The Ultimate Sewing Machine Owner’s & Buyer’s Guide

Everything You Would Ever Want to Know About Sewing Machines Sewing machines represent a lot of things to people. They may feature as an important tool in a hobby for someone to enjoy in their spare time. They might serve as a revolutionary device that took advantage of industrialization and ended cultures while starting others. Mostly, people imagine them as a useful device that helps them get the clothing, blankets, and textiles they need or want. This guide explores the practical aspects of sewing machines, from their history and operation to the best brands, types of machines, and how you can choose the right one to meet your needs.

The History of Sewing Machines

People often think of the vintage Singer sewing machine as the first, but the history is actually much more complicated. Sewing by hand is an ancient art. It dates back as much as 20,000 years ago, when people needed to produce articles of clothing or mend them. They often used small pieces of bone or horn as needles to bind animal skins together. Eventually, they learned how to spin thread to make cloth, but the concept of sewing production on a large scale did not change significantly until the 18th Century.

Although the most functional sewing machines started to take over the textile market in the 1850s, their origin dates earlier. In the 18th Century, scientific experimentation and a push to make things more efficient started to gain precedence. People wanted to find a better way to produce clothing than working everything by hand. The trouble with these early machines is that they made the needle move side to side instead of front to back. They could technically function, but they did not make more than a few stitches before the thread broke.

How the First Sewing Machines Were Made The first functional sewing machine originated in the 1830s. This type had a needle and one line of thread to make a chain stitch. It was simple and meant for use while standing, using a large wheel on the side to move the needle. The French tailor who invented it quickly started a company to use the technology to mass-produce clothing. Before long, the factory was lost in a fire. Some experts believe that it may have been started by workers who were worried about losing their jobs due to the efficiency of the machine.

From this point forward, the prize for introduction of new types of sewing machines came to the people who were most dedicated about applying for patents. In the 1830s, Walter Hunt created a functional sewing machine with a prototype. He declined to file for a patent because he worried about workers’ ability to keep their employment. John Fisher, Elias Howe, and Isaac Merritt Singer had no such scruples, however. A bad filing at the patent office led Fisher to lose the patent for his machine to Singer, who invented a similar one only a few years later.

From the late 1800s until the late 1900s, the market expanded rapidly. The development of mechanization allowed people to operate the machines in a way that did not require such manual labor as moving a treadle or turning a hand wheel. This made use of sewing machines in ready-to-wear clothing one of the most important aspects of the technology’s spread. Companies, seeing the massive demand for both home and industrial use, began to compete with each other to offer something better, faster, and more accurate. Mass-production of clothing and other textile goods is now a big industry in places like China and Taiwan. As such, much of the manufacturing of the machines themselves is now located there, as well.

How Sewing Machines Work

In order to understand how a sewing machine works, you should begin by learning what distinguishes a sewing machine from the most common types of hand sewing. When you sew a stitch by hand, you often rely on a needle with thread. That needle goes back and forth through the fabric to hold more than one piece together. This running stitch provides a relatively tight seam, but it is not as strong as what you can achieve with a sewing machine. It only uses one line of thread, which may be difficult to keep in place if it is cut by accident.

The concept for a sewing machine is marginally similar, but it typically uses more than one running line of thread. In most cases, you will have a thread coming through the needle, with another thread coming up from a bobbin. When you press down on the pedal to start the sewing machine, that triggers the needle to move up and down. If there is a piece of fabric under the presser foot, the needle will pierce the fabric. This step creates a loop underneath the fabric.

Under the fabric, the thread from the bobbin passes through the loop. The machine tightens the thread, creating a lock. This is known as a lock stitch. The sewer can adjust the length of the stitch or its tension by using certain wheels on the machine. The process continues until the sewer takes their foot off the pedal to stop the sewing machine. Although there are many different types of stitches that you can make with a sewing machine, this is the most common and one of the simplest to understand.

Parts of a Sewing Machine

The Anatomy of a Sewing Machine In order to learn how to use a sewing machine, you should start by discovering the various components of the machine. Each one has a specific function related to the sewing process. If any of these are out of position, you may not be able to get a good stitch. Understanding the role each one plays can make troubleshooting problems easier to solve. It takes practice to remember how all of these pieces work, but over time, it may become second nature.

