There are many things to consider when thinking about getting a new machine. Start your shopping research by asking yourself these five crucial questions.
1. How often am I really going to be using my new machine?
Make a list of the things you hope to use your sewing machine for. Do you need it for mending and alterations? Or are you planning to sew a whole new wardrobe for yourself? If you plan on using your machine often — at least a few times per week — it is good to opt for a more durable machine so you don't have to replace it soon after you get it. We suggest long-established brands such as Singer, Brother, and Kenmore; although Bernina, Janome, and Husqvarna Viking have gained popularity. It is also very important to ask about warranty and repair policy.
2. What is my budget?
Once you decide your budget, stick to it. There will always be that next machine that comes with more automated features. Familiarize yourself with the types of machines you will get for your money. Machines $200 and under are often considered "disposable" and their parts are mostly made of plastic. The $200 — $700 range will give you a machine meant for the seamstress that sews occasionally (once a week), and it will offer the durability and features for that type of use. The $700 — $2,500 priced sewing machines are for those who love to sew and experienced seamstresses. This will give you a machine that you can use and replace the parts, which is a good thing. The parts are better engineered and made of metal not plastic. As for machines priced at $2,500 and above, these are meant for those who sew every day and industry professionals.
3. What type of sewing do I plan to do?
If you are a garment seamstress, perhaps the only stitches you need are straight and zig-zag. Alternatively, a quilter may want more and the ability to add a freehand quilting foot attachment. If you want to sew primarily stretch fabrics, you may want to splurge on a serger instead. So think about the types of creations you want to make with your new machine. The more sewing projects you want to try, the more features and ability for attachments you may want.
A simple sewing machine like the above Singer is a great option for a beginner that plans to learn how to sew on this machine. Suitable for mending and small alterations, a machine like this will help you develop your skills and see what you like best about sewing, so that you can later invest in a different machine. These types of machines are also often lightweight, meaning they can be easily stored away. If you do purchase a sewing machine for the first time and you are first learning how to sew, a great and afforable option is to learn from home online! (Register for BurdaStyle's Intro to Sewing course and use code SewingMachine10 for 10% off registration.)
Meanwhile, a computerized sewing machine will offer a spectrum of features and even some small embroidery options. If you are wanting to dabble in home decor with decorative stitches, a computerized sewing machine is a great option. These machines also often have automatic buttonhole features and the ability to host a twin needle. But if you only need your machine for small projects and basic alterations, simple may be the route to go!
4. When will I use my machine?
If you plan to use your machine exclusively in the mornings when others in your household may be sleeping, you might want to consider a more quiet machine. This may be a silly thing to think of when purchasing a machine, but noise does matter! Always ask to test sew in store before purchasing and listen to the type of sound it makes.
5. Where am I going to sew?
Will you have a dedicated space in your household for you to sew? If you plan on using your dining room table, opt for a machine that is lightweight and comes with a cover so it can be tucked away from sight. Or if you take sewing classes and transport your machine for projects on the go, internal storage is key. If you have an entire sewing room with dedicated table, then have a heavyweight machine with attachable table may be a great option if you plan to keep it in one place.
Once you find a sewing machine that you love stick to that brand! This often means that if you upgrade your sewing machine within the same brand a lot of the same attachments will still work. Also, always register your machine so you can qualify for any machine warranties. Just know that the more you love your sewing machine and how it works, the more you will sew and create!
And when you've made your purchase, put it to good use! Start with this easy-to-sew paper raindrop garland: