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30 May 2012 - 21:3585026
Advice for buying a sewing machine (complete beginner)
Hey all,

I'm looking to buy a sewing machine and I have no idea where to start. I am a complete beginner and haven't really sewn using a machine before.

I'm looking to not spend over £100 if I can help it. Could anyone suggest brands and features I should look out for or even if someone could suggest specific machines that would be awesome as well. Anything that makes my life easier would be muchly appreciated. If I have to go above the budget for these then I am willing to do that if it's value for money.

Thanks in advance.


30 May 2012 - 22:5285033
Specific brads and makes I do not know, but I know one thing.

The cheaper machines, <£100, are pretty much only good for straight stitching. And they probably won't cope with heavy fabrics very well (or indeed, very light perhaps). Nor will they allow you to sew many layers at once.
They can be very handy if you're not going to be using it a whole lot, but I would say you are better investing a little more money, £150 should do it. After that, more money just means more features (extra stitches, more automatic, perhaps computerised).
But you'll get a machine that can handle pretty much anything you want it for.

People will say that their Singer, or their Brother, is amazing and works perfectly. But, I'm guessing most of that is down to personal preference, or just getting used to a certain type of machine.
You're probably better off taking any suggestions given to you and comparing them, seeing what you get for you money, and going with whatever gives you the best deal. Rather than solely relying on someone's word =]


30 May 2012 - 23:0885036
Quote Stubbled Grapes:

You're probably better off taking any suggestions given to you and comparing them, seeing what you get for you money, and going with whatever gives you the best deal. Rather than solely relying on someone's word =]


Cheers, thanks for that, yeah I will do, just looking to get an initial idea as I have no clue where to even begin.


30 May 2012 - 23:2485039
As someone who was a complete sewing machine novice until 18 months ago, I can give you my experience so far.

I did start out on a really cheap second hand one and it wasn't that great. Granted it was old (around 1970's, hence cheap), but it didn't offer many stitches, no removable sleeve section and sewed badly.

I then tried a 1980's Singer and it didn't like me, but it seemed it was just me. The other half liked it.

No idea what a new cheap one is like.

Given we were starting to look at creating more complicated costumes we decided to go all out and spend around £300 on a computerised one. It's a Janome Memorycraft 4800. Personally, it's the best sewing machine I have used. The best bit, particularly for a beginner like as I was then, it has a slider on the side to slow down the speed the needle sews regardless of how far the pedal is depressed.

It's the single best thing I have experienced, as it allowed me to get to grips with and concentrate on sewing difficult stuff at my own pace without the machine taking over, or me juggling the pedal. However, this could just be me and the way I like to sew. Ours also has loads of stitches and options but they are probably overkill for you at this time.

Ultimately, people prefer different ones, so see if you can have a go on a friend's to see how you get on that may be a good place to start.


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Last edited by theKillingDoll (30 May 2012 - 23:28)
30 May 2012 - 23:5985044
As the guys have said above, a lot is down to personal preference - check out your local sewing store (even better if you have any sewing machine specialist shops) or John Lewis, often they will have demo models that you can try!

In terms of well known brands vs unknown - something that's well known (i.e. Toyota, Singer, Brother, etc) can be a lot easier to repair at shops, and the parts can be cheaper. Also in terms of Toyota and Brother (and to a lesser extent Singer), most of their parts such as different feet, bobbing fittings etc are interchangeable. For example I have a Brother foot that I use on my Toyota machine. Like with a car, specialist or unknown manufacturers can require expensive specific parts!

