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RE: Trying to buy my first sewing machine (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: cmc_97 on 09.20.2006 at 05:36 pm in Sewing Forum

HHere's a link to a helpful PDF file from Threads Magazine. They compare the features of a number of basic sewing machines. Very handy reference.

The basics to look for: adjustable stitch length and width, straight stitch, zig zag, adjustable needle position (left, middle, center of stitch width area), 3-stitch zig zag, hemming stitch, button hole feature. Maybe a few decorative or specialty stitches, but they aren't necessary for basic sewing.

A step up from that basic list would include knit stitches. These are formed by sewing forward a few stitches, then backwards to create a flexible stitch line that won't break when it's stretched. Generally, if a machine has knit stitches there are at least 5 or 6 of them: straight stitch, a couple of overlock stitches (allows you to sew a 1/4 inch overlocked seam on knits) and a hem stitch.

There are all kinds of wonderful features you can get these days, but with this basic list (straight stitches and knit stitches, plus a button hole), you can sew just about anything.

I'd stick with the big name brands: Pfaff (my personal favorite), Bernina, Viking, Janome, Baby Lock, Elna (and some others that I can't think of at the moment). One brand isn't necessarily better than another, but I'd avoid the "made just for walmart" type machines. You WILL need to have your machine serviced eventually, and walmart won't provide that.

If possible, visit as many authorized dealers as you can. Sit down at the machines and try them. Bring some samples of the types of fabric or projects you think you'll be sewing.

Check out their used machines, the ones they take as trade-ins. Often you'll be able to buy an older model that has features several "grades" above a new machine that you can afford, for the same price.

I've purchased sewing machines from my favorite dealer on layaway (I paid no interest, but got to pay for the machine a bit at a time). He's offered me great trade-in options -- trade in your machine on a nicer model within a year and get credit for the full price of the traded in machine. All depends on the dealer. They want your repeat business, and they can and do offer helpful services, like free training classes for your new machine, that internet sellers and other vendors will not (or cannot).

CMC

Here is a link that might be useful: 31 basic sewing machines comparison

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clipped on: 02.03.2007 at 10:57 am    last updated on: 02.03.2007 at 10:58 am