Spool and Bobbin

All sewing starts with a spool of thread. You can easily buy these at a crafting or fabric store. It is important to buy thread that is appropriate for the type of machine you are using. The spool is a larger roll of thread that typically goes near the top of the machine.

By comparison, the bobbin usually goes inside the machine in a special compartment below the needle. The bobbin is specific to the brand of machine, so you need to make sure you’re getting the right type for your sewing machine. While you can buy spools of thread at the store, you will need to wind your bobbins using the machine. This is a standard feature on most modern sewing machines, and it’s simple to do.

Balance Wheel

The balance wheel, also called the hand wheel, is typically located on the side of the machine. As a general rule, it will be on the right side. The balance wheel allows you to move the needle up and down to get the proper alignment. Before sewing machines were mechanized, this was a hand wheel. You could turn it by hand to force the needle through the fabric. Inside the balance wheel, there is a clutch wheel. When this wheel is turned, it prevents the balance wheel from moving. This allows you to wind thread onto a bobbin for sewing, depending on your sewing machine.

Foot Pedal

Most residential sewing machines run using a foot pedal. This is an older technology that dates back at least 100 years. The foot pedal connects to the sewing machine via a cord. When the machine is turned on, you can press on the foot pedal to begin operation of the sewing machine. You should take care not to accidentally bump the pedal while the machine is on. As a general rule, the foot pedal increases the speed of sewing the more you press down on it. However, this does not increase the size of the stitch or the tension, which are set by other components.

Reverse Lever

The reverse lever is usually located somewhere on the front of the machine, and it can sometimes be a button instead of a lever. This allows you to press it briefly and quickly return your hands to the fabric being sewn. This lever usually needs to be pressed and held in order to operate. It allows the direction of the machine to reverse. Sewing in reverse is a useful practice at the beginning and end of a seam. Although a lock stitch is designed to hold in place, it can still come loose if a part of it wears or tears. Sewing in reverse for at least a few stitches creates a more permanent stitch that will be very difficult to rip out by accident.

Pattern Selector

Selecting a Pattern on a Sewing Machine The pattern selector, also located on the front, determines which type of stitch the machine will produce when in use. The most common is a straight line of stitches set to a specific length and tension. For most machines, this will be the default. Very old, antique machines might only offer this type of stitch. However, most machines from the past 50 years will have a variety of stitches that you can choose. For example, you may want to use a zig-zag stitch for a decorative look. In some cases, you may have to set other parts of the machine to get the stitch to work. This is uncommon on modern machines, but not unheard of for more complicated stitches.

Stitch Length Adjuster

The stitch length adjuster is a dial that is often located on the front of the machine. This style determines how large each stitch will be. The range of stitch links available depends on the type of machine. Most will range from zero, which is the smallest stitch, to a larger number like four or six. Some machines will also use exact measurements like milimeters. The dial usually requires you to select an exact number, not a gradual increase. The best stitch length depends on your preference for tightness on the stitch as well as the type of fabric. Some fabrics need a larger stitch length to avoid getting caught in the sewing machine.

Tension Disks

The tension of the thread determines the tightness of the stitch. In some cases, having a looser stitch will make it easier to work with certain types of fabric. In other cases, a stitch that is too loose will come undone or be more likely to break. The tension discs create tension to a certain degree, usually dictated by a dial. The higher the number, the tighter the stitch. The goal is to create a stitch that looks the same on both sides.

Needle and Needle Clamp

The needle clamp sits just above the area that someone will place fabric to be sewn. This clamp usually relies on a twisting screw to hold the needle in place. In order to release a needle, you need only lightly twist the screw until it loosens. Then you can remove the needle and replace it with a new one. Although bobbins are typically specific to the machine, needles typically aren’t. This means that you can often select needles based on the type of fabric you use, not on the brand of machine.

Take-Up Lever

The take-up lever is a component inside the top of the machine. When you thread the machine from the spool, you must go through the take-up lever. This lever moves with the needle. As the needle goes through the fabric to create a loop, the take-up lever provides just the right amount of slack. This keeps the thread from breaking but ensures just the right amount of tension to create the stitch according to specifications. If you to fail to thread this component before you start sewing, it will affect how your stitches come out.

