Basic Tips For Choosing A Sewing Machine for Beginners

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Success in any craft begins with a solid foundation of basic skills. Mastery comes with time and practice. Each time you practice a basic skill, you grow your abilities and improve. By practicing and experimenting with the techniques in this site, you will continue to develop your foundational sewing skills as well as learn new techniques. When that happens, you have truly made those skills your own. Before you know it, you will be a confident and masterful sewist!

If you are new to sewing, start by learning about both machine and hand sewing. In addition, you should understand the different tools that are available while also learning basic skills such as ironing and how to sew a basic seam. If you are returning to sewing after a long absence, you might feel your skills are a little rusty or need updating with modern sewing techniques and technology. A refresher course may be exactly what you need to feel inspired again.

Regardless of your level of sewing abilities, you are bound to learn a new tip or technique that is different or more useful than your standard method. Once you have a solid foundation in the sewing basics, you will be ready to choose a pattern and get underway with more creative projects and sewing success.

The modern sewing machine is available with a variety of features and at a variety of price points for all skill levels.

SELECTING A SEWING MACHINE

If you do not yet own a sewing machine, you will find the marketplace packed with options. It makes sense to purchase a machine that you can grow into as sewists often find that they become interested in more complex projects as their skill sets improve. First, evaluate your overall sewing goals to guide you in choosing the machine best suited for your needs. Two primary factors to consider are what you want to sew and how often you will be using the machine. Sewing heavier textiles will require different tools than basic fabrics for everyday clothing. You may also want to invest in a higher quality machine if you plan to use it for a variety of types of sewing or if you consider yourself more than just a casual sewist.

Many brands and styles of machines are available and can be purchased new or used. They range anywhere from $99 for a basic, electric straight stitch and zigzag model to several thousand dollars for a top-of-the-line computerized model with embroidery capabilities. (Don’t worry—you don’t need a machine that costs thousands of dollars to make great clothes!) Your first machine may be basic, but it should include features for garment sewing such as variable stitch lengths and styles, buttonhole stitching, and a zipper foot. For a machine with these features, you can expect to spend between $180 and $350. If you are interested in advanced or modern design techniques, you can find machines that embroider, monogram, or create intricate quilting stitches with state-of-the-art computerized screens and scanning capabilities, just to name a few.

Avoid purchasing the cheapest machine available from a big box store. Buying a mid-range machine from a reputable dealer will provide customer support, warranty, and often complementary classes on how to use your new machine. You will also be more likely to receive personalized customer service from someone with experience and knowledge in using the machines.

Classifications of Sewing Machines 

Sewing machines are basically classified according to their functions, but we can also classify them based on their features, such as embroidery, quilting, or sewing.  

There are 5 categories of sewing machines, which I have classified according to features.  

These are: 
1. Mechanical or domestic sewing machines 
2. Automated or computerized sewing machines 
3. Electronic sewing machines 
4. Serger or Overlock sewing machines 
5. Embroidery machines 

Let's look at the machines in depth. 

Mechanical Sewing Machines 



Mechanical sewing machines are also known as treadle sewing machines, tailoring machines, or manual machines. With these machines, the user performs the basic settings manually. 

We can classify manual sewing machines into 2:  

  • Old model treadle (where you operate the lever with your foot) 
  • Hand-based (where you use your hands) 
Both classifications operate on human effort, although electric motors are now replacing those efforts.  

The model and the manufacturing company determine the body type of a mechanical sewing machine. The body is usually made of aluminum and is usually black in color. These old model sewing machines can either be table-based or stand-based.  

Since they don't require the user to be experienced in sewing, manual sewing machines are simple to handle. This is the perfect machine if you want to learn sewing from basics or are interested in taking up tailoring at home for household items.  

Features Mechanical Sewing Machines 

A domestic sewing machine features an adjustable stitch length, adjustable tension, bottom loading bobbin, inbuilt presser feet, and single (reverse and straight) stitch.  

Some of the most recent manual sewing machines include one or two advanced features, such as a small LED screen for selecting the stitch pattern.  

Advantages of Mechanical Machines 

  • Mechanical sewing machines are cheap. 
  • Easy to repair. 
  • They come with very limited features that are simple to understand.  
  • Effective in simple stitching. 

Disadvantages of Mechanical Sewing Machines 

  •  Not ideal for sewing thicker fabrics such as leather and denim.  
  • You have to keep threading the needle over and over, which can be very annoying. 
  • They have just one inbuilt straightforward stitching mechanism.  
  • The treadle devices are not easily movable, and they take up more space.  
  • You can't use it for other decorative crafting functions such as embroidery. 

Electronic Sewing Machine


An Electronic sewing machine can simply be described as a combination of computerized and mechanical sewing machines. Some use battery and others use electricity according to the model – the heavy-duty models typically operate on electricity. 

If you are big on DIYs, you'll be pleased to know that these devices are very handy in DIY decorative crafting. If you find these additional features unnecessary or don't sew regularly, it's better to invest in a manual sewing machine.  

