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How to Choose a Sewing Machine

Callum MacPherson / September 05, 2023
Are you in the market for a new sewing machine but feeling overwhelmed by the vast array of options available? Whether you're a novice sewist or an experienced crafter looking to upgrade, knowing how to choose a sewing machine that suits you is crucial for bringing your creative projects to life.

In this comprehensive sewing machine buyer's guide, we will walk you through the essential factors to consider when choosing a sewing machine. From understanding different brands and machine types to exploring key features, we aim to empower you to make an informed decision. Let's dive in!

Sewing Machine Buyers’ Guide

Beginner vs Advanced Sewist

If you have owned sewing machines before, it can be a little easier to choose a sewing machine when the time comes for an upgrade. The first thing to do is take a look at your current sewing machine and determine three things:

  • What can it not do that you wish it could?
  • What features does it have that you don’t need or use?
  • What do you typically use your sewing machine for?

These three questions will allow you to envision the ideal sewing machine, with every feature you need and none that you don’t. Of course, that exact machine may not exist, but it gives you a good idea of what’s important to you in a new sewing machine, which will help make your decision.
As a beginner sewist, it’s a little trickier. You may find yourself looking at cheaper machines with fewer features but, as your sewing progresses, this might mean you outgrow your sewing machine too quickly and have to start shopping for another.
A good compromise is to take a look at second-hand sewing machines – these can be significantly cheaper than buying brand-new, while still giving you access to quality features and results.

 

Top Tips for Choosing a Sewing Machine:

  1. Prioritise features you will actually use

While price is an important consideration, it's equally crucial to focus on the features that align with your specific needs. Consider the types of projects you intend to undertake and ensure the machine has the necessary functionalities.

  1. Get to know your machine

Part of choosing a sewing machine is investing time in learning about how it works. Taking the time to understand its capabilities and settings will enhance your sewing experience.

  1. Don't overlook pre-loved machines

Second-hand sewing machines, when properly serviced, can be an excellent option, especially for budget-conscious buyers. Check out our reputable second-hand sewing machines, all of which have been reliably serviced for your peace of mind; they can provide great value for money and we have new machines added all the time!

  1. Shop with a specialised dealer

Although it may be tempting to pick up a sewing machine from a department store or private seller, when you buy with a specialised dealer you will often be able to secure a warranty or guarantee, and they will have made sure the machine is in good working order before you purchase. A specialised dealer should also be able to answer any questions you have about your choice of machine.

  1. If you’re new to sewing or the machine type/brand, look for classes or training
Getting used to a different type of machine can be difficult, but don’t forget that there are plenty of ways to learn. Of course, you can just learn by doing, but you might miss out on some key capabilities. Look for specific workshops and training courses that you can take to learn more about the machine you want to buy.
  1. Ask to test the machine
Not every dealer will offer this, but some may have demonstration models or be willing to let you try out a machine before buying it. This gives you the opportunity to really get a first-hand feel for the machine and make sure it handles in a way that works for you.
  1. Consider what types of material you’ll primarily be using
Different types of sewing machine will be better suited for different materials, so it’s important that you have an awareness of how you intend to use the machine. Do you need a machine that’s gentle on lace or tough enough for leather? Would you prefer a general all-rounder?
  1. Look at what accessories are available
This relates to choosing a machine with only the features you need – if you need extra features, make sure that the brand you’re going with offers them! Certain brands have unique accessories available, which can help steer your decision-making process.

 

 

Different Types of Sewing Machines

Brands at Sew Centre

Bernina Sewing Machines

Renowned for their precision and durability, Bernina sewing machines are a top choice among discerning sewists. With advanced features and exceptional stitch quality, they excel in a variety of projects.

 

Pfaff Sewing Machines

As the largest dealer of Pfaff machines in the UK, Sew Centre offers an extensive selection of these renowned machines. Pfaff sewing machines are known for their innovative technologies, such as the Integrated Dual Feed (IDT) system, which ensures even fabric feeding.

 

Types of Sewing Machines

Sewing machines come in various types, including mechanical, computerised, and embroidery machines. Consider your primary sewing interests, whether it's dressmaking, quilting, or embroidery, and choose a sewing machine that aligns with those specific needs. You can use the filters when shopping on our website to narrow down your search!
  • Mechanical
Traditional sewing machines were mechanical, and it essentially means that the settings on the machine, such as the stitch pattern, must be input by hand using buttons, knobs and gears. These can be cheaper, longer-lasting and require less maintenance than computerised machines, but they typically offer fewer stitches and can be more complicated for the user.
  • Computerised

In a computerised sewing machine, many of the features are automatic, and the machine will come with greater control and style/pattern options for the user. They can also produce a more consistent end product if you’re crafting in bulk. However, they can be a little more pricy than mechanical machines.

 

Different Machines Uses

  • Embroidery
Embroidery machines allow you to create beautiful embroidered patterns or motifs onto clothes, artwork or gifts. They come with a hoop or frame to attach your embroidery blanks.
  • Quilting
Quilting machines often have significantly larger workspaces than a standard sewing machine, as a quilting project is larger than, say, sewing a shirt. They also may come with certain add-ons for producing a variety of patterns or styles.
  • Overlocker

Overlockers are used to finish off the edging of fabric panels with professional-quality seams, and can trim and overcast to cover raw edges. They are often used in the creation of clothing and garments for enhanced durability and comfort.

 

Key Features to Consider

When you’re choosing your sewing machine, you may find all of the features overwhelming. We’ve put together this buyers’ guide to sewing machine features to help you recognise the features you might come across and how important they are in your new sewing machine!
  • Stitch Options: Look for machines that offer a wide range of built-in stitches, including utility stitches, decorative stitches, and buttonhole options. Having versatility in stitch selection allows you to explore different design possibilities.
  • Automatic Needle Threader: This feature saves time and eliminates the frustration of threading the needle manually. It is particularly beneficial for those with visual impairments or dexterity issues.
  • Adjustable Stitch Length and Width: The ability to customise stitch length and width provides flexibility for various fabric types and sewing techniques.
  • Needle Positioning: This feature allows you to control the needle's position, which is useful for precise stitching, cornering, or attaching zippers.
  • Speed Control: Adjustable speed settings enable you to sew at a comfortable pace, especially when working on intricate details or delicate fabrics.
  • Drop Feed and Free Motion Capability: If you're into quilting or free-motion embroidery, look for machines with a drop feed feature that allows for creative stitching without the need for a presser foot.
  • Automatic Presser Foot: This feature is available on advanced sewing and quilting machines, creating more automation in the sewing process!

Knowing how to choose a sewing machine that will work for you is a crucial step in realising your creative potential. By considering factors such as brand reputation, the types of machines available, and key features, you can find the perfect match for your sewing needs. Remember, prioritise the features that align with your projects and explore both new and pre-loved options.

Browse Sew Centre's extensive range of sewing machines to find a new machine that suits you, or get in touch with us to discuss your needs and preferences.