Presser Foot, Presser Dial, and Pressure Foot Lever

The Sewing Machine's Presser Foot The presser foot and lever are located below and behind the needle. The foot keeps the fabric in place for the needle to pass through it with the thread. When you are ready to sew, you must put the fabric in place and then use the presser foot lever to set the foot down. When you are done sewing or need to change position, you can use the lever to lift the foot. The presser dial, which is often located on the top of the machine, sets the pressure needed for the fabric. Flat, heavier fabrics typically need less pressure to stay in place. Lightweight fabrics need more pressure to keep them from moving while the sewing machine is in use.

Feed Dog and Throat Plate

In order to keep the sewing machine running along the piece of fabric, the feed dogs push the fabric behind the machine. These parts look a little like teeth and sit under the presser foot. They are designed to move the fabric only a little at a time, in congruence with the stitch length. This keeps the fabric from bunching or getting stuck inside the machine.

The throat plate surrounds the feed dogs. It may have guides on it so that you can tell how far away the stitch is from the edge of the fabric. This is a metal plate that has a hole in the center for the thread to come up from the bobbin.

How to Clean a Sewing Machine

On occasion, you will need to clean your sewing machine. This is not a particularly difficult task, and may need to be done several times a year. First, you should unplug the sewing machine. This will ensure that it cannot be turned on by accident during cleaning. You will also need these tools:

  • A soft cloth, muslin or microfiber work well
  • A small nylon brush
  • Oil especially made for sewing machines

The first step is to remove the bobbin and case from the compartment and check for debris. This is a common spot for lint or dust to accumulate. This is also the fastest way for you to discover that they need to clean you machine. With a small brush, it is easy to remove lint and stray threads.

With the instruction manual, you should look at how to remove the throat plate. It may need to be removed with a small screwdriver, or it might just slide out. It is important to understand how to remove this carefully and replace it without damaging it. This will provide a more open area for you to wipe away dust or clear lint buildup inside the machine.

If you feel comfortable with it, you may choose to apply oil to some of the moving parts. This requires care, as excessive oil may be difficult to remove and could stain fabric on future projects. It is simple to turn the hand wheel to see which parts move during operation of the sewing machine. Placing a drop of oil and wiping away the excess with a soft cloth will help to lubricate these moving parts. If you are uncomfortable completing this task, you may want to hire a professional who knows how to service sewing machines.

Keep in mind that just as there are things you should do, there are also things you should not do. For example, a sewing machine will stay in better condition if it can be kept covered when not in use. Placing it in an area that gets extremely dusty or dirty will call for cleaning more often. You should also avoid using canned air or other forceful ways to clear dust or lint from the machine. This can damage the parts or force debris in further, where it can get stuck.

How Often Should You Clean Your Sewing Machine?

How to Clean Your Sewing Machine The frequency at which you should clean your sewing machines depends on a few different factors. First, if you rarely use your sewing machine, you may not need to clean it as frequently as someone who uses the machine for several hours a day. Second, if you keep the machine clean and covered when not in use, you may need to maintain it less frequently. As a general rule, you should plan to inspect the area under the throat plate or in the bobbin compartment at least once for every ten hours of sewing, but you can do it more often if you want to. This will help to keep dust and debris from creating problems with a sewing project or causing damage to the machine.

Types of Feed Mechanisms

Sewing machines have different types of feed mechanisms. The feed mechanism describes the process involving the movement of the needle, as well as the operation of the feeding equipment and the presser foot underneath it. Systems move differently depending on the machine, which creates a different effect in the fabric. Many machines offer more than one option. Some systems are intended for specialty use, while others have a more general purpose. Understanding how they work and what distinguishes them helps yo ensure that you get the right machine.

Drop Feed System

A drop feed system is the most common type, and is a typical feature of domestic sewing machines. In this system, the needle draws the thread down into the fabric. As it moves upward, the feed dogs move the fabric forward. They do this by dropping below the fabric at a precise moment. This system works well for many types of fabrics, but may not be appropriate for everything. It works simply and does not require a lot of understanding of the timing or speed. If you plan to work primarily with quilts or upholstery, you may need a different system.

