|Paradise Sewing in Poway, CA|
But for today's post, I'm not going to sell you on the top of the line (even though it's dreamy). This is for my friends that have expressed an interest in learning but are without a machine. So here's Jake's round-up of tips for purchasing a sewing machine:
1. Buy from a dealer.
Do your research and check for stores that offer free-lessons or lesson package plans with purchase. Reading a manual is one thing, but they can be confusing, especially when they are written in 15 languages. The wealth of knowledge you can get from a dealer is priceless. Often they sell the same machines as big box stores. Belonging to a sewing store is like belonging to a special community of people that always want to help.
A sewing machine purchase should not be like buying a car - you don't want to get a new one every 4 years. Unless you use it for business, a sewing machine is generally used for crafting, repairs, etc. It can last you 20 years! Inexpensive machines are made of plastic parts and gears, and meant to be thrown away when damaged. Plastic parts also wear with age - meaning you could touch that machine once a year, but time will brittle the parts regardless. A good machine will return it's worth in money saved via making curtains, blankets, mending, gifts, general enjoyment, etc. Also, a good machine can be repaired, which is a fraction of the cost of buying a new one every 2 years. I'd personally suggest budgeting for $500+ depending on your preferences and wants. However, that said, a $150 machine is a good starter to get your feet wet until you are ready to upgrade.
3. Don't buy old equipment.
As I mentioned above, the more inexpensive the machine, the higher the chances are that it's made of plastic which brittles over time. Older machines are harder to find parts for, and generally might not have the newer technology (and I'm not even speaking electronics) that will make sewing easier for the beginner sewer.
4. Take a test drive.
Buying used is OK! Just make sure you do your research. Buying used from a dealer is best. Buying used from a thrift store is worst, shortly behind buying used online. If you do make a face-to-face used purchase - ask if you can take it into your local dealer before making a decision - much like buying a used car. If you are a beginner sewer, take an experienced sewer with you to test drive the machine. They may be able to see things (crooked stitches, skipping, loops, fabric feeding incorrectly, parts missing) that you would possibly never know to look for.
I can't stress lessons enough! Even if it's just learning from a local sewing group. The wealth of information you can learn from either a dealer or a group of crafters is always worth the price of whatever you're paying. Don't be afraid to ask questions! The sewing community is much like the cloth diapering community - we like sharing what we know!
You will be surprised by what I know in regards to machine repair, so please don't hesitate to ask me if you are having a problem with a machine of your own. And please! Share! Share! Share!
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