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Tip of the Day


Choose the Perfect Sewing Machine



Choose the Perfect Sewing Machine

First, take some time to think about how you will use your machine. Determine the type of sewing you will do (garments, quilting, heavy duty, embroidery, lace, etc.) and make a list of the features that you need for each type. Read through our suggested features list and check off the ones that are important to you.  Take this list with you as you visit sewing machine stores. 

Ask others for advice, but remember YOU are the one who will be using this machine for a very long time. Buy the best you can afford. A top of the line sewing machine can cost as much, or more, as a major appliance. If you really want something and get something else because of cost you will regret it for the life of that machine. (10 to 20 years on a high end model.)  Dealers often put their machines on sale in October and November, and while at quilt shows.  ASK for the sale price even off season!  ASK for additional accessories to sweeten the deal.  You may just get a bargain.

Second, choose your dealer carefully.  Service after the sale can be very important to your satisfaction.  You want one who will stand behind the machine with service, repairs and classes.   Study the warranty. Can the machine be serviced and repaired locally? Talk to other customers of this dealer. Were they happy with the way they were treated?

Ask the tough questions: how long has this company been in business under the current owner?  Both Bernina and Babylock are family owned.  Pfaff was sold and resold and is now owned by the same company that owns Viking and Singer.  Singer  machines are no longer as reliable as they once were.  If the same thing happens to Pfaff and Viking, will your dealer help you?

What is the repair history of this brand and model you are considering?  Anecdotal evidence indicates that Brother and Babylock can be temperamental and have higher repair costs due to the difficulty in getting replacement parts. Janome owns its own manufacturing plants and actually manufactures machines for Bernina (the Bernette and the stand-alone embroidery unit), Elna, Sears the Pfaff Grand Quilter and the Megaquilter.  However, even though the machine may say Janome on it, regular Janome parts may not fit. 

Here are some features to consider in your new sewing machine

Once you have decided on the features you want, visit several dealerships. When you are at the store, put the machine through its paces. Test every feature and every stitch. Don't let the dealer rush you. Don't feel pressured into making a decision because another customer wants to test the machine you're using. Offer to test it together. Another customer could provide you with additional insight you wouldn't get from a sales person. Plan to spend two to four hours at the store. Go early in the day so you won't feel rushed. Be assertive. Ask for a different sales person if you aren't getting the attention you deserve.

Take fabrics with you for testing. The dealer will have stiff, full-bodied swatches, and any machine will do well on those. A good fabric to test on is challis. Also test on leather strips and several layers of denim. Take setups with you for whatever you do most ... quilt blocks in various stages to see how well the machine goes over seams, fabric-batting-fabric sandwiches for quilting, fabric-interfacing-fabric for buttonholes, lengths of fabric pressed and ready to blind-stitch hem.  Stitch over the cut edge to see how the machine handles it.

Keep a journal of what you liked and disliked about each machine. Don't make a decision until you've tested all machines and all brands and don't buy a machine the same day you test it.  You will have your new sewing machine for many, many years. Make sure it's the one you want.

Comments on this article?  Send them to quiltbus.com@gmail.com.  Please note that we cannot help you choose a new machine - only YOU can do that.

You might also like to visit Sewing Machine Reviewer. for more information on various sewing machines.