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Author Topic: Buying a Sewing Machine  (Read 4895 times)
FierFlye
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« Topic Start: August 30, 2008, 06:23:57 pm »

I'm interested in sewing more, but sewing by hand takes too long.   Tongue

For the sake of conversation, let's say I've never used a sewing machine.  Can you recommend any resources for learning about sewing machines, what all the parts are called, what they do, and how to use them?

Can you recommend any resources on how to sew in general?  Basic stitches, thread types, whatever I might need to know?

I'd like to make things like bags, clothes, and some home fashion things (pillows, curtains.)  What features in a machine would you recommend?  What features on your machine do you really like, or wish you had.

The sewing shop I visited today showed me a few models.  They were Janome brand.  I liked the automatic button to set a stitch, and the automatic button hole sewer (sized perfectly to your button), and the automatic (practically hands-free) fabric feeder.  I probably don't need a computerized machine for what I'll do, but the ease of use seems nice for a newby like myself.
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« Reply #1: August 30, 2008, 07:16:41 pm »

I'm interested in sewing more, but sewing by hand takes too long.   Tongue

For the sake of conversation, let's say I've never used a sewing machine.  Can you recommend any resources for learning about sewing machines, what all the parts are called, what they do, and how to use them?

Can you recommend any resources on how to sew in general?  Basic stitches, thread types, whatever I might need to know?

I'd like to make things like bags, clothes, and some home fashion things (pillows, curtains.)  What features in a machine would you recommend?  What features on your machine do you really like, or wish you had.

The sewing shop I visited today showed me a few models.  They were Janome brand.  I liked the automatic button to set a stitch, and the automatic button hole sewer (sized perfectly to your button), and the automatic (practically hands-free) fabric feeder.  I probably don't need a computerized machine for what I'll do, but the ease of use seems nice for a newby like myself.


1) if at all possible, go to the sewing machine store with a friend who sews, and knows you pretty well. Just like when you are buying a car, or any other major appliance, it's best to have multiple opinions from people with some experience, if not expertise. I highly doubt you will need something that has a fancy buttonholer, or applique settings or anything like that for a first machine. You really shouldn't ought to spend much more than 100-150$ on a new one, and can probably buy one used for much less.

2) take some basic classes. Most sewing stores offer them, or you maybe can take a class through your local community college or park and rec adult ed. (around here, those are usually free).

I own a Singer (which is a good, solid beginner machine) and wonderful old Bernina, which I love.
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

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« Reply #2: August 30, 2008, 08:13:18 pm »

I'm interested in sewing more, but sewing by hand takes too long.   Tongue

For the sake of conversation, let's say I've never used a sewing machine.  Can you recommend any resources for learning about sewing machines, what all the parts are called, what they do, and how to use them?

Can you recommend any resources on how to sew in general?  Basic stitches, thread types, whatever I might need to know?

I'd like to make things like bags, clothes, and some home fashion things (pillows, curtains.)  What features in a machine would you recommend?  What features on your machine do you really like, or wish you had.

The sewing shop I visited today showed me a few models.  They were Janome brand.  I liked the automatic button to set a stitch, and the automatic button hole sewer (sized perfectly to your button), and the automatic (practically hands-free) fabric feeder.  I probably don't need a computerized machine for what I'll do, but the ease of use seems nice for a newby like myself.

DON'T go for a high-end fancy-dancy thing.  You can always buy up if you change your mind - but odds are good you're going to only use the basic stuff anyway.  And all that fancy stuff is just more stuff to break.  They're going to try to upsell you and tell you about all kinds of fancy crap - and you don't need it.

I bought mine at Sears, and it works just fine - but I knew what I was looking for.

Seriously, don't go for something fancy.  Just make sure you know how to thread it - different machines do that differently, and it can be a pain in the ass.  So get that demonstrated if you can.  Make it clear you want a BEGINNER MACHINE.
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« Reply #3: August 30, 2008, 08:22:34 pm »

I probably don't need a computerized machine for what I'll do, but the ease of use seems nice for a newby like myself.

I love my Elna 1010.  I'm not sure they even make 'em anymore, but it's the perfect machine for a beginner...or someone like me who rarely uses a machine.  It's built like a tank, has enough fancy stitches to keep things interesting, and has never failed me.  I've sewn with many brands, and I'd say go with the low-end models of high-end brands, for the most part.

Brina
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« Reply #4: August 30, 2008, 09:11:57 pm »

Can you recommend any resources on how to sew in general?  Basic stitches, thread types, whatever I might need to know?

Singer has a nice site, you can put in what you are looking for in a machine and it will give you suggestions:

http://www.singerco.com/resources/recommend.html
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« Reply #5: August 31, 2008, 06:39:17 am »


The sewing shop I visited today showed me a few models.  They were Janome brand.  I liked the automatic button to set a stitch, and the automatic button hole sewer (sized perfectly to your button), and the automatic (practically hands-free) fabric feeder.  I probably don't need a computerized machine for what I'll do, but the ease of use seems nice for a newby like myself.

I have a Janome. The buttonhole sizer is extremely cool but I've never used it "for real".

Mine is a  fairly basic craft/quilters model.  It does a range of basic stitches and has a few of the fancy ones  including a basic alphabet or two. Again I've never used most of these other than playing about to see what it could do.

