Tuesday, June 20, 2017

anybody sew? Could you give me an overview of the main differences in sewing machines?

October 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Scrapbooking Machines Q&A

Question by AJ: anybody sew? Could you give me an overview of the main differences in sewing machines?
I scrapbook, knit, crochet, even make origami... But I have never used a sewing machine. I recently decided I am going to learn to sew and in turn I can use the machine for scrapbooking projects etc. However, I have no idea what features I am looking for. There are so many different makes and models and features. Can someone just school me on the basics? I'd really appreciate it!

Best answer:

Answer by kay

What I want for beginners in sewing:

- a machine that doesn't scare you
- a machine that isn't balky (cheap new machines are often very
balky or need adjustments often and are rarely repairable --
just too frustrating to learn on!)
- very good straight stitch
- good zigzag (4-5 mm is fine, more than that is gravy)
- a method of making buttonholes that makes sense to you
- adjustable presser foot pressure (which helps some fabric
handling issues)
- accessory presser feet that don't cost an arm and a leg
(machines that use a "short shank foot" typically handle
generic presser feet pretty well. Some brands of machines use
proprietary or very expensive presser feet)

If the budget stretches far enough:

- blindhem and stretch blindhem stitches
- triple zigzag (nice for elastic applications)
- a couple of decorative stitches (you won't use them nearly as
much as you think)
- electronic machine because of the needle position control and
because the stepper motors give you full "punching force" at
slow sewing speeds -- mechanical machines often will stall at
slow speeds.

Please go to the best sewing machine dealers around and ask them
to show you some machines in your price range, *especially* used
machines you can afford. You'll get a far better machine buying
used than new, and a good dealer is worth their weight in sewing
machine needles when you get a machine problem -- often they can
talk you through the problem over the phone. While you're trying
things out, try a couple of machines (sewing only, not combo
sewing-embroidery) over your price limit, just so you can see
what the difference in stitch quality and ease of use might be.
You may find you want to go for the used Cadillac. Or you might
want the new basic Chevy. Might as well try both out.

Suggested reading: John Giordano's The Sewing Machine Book
(especially for used machines), Carol Ahles' Fine Machine Sewing
(especially the first and last few chapters) and Gale Grigg
Hazen's Owner's Guide to Sewing Machines, Sergers and Knitting
Machines. All of these are likely to be available at your public

Used brands I'd particularly look for: Elna, Bernina,
Viking/Husqvarna, Pfaff, Singer (pre 1970), Juki, Toyota

New "bargain brand" I'd probably pick, if new was my choice:
Janome (who also does Kenmore).

If you get the BYU channel, look for Martha's Sewing Room. Martha Pullen often has a sewing/scrapbook segment. The machines used on that show are of the $ 3K+ variety, but it can give you an idea of what sort of effects are possible.

What do you think? Answer below!


2 Responses to “anybody sew? Could you give me an overview of the main differences in sewing machines?”
  1. hi people says:

    hi you could look on a site http://www.patternreview.com they review sewing machines. i love this site!!! also if you are mostly going to use it to scrap book a basic machine would be ok. also if you are just learning 2 great books are readers digest complete book of sewing and the dk complete ( photo ) guide to sewing ? i am not sure about the last ones title but it is by dk it is a white book with photos. they can also be found at your local library.

  2. pattiann says:

    Today’s machine have the same basic functions, and then as the goodies (usually referred to as “bells & whistles”) are added, the price goes up.

    I found this blog very interesting and well researched (the screen jumps too much for me, so I printed, read and kept this for reference material) –


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