How to choose a sewing machine for beginners
The best sewing machine for beginners comes with the essential features you need to start sewing as well as a few advanced features, which will hone and upgrade your skills. These features are easy to operate and you can adjust them according to your skill level, stitch style and fabric. You can slow the speed in the initial stages and select the pre-set stitch styles as you learn how to make your own.
Since the features vary in number, usage and how they are operated from one model to another, it is best to familiarize yourself with your potential model by reading the manual and online reviews from verified buyers and authoritative review sites such as ours. You can then learn how to wind a bobbin, thread the needle, access the free arm, and adjust speed and string tension, among others.
Majority of these models are light and portable and can be taken along for classes or on trips.
Tips on starting to use sewing machines
- Ensure the presser foot is in the down position to avoid tangling of the thread and jamming of the bobbin.
- Use the right needle for your fabric and change your needles after approximately 16 hours of usage to prevent damaging the fabric and machine or hurting yourself if it turns into a dangerous projectile. Some models like SINGER should only be used with SINGER needles.
- Confirm the correct bobbin for your machine since some may look similar.
- The handwheel should be turned in a counter-clockwise direction
- Do a prior test of the stitch length, width, and tension on a small piece of fabric before using them to stitch the actual fabric. You should also remove pins in the area you want to sew to avoid sewing over them and damaging the needle and potential accidents.
- Ensure your working area is well-lit to prevent stitching errors and accidents.
- Watch out for any strange grinding or rattling which could signify damage.
- Keep the instructional manual close for a quick reference.
Consider these features of a perfect sewing machine for a novice
As a beginner, prioritizing the following features will get you the right model with the necessary requirements you need to develop your sewing skills.
There are three main categories of sewing machines: manual, mechanical and computerized.
Manual sewing machines are the traditional types which are operated by the foot pedal. They have fewer built-in stitches and require great coordination between your hands and foot.
Mechanical models are manually operated using dials and levers. They are more affordable than computerized machines and have more pre-set stitches than manual models. They also require little maintenance.
Computerized sewing machines, such as Brother CS6000i, come with plenty of high-tech features which are automated, such as tension adjustment, threading and bobbin winding. They make consistent stitches and can remember your settings preferences. They are also pricier than other models.
Some brands make models for specific needs. For instance, serger machines which excel at frills and other finishing touches.
The best sewing machine for a beginner is a mechanical model which equips you with the basics you need and introduces you to advanced features. Otherwise, manual models may be harder to navigate and computerized models may be intimidating for a beginner.
Learn all about stitches possibilities
Sewing machines come with built-in stitches which vary in number from one model to another. The larger the number, the greater the variety of patterns, embroidery and stitches you can create.
Look for a model with adjustable stitch length and width to suit different types of fabric and stitching, such as stretch, buttonhole and baste stitching. Heavy fabric may also require more stitch length and width than lighter ones.
Putting feet down
Sewing machines come with various number of presser feet designed for different purposes like monogramming and creating buttonholes and zippers.
Putting a downward pressure on the presser foot holds the fabric in place as it moves between the main foot and the feed dog. Multiple layers and heavy fabric require more exertion of pressure than sheer and lightweight fabric.
High speed quickens the sewing process so you can have more work done in a short time. For instance, SINGER Heavy Duty 4423 and Brother Serger 1034DX have a high sewing speed of 1100 and 1300 stitches per minute respectively.
Look for a model with adjustable speed option which can suit different stitching and fabric styles.
Weight, size and durability
Sewing students who may want to take their machines to classes should pay particular attention to the size and weight to ensure portability. These factors should also be considered when evaluating your available space to ensure they can fit in for set-up and storage.
Durability of a sewing machine is influenced by the type of material used in designing it. Look for a sturdy material, such as the heavy duty metallic frame and stainless steel bedplate which are featured in SINGER Heavy Duty 4423.
Take it easy – helpful features
Free arm: It makes it easy to stitch narrow and circular fabric like cuffs, sleeves, collars and hems which are harder to access.
Top-loading bobbin: The top placement makes it easier to insert and remove because you only drop in the bobbin. Look for one with a transparent case so you can keep an eye on the thread supply.
Automatic needle threading: No matter how steady your hands are or how excellent your vision is, you will struggle through threading the needle the manual, whether by seconds or minutes. An automated option will save you time and effort.
Automatic thread tensioning system: Tension is one of the main issues faced by beginners who end up breaking the thread or bunching it up. An automatic alternative does the work for you so you can get the right tension for your fabric.
Reverse stitching: It secures the seams so they do not rip open.
Light the space
Look for a model with bright LED lighting which can illuminate your working area to improve your vision in dim lighting or when sewing at night.
Most of the models in our list come with long warranties that last 25 years. A lengthy warranty will take care of any defects and malfunctions and save you money on replacement. It is also a sign of confidence in the durability of the machine.
Learn the price range
Sewing machines vary in pricing depending on their features and functionalities. If you are a beginner on a budget, you can choose an entry-level model in the $100 to $250 pricing range which will have all the basic functions you need to hone your sewing skills before upgrading to a more sophisticated model.