :
50 years of sewing

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