Hello stitchers!  I hear this question so often that I’ve decided to start a little FAQs blog this week.  What machine should I get?  Well, sewing is just like with any task you take on-good tools make the job easier and generally more enjoyable.  Before you head out to the store, ask yourself these questions:

1.  What do you want to sew?  Clothing?  Crafty things like hats and handbags?  Quilts?  Auto upholstery?  Boat sails?  You gotta know what you’re making to know what tools you need.

2.  How much money will you spend?

So let’s say the answer to #1 is ‘I want to make some clothes, some household items like curtains, maybe a quilt or five…just general sewing, nothing really heavy.’  You want a basic, domestic sewing machine.  Let’s say the answer to #2 is $200 to $1000.  Yeah, I know that’s a big disparity, but I’ll talk more about that later. Let’s go shopping…

Here’s where to go–shop at a local sewing machine dealer that you can trust!  Don’t know of one?  Ask a friend who sews or a sewing instructor who they like or go online and read reviews about SERVICE and quality.  When you buy your machine from a good dealer, you get a warranty, lessons (how-to use your machine lessons, not how to sew specific items) and often all servicing for 2-3 years. This is a good value in most cases.  Depending on the machine, a complete tune-up is around $70, more for some models and around $130 for computerized machines.  AVOID:  box stores, chain fabric stores, anywhere that will not service your machine in-house.  You may save a few bucks initially, but you’ll likely be sorry if anything goes wrong with your machine.  Don’t like who you’re dealing with or feel pressured or like the salesperson knows nothing about sewing?  Go somewhere else!

Here’s what to bring on your shopping trip.  Your sewing project wish list, some pieces of fabric that you will likely sew with. The tester fabrics at the sewing dealerships are all perfectly stiffened with fabric sizing and they can fake you out! Oh, and some scissors (tho it’s likely that they have some handy.  I like to be prepared). A notebook.  Take notes on which models you like and the price.  Lastly, bring the ability to walk out without making a purchase!  Now you have some idea of what’s out there, the model numbers, and what they cost.  Go do your homework.  Search online for reviews that are independent.  See what the buzz is.  Unhappy consumers are pretty anxious to tell about what they hate, so keep that in mind, too.  Call or email a sewing teacher!  We love talking about sewing machines and have opinions that could help you make a good decision.

More soon about finding a good used machine in a thrift shop or on CraigsList.

Until then–move around, eat something green, and take a stitch!