help! what sewing machine should i buy? a guest post by not martha

Photo by Christine Landis

I have an old, old, old sewing machine and would like to get something that I’d use more without worrying about needles breaking, etc., just for some of the random house/craft projects and with the idea that someday I may make some clothes for the kids. (Just what they want — I know how much I hated my homemade clothes as a kid, but alas.) Any advice? –Sharon M.

We decided to turn this question over to domestic goddess Megan of Not Martha for her expert opinion!
First, I’m going to give you the answer you don’t want, which is to suggest you consider taking your old machine into a repair shop to see how much it would be to get a tune up. Older machines are often sought after for the very reason that they are easier to repair and keep running, and are often more sturdily built. Ask a local quilting shop to see if they have a company they trust; often small businesses stick together.

That said, the lure of a shiny new sewing machine is understandable. People have favorite brands — Kenmore, Pfaff, Bernina, Singer, Janome, Viking and Brother are mentioned a lot. Your quilting shop can also point you toward local dealers; these are often the shops that sell and service vacuum cleaners as well. There you can take a test drive on the machines and get a feel for how easy it is to control the speed as well as what features you might like. You don’t need too many fancy stitches; zig-zag and buttonholes will be used most often. I tend to avoid sewing machines that have computer screens because I suspect it’ll just be one more thing that could go wrong. I talk about this a bit more here: Your First Sewing Machine.

Click the link for more sewing machine buying advice!

If you doubt you’ll be working with anything heavy, like denim, I think a brand name machine from a store like Target will be fine for your purposes. The disadvantage here is that you cannot try out the machines in advance, so be sure to put the machine through all the trials before it’s too late to return it.

Knowing what other people are using is always helpful. Craftzine asked a bunch of crafters to show off their machines, so you can now see the machines behind The Small Object, Betz White, West Coast Crafty, Schmancy, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories and the Craftzine staff. Craftzine also asked the girls behind Stitch Lounge for recommendations for beginner machines and mid-range machines. And Craft Stylish has an article on how to buy a sewing machine. Good luck! –Megan R.

Thanks, Megan, for helping us out! Want more of Megan’s take on cooking, crafting, knitting, sewing, gardening, and just about everything else? Visit her at her site Not Martha.

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