Whilst I like it and it is very easy to thread and use it really isn't any more functional to me than my old 1930s Singer  was. I am very much a plain sewer as I don't enjoy it much.

Have you looked at buying an old machine second hand or even trying Freecycle? There are usually plenty of old models available there for you to see how you get on. If you take to it then you could look at investing in a more fancy machine.
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« Reply #6: August 31, 2008, 09:53:43 am »

Singer has a nice site, you can put in what you are looking for in a machine and it will give you suggestions:

http://www.singerco.com/resources/recommend.html

That's helpful, thanks.
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« Reply #7: August 31, 2008, 09:58:33 am »

Thanks for the advice everyone.

Have you looked at buying an old machine second hand or even trying Freecycle? There are usually plenty of old models available there for you to see how you get on. If you take to it then you could look at investing in a more fancy machine.

That's probably a good idea, except, I don't know I don't know how to use it other than pressing the pedal to to sew.  I don't know how to thread it or anything.  My mom has three or four sewing machines, including one of those old Singers that is built into the cabinet with the big iron pedal.  Only she lives 3 hours away.
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« Reply #8: August 31, 2008, 10:36:38 am »



That's probably a good idea, except, I don't know I don't know how to use it other than pressing the pedal to to sew. 

Which after threading is really all you need to know at first at least with regards to the machine - unless perhaps adjusting the thread tension which despite a succession of old hand me down machines from various sources, I've never actually had to do.

Owners seem  to keep the manuals- I know all the ones I've acquired over the years have - even the  old Jones which has a shuttle rather than a bobbin and which I rescued from a jumble sale still has it's manual and instructions and some weird and wonderful attachments  that look like medieval torture devices.

Otherwise there are sites on the net where you can download manuals for most makes.

Singer used to do some really good "How to" type books which teach you how to put things together which is more complicated at times than operating a sewing machine. There are also plenty of beginner sewing books that show you how to make basic cushions etc. I do not enjoy sewing  but I'm reasonably proficient when it comes to cushions, curtains and wall hangings etc.

I used to think it was because I had an old machine but even with the new one I don't take any pleasure in it. I wouldn't suggest investing  significant amounts of $$ until you know that it is something you are going to want to do.



 
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« Reply #9: August 31, 2008, 11:06:30 am »


I used to think it was because I had an old machine but even with the new one I don't take any pleasure in it. I wouldn't suggest investing  significant amounts of $$ until you know that it is something you are going to want to do.

This is excellent advice. I love making things, but I am not crazy about the technical aspects of using a sewing machine, and in many cases much prefer the tactile pleasure of hand sewing. I would never quilt a big piece by machine, for ex, b/c I enjoy that so much by hand, even though it means it takes months instead of a few days. But if I'm making clothes, or I need something done fast, I always use the machine. And if I am doing something kind of hard (like the thing I'm working on now....erg....) I just resign myself to the crying, swearing, and taking breaks before I get so mad I hurt the machine Tongue
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  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
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  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #10: August 31, 2008, 11:45:24 am »

I just resign myself to the crying, swearing, and taking breaks before I get so mad I hurt the machine Tongue

Now THAT sounds like me   Grin. I've come pretty close to chucking it out of the window before now!
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« Reply #11: August 31, 2008, 03:45:25 pm »

Which after threading is really all you need to know at first at least with regards to the machine - unless perhaps adjusting the thread tension which despite a succession of old hand me down machines from various sources, I've never actually had to do.

I'd like to be able to sew various types of fabrics, from silky satins to canvas, denim, and the fake leather look fabric.  Is that a matter of changing needles?  Can all machines handle the heavier fabrics?
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« Reply #12: August 31, 2008, 06:10:12 pm »

I'd like to be able to sew various types of fabrics, from silky satins to canvas, denim, and the fake leather look fabric.  Is that a matter of changing needles?  Can all machines handle the heavier fabrics?

Generally yes - the newer machines may struggle with really heavy fabric - if I wanted to use sail cloth ( never have yet!)  I'd drag out the 1930s Singer or even the old Jones! Not sure about the fake leather; it would depend on how heavy it is, I've never tried it.

Otherwise it's the right needle for the right fabric adjusting the stitch size/tension if you need to.   Some really fine fabrics like chiffon may need stabilising first to stop them sliding around when you try and sew them. I've used soluble fabric for this. This stuff is a fabulous invention if you want to be creative.  You canstitch over it using really basic stitches and then  dissolve it away to leave a lacy "fabric". I am currently making a scarf out of a ribbon yarn using this technique. It's all pinned into place; I just need to get the machine out....
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« Reply #13: August 31, 2008, 07:02:14 pm »

Have you looked at buying an old machine second hand or even trying Freecycle? There are usually plenty of old models available there for you to see how you get on. If you take to it then you could look at investing in a more fancy machine.

There is a Toyota on Craigslist for $75...I didn't know Toyota made sewing machines.  Is anyone familiar with them?
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rose
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« Reply #14: September 01, 2008, 11:03:41 am »

There is a Toyota on Craigslist for $75...I didn't know Toyota made sewing machines.  Is anyone familiar with them?

I know nothing of Toyota sewing machines, but  you can get a brand new Singer at Target for about 100$. Honestly, I would try freecycle first.
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/

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