Differential Feed System

A differential feed system is similar to a drop feed system, and is also a common feature in mainstream sewing machines. It also uses a set of feed dogs, which move up and down in time with the needle and thread. The difference is that there are multiple sets of feed dogs, and they may not move in the same direction or at the same time. This allows the machine and the user to keep control of fabrics that may be difficult to sew otherwise. Specifically, this type is ideal for working with stretchy or slick fabrics.

Adjustable Feed System

The adjustable feed system offers an alternative for creating a certain appearance in the fabric. With an adjustable feed system, the fabric and the feed dogs are not the only things that move. In this case, the presser foot also moves to a set speed. You can adjust the feed dogs and the presser foot to move at a different rate. It pulls or stretches the fabric in specific directions, which may require some skill to develop. This can create ruffles on the top or bottom.

Needle/Compound Feed System

A needle feed system is a specialty type of mechanism. With this mode of operation, the presser foot remains in place while the needles are responsible for moving the fabric forward. This approach is most common for machines that use more than one needle at the same time. Similarly, a compound feed system has the needle and the feed dog working together. As the needle moves downward into a hole in the feed dog, the entire system moves forward before the needle returns upward. This system works best for fabrics that are bulky or have an uneven inconsistency, because it keeps them moving together.

Walking/Unison Feed System

If you want to work with heavy fabrics like leather or bulky quilts, you may need to use a walking or unison feed system. This process involves a tool that may be attached to conventional sewing machines. The walking foot has two components. When the needle moves into the foot, the holding foot keeps the fabric in place. The foot moves with the feed dogs to ensure that the fabric keeps moving. The movement of the walking foot helps to ensure that the fabric stays in the proper place for sewing and is less likely to get stuck.

How to Choose the Right Feed Mechanism

The Right Feed Mechanisms For Every Project When you consider which product will be most appropriate for your needs, start with an analysis of the types of projects they are likely to do. Many machines can support different types of feed systems. Some are built-in, while others may be easy to add with the purchase of an additional tool. Others are more likely to come on a specialty industrial sewing machine, which would give them a limited use and purpose.

Someone who wants to sew mostly clothing in stretchy fabrics like knits may want the convenience of a differential feed system. Specialty clothing items that need to be produced in quantity might require an adjustable feed system. A person who is planning to work with quilts or upholstery may be able to use a drop feed mechanism with a walking foot, or they could need something like a compound feed system. Anyone who is unsure what kinds of projects they will do might prefer to start with a drop feed system. Looking for options that can accommodate more than one feed type may also be a reasonable alternative.

Types of Sewing Machines

There are many different types of sewing machines that you can choose from. Selecting the right one is important, and usually based on the types of projects someone intends to do most. Sewing machines typically break down into one of two categories: domestic and industrial. Domestic machines may be appropriate for personal or semi-professional use. Industrial machines are intended for large scale production, typically by companies with a significant output. Some machines are general and meant to offer a variety of options, while others have a very specific and limited service that they can perform.

Domestic Sewing Machines

Domestic sewing machines range from the classic machines of the 19th Century to more modern machines that people use today. Understanding the differences between them can help you select the machine most appropriate for your project. If you are unsure which one to pick, you may want to begin with something that applies to a variety of fabrics and sewing types.

Manual

Manual sewing machines do not need electric power to operate. The earliest machines relied on the hand wheel to be turned manually in order to create the stitching action. Some models use a treadle that you can work under your feet to drive the machine. This type may not offer many options for stitch type, tension, or length. Its primary benefit lies in the ability to run it without a source of power. Many people keep these machines as an interesting vintage option for creating period costumes.

Electronic

Electronic Sewing Machines are a Popular Option Electronic sewing machines range from a simple powered alternative to the manual sewing machine to something that is comparable to modern styles. This type needs electric power to operate for the most part. It may be able to function minimally with hand operation, but mostly uses a foot pedal to control the system. Electronic sewing machines may have additional features like a light bulb that turns on while the sewing machine is operating. This system usually has a variety of options for stitches but might not be able to upgrade to new styles.

Computerized

Computerized sewing machines take the next step by adding some functions that can operate automatically. Many computerized machines offer a screen that displays various settings for the sewing machine. This way, you can see at a glance what style you have chosen and make adjustments on the fly. Computerized sewing machines may also offer convenience features like automated stitching programs or automatic threading. These options may be much more expensive than standard electronic sewing machines. Depending on the brand and the quality of the product, they may last just as long.

