Buyer's Guide: Everything You Need to Know About a Sewing Machine

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Sewing Machine

A model from our selection catches your eye but you don't know if it really meets your needs and ambitions? Follow the guide to make the best choice!

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Sewing Machine

We will talk about:

  • What type of work are you planning to do?
  • The availability of accessories
  • Weight and transportability
  • Machine performance
  • Variety of stitches and settings
  • Maintenance and extras

What type of work are you planning to do?

Before even looking at existing models, it's important to decide how often you will use your sewing machine and what types of work you want to make. Do you need a machine for one-off repairs to clothes, a pant hem or to create a personalized blanket for your niece? A small, compact and basic model such as the Singer Initiale or the Husqvana Class E10 is more than sufficient. Will you be using your machine to make curtains, quilted blankets, or cushion covers? A heavy model, with a more powerful motor, double feed and ideally a longer arm, will allow you to sew thick and bulky fabrics comfortably. And for people who want to build their wardrobe from the ground up, a versatile electronic machine with a detachable arm, like the Bernette Sew & Go 8, is a good investment for quickly sewing all daily essentials.

The availability of accessories

A sewing machine is supplied with the purchase with a set of accessories to carry out the most common jobs: bobbins, an additional set of needle, different presser feet for making technical stitches (such as a buttonhole, fitting an invisible zipper or the sewing of thick fabrics ...) or a maintenance kit. It is important to check the availability of these accessories for single purchase and their prices. Indeed, the price of a new presser foot, for example, can vary from one to two depending on the supplier and the "rarity" of your sewing machine model. A large part of the sewing machines on the market accept so-called “universal” accessories: the different parts can be replaced by parts that do not come from the same brand as the machine. However, some manufacturers are not as tolerant: their machines only take parts from the manufacturer's brand, or cancel the warranty if the defective machine is returned with universal accessories, which can quickly represent a small budget after a few years of use.

Weight and transportability

Weight is an important factor to take into account when choosing a sewing machine. The vibrations of the motor cause the sewing machine to shake and may cause it to shift a few millimeters during sewing. And these small offsets, when they go unnoticed, can impact the quality of the final seam. Also, sewing thick fabrics requires a heavier machine, which will not follow the movement of the fabric as you slide it under the presser foot. Finally, the weight can be an indicator of the quantity of metal parts contained in the machine, and therefore of its resistance over time. Even good quality plastic breaks after a while and needs to be replaced more frequently than metal mechanisms.

It is however good to note that according to the intended uses, it will be preferable to choose a lighter sewing machine. Nomadic couturiers, those who only do occasional small jobs or whose storage space is reduced will appreciate machines that are lighter in transport, and more discreet in closets, such as the FCPB 201.

Machine performance

The performance of the machine is evaluated according to three criteria: engine power, number of revolutions per minute and number of points per minute. The power of the motor is indicative of the speed of the stitches, the capacity of the machine for sewing thick fabrics or not, but also of the robustness of the machine over time. If you intend to use the machine at a brisk pace or for furnishing work, a powerful motor is essential.

The power of an engine can be characterized by its power consumption and its number of revolutions per minute. Most sewing machines have a value around 800-850 rpm for 70W. High-end machines can go up to 1,100 rpm.

Finally, we must add to this evaluation the number of points per minute of the machine to determine its real performance. This is the maximum number of stitches a machine can produce in one minute. This number is often similar to the number of revolutions per minute.

Variety of stitches and settings

The variety of stitches offered by the sewing machine is an interesting but not decisive selection criterion. This number of different points may vary depending on the nature of the machine (mechanical or electronic) and the number of presets offered. Warning: sometimes the number of points can be artificially inflated by the manufacturers because of these presets. For example a straight stitch offered in three different lengths will be counted as three different stitches (as in the case of the Brother X14) while for many machines it is possible to change the length of this stitch manually. The machine can also offer decorative stitches which are interesting but little used in practice. This is therefore data to be handled with caution.

Maintenance and extras

A sewing machine is a long-term investment and requires regular maintenance to continue to support you in your sewing work. Most manufacturers include a machine maintenance kit (oil , dusting brushes, suitable screwdrivers, etc.) in addition to the user manual. All the sewing machines presented in this comparison observe this rule.

Others go even further and offer essential accessories for any new seamstress, such as pins, a tape measure, sets of needles and additional cans ... So many little extras that save money at the start of the season acquisition.

Read more:

How Can I Tell How Old My Singer Sewing Machine Is

How Does a Sewing Machine Work Step by Step

What Is the Best Handheld Sewing Machine


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