Choosing a Sewing Machine

If you know my story, you know that I almost failed Home Economics, and had no idea how to even thread a sewing machine when I first began. Back in 2010 when I was just starting out I borrowed my mom’s twenty five year old Singer and literally had to Google how to thread it. But I finally nailed down the basics and soon I was off shopping for my own machines.
I knew that I wanted to have all computerized machines, and so I finally settled on a Brother CS6000i. And for the first year of the business, it was the only machine I used. It’s a total workhorse and is everything I needed to get started. I love how many stitches are pre-stored, and the manuals are super easy to follow. Plus, it came with a ton of specialty feet and tools, which was a huge plus, since I had no idea what I needed back then. I’m telling you, I was a total rookie.
But as my sewing skills progressed, I decided it was time to add second machine to the studio, the Brother SE400, which is a combination sewing and embroidery machine. And it quickly became my new best friend.

Even though it has an embroidery carriage that allows designing and monogramming, I honestly don’t embroider with it that often, but I sew on it all day, everyday. I absolutely adore the way it sews.

It also came with lots pre-loaded stitches, designs and fonts for monogramming,as well the embroidery carriage, hoop, feet, and accessories. But my absolute favorite feature is that it ties and cuts with just the touch of a button. It’s a huge time saver!

And speaking of buttons, most people are surprised to know that I sew completely without the use of a foot pedal. Computerized machines can be operated by touch button which is one of the coolest features.

 I love all my machines, and trust me, I put them through some serious abuse. If you’re new to sewing and thinking about purchasing your first machine, I highly recommend spending some time online reading and researching. When you’ve found one you like, take some time to visit your local fabric store to try it out for yourself. Make sure it does everything you need it to do, it’s well built, can be easily repaired and cleaned, accessories and parts are readily available, and most importantly, that it feels comfortable to sew on.
Recently I’ve added a Serger to my collection,
and honestly these three machine are pretty much all I ever need.
Ready to buy a machine?
Here’s my Top 5 Tips on Buying a Sewing Machine.
1) Stick to name brand machines. You really can’t go wrong with Brother or Singer, or if you have a little more to spend, a Janome or Bernina- Be still my heart!
2) Opt for computerized if you’re a beginner. This may be a bit controversial, and I too learned on an older machine, but oh the ease and beauty of a computerized machine! Since they come preloaded with error codes, there is no more guessing what went wrong, just match the code to the manual! Nothing builds your sewing confidence like being able to troubleshoot and fix problems!
3) You don’t have to spend a lot but buy the best you can afford. My first machine cost around $189 and it is a workhorse. I still use it and I still love it. I have since added other machines to my collection- honestly the difference between what they do and what that first machine does is minimal, but the cheaper machine probably wont hold up as long.
4) Buy your machine from a dealer if you can, and make sure you try it out first! You wouldn’t buy a brand new car without test driving it first, right? Take some fabric swatches with you, denim, cotton, knit, leather and make sure it’s going to suit your sewing purposes.
5) Evaluate what you need. I can’t tell you how many times students have sat at my table with a machine that was completely unnecessary for home sewing. The machine may be fabulous but if you can’t or won’t use it, then what’s the point? Think about what you want to sew and then choose a machine accordingly. Want to monogram and embroider? Great, consider a dual purpose embroidery machine. Want to make baby blankets and a few pieces of clothes? A basic machine with a few decorative stitches will suffice. Are you a quilter? A sturdy machine with all the appropriate feet is the way to go.
Lastly, make sure you love your sewing machine and you’re comfortable with it. Don’t be afraid of messing it up, generally it’s hard to do a lot of damage short of dropping it off a shelf.  Spend time with your machine and you’ll be amazed how quickly your sewing skills grow!

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