I received an email from Frocktalker Kyan with a common question: I am learning to sew – what machine should I buy? Here is my answer – read on!!
Dear Kristin: I just signed up for a beginner’s sewing class and found out that we each need to have our own machines — any thoughts on a good starter machine? It is all looking like Russian to me!!!
Dear Kyan: I’m so glad you’re taking a class; that’s great! Here’s what I will say. Do NOT get a machine that is computerized in any way. It’s a waste of money and you do not need it. I have never owned a computerized machine, and I’ve sewn Academy Award gowns, super complex garments, and a ton of dog costumes- tiny, complicated, fancy fabrics. You do not need a computer to help you sew. Take my word for it. Computerized machines just offer more stuff that will break down and need to be fixed. Do NOT fall prey to this sales pitch!! Hold steady, Kyan!!
If you want a machine that will last and perform well, you’re looking at $250-$500. I would recommend the brands Janome or Bernina. I had a White for a while, and liked it, too. White is the American version of Husqvarna. I currently own 2 Janomes, 1 sh*tty Brother machine, and a Singer serger. What I would recommend for you is the Janome Magnolia model. It’s not too expensive, and it will do everything you will ever need to do. I have one and I really love it.
Try NOT to buy a machine at JoAnns or Hancock fabrics, or any other big chain. See if there is a local store (sewing/vacuum store or independent fabric store) where you can buy the machine. You will get better service and they will be much more willing to help you if anything should go wrong with your machine.
You can always buy a used machine, but I would strongly advise you to get a basic blow out/oil/tune-up before you use it. That will cost about $75. I’ve recently sewn on machines from the 1940s – heavy steel machines – and they still hold up very well. The only reason to get a newer machine is for the innovations: auto button hole, blind hem stitches, stretch stitches, etc. The older machines are great for learning the basics, so if you can get one (that works!) at a yard sale for $10, definitely do it. Because even with a $75 tune-up, you still have a bargain!
I am so excited to hear about ANYONE learning to sew – it is a wonderful way to spend time, and it is a method of “instant gratification” that doesn’t make you gain weight, wonder if you’re pregnant, or (necessarily) deplete your bank account. I can’t think of a better pastime. Have fun, Kyan, and please send a picture of you and your new machine!!!