Checklist for Buying Your First Sewing Machine

When I first began sewing it was on an old vintage Singer.  I found the sewing machine in my parents' basement, it had belonged to my Grandmother.  She sewed most if not all of her own clothing and typically made gifts for us kids when we were growing up.  I was hooked the very first time I put needle to thread.  So I went to the store to buy a used sewing machine.

It is key to know a few things about sewing machines before you buy your very first one.  When I bought my first machine, I didn't know a thing about features to look for.  So while my first one was decent enough, in time I needed something that had more of the features that make sewing easy and fun.  

Here is a checklist to consider when buying your first sewing machine.

1.  Step One is to research some brands and prices online.  Off the top of my head I can list some of the best brands, however certain brands really shine for different types of sewing.  Singer, Janome, Brother and Pfaff are all great brands to consider.  Any sewing machine will work when you are first starting out so if you may want to start at a lower price point to see if you like the craft.  When I first began sewing I got a used White brand sewing machine and it served me well for a long time.

2.  What kind of sewing will you primarily be doing?  If you are going to be mainly sewing clothing, a basic utilitarian machine with straight stitch, zig zag stitch and a few other fundamental stitches will work great!  I've seen sewing machines that are designed specifically for sewing fashion, which could also be a great choice.  If you will be quilting or sewing all different kinds of projects, a more general machine with a lot of decorative stitches might be your thing.  I have a Confidence Quilter Sewing Machine and Singer Serger.  Sergers are excellent for sewing clothing and for doing quick seams, however getting them threaded can be quite a challenge.  I prefer to use my basic sewing machine most of the time.

3.  Be sure the sewing machine tension is easy to set.  Sewing machines have a tension dial, and the best machines have a standard setting where you will be doing most if not all of your sewing.  Setting the tension on a machine is really hard to do and it can mean the difference between creating items that last for years and years, or making things that fall apart in one wash cycle if the tension is not set correctly.  Ask about the tension setting when you buy a machine to be sure that it will be simple to use.

4.  The top drop in bobbin.  My first sewing machine had a front loading bobbin, and it was a total pain in the ass to use!  Front loading bobbins are these contraptions where you load the bobbin into a little metal casing and then put it into the sewing machine.  Tension has to be set on top of the sewing machine, and if you have a front loading bobbin then tension also has to be set on the bobbin as well.  A top drop in bobbin is where you simply place the bobbin into the machine with total ease.  This type is much easier to use, so I would say be sure your machine has this feature.

5.  Make sure you know how to care for the machine.  Some sewing machines have a self oiling mechanism, while others need to be oiled periodically.  Keeping the machine clean and oiled is optimal for the best performance of the machine, so ask the salesperson how to oil the machine.  Sometimes in sewing machine manuals it can be tricky to tell where to oil, so it doesn't hurt to ask.

6.  Does the machine come with a cover or will you have to make one?  Making a sewing machine cover can be a fun project, however if you don't want to make one then make sure the sewing machine comes with one to start.  The biggest way to keep your machine functional for years to come is to keep it dust free, so it must be covered when it is not in use.

Nowadays you can buy a sewing machine for as little as $50 to $100.  If you want a nicer machine at a deal, a used sewing machine can be a great option.  

I hope this checklist helps you when you go to buy a sewing machine.  In the next post I will share a basic sewing toolkit, so that you can get sewing!