Jan Bones

3

I am a beginner but I'd really like to get it right by buying the right type of machine (for delicate materials and basic materials like cotton to make bras etc.)

Would a serger be better? I'm a bit clueless but I'm determined to learn.
Thanks in advance to anyone who answers,

A serger is very helpful for jobs like attaching elastic and sewing covered seams, but you'll still need a good sewing machine too. The one you're looking for for lingerie will have adjustable stitch length and width, adjustable presser foot pressure, and will sew well with size 8/60 sewing machine needles — take a pack each of microtex points and stretch points along when you're testing, as well as common lingerie fabrics like batiste, silk charmeuse, and stretch satin. I'd also suggest you look carefully at electronic machines because of the fine control they offer compared to mechanicals. But mechanical machines will certainly work for lingerie.

Suggested reading:
Jan Bones: Lingerie Secrets
Karen Morris: Sewing Lingerie that Fits
Kwik Sew's Beautiful Lingerie
Singer Sewing Library's Sewing Lingerie

Otherwise, here's my standard beginner sewing machine advice, all of which is also applicable to you:
http://www.cet.com/~pennys/faq/smfaq.htm

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 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: Janome (who also does
Kenmore).

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