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True Beginner Needs Help Choosing A Machine
Choosing A Sewing Machine
craftymominla
craftymominla
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Member since 3/16/12
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Date: 3/16/12 1:08 AM

Hi Friends. I am completely new to machine sewing and would like to buy my first sewing machine. Honestly, I have never used a machine before but enjoy knitting and cross stitch and have done some minor mending and hand sewing. I am on a budget (preferably in the $300 or under range but can go closer to $450 or so) but certainly want something that will provide a good sewing experience. I plan to make Halloween costumes, baby blankets/clothes, kids clothes, table linens, etc., and maybe quilts. Also, I have a young daughter and can see her wanting to learn as well in a year or so. I have been to two sewing machine stores. One sold only Baby Lock machines and I saw the Anna, Molly, and Grace models there. The Anna looked a bit too minimal in its accessories. The second store I went to had Baby Lock as well (I saw the Audrey there and liked it) but I also saw the Pfaff Select 3.0 and the Brother Innov is 40. My sister-in-law just bought a Brother cs6000i and is enjoying it. I guess what I am trying to say is shopping for a machine is very confusing! Knowing that I will likely not be able to purchase another for quite a long time makes we want to invest in one that I can grow with but I also don't know how much I will enjoy sewing and use it. I have heard from a number of people that it is best to buy better quality as I will have a more positive experience and feel less frustrated. Any advice is most appreciated. Thanks

lareine
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lareine  Friend of PR
Intermediate
NEW ZEALAND
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Date: 3/16/12 2:02 AM

It is definitely better to buy good quality, as you'll quickly learn to hate sewing if your machine makes things difficult due to poor design or shoddy parts. But that doesn't mean you need to spend a lot of money. There have been threads here already on this topic so a search or browse through this board should be helpful.

For what it's worth, I'd go for a reliable, basic machine WITHOUT all the bells and whistles, so you learn how to sew without being bedazzled by all the possibilities. A fancy machine won't help you learn the basics of the craft, and might actually hinder you while you're still a beginner. You could get a vintage Singer 201 for very little money on eBay or Craigslist, and sit on your $300+ until you really know how you want to spend it.
-- Edited on 3/16/12 2:03 AM --

bellsew
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bellsew  Friend of PR
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Date: 3/16/12 2:20 AM

I love the Pfaff Select 3.0, just gave one to my niece for her first baby, she is also a first time sewer. I still have my mechanical Pfaff from the 80's, the mechanical push button Pfaffs haven't changed that much. It has a lot of stretch stitches great for knits, it will sew polar fleece like butter, hem jeans, and make many costumes. I used mine for costumes for a horse! Polar fleece pajamas, tutus, lycra, it did it all because of the integrated walking foot. It's one of my all time favorite machines, but you must sit down at the machines, take your time, and see which ine tickles your fancy:)

CathyinMI
CathyinMI
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Michigan USA
Member since 2/19/07
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Date: 3/16/12 2:44 AM

From your description of the kind of sewing you'll be doing, I think buying an inexpensive used sewing machine would be a good idea. Many times you can find them reasonable at thrift stores or the Goodwill. Later, after you have more experience you can upgrade.

I've been sewing for many years but have only recently renewed my interest. I asked the same question about new machines recently. You can find the thread a page or two down on the list of topics in "Sewing Machines".

If you do decide to buy a new one there's a few things you need to know. One - you'll be buying a basic machine from Walmart or Target and on the lower end of the spectrum for $300-$450. Brother's or Singers would be in that price range. Some beginning sewists here have described their experiences with the Singer 7258 or Curvy's and are satisfied.

Another alternative would be to buy used from a dealer but again know that you would be buying a basic machine without many of the bells and whistles that are so popular now.

If you do buy new, try getting adjustable stitch width and length, adjustable presser foot, and automatic needle threader if you're over 40. That's just a beginning.

There is quite a learning curve when starting to sew. You need to know about fabric, techniques, how to read a pattern, sew in zippers for the costumes, pattern layout and cutting, straight of grain, pattern alterations (again, for the costumes) just to begin. Then you'll need to learn to thread the machine, wind the bobbin, recognize good stitches and what to do if they are unbalanced just to start. The reason I'm bringing this up is to suggest that a basic mechanical machine might be best to learn on vs. the electronic or computerized models. I'm sure you'll catch on fast but the aggravation factor in the beginning can be great! I worry about beginners giving up at first when using the more complicated machines.

Good luck to you, whatever you decide!

a7yrstitch
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a7yrstitch  Friend of PR
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In reply to craftymominla <<


Date: 3/16/12 9:53 AM

It would be great if you could take a class that provided machines.

If that is not available, there are workshops and one time class type work sessions that are teasers/intros for high end machines. If you can ignore all of the bells and whistles you could try one of those. What I am hoping for is for you to have the opportunity to experience a stitch with balanced tension before you start shopping.

I'll reiterate the suggestions on locating a solid used mechanical machine. You would never regret it. A zig zag stitch is helpful. A clean balanced straight stitch is essential. A lot of us have produced amazing things over the years with no accessories. Stay focused on the essentials.

Another thought would be to find someone that gives private lessons. In one or two sessions, they should be able to help you understand how to shop for a machine that you will be happy growing with.

It is not a matter of thinking that you will lose interest, it is more about minimizing problems and subsequent frustration.

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I have no idea what Apple thought I was saying so be a Peach and credit anything bizarre to auto correct.

Maia B
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Maia B  Friend of PR
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Date: 3/16/12 10:07 AM

The Select 3.0 is very solid and straightforward. It will last for decades and be a great back up, travel, etc machine even if you upgrade in the future.

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🌸 Plenty of machines, mostly Berninas 🌸

ilesliemy
ilesliemy  Friend of PR
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Texas USA
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Date: 3/16/12 10:15 AM

I think the suggestion of a Pfaff Select is a good one.
Leslie

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Bernina Gal

PattiAnnJ
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PattiAnnJ
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Date: 3/16/12 10:23 AM

I hear people say they want a machine that they won't outgrow (or grow with) and I have no idea what they are thinking.

A sewing machine needs two basic stitching features - straight stitch (a given) and zig-zag stitching.

From there it is nice to have a machine with an adjustable needle position and feed dogs that disengage verses having a shield that snaps over the FD.

What more do you want and what will you do with them?

Stick with a dealer that you like. The two mentioned have great brands. They should let you give each one a try. Most dealers have lessons and you definitely want someone you can ask questions of and who is available to service the machine when needed.


-- Edited on 3/16/12 10:29 AM --

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"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

Maia B
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Maia B  Friend of PR
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Date: 3/16/12 10:33 AM

The Select 3.0 is very solid and straightforward. It will last for decades and be a great back up, travel, etc machine even if you upgrade in the future.

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🌸 Plenty of machines, mostly Berninas 🌸

SouthernStitch
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SouthernStitch  Friend of PR
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Date: 3/16/12 10:43 AM

I wouldn't recommend the Audrey as an only machine. It's too small. I would second the Pfaff as well, or a vintage mechanical machine with less bells and whistles. Some folks just aren't into vintage though and that's understandable.

If however you are open to vintage, you really need to be careful who you purchase from. Many of them need some TLC. It can be fairly easy, yes, but re-setting tensions or dealing with electrical can be a pain. These machines, refurbished by someone who knows what they are doing however, would be right in your price range - maybe even save you some money!

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Bernina 780, and 530
Juki TL2010
Babylock Evolution
Singer 403a

When life gives you green velvet curtains, make a green velvet dress.

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