Embroidery

An embroidery sewing machine is a specialty type of sewing machine. This particular product is designed to create ornate designs on a piece of fabric given a specified design. Depending on the machine, it may be able to produce designs based on saved images or on images that you upload from files on a USB drive. These machines tend to cost significantly more and are not meant to do other types of sewing, given the specialized nature of the embroidery process. People typically won’t buy this type of machine unless they are planning a significant embroidery project, or possibly running a small business offering embroidery as a service.

Quilting

A quilting machine tends to be one of the largest of the domestic sewing machines. This machine is large enough to handle large quilts. Many people who like to make quilts find the process of quilting the fabric to its backing time consuming and even painful. A quilting machine may be able to quilt the fabric using an automated process that can be monitored but not managed from one second to the next. These machines can cost thousands of dollars, and they usually take up much more space than a typical machine. Someone who plans to make a lot of quilts may find that a reasonable exchange.

Serger

A serger is a unique type of sewing machine. A serger can cut fabric at the same time as sewing it. This is ideal for certain types of fabric, like knits or satin. Without a sewn edge, the fabric could easily unravel or fall apart. Serging it creates a stitch along the edge while cutting it so that it gives a more professional look and is less likely to unravel. This machine is ideal for people who plan to work exclusively with these fabrics or make their own clothing.

If you want to sew a lot or create a wide variety of projects, you may need more than one machine to achieve your goals. Beginners may want to start with one machine that works for most things, then consider investing in a quilting machine or another specialty tool later on.

Industrial Sewing Machines

When to Use an Industrial Sewing Machine Industrial sewing machines are meant to handle a much heavier load over longer periods of time. These machines usually cost more because they are designed to work with thicker, heavier fabrics and provide a more professional look. If you plan to create projects with fabrics like leather and upholstery or have very exacting standards, you may prefer to start with an industrial sewing machine.

Coverstitch

A coverstitch machine provides a professional look for stitches. The stitches may look similar to a serger or overlock machine, but they are not the same thing. Specifically, coverstitch machines can handle rough edges of fabric and provide multiple layers of sewing at the same time. This is ideal for people who are producing clothing or other fabric products in bulk. These machines can process the fabric much more quickly, and it will have a highly professional appearance once it is done. This machine works well with a variety of fabrics, but particularly knits and other stretchy fabrics. Besides the basics, a coverstitch machine may also be able to handle decorative styles on top of the fabric.

Lock Stitch

A lock stitch machine is quite similar to a standard domestic sewing machine that someone might buy for personal use. An industrial or heavy duty lock stitch machine is meant to provide a more consistent results over longer periods of time. With a typical domestic machine, you would need to pause periodically to allow the machine to rest. Without resting periods, the motor might overheat. Heavy duty lock stitch machines can create that tight, looping stitch with exact precision wall running for many hours at a time. Someone who needs to operate the machine all day long may need this kind of reliability.

Chain Stitch

Unlike most types of sewing machines, a chain stitch machine is meant to work using only one line of thread. In order to operate, a chain stitch machine pulls the thread under the fabric, creating a loop. Instead of running an additional thread through the loop to create a lock, it pulls the same line of thread to create a chain. This is a popular style used particularly for working with denim, but also for certain types of embroidery projects. It can also be useful in creating a binding for certain types of clothing and quilts.

Blind Stitch

In order to understand what a blind stitch machine does, you need to know what a blind stitch is. This type of stitch is typically used to create a hem on clothing. It requires the manipulation of the fabric in such a way that the stitch is not visible on the inside or the outside of the fabric. It creates a virtually seamless look that is ideal for dresses and other types of clothing. A blind stitch machine can take the fabric in proper position and create the blind stitch. The biggest benefit of this machine is that it operates quickly and effectively.

Button

When to Use a Button Sewing Machine Although many conventional sewing machines have options to sew buttons, it can be difficult to get it right. There are industrial sewing machines that are designed to create buttonholes out of clothing and sew buttons to clothing in a very short period of time. There are specialized machines that do this particular task almost exclusively. High-end sewing machines with extensive programming options may also be able to handle this process with ease. You should take care to consider whether the machine is meant for heavy use, because that may affect how long it will last.

