How to Choose a Sewing Machine

How to Choose a Sewing Machine

Picking a good, dependable (and inexpensive? ) sewing machine to handle your craft can be tough whether you have been sewing for decades or you are just learning for the first time. When you buy a sewing machine, you are entering a long term relationship that will last for years. When you are making such an investment, you want a machine that has all the features required to finish your work without hurting the quality of the project.

There’s several parts and features that have an impact on determining what projects you can complete with a particular sewing machine. The process of choosing the top sewing machine stresses out experts and beginners alike with all of the options, like ones that embroider, sew or quilt, & computerized versus mechanical.

** See our list of the best sewing machines.

There’s something different about each sewing machine. The way it works and operates with fabric is unique to the machine, whether it is computerized or mechanical. The features are what set top sewing machines apart from the basic units. The features determine how efficiently and how much you can work depending on what you are using the machine for. The capabilities of your machine also depend on its design. You can generally complete more projects with an adjustable machine. Another important factor in the buying process is the included support options and accessories.

The capabilities & performance of your machine are significantly impacted by a strong set of features. You can achieve more decorative and elaborate stitching with a machine programmed with more stitch patterns. This will give your project an added level of personalization.]

Plus, adjustable stitch width and length allow you to customize the settings to fit the fabric you are using while adding style to your task.​

The speed at which you can sew is determined by the machine’s SPM (stitches per minute).

In my opinion you’ll want at least 750 SPM for a bigger sewing projects. If you are teaching a child or are just learning how to sew, an adjustable speed sewing machine is ideal. Of equal importance is the tension control of the appliance.

Just about all sewing machines allow you to manually adjust the tension. Some automatically adjust the tension to fit the project.

Features & Functions

The way the machine creates buttonholes and the number of styles available are a crucial feature if you plan on making garments.

Example: four step buttonholes require many different operations and steps on the machine, whereas one step buttonholes require little involvement from you and just one operation on the machine.

​To ensure that you can attach any kind of button to the garments you create, you should look for an appliance offering an array of buttonhole styles. Also, so you can make uniform hemlines on your clothing, you will need a machine with twin needle capabilities.

Automatic cutters, bobbin winders, and needle threaders are found on many sewing machines these days. By including all of the tools you need right on the machine, these features assist you in completing tasks more efficiently. The automatic features are especially helpful for those with vision impairments.

​Computer capabilities are one of the main categories that distinguish the broad selection of sewing machines. You select the stitch style using an LCD display with a computerized sewing machine. On the other hand, you use a dial with a mechanical machine. Sewing machines operate by a start and stop button, foot controller, or both.

​How you can use your machine is determined by the dimensions of your unit. You will want a lightweight machine that either has a handle or comes in a carrying case if you need it to be portable. If you have limited space for your sewing supplies, you will need a machine with compact dimensions.

FYI: Pay special attention to the throat space of the sewing machine if you are looking to use it for quilting.

​Your sewing projects can be improved with user-friendly functions – today’s models usually come with a computerized screen which makes it easy to choose your your stitch length and type. In my opinion the best home sewing machines are easy to load thanks to a drop-in bobbin.

Sewing Machines for Beginners

When evaluating sewing machines for beginners there’s many things to look for, including automatic features, a good variety of presser feet, & an adjustable speed control.

Other features to look for are:

  • Adjustable presser foot pressure: T his allows you to change the pressure of the presser foot to fit the fabric.
  • Good lighting: Newer models use long lasting LED lights to illuminate the sewing surface.
  • Adjustable feed dog height: This is also helpful for sewing a range of fabrics.
  • Adjustable needle: This is great for edge stitching.
  • Up/down needle option: Most basic machines do not allow you to choose whether the needle stays embedded in the fabric when you take pressure off the controls.
  • Automatic buttonholer: Technology can really help with the difficult task of sewing a beautiful buttonhole.
  • Built-in needle threader: If you have poor eyesight or shaky hands, this feature is a lifesaver.

Sewing Machines for Quilting

There are obviously some sewing machines that are better for beginners vs. intermediate or expert sewers, but there are also machines that better suit quilters.

Some of the must have features found on sewing machines for quilting include:

  • Feed dogs are disengaged by either covering or lowering: When you are free motion quilting, you want the feed dogs out of the way.
  • Good straight stitch: This is found in the nicest sewing machines with tension adjustments and fine tuning.
  • Clear view of the needle: This will allow you to be as precise as you want to be.
  • Blind hem and zigzag stitches: You should also be able to adjust the length, width, and tension for these stitches.
  • An array of feet: Specifically, look for a quarter inch foot, walking foot, open toe applique foot, edge stitching foot, and darning or free motion foot.
  • Variable speed motor: This gives you the best control when you are free motion quilting.
  • Strong motor: The motor runs constantly when you are machine quilting. You need to be sure it will not overheat.
  • Needle-down and needle-up control: The ability to have the needle stop in the down position is like having an extra hand to keep the fabric in place.
  • Straight stitch (or single stitch throat plate):  The small round hole found in these plates helps create better straight stitches.

​It can be a daunting task trying to find the ideal sewing machine for your purposes. With each machine offering different features, making a decision is tough. Luckily, this task becomes much more manageable when you take the time to focus on the specific design, accessories, and features you want.