There are so many makes and models of sewing machines available—how do you know the differences between them and what would be the best model for your sewing needs? While it may seem that shopping for a sewing machine is akin to shopping for a car, you’re already ahead of the game in that there aren’t nearly as many sewing machine models as there are car models. That doesn’t mean the hunt for the perfect sewing machine is not complicated, however. First and foremost, you have to establish your budget and see what you can get for the amount you are able to spend. You may feel like this is a given, but it needs to happen either way. Here are some further tips and guidelines for purchasing the machine that is suited to your needs.

  • What do you plan to use it for now—and in the future?
  • How many types of stitches will you need the machine to make?
  • Do you need a computerized machine or mechanical?
  • What is the machine made out of—more plastic or metal?
  • Which attachments does the machine come with? 

What Do You Plan to Use Your Machine For?

Before you start searching for the best sewing machine for your needs, think about what you plan to do with it and how often you might be using it. You’ll also want to think about what you may want to do with it in the future. For example, you may be a beginning sewist and you may not be planning on doing anything extravagant with it—so you may think you can buy the least expensive and most basic model available. However, this plan may backfire if you decide you want to start making more things or do more heavy-duty sewing in the future. In that case, you may end up having to go out and purchase a new machine in the future, one that has more features and functions. That’s not to say you should go out and buy the most expensive, most complicated model at first, either. Perhaps just consider getting a mid-range model that will do what you know you want to do and what you may work toward in the future. That way you will have room to grow, and you won’t have to replace your inexpensive model after a short time.

How Many Types of Stitches Will You Need the Machine to Make? 

Depending on your sewing plans, you may need to evaluate the stitching options of the machine you’ll be purchasing. While most items can be made with a few basic stitches that most machines make, you may want to check out all the stitching functions if you’re planning on making special items. It goes both ways, though; if the machine you’re looking at makes too many types of stitches and you won’t need them, it may get complicated and confusing if there are too many options. It’s best to evaluate the types of items you plan on sewing and pick a machine with a reasonable amount of options that will allow you to create what you need. It doesn’t make sense to pay more for options you will never use, just as it doesn’t make sense to underbuy and then have to purchase a new one in a short time.

Do You Need a Computerized Machine or Mechanical?

When answering this question during your sewing machine purchasing quest, the first thing to take into consideration—which should have already been answered with question #1—is what you plan on sewing with your new machine. If you are a beginning sewist and are just getting starting, the many features of a computerized machine may be confusing and a bit overwhelming. Also, if you’re not inherently tech-savvy and don’t feel like messing with a lot of automatic features, you may not want a computerized machine. In these cases, a mechanical machine may be better for you, since it will not do anything automatically and you can control each button or knob yourself. Mechanical machines also last longer and are easier to repair and maintain. If you need more features and don’t mind tech, however, then a computerized machine will work beautifully for you. You will have many options and will be able to utilize the many programmable features it comes with. Expect a computerized machine to cost more, and as with anything high-tech, expect it not to last as long. If you’re still not sure which type of machine will be best for the sewing you plan to do, ask a couple different salespeople their opinions and ask them to demo both for you so you can get a good idea of what each kind will and won’t do.

What is the machine made out of—more plastic or metal? 

Machines that are made of more metal parts tend to be more heavy duty and durable, while machines with largely plastic parts tend to be easier to transport and more for hobby sewing. If a machine is light and doesn’t weigh a lot, then it’s easy to remember that that means it’s generally for lighter sewing. This may be fine for your needs, depending on what you plan to do. But don’t expect a predominantly plastic machine to last through a lot of heavy sewing use. If you want one that is sturdy, durable, and will last through many, many years of sewing, you may want to opt for one with metal parts and a large, heavy motor.

Which attachments does the machine come with?

Another thing to take into account is the attachments that the sewing machine comes with. Much like a vacuum, you will be able to do more things with various attachments that either come with it or are available to purchase separately. You may want to look over the different makes and models and compare the options, deciding which presser feet you will need for the items you want to make. If the presser feet are sold separately, you may want to evaluate the cost differences in the brands and decide which one is the best value with all the features you will be needing. Also, you may want to determine whether the different feet on a certain model can easily be switched out. It may help your decision if one has feet that can just clip on and snap off versus ones that are harder to switch between.

These are some basic guidelines to get you started on your way to purchasing the sewing machine that will fit your needs and grow with your abilities. Of course, there are other things to take into account, but these guidelines are a good starting point—and when you have your machine and are ready to get started, happy sewing!

The Inspired Sewist offers sewing supplies, classes, machines, and repair. We can help you learn new techniques or inspire you to get started, guiding you through any project you’d like to complete. We also offer assistance for any sewing machine purchases or repairs. Contact us for all your quilting and sewing needs.

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