Sewing requires some specialized tools, the biggest one being the sewing machine itself. If sewing is new to you, your inclination might be to get a sewing machine as cheaply and easily as possible. Purchasing tools within your budget is necessary, but getting the cheapest (or free-est) machine possible is usually not the best option.
Number One Thing To Remember: Don't automatically drag Grandma's machine out of the closet or buy one for $5.00 at a garage sale.
Quality tools are essential, especially in handcrafts. If you have to fight with your machine, sewing will not be a pleasurable experience. Poor quality machines and problems with mechanical parts make what should be a rewarding process nothing but a series of frustrations. That's just a shame, because the sewing itself isn’t frustrating, it’s the machine that is the challenge! You don't have to break the bank and buy the most expensive machine available, but you should buy the best machine you can possibly afford. A good machine makes sewing easier and the results more professional.
You need a machine designed for what and how you want to sew. If you're planning to be a very occasional, weekend sewist, you don't need a feature-heavy model. You want something very easy to use, so you don't have to re-learn the machine each time you start a new project. If you're interested in sewing a lot of long, straight seams, you may find a very fast straight-stitch model is your best choice. For most home decor projects, a mid-sized, portable machine with a decent selection of decorative stitches is ideal. If you're ready to get serious about home decor, also look for the following built-in features:
- Automatic buttonholes
- Specialty feet for inserting zippers or sewing cording, piping or trims
- A fabric-feeding system that can accommodate thicker home decor fabrics
- An automatic needle threader
Number Three Thing To Remember: Beware the Big Box retailer.
Once you've decided on the basic framework of the machine you want, you’ll need to decide where to shop. Most folks automatically think of Big Box retailers, such as Sears, Target or WalMart, as the best option for an economical machine. Not so fast. You're not buying a spatula. A sewing machine requires service and support – maybe even a lesson or two, and you won't get any of that from a Big Box retailer.
Number Four Thing To Remember: Find a local dealer and take advantage of their classes and other stuff.
Even if you aren’t looking to spend very much on your machine, your best option is a local dealer. You might be surprised to find that dealers, who offer service and support for your new machine, have models that price very competitively with the Big Box models – and you get far more for your investment. A local dealer can help you with any problems that arise, and many offer classes on a particular model of machine or sewing in general. Better still, your dealer offers a connection to a sewing community – so you can hang out with other sewing and home decor enthusiasts and share your passion for pillows.
Number Five Thing to Remember: Do a little shopping on the web first, then visit a store for a hands-on demo.
Visit the websites of machine companies, check out their selections, and learn what kinds of features are available on machines. You can do a lot of research online before you even walk into a store. When you're ready to buy, the final step is to make sure you "test stitch" your chosen machine. Ask for a hands-on demonstration and go over the types of projects you are excited to get going on. By taking a little extra time in the store, you'll be ready to start your first project as soon as you get your new machine home.
Following these tips will allow you to be more confident in your sewing machine purchase – and much happier with it for the years to come.