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Tips For Buying a Sewing Machine - 5 Must Have Checklist Items

Tips for buying a sewing machine

Sew many machines, sew little time. Are you stuck in the endless google hunt for the best sewing machine? When looking at all the options, it’s hard to know what’s important and what’s fluff. Especially if you’re a beginner sewist.

Take a peek down below and see what’s on my 5 must have checklist items for buying a sewing machine and choose the machine that is right for you.

faux fur fabric, leather and pink waffle cotton fabric
Consider the fabric you want to sew with.

What are you Sewing?

Probably the most important thing when selecting a sewing machine is to consider what you’ll be making with it. Certain machines are better than others when it comes to handling different materials. If you’re looking to stitch up bulky or upholstery fabrics, you’ll want to select a machine with more power and speed. But if you’re just starting out, words like speed and power, might be daunting.

pink piggy bank on white background
Create a search around your budget.

What’s your Budget For a Sewing Machine?

It would be great if money was no object, right?! Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case. It's important to keep your budget in mind when selecting a machine. Pick a price range you are comfortable with spending and search within those options. There’s a lot of machines within the $100-200 range that are fantastic. Don’t assume more expensive is better.

Juki Sewing machine
Look for a sewing machine that is ideal for your sewing space.

Where are you Sewing?

It’s really important to consider the space you plan to sew in. Do you have a dedicated space to leave your machine?

Will you have a pop-up space that gets put away after each use? If so, a light weight, smaller machine might be a better option.

Picking a machine based on your sewing space will provide less frustration and more sewing!

...and we all love more sewing.

sewing machine feet, ruching foot, gathering foot, rolled hem foot, metal bobbins, zipper foot
Can you find parts to add to your machine when necessary?

What Parts and Accessories Does Your Machine Have?

Understanding the parts and accessories that come with your sewing machine is key to finding the right one for you.

Some machines use specific parts and accessories, others use universal components. Do a little research. See how easy it is to find additional accessories like sewing feet, bobbins or replacement parts in your area.

sewing machine, sewing, sewing foot, threaded needle
Trust me, find a machine with a needle threader!

How About Those Special Features?

Whoa… check out those bells and whistles. Look, some special features are more useful than others. If you are just starting out, you really only need a sewing machine with few features. The other flashy ones are more convenient than necessary.

Here’s a short list of must haves:

Automatic Threader - I mean, who doesn’t want to avoid jabbing an ornery thread through an impossibly small needle eye?!

Thread Cutter - This can come in handy and it's ideal to have one along the side of the machine. Some machines have an automatic one that cuts thread with the touch of a button. Either way, it’s great to avoid the endless search for the scissors.

Adjustable Speed Control - This may not be a key feature for an experienced sewist but if you're new at this sewing thing or this machine is for a child, being able to slow down is a great option.

baby lock sewing machine, speed control
Speed controls are great features for beginners.

Lighting - Your sewing is way better when you can see it. Having a machine with an internal light bulb that lights up the sewing space is pretty much a non-negotiable. Luckily, most home sewing machines do have this feature.

Machine Throat or Harp - The throat or harp is the space inbetween the needle and sewing machine. Believe it or not, this space is important to what you’re sewing. A larger space allows for bigger projects, like quilts. When considering a sewing machine, check this space out.

juki mechanical sewing machine, juki computerized sewing machine
Weigh your options on a mechanical vs. computerized sewing machine.

Mechanical or Computerized - Think analog vs digital here... Mechanical machines tend to be more simple and easier to operate than a computerized sewing machine. If kept clean and oiled, a mechanical sewing machine will require less maintenance. It’s often more budget friendly and a great place to develop your craft. A computerized sewing machine tends to be a higher end machine with more automatic features. They often have a higher-powered motor, lending them to a variety of projects, including heavy-duty sewing.

So, What Machines Should You Take a Look At?

If you ask 100 sewists what their favorite machine is, you’ll likely get 100 answers. Take some time and really consider where you are in your sewing journey and where you are looking to go. There are a lot of good machines out there and you'll likely have several great machines to choose from. Hopefully this little checklist can help you narrow down that list!

Now, I’m curious, what are your must haves when it comes to your sewing machine checklist?





Jenn Barron

A pattern specialist, master seamster and digital badass. Jenn establishes a place where creativity, authenticity and sewing meet, helping make all the things so that you can  be you.

Find me!

  • Youtube
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  • Sew & Tell on Pinterest

My Go-To
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