Backtack

The concept of backtacking is relatively easy to understand. Backtacking describes reversing the direction of the sewing machine at the beginning and the end of the seam. This provides additional reinforcement, so that it is less likely to come undone. This is sometimes also called bartacking. Machines that can backtack or bartack are designed to provide additional reinforcement for clothing items that sustain a lot of wear. For example, someone who produces denim jeans may want a backtacking machine for reinforcing the tops of pockets or belt loops.

Leather

Leather sewing machine uses different equipment to be able to penetrate the thick, tough fabric. A regular machine may break easily when attempting to stitch through leather or upholstery. These fabrics do not have a conventional weave pattern, which makes them harder to sew. A leather sewing machine relies on a walking foot, which is a unique device that can replace a traditional presser foot. A walking foot lifts during each stitch. This keeps the fabric in perfect alignment and continues a precise movement for an exact stitch.

Zig-Zag

Almost any sewing machine intended for general use will have the option of a zig-zag stitch. This type of stitch is ideal for flattening fabrics or creating an interesting design using the stitch. The difference between this function and a zig-zag industrial sewing machine is that the machine is meant for heavy use. It typically installs permanently into a table and can handle sewing for very long periods of time. You are most likely to need a zig-zag sewing machine if you are planning to make large quantities of stretchy clothing, or various types of under clothing that use elastic.

Unlike domestic sewing machines, industrial sewing machines often have a limited number of options. People who aren’t sure if they need one should evaluate how many different kinds of projects they intend to do, and how much volume. This will help determine if an industrial machine is most appropriate.

Popular Sewing Machine Brands to Choose From Finding the right sewing machine often requires a discussion of the different brands. Although some corporations own several manufacturers, like SVP Worldwide owning Singer, Viking and Pfaff, there are still good reasons to distinguish them. Some brands have branched out into specific types of machines or focus on high-end products. Understanding the differences between them can make it easier for people to select the brand that is most likely to suit their projects, their budget, and their long-term plans.

Singer

Singer sewing machines were some of the first domestic sewing machines available for purchase. Introduced in the 1850s, Singer met a demand for increased production as part of industrialization in the U.S. Specifically, the Singer machines were intended for work with heavy fabrics like leather or upholstery. The company continued to revolutionize the industry, with the introduction of the first electronic sewing machine in the late 1880s.

These days, Singer machines may be better known as a long-lasting product than a particular style. Singer is seen as a reliable brand that offers a variety of products intended to meet customers at various levels. A dedication to quality means that most Singer machines are heavy-duty and built to last. There is also a thriving market for secondhand or vintage Singer sewing machines with a classic design.

Viking (Husqvarna)

Husqvarna Viking sewing machines are known for their high quality. This corresponds to a higher average price, and a focus on specialty types of machines. Husqvarna sewing machines came into being in the 1870s as a way for the company to branch out from its centuries-long role as a rifle manufacturer. The business began strongly with an idea of taking products and making them better. This made Husqvarna Viking machines more likely to sew more accurately, with the latest technology incorporated seamlessly.

At present, these machines are widely regarded as some of the best in the industry. As one of the first to delve into computerized sewing machines, Husqvarna Viking machines offer a variety of options aimed at committed enthusiasts and professionals working in textiles. The result is a reliable machine that can last for decades, but also carry the top technology available.

Janome

A prominent figure in the industrial sewing machine industry, Janome is best known for its ability to bring higher technologies to everyone. Revolutionizing the way that people use sewing machines has been a major part of its history. The company began in the 1920s in Japan. By the 1930s, it changed its name to Janome. The word means “snake eyes.” It describes the invention of the round bobbin that most machines use today.

Currently, Janome makes a series of machines that offer industrial-level technology for both professionals and home sewing hobbyists. The company was the first to introduce a computerized sewing machine, as well as the first to bring specialized products like embroidery machines and quilting to the home market. As such, its products focus largely on high-end use by people who know how to sew specialty items and need an ideal tool to solve problems presented by conventional machines.

Brother

Brother is Known for Affordable and Reliable Sewing Machines Brother sewing machines are lauded for their affordability and broad accessibility. This brand creates a wide variety of products, including sewing machines, printers, computers, and other electronics. The production of these sewing machines began in the early 1900s in Japan. By the 1920s, the company had developed a reputation for the machines’ ability to chain-stitch straw hats at a high level of quality and durability.

