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poofandmook's avatar

What to look for in a sewing machine?

Asked by poofandmook (17272points) May 6th, 2010

I decided I need a new hobby, and I thought I would really enjoy learning to make clothes. My grandma used to have tons of Simplicity patterns and she made me stuff all the time when I was a kid, and I always wanted to learn.

Anyway, I decided since my birthday is in two weeks, I was going to ask my dad for a sewing machine. Nothing fancy. But I haven’t used one since I was in 8th grade, and I have no idea what to look for.

I like this one. It’s cute, and it got great reviews. But again, I know nothing about them anymore.

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20 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I own 3 sewing machines… including the one you posted a link to. It’s a great machine for a beginner. It’s sturdy, accurate, and easy to use.

poofandmook's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie: You have that one? I’m so glad to hear it’s good. I don’t really see myself ever needing all the bells and whistles in a machine. And don’t think for a second I didn’t fall for the pink and purple floral design :x

Dumb question… is the pedal still used? It isn’t pictured or mentioned in the details, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a sewing machine without a pedal and I would think you’d need two hands to guide the project.

and I expect to make clothing? LOL

EmpressPixie's avatar

Yep, it still had a pedal. I just looked through the reviews and someone was commenting on it.

Not sure how you’d sew without one, though. To be honest.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@poofandmook I’m pretty sure it’s the same machine. Mine has a different pattern on it.. no pink & purple flowers, but the rest of the machine looks identical. And, yes, mine came with a pedal. ;)

Maybe you might start with something more simple than clothes? What about purses? I love making purses… and you can use some really really simple patterns that make for really awesome bags. Particularly in the summer, when you can get away with a simple shape and lots of different colors/prints.
Then when you are comfortable that your stitching is sturdy and whatever you’re wearing isn’t going to literally come apart at the seams.. move on to clothes? Just throwing it out there… you can definitely start with clothes and stay with clothes if you like.

EDIT: sorry hun, I lied. i just went to check my machine, and I do have a different model. but brother is a very reputable company. this is the one i have

poofandmook's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie: The main reason why I want it is because I’m short, a little heavy, and I have very unshapely legs. So between that and my height I can never find skirts that look good on me. I found one at Fashion Bug, very simple design, and it looks great on me. That’s what got me on this idea. I would like to make a few cute, lightweight skirts for the summer. Also it’s really hard to find skirts with a “ragged” asymmetrical hemline.. I have one in a green print and it’s also the perfect length. Only, it’s green, and it doesn’t really look right with any tops that I have so I never ever wear it. I’d like to try to make some of those too. I figure skirts can’t be all that hard.

I’m sure once I get the hang of it, like I did with crocheting, I’ll throw myself into it and keep trying new things.

poofandmook's avatar

@EmpressPixie: Yeah, I figured that. That’s why I said it was a dumb question lol ;)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@poofandmook well, best of luck to you! i hope you’ll take some pics when you start making stuff… I am totally obsessed with cute skirts :)

john65pennington's avatar

Look on the manufaturer label and make sure its made in Japan. the best come from there and will last you forever.

faye's avatar

I have a heavy old Kenmore from sears that I bought in 1975. I stick a little sewing machine oil in it once in a while- lots of miles on that machine.

tranquilsea's avatar

I have a Pfaff and it has gone through 13 years worth of sewing with no bobbin problems that seemed endless on the Singer my mom had.

YARNLADY's avatar

A sewing machine that has no pedal is operated by a long bar that you push with the side of your leg (thigh). I find it much easier to use than the foot pedal type, but I haven’t owned one for over 15 years, so I don’t even know if they still exist.

I suggest you visit several local dealers and ask them to demonstrate some machines for you. You can try them out yourself and see what you like.

Nimis's avatar

What kind of skirt is the one from Fashion Bug? I only ask because a lot of the assymetrical skirts that I see are made out of jersey, Lycra or other some what stretchy material. In which case, you might want to get a serger.

I have a Singer. Gets the job done, but other brands seem to have less issues.

poofandmook's avatar

@Nimis: 95% polyester, and 5% spandex. What’s a serger and why do I need it?

YARNLADY's avatar

@poofandmook A serger is a specialized machine that finishes off the seams so you don’t have to. I haven’t found it useful for any of my work.

Kayak8's avatar

I have a Huskavarna (they also make chain saws so that must count for something . . .) and I love it. I got it at a place called the Stitching Post and they have a really cool deal—if you buy a lower level (beginner machine) and decide you really like sewing and want some additional bells and whistles, you can upgrade it after two years and you get the full purchase price toward a new machine. I have upgraded twice now and probably don’t need to go any further for how I use my machine (polar fleeces for me and the dogs).

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Brothers are pretty good for beginners… they can come pretty cheap while still being decent machines. Singer is another well-known sewing machine brand, but I have found that recent models are more hassle than they’re worth. My family’s Singer, to put it lightly, was a substandard machine with countless issues.

Sewing is a pretty major hobby for me, so a few years ago my father bought me a Bernina activa 220 and it is absolutely fabulous. It’s far from a beginner’s machine (I just asked my mom, and says it cost somewhere between $700–1000… holy crap I feel spoiled.), but it has lasted me three years with virtually flawless performance. Bernina sewing machines, which are Swiss-made, are bound to be durable and high quality. Their lower priced model, the bernette 56 retails around $199.

Since you’re pretty new to sewing and probably don’t want to invest a lot into a machine at this point, go for a lower priced Brother like the one in your link. Find a model that has as many reviews as you can find – the average of 100 reviews tends to be a much more reliable figure than that of a dozen or fewer reviews.

At this point you don’t need much in the way of fancy stitch settings and such, but make sure it has all the essentials for garment sewing: buttonhole stitch settings, automatic bobbin winding functions, thread cutters, ability to change width and length of stitches and different needle positions. I took a look at the features listed on the Brother LX3125’s page, and it sounds just fine for a beginner.

Have fun sewing!

poofandmook's avatar

Thanks guys! :)

Nimis's avatar

Sergers can sew stitches that stretch with the material. Or I suppose you could do a zig-zag stitch on a regular sewing machine.

poofandmook's avatar

@Nimis: That is most likely what I’m going to do… like I said, I’m not even trying for any bells and whistles at the moment.

Mountain_Crafter's avatar

I don’t really want to knock the Brother you’ve ‘chosen’ but a friend bought one like it at the same retailer a while back and brought it to me in total frustration. I tried to adjust the tension for a week and despite 50+ years of sewing experience I couldn’t. It just wouldn’t hold tension and no machine will sew well without correct tensioning. The retailer didn’t want to take it back, either!! You might do better with a good used machine. Some of the old ones that have cast bodies are really much more reliable, tougher and easier to work with. Many small sewing shops and most sewing machine repair shops have really good ones for sale at about the same price your retailer is charging. Good luck and happy sewing!!

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