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jca's avatar

What's a good sewing machine for someone who wants to do basic sewing?

Asked by jca (27953 points ) November 13th, 2012

I want to buy a decent quality sewing machine. I am not quite a beginner-level sewer, but I am far from experienced and have not sewn much in the last 10 years. I want to sew things like curtains, make pillows, stuff like that – basic stuff, nothing too complicated.

I had a Singer but it was at least 20 years old and spent a few years in the basement, unused, and a friend who is somewhat of a sewing machine expert said it’s rusty and I’d be best to get a new one. She told me she does not recommend newer model Singers nor does she recommend Brother. She said she suggests a used Kenmore.

I think Costco has some, and I know Amazon has them too. I’d even go to a local sewing store, if they had one that was decent.

I am looking for a new machine, preferably not used, and all suggestions are welcome.

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7 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

I got this Brother as a gift (MIL asked precisely which starter machine I wanted) as it’s supposed to be the best one for it’s price range. I’m going to be using it for a big project soon. I’ll post back here once I’ve finished to let you know how it goes.

Seek's avatar

I couldn’t give you an opinion on new machines, unfortunately. I have a Singer from the 80s, and it kicks some serious tail. It’s heavy, which to me just means that it doesn’t wiggle all over the table when I’m sewing through four layers of denim.

jca's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr: Yes the one I have is from the 80’s, too, and it’s heavy.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Bought one of these for my wife. It’s a Husqvarna-Viking beginner basic machine.

linguaphile's avatar

Singers aren’t as well made as they used to be. I used to have one that lasted over 40 years (from grandma to mom to me), but it died. My 5 year old Kenmore, on the other hand, is excellent.

I would stay far away from plastic encased machines—they’re too light and tipped over when I worked with heavy fabrics. I took that back and got a metal encased Kenmore that could handle a certain thicknesses of denim—that helps with determining the machine’s power. If you plan to make curtains and might work with thicker fabrics, look for something metal encased with strong mechanisms inside.

Husqvarnas are good too—they’re more pricey, but really do work.

Kayak8's avatar

If there is a Stitching Post anywhere near you (sometimes they are within JoAnn Fabric stores), they have a cool deal on Huskavarna machines wherein you start with a cheaper machine and can trade it in when you upgrade to a higher level machine if you choose to do so. I have one and I love it! (This brand is what used to be Viking).

Earthgirl's avatar

I advise checking out the machines in the store. There is no better way to find out if it feels right to you and has all the features you need and want. If you are on a budget try to stick to it and not get pulled in by all the bells and whistles on the higher price machines. Buying from a store that’s local also means that you can get service when you need it. Otherwise you may have to send the machine for repairs through the mail. I have heard that most stores will match internet offers but I’m not sure if that’s true.

I cannot recommend a particular brand but I agree with @Seek_Kolinahr and linguaphile ‘s advice about getting a solid machine that doesn’t wriggle and jiggle when you go fast and that can sew through multiple layers and heavy fabrics. The metal vs plastic machines, although heavier to carry, would fit this bill. I also recommend getting a machine that has a good zigzag stitch and a good buttonhole maker. Emphasis on good, not all buttonholes are created equal. Zigzag is a very useful feature to have. It’s good for applique work and all kinds of craft projects where you need to maintain stretch or control ravelling.

Think about projects you might want to make with the machine and that will dictate what features you will make the most use of. Your friend seems to be correct about Kenmores. They are highly regarded. I have used Singers most of my life but they are the industrial variety, not home sewing machines. Less features, more workhorse! Currently I have a super cheap Brother machine which is ok but jumps all over the table when I sew fast. That is so annoying!!! I bought it because I was on a budget and I needed to make a christening dress that had a lot of lace applique.My industrial machine did not have a zigzag stitch to I bought this one thinking to trade up later when I had more money. It is no great shakes (but it shakes greatly!)

Test drive, then buy!

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