By now, the company is best-known for investing the time to forecast what will be the most popular, and then meet the need. This means that Brother sewing machines tend to be less focused on high-end or niche technology that may not yet have a lot of appeal. Instead, sewing hobbyists can rely on their machines as a viable way to get started and develop skill over time.

Juki

Juki is another example of the rapid expansion of sewing machine innovation in Japan. Opened in 1945, Juki started with sewing machines for the home market. The company quickly branched out into reliable industrial sewing machines. Its primary contributions to sewing machine technology concern the use and control of thread. The company was the first to introduce:

  • Rotary needle thread take-up
  • Automatic thread trimming
  • Automated needle threading
  • Automatic tension system

These developments and the introduction of an overlock system made the company’s machines a fixture in the garment industry, where automated operation is key and production levels high. In the modern world, Juki machines are known for industrial-level workmanship and function. People who buy Juki machines for the home market will often find a quality that keeps going no matter how much they use it.

How to Choose a Sewing Machine

The process of choosing a sewing machine may require a fairly significant amount of research. Even if you have a particular brand in mind and some experience sewing, you will still need to browse a product line and select the features and extras that you need most. This may involve going to a shop and testing out a few machines to get a sense for noise, weight, and general feel. Starting with a thorough analysis of possible projects and a range of prices that will fit in a budget make it easier for you to determine which machines fit the bill.

Decide Which Type of Sewing You Want to Do

Quilting is a Popular Type of Sewing Although many people use a sewing machine for a variety of purposes, it is wise to start with the most likely scenarios. For example, if you want a sewing machine to make quilts, you will have significantly different needs from someone who wants an inexpensive tool to help them mend their clothing. You should think about what you want to learn how to do, and compare that against your existing behaviors. In short, you should confirm that your commitment balances out with your ambitions, as well as your budget. This will help them determine which projects are more likely to be completed, not just started.

While you are thinking about your projects, you should do some research into the way these projects work. Someone who is an experienced quilter may already understand that it takes many hours to make a single quilt. However, someone with limited sewing experience may not realize that something that looks simple could be quite complex. Estimating the time needed to complete the projects may make it easier to find the most appropriate sewing machine.

Decide Your Budget

Sewing machines can vary significantly in price. The most basic options start under $100, while an expensive quilting machine or industrial sewing machine could cost several thousand dollars. It is important to keep in mind that quality and value are highly practical considerations in selecting a sewing machine. A machine that is inexpensive to buy may not offer as many options, and might also be more likely to break down or need repair.

Experts often suggest that buyers set a budget they can afford, and look for new and secondhand sewing machines that will fit the budget. A sewing machine with good upkeep can last for several decades. Although older or vintage machines may not have many of the special features of modern ones, they often can fulfill most of the basic functions people expect. In many cases, it may be a better investment to choose a machine that is several years old but well-made than a new one from a lower quality brand.

Choose Special Features and Extras

There are some features that come as a part of the machine, while others must be purchased separately. For example, someone who wants a machine with a free arm so that they can easily sew pants or jackets will need to buy a machine that has this component built in. By comparison, someone who wants to convert a drop feed system to a walking system may only need to buy a walking foot that works with the particular brand and model. You should research the cost of extra tools and equipment, as they may add significantly to the total price.

Similarly, you should think about the extra services that they may want in the machine before you make a final selection. These include:

  • Embroidery
  • Quilting
  • Automatic operation
  • Lighting
  • Automatic threading
  • Speed controls

Someone may think they will never sew a buttonhole, but it is not necessarily a bad idea to buy a machine that can accommodate it. Some features can also dramatically increase the price of the machine. You should seriously consider how much you will use a specific function that doubles or triples the average price of the product.

Final Notes

Do Plenty of Research Before Purchasing a Sewing Machine Sewing machines are an important part of everyone’s life. Even if most people don’t use them personally, sewing machines for domestic or industrial use help everyone to stay clothed and comfortable wherever they are. The current industry is highly competitive with constant innovation and the development of new options for home or professionals. Hundreds of available models can make it difficult to identify which ones are the best. Understanding the different types of sewing machines, as well as their history and how they work, will help those interested in this tool know what to expect and the best ways to shop for one.