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Will it just be for occasional repairs and alterations? Would you like to take up dressmaking or quilting? Home décor, curtains and cushion covers? There are many different styles and prices of sewing machines out there; it's worth taking the time to make sure you get the right one for you. Think about not just what you're buying the machine for right now, but in the future... do you think you may like to try a new skill like free motion embroidery? Will any other family members want to use the machine for different purposes? Your sewing machine will be a part of the family for years to come, so it's important that you buy one that will cover everyone's needs.
If it's really just basic sewing and you'll never need to create a quilt or make a dress, then don't waste your money on fancy stitches and extra feet – go for an electronic machine with few stitches. Many electronic machines will have a needle threader. If you're a quilter, you'll appreciate a drop feed facility for free motion embroidery and a large 'throat' on the machine to hold bulky fabrics. Computerised machines are generally easier to use than electronic, and have many decorative stitches to embellish your projects. Look for a machine with a 'needle up/down' option to make turning corners easier. Pop a walking foot into your shopping basket if the machine doesn't come with one. For dressmaking, a one-step buttonhole is useful, as well as blind hemming and a presser foot pressure dial for sewing through different weights of fabric.
Now budget. Electronic machines are more affordable than computerised, but won't have as many features. For instance, there probably won't be a needle up/down facility, there won't be as many stitches and you'll usually find a four-step buttonhole in one style. Many people are upgrading from electronic to computerised, so if you can afford it, cut out the first step and buy computerised first of all! More basic machines may have 20 or 30 stitches; some machines will have 800 or 900 and more, but if you're not going to use lots of decorative stitches, buy the lesser priced models.
Big-name manufacturers come with back up and customer support, with two or three year warranties. You don't expect to change your sewing machine every year (or ten!) so peace of mind is really important. With Create and Craft, you have the opportunity to try the machine first with their 14 day money back guarantee which is, again, a huge peace of mind.
To me, no. I wouldn't care if the machine was black, white or purple – as long as it does what I need it to do! But if aesthetics are impressive to you, there are some beautiful machines available: retro, coloured (choose one that's easy on the eye... I can't imagine working with a spotty machine – and they are available!), decorated or plain. For me, I need the basic stitches but I also want to be able to adjust the length and width myself. I like a selection of different one-step buttonholes. I need to choose whether the needle stops up or down. I like to do free motion embroidery, so I need to drop the feed dogs. Sometimes I like to use the speed control on the machine and not the foot pedal – many machines have this option and it's invaluable if you don't have the use of your legs. I wouldn't buy a machine without a needle threader.
Finally, I do have a comprehensive selection of feet – I regularly use the standard and zipper feet, plus the walking, free motion embroidery, buttonhole, rolled hem and quarter inch feet. If your machine doesn't come with the feet you need, check that the manufacturer makes them to fit before you buy. But most of all, I like a quiet, solid machine that runs as smoothly as a sports car and gives me as much pleasure to use!
well as providing us with a variety of top tips for buying a sewing machine,
Debbie Shore also joined us in the studio to demonstrate using
electronic and computerised sewing machines. She provides detailed
information on each, comparing the two machine types, and finishes by helping
you answer that fundamental question: "Which type of sewing machine should
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