Sewing can be a wonderful hobby and skill to learn. It allows you to be creative and make a variety of items from clothing, to décor and more. For many people, it’s also a relaxing hobby to immerse themselves in, going about their project at a comfortable pace. If you’re new to sewing and ready to purchase your first sewing machine, it’s only natural to feel a bit intimidated. There is a wide range of machines to choose from at different price points and with all different features. So, which one is right for you?
This beginner’s guide to sewing machines will take you through all the basics so you find something that is user friendly and perfect for your needs.
You’ll Want a Basic Range of Stitches
One of the first places to start when shopping is focusing on the number of stitches the machine offers. Intermediate and advanced machines have a huge number of stitches available, but chances are that, as a beginner, the vast majority of them will be unnecessary. Instead, focus on the basic stitches that are used in most projects.
The basics to look for include:
- Straight stitch – which will be your most-used stitch.
- Zig zag stitch – as its name implies, it creates a zig-zag stitch following a straight line. It is ideal for edges.
- Three stitch zig-zag – it is still a zig-zag pattern but a stretched-out version, mainly used on flexible fabric like synthetic and elastic.
- Blind hem stitch – meant for creating “invisible” hems.
- Overlock/overedge stitch – which wraps around the fabric’s edge.
- Buttonhole stitches – will make a strong and durable buttonhole.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of stitches as some beginner sewing machines will have more but these are the key ones to look for.
Nervous About Threading the Machine? Opt for Top Loading
A big complaint that beginners can have when using a sewing machine is that loading the thread can be incredibly confusing. If not done correctly, the machine won’t work properly. It may even cause a thread jam, and the stitches just won’t look right. The best option for beginners is always top-loading, as there is much less chance of you making a mistake with the thread.
What Kind of Fabric Can It Handle?
Another feature to be mindful of is the type of fabric it can handle. Not every machine can handle all fabrics, and some fabrics are known for being trickier to deal with. As a beginner, you’ll want to look for a machine that can handle light to medium-weight fabrics, as this should cover pretty much everything you’ll be using.
A Foot Pedal Gives You Total Control
If you’ve ever seen an intermediate or advanced sewer do their thing, then you know just how fast the machines can go. That’s bound to be scary for a beginner, which is why a machine with a dedicated foot pedal is recommended. This allows you to be in control of the speed at all times, either speeding up or slowing down as needed. As your confidence and skills grow, expect to increase the speed.
Computerised Screens Can Offer a High Level of User-Friendliness
Don’t be intimidated by the rather modern-looking sewing machines with computerised screens. While it’s true that advanced sewers will likely pick this style, they also offer a level of user-friendliness that is unmatched by the traditional non-computerised models.
Computerised models have LCD screens that will provide all the key details such as what stitch is being used, the selection of stitches, whether there are any thread jams, a start/stop button, speed regulation, electronic reverse, and more. Some of the well-known brands offering computerised models that are also perfect for beginners include Brother, Singer, Bernette, and Janome.
If you don’t like the idea of a computerised screen and still find it too intimidating, don’t worry, as many offer dial controls along the top that can be quick and simple to learn.
Consider How Heavy the Machine Is
Because you’re not likely to leave your sewing machine out all the time, you’ll also want to be mindful of storage. To ensure it’s easy to store, look for a machine that is lightweight and compact. Thes factors change significantly based on the model.
Choose a Reputable Brand – Guarantee the Quality
Finally, even though it’s a beginner sewing machine, you’ll still want it to be made to last so you’re not replacing it a year or two down the road. The best tip is to search for a reputable brand. Some that have made a solid name for themselves in the industry, especially in terms of beginner machines, are Brother, Singer, Janome and Bernette.
As a beginner, there is no need to get caught up in the latest bells and whistles, or the most modern machine; instead, it’s about a few key features that make for a solid entry-level sewing machine.