How to Choose a Sewing Machine

Buying the right machine is the foundation of enjoyable sewing

Buying the right machine is the foundation of enjoyable sewing

Crafters who sew need a great machine to support their efforts. This guide will show you how to choose a sewing machine that stitches together the features you need to achieve your best results.

Types of Sewing Machines

Match your sewing machine to your budget, skill level and the type of sewcraft that interests you most.

This sewing machine uses manually controlled knobs and dials to make adjustments to the stitches, the needle position and the feed of the cloth.

  • Smaller variety of stitches - higher-end models include some decorative stitches 
  • Least expensive option - best for beginners learning to sew 
  • Lower maintenance


Less automation can be helpful for a beginner. Seeing how small adjustments affect the length and width of the stitches and doing much of the maintenance at home leads to a better understanding of both the machine and the sewing process overall.

Electronic and computerized sewing machines offer greater precision than mechanical machines, along with a wide array of decorative stitches. Electronic machines usually have an LCD screen to let you see the adjustments you’re making to your stitches and computerized models are capable of creating embroidery designs. The increase in efficiency and expanded capabilities come at a higher cost.  

  • Greater stitch variety, especially decorative stitches and buttonhole styles 
  • More expensive – better choice for more serious tailors and crafters 
  • Most regular maintenance needs to be done professionally

There are several types of machines devoted to more specific types of stitching. These would normally be used as dedicated machines and not used for utility sewing.

Embroidery

Creates decorative needlework and designs on fabric surfaces

Serger/Overlock

Sews and finishes edges at the same time – works particularly well on cotton knits

Quilting

Constructed to sew through multiple layers, allows free sewing and often comes with extender to manage larger projects

 
Tip: Sewing machines will seize if they are not regularly cleaned and serviced. Be sure to consult your sewing machine manual and follow the recommended maintenance schedule and instructions.

Essential Features

At any price, a good sewing machine should have several basic features that help produce top-quality projects.

Essential features- Basic features of a sewing machine

Tip: A hard case is a great way to protect your sewing machine from dust and moisture as well as to carry it safely. Some machines are sold with cases, but inexpensive cases can also be purchased separately.

Feature Description
  • 1-step buttonholer

Creates a buttonhole in one step - user designates size and shape and machine stitches automatically

  • Top-load bobbin

Easily replace thread without taking apart entire casing – look for a see-through bobbin cover as well

  • Bobbin-thread lift

Brings bobbin thread to the surface without placing fingers under the presser foot

  • Free Arm

Lets you sew narrow, round pieces such as sleeves, collars and pant hems

  • Built-in needle threader

Saves time and strain by automatically placing thread correctly

Lightweight design

Prevents accidental damage by being easy to carry and maneuver

Tip: To get the most out of a new sewing machine, beginners may find it helpful to locate a local class to learn the basics.