JUN 2, 2015

What to look for in a sewing machine

If you’re a beginner it can be quite daunting trying to choose a sewing machine. Here at Carrington Fabrics we know a thing or two about sewing machines, so we’ve put together a handy guide to help you when it comes to choosing a sewing machine...

Consider the weight

Will you be setting your sewing machine up in a permanent place, or is it to be stored between uses so the space can be used for other things? If you’re tight on space and will only be taking your machine out as and when you need it then a lighter machine will suit you better. If you’re constantly taking your machine out and packing it away again you don’t want anything too heavy as it’ll become a chore. However, if you plan on making soft furnishings like curtains you’ll need a sturdy machine that can cope with heavier fabrics.

Choose an established brand

You can pick up a cheap sewing machine for as little as £50 these days but it might not be suitable for your needs as your sewing skills progress and you move onto bigger projects. Cheaper, unbranded sewing machines are harder to repair too as the parts are hard to come by. A branded machine will usually come with a good warranty, and replacement parts are easy to come by.

  • Janome: The world’s biggest sewing manufacturer has been established in the UK since 1969, and many more years in Japan before that, so it’s certainly a name you can trust.
  • Brother: Another Japanese manufacturer, Brother make machines from beginner level to semi-professional embroidery machines. You won’t find better features on a beginner machine.
  • Elna: Swiss engineering led to the first compact, portable electric sewing machine with a free arm, back in 1940. Elna have been major players in sewing ever since.
  • Bernina: Another Swiss manufacturing company, Bernina have been established for 82 years now, and focus on the premium end of the sewing machine market.
  • Singer: The American brand has been synonymous with sewing since 1851, and continues to produce a wide range of domestic and commercial machines.

Consider the fabrics

Most sewing machines will have no trouble handling cottons and mid-weight fabrics, but if you think you might want to move beyond lighter fabrics in the future, i.e. to create curtains or upholstery, then you’ll need to take that into consideration.

  • Thick fabrics: Fabrics such as fleece or denim require a longer stitch length so check that the machine you purchase offers a good choice of stitch lengths.
  • Stretch fabrics: Stretchy fabrics can be challenging to sew with, so try to choose a machine that has a stretch stitch as this will help you to get better results.
  • Delicate fabrics: Silks, chiffons, and other delicate fabrics need to be handled lightly so choose a machine that allows you to reduce the pressure of the presser foot, decreasing the risk of snagging. A plastic or Teflon foot also helps delicate fabrics to glide better.
  • Curtains: If you’ll be sewing large soft furnishings like curtains then make sure you select a machine with a large sewing bed or an extension table to cope with the weight of the fabric.
Created on 2nd June 2015
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