Friday, January 6, 2017

Purchasing a Sewing Machine - Things You Should Know

So you have decided to purchase a sewing machine.  And it's overwhelming - the choices available.  Let's break it down and look at what this all means.  Today, more than ever, there are so many choices.  It can be confusing and you may be left frustrated after your purchase without carefully considering your options. 
I don't want you to have a machine, in the box, occupying a corner of your closet.  You could just pile your money there right now if that's the case!  We don't want that!  So let's get started!

First, what are your needs and requirements?  And what is your budget?

Is this your first machine?  Or are you replacing a sewing machine - maybe the old machine isn't working (too expensive to repair)  or you are wanting to upgrade?
What do you sew?  Or want to sew?  Will a simple mechanical machine with a straight stitch, or a few zig-zag and button hole stitches, fit the bill?  Will you require more decorative stitch features?  Are you wanting to try some machine embroidery?  

Wow!  That was a lot of questions! Let's try some answers...

A simple machine will do...
Ok.  Do you need new?  Or will a vintage machine do the trick?  Second hand stores, auctions (estates, local and on-line), yard sales, church rummage sales, basements, barns, and even back alleys are full of inexpensive quality machines that still have years of service left in them.
Look for a clean, rust free, model with no cracked wiring and a hand wheel that turns freely.  Accessories and a manual are a bonus, but bobbin case, power cord and foot control are a necessity.

If this is your first machine, or you are new to sewing, and you are NOT feeling particularly adventurous, I WOULD NOT suggest you purchase your machine from Amazon or Wal-Mart.  The UPS man or the guy in tires will not be able to help you choose a needle for your next project or solve that tension issue.
Look for a local sewing center or quilt shop that may offer classes and knowledgeable staff.  And be sure to look for or ask about that support BEFORE you purchase.  If there is none, move on!  Yes, you might pay slightly more, but chances are that, if any difference, it will be recouped and worth the slight extra.

WORD OF CAUTION!  Trucks that pull up in a parking lot with "Classroom" machines, machines that sew leather, or are a "Serger-Combo" ARE NOT a good buy!  Your money and support drives off into the sunset when they pack up and leave the parking lot.  These guys are kind of like the vans that drive around your neighborhood with a load of great buys on meat!  Sketchy!

I've never seen a nice, well loved Home-Ec Classroom machine.  They have been abused by teenagers, and have broken or missing parts.  And really, where are these school that still offer Home-Ec?
Any machine will sew leather depending on weight of leather and if you use a leather needle.
"Serger-Combo" refers to an attachment.  It is a foot with a cutting attachment that does not cut very well, and guarantee you will want to throw it at the guy who sold it to you.  The machine sews a stitch resembling a cover stitch.  But Sewing Machines and Sergers are two different animals.

Final words.  Sit down and drive several brands.  Some sew smoother and quieter. Some will sew faster.  Find the model and brand that meets your comfort level.

So this is getting long.  Lots to digest.  We'll continue tomorrow with Part 2 - Buying an Embroidery Machine.

Happy Sewing !

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