Buying a Sewing Machine

Please share your ideas about what sewing machine model to buy and where for a newcomer to sewing. Also, I have gone to a few stores and the price of fabric is very daunting. I am on a fixed budget so any suggestions would be appreciated. Right now, the only place I have purchased some fabric was from a flea market. The retail stores are just too expensive for me to try since I am a novice. Thanks for your help!

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February 13, 20160 found this helpful

I kind of went thru the same thing recently. Altho I've been sewing for close to 50 yrs, I wasn't what you'd call expert; I was just using my machine to repair blankets, etc. & for very basic clothing alterations such as hem shortening, etc. Well, my 40-yr-old Singer died recently--and a machine that old can not be repaired a lot of the time because they can no longer get parts--and so had to shop for a new machine. What I learned was 1) Singer is no longer as good a brand as they used to be (and of course, what brand is, sigh); 2) If you go with a real basic, beginners type machine such as some that Brother, for instance, makes, you may not be getting some of the features you want. For instance, my old dead Singer would do reverse stitching--good idea to do when you start & finish a seam because it reinforces the seam--and it would handle slightly heavy-duty fabric such as denim, like jeans, and a thicker blanket or bedspread.

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Well, a lot of the simple, beginner-level machines that I looked at like the Brother do not do reverse stitching or can handle even slightly heavy-duty fabric like denim, etc. So since I've been a Singer user for so long, I bought their Talent 3321 machine becuz it would do the reverse-stitching & could handle denim, etc. Well, I hated it; it was so darn complicated to thread, use, etc., I couldn't stand it. So I got rid of it & got a Baby Lock BL9 (about $150); it does everything I want but is not hard to thread or use. There may be some other brands out there that are easy to use but yet will do what you want (I think Jenome might be one?), but this is the one I finally ended up with & I love it. Good luck & I hope you find something you like; 1 of those real basic machines that don't cost very much might be just fine for you; it's just that if you're wanting to do even slightly heavy fabric like your jeans or something, you won't be able to.

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February 15, 20161 found this helpful

Janome makes several 'entry level' machines that are very beginner friendly - lol, this is coming from a vintage Singer repair tech and sewing teacher:) Personally I love my Talent 3321 but it can be a bit fiddly. Still, I do recommend it for advanced beginners as it has some really fab features at a very reasonable price.

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The most important thing in purchasing a first-time machine is to be sure you're buying one with a 'top drop-in' bobbin system! Nothing puts a new sewer off faster than that ultra-frustrating side or front load bobbin system that seems to think all sewers have eight arms - to load the blasted thing correctly you have to pull out a teeny lever on the case at the same time you're holding your wrist and arm at an awkward angle to fit it into the machine...save yourself and be sure to buy a machine with a bobbin that loads from the top of the machine just in front of the needle area. Janome calls this 'jam proof' and they're right, it generally is!

For fabric - I live in the UK where our second hand and thrift stores are called charity shops (because most are operated by charities like British Heart, British Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc) - and I find the absolute best fabrics in the charity shops! Men's shirts, fleece winter clothing, women's skirts, blouses, dresses, even bed bed sheets and blankets - all of these items can be carefully unpicked and the resulting fabric lengths used for new projects. And the buttons and zips saved for reuse as well! I find a lot of gorgeous vintage fabrics in those shops - and you will too:)

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February 15, 20160 found this helpful

Thank you Lynn, I will definitely look for the machine you recommended. It is rather daunting because of so many models to choose from which is why I posted the question trusting someone like you would respond. I did recently find a store in Florida called Hobby Lobby and I will soon be going there. They posted a coupon for 40% off one item, so I will get some material (cotton blend approx. $4 a yard) for a first time project I want to try. I have been going to quite a few flea markets but haven't find any material there, strange huh? They had loads of other craft supplies, but not material. I should be able to afford the machine you recommended next month, so I will definitely keep searching for that one.

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I can't handle complicated machines and directions and there are so many out there like that. It's chancey to buy someone else's machine posted at a swap site as they could be junk or not run properly and I am definitely not advanced enough to be able to tell right away whether or not it's a good purchase. I will learn to sew because I have too. So many of the clothes out there are constrictive and due to a back injury I have, I really need loose flowing tops, etc. which are usually too expensive for me to get. I hope to be able to make a couple things soon even if I do it by hand. It will be fun to have new clothes I made myself. Thanks again for your post.

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