Features Electronic Sewing Machine 

These sewing machines have quite a lot to offer. They are for professional sewing. Electronic sewing machines are compact-sized, motorized, and free-arm, with some models featuring an LCD screen for selecting the patterns accordingly.  

These devices feature an inbuilt needle threader, automatic thread cutter, adjustable presser foot, twin needle compatibility, auto tripling bobbin, and loading drop in bobbin. They also feature adjustable needle positioning, adjustable stitch width and length, reverse stitch lever, inbuilt stitch capacity of at least 7 stitches, and an add-on option for more features.  

They have good quality stitching and are great for hemming, embroidering, hemming zip fixing, smocking, buttonholes stitch, blind stitch, and quilting.   

Advantages Electronic Sewing Machine 

• They are lightweight, which makes them portable. 
• Good for tailors and professionals. 

Disadvantages Electronic Sewing Machine 

• Requires training to use. 
• Requires a professional to repair. 
• Expensive to purchase and maintain compared to mechanical sewing machines. 

Computerized Sewing Machines 



These are state-of-the-art sewing machines that you can connect to design loaded cards, computers, or the internet. Computerized sewing machines are huge, heavy-duty, and they work very fast. They are mostly ideal for industrial functions where you can design large-scale fabrics within a short amount of time.  

Features  Computerized Sewing Machines 

Automated sewing machines feature several needles and spool spinners for thread spools of different colors for sewing, smocking, quilting, embroidery, and other crafts.   

The inbuilt stitch capacity for these machines is at least 50 but not more than 200. These sewing machines also include a special feature known as Autopilot Stitching Mode, where the device can control the stitch strength, thread tension, and speed (the stitches produced in a minute).  

Advantages Computerized Sewing Machines 

• They are heavy-duty and can handle any type of fabric. 
• You can download and design or pattern from the internet. 
• Impressive stitch capacity. 

Disadvantages Computerized Sewing Machines 

• They are costly. The prices differ based on the features available on a particular model.  
• You need to watch a tutorial or read the manual to know how to use other features. The manufactures typically provide a manual. 
• Difficult to correct technical problems such as data loading, errors, and connectivity issues. 

Embroidery Sewing Machines 



The purpose of these machines is to design various embroidery patterns on your fabric. You can attach an embroidering presser foot to an electronic sewing machine to use it for embroidery.  

If you'd like to learn basic embroidery, it is recommended to select a zigzag machine as a beginner. For skilled level or professionals, it's better to go for an electronic sewing machine model with the embroidering feature and various patterns.  

Most variations of computerized embroidering machines are produced for industrial functions.  

Advantages Embroidery Sewing Machines 

• Best for tailors/professionals. 

Disadvantages Embroidery Sewing Machines 

• Costly to purchase and maintain compared to manual sewing machines. 

Serger or Overlocker Sewing Machine 



Serger sewing machines are useful for overlocking or seaming the fabric – they are used to sew or join the edges of fabric together. Professionals typically use these machines to give their garments a finishing touch.  

The serger is also used by garment industries to edge napkins, elastic hemming or seaming in edging curtains, overlocking on pillow covers, lingerie designing, and other decorative crafting. You can choose to modify the length and width of your stitches.  

The capacity of your thread stitch determines the price of the overlocker sewing machine. Patterns of overlock stitches are based on the number of threads it utilizes:  
• Single-threaded overlock stitch 
• 2 threaded overlock stitch 
• 3-thread overlock stitch 
• 4 threaded overlock stitch 
• 5 threaded overlock stitch 

The weakest loop is a single-threaded overlock stitch; the more the number of threads you use to edge your loop, the stronger it becomes. Also, single-threaded overlockers as cheaper than other 5 or 4 threaded stitch overlockers. 

Features Serger or Overlocker Sewing Machine 

This sewing machine features an inbuilt cutter, which is a blade that trims the unequal edges of your fabric while at the same time edging the textile or garment.  
The device typically creates stitch loops over your fabric edge.  

Advantages  Serger or Overlocker Sewing Machine 

• Possible to alter the length and width of your stitches. 

Disadvantages Serger or Overlocker Sewing Machine 

• More expensive compared to domestic sewing machines. 
Next up, we'll look at the best sewing machines for beginners. 

MACHINE SETUP

Regardless of the brand or functions, certain fundamentals concerning needles, thread, and stitching apply to all sewing machines.
  • The standard size 12–14 needle is suitable for all medium-weight fabrics except knits.
  • Knits are best sewn with a size 14 ballpoint needle.
  • The standard thread is a 50 weight all-purpose polyester thread or mercerized cotton.
  • Set the machine to sew regular seams at 12 stitches per inch (2.5cm).
  • Unless your machine makes stitches designed for knits, knit fabrics require special procedures (page 17).
For specific instructions on setting up, threading, and operating your sewing machine, see the manual that came with the machine. Note that the most common sewing machine abuses are simply failing to maintain the machine after purchase. Keep up on general maintenance with your sewing machine. See your user guide for instructions.

Machines have lots of options and features, notions are available in all kinds of styles, and threads and fabrics come in thousands of colors and patterns. Fashion sewing has never been more engaging for the modern sewist.




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