In terms of what do you need for starting - you *could* splash out for some amazing, all-singing all-dancing machine that pretty much sews your costume for you. However a) due to your budget and b) seeing as you want to learn from scratch - I'd say pick something simple. It doesn't need a million stitch settings, you don't need embroidery options etc. Things like automatic needle threading, can be a bonus, but are really just time savers. As long as you can do a straight stitch, reverse and a zig-zag, you're golden to start off with. Of course if your budget is flexible, then there's no harm getting an amazing machine first off, I just don't think it's necessary

Also consider a used one? You can easily pick up a Toyota or Brother sewing machine second hand for around £40-£60 on Ebay, which might be a better bet until you know exactly what you want

From a personal experience, I adopted my mother's Toyota about 10 years ago - it's a simple machine (closest modern one I can find is this) and although it's starting to make noises now, being around 15 years old it's done me well. It's simple enough that when something does go wrong, it's easy for me to take it apart and work out what's wrong with it. One day I'll upgrade to something snazzy, but I've made all my costumes so far with this and I'll stay faithful to it until it finally gives up the will to sew



Last edited by Delusional (31 May 2012 - 00:01) Reason: This is what happens when I try typing when I should be asleep...
31 May 2012 - 01:1385052
i've been thinking about getting a machine myself for awhile and probably will in the next few months, my budget is the same as yours. i have been looking around the interwebs over the last couple of days and found This on ebay for £60 with free p&p it says its made by toyota but i cant see their logo in the photos. also found that argos have a few under £100 like this one which is their home brand version but it has alot of good reviews, they also have a brother and a toyota for under £100 and you can check reviews of their items on the site. i noticed £strechers had some in for about £50 a few months ago weather they still do or not i have know idea then again saying that it is £strechers so you get what you pay for.

only other advice i can give is don't even bother with hand sewers they suck bawls.


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Last edited by Mikado (31 May 2012 - 01:27)
31 May 2012 - 08:3185060
Quote mgg-thunder:
i've been thinking about getting a machine myself for awhile and probably will in the next few months, my budget is the same as yours. i have been looking around the interwebs over the last couple of days and found This on ebay for £60 with free p&p it says its made by toyota but i cant see their logo in the photos. also found that argos have a few under £100 like this one which is their home brand version but it has alot of good reviews, they also have a brother and a toyota for under £100 and you can check reviews of their items on the site. i noticed £strechers had some in for about £50 a few months ago weather they still do or not i have know idea then again saying that it is £strechers so you get what you pay for.

only other advice i can give is don't even bother with hand sewers they suck bawls.



WATCH OUT FOR ARGOS SEWING MACHINES!

The one I got broke within 4 months of me using it.

I would actually recommend going to a proper sewing machine shop and asking the staff about them. They'll talk you through them all (don't mention budget) and then you can go "oh, I need to think about it" and then go search online for them same product but cheaper.

However, most sewing machine shops will also include lessons when you buy the machine.


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31 May 2012 - 10:3885071
Some good advice already. I'll second Delusional and say that a second-hand machine will bring a decent machine into your budget range, but I'd suggest finding a shop that sells them and going in to ask them about it. They should be able to suggest something that will work for what you're after and you may be able to have a quick test run which will tell you more about how well you get on with a machine than any other person's review will (as TheKillingDoll mentioned, he didn't get on with my second-hand Singer whereas I was perfectly happy with it, and conversely I argued with his old machine when he had few problems with it - it's very much personal preference).

If you have friends with machines, ask if you can have a quick go on theirs and see which ones you like best, then use that as a starting point in your search. I'd avoid non-branded machines simply as they are often less reliable and harder to find parts for. The commonest recommended brands are Janome, Singer, Toyota and Brother. I've used the first three and been happy. I've also used a Pfaff machine which was fine, but couldn't be repaired when it broke due to part scarcity, though it was a late 70s model so newer models would probably be easier to fix.


01 Jun 2012 - 15:2685191
That's great. Thanks very much guys. I don't think there's anywhere in Dundee that sells sewing machines solely except Hobbycraft and Dunelm Mill but I'll take a look around and see if i can find somewhere.

I'll let you all know how I get on


02 Jun 2012 - 19:0785289
Thanks all for your advice, I ended up getting a Brother X-5 to start with. It's working great (once I realised I was threading the needle the wrong way and stopped snapping the thread)

It's doing great and I think it will be perfect for all I need it for just now.

Thanks again everyone!


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