Buying a new sewing machine is an exciting purchase for any sewist. We worked with Julie from Hippie Stitch and Scribbles and Snapshots to come up with some recommendations for the process:

Research:
1. Before you start shopping, research:

  • Internet: Most manufacturers have websites that can help you compare features and costs. Blogs, forums and sewing social networking groups are a good place to look. At the end of the month we’ll share links to a huge selection of reviews from our Sewing Machine Meme, and we also have a busy Sewing Machine section in the forum. Update: Here’s the list of reviews!
  • Consumer Reports. (Check the library for these publications.)
  • Magazines like Sew News or Threads. (Check the library for these publications.)
  • See if the local dealers belong to the BBB or other consumer advocate groups.
2. Answer the questions on our Sewing Machine Wants/Needs PDF and bring it with you as you shop. Good sales people will ask you these questions to help direct you to the right machine for you; you should be ready to answer them.

Shopping:
1. Start out on the right foot by arriving prepared. Bring a notebook and pencil, samples of the type of fabric you plan to be sewing with, along with different types and weights of thread to try. We also recommend having water and a snack in your bag.

2. Bring several copies of our Sewing Machine Questions PDF with you to shops to ask questions as you work with professionals.

Making the Decision:
Later, once you’ve thought about your sewing goals and machine needs, sit down with your Sewing Machine Questions copies. Spend time without pressure or distractions to think about what you want, need, and dream about, in tandem with your budget.

Enjoy the search and find the machine that is just right for you! Happy Stitching!

For more information:

  • New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension
    – Buying a Sewing Machine, Guide C-203
    – Sewing and Craft Alliance, Sew-lutions Guidelines
    – Sewing Machine Basics, 2.102
  • Ehow: How to buy a sewing machine, How to buy a used sewing machine
  • Craftstylish.com

Download our PDFs or copy and paste the same questions below so you can customize:
Sewing Machine Wants/Needs
• What types of things do I sew? (i.e. clothing, bags, quilting, etc.)
• How interested am I in machine embroidery? In machine quilting?
• Is there a type of sewing I’d like to explore more? (i.e. quilting, home dec sewing, etc.)
• How long do I plan to keep this machine (i.e. is it truly a long-term investment or a casual relationship?!)?
• What is my sewing machine budget?
• Which features are essential?
• What are some pie-in-the-sky features I’d love?
• Which accessories are essential?
• What are some pie-in-the-sky accessories I’d love?
• Have I talked with friends/read online sources about machines people love? Are there any particular brands, models, features, accessories I’m interested in exploring based on their experiences?

Sewing Machine Questions
• What unique features does this machine have that sets it apart from others?
• How many stitches does it have?
• Which accessories come with the machine?
• What are my options for future accessories (i.e. additional feet, etc.), and what is the associated approximate cost?
• What type of warranty comes with the machine?
• Who completes the repairs, and how long does that typically take? (Do you have to ship the machine to the manufacturer or does the shop do repairs?)
• Are lessons/classes included in the cost of the machine?
• Is the machine supposed be professionally “tuned up” and cleaned? How much does that cost?
• Is the harp size adequate for my needs?
• Do the feed dogs drop for quilting?
• How does it feel to sew? Quiet? Smooth? Intuitive features? Loud? Confusing?
• Will this machine fit my sewing space well? (If you’re a roving sewist does it have a case?)
• Can I see myself sewing happily on this machine in 20 years?
• Are there any handouts/additional literature about the machine I can take to read at home?

Join us for Sewing Machine Month! Enter to win this week’s prize package from our Sewing Machine Month sponsor: Husqvarna/Viking. Comment on any post this week for your chance to win the Embroidery Package (over $250 retail value), or you might win one of four $20 gift certificates to Sew,Mama,Sew!.