The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide for Sewing Machines – How to Choose the Right One

by YCMT on November 14, 2013

Sewing Machines Title

So you are buying your first machine! Or maybe you’re just buying your latest machine.

Either way, the process is basically the same. If you already have a machine, then perhaps you know more of what you want – or don’t want! Here are the things to consider when buying a sewing machine.

Kinds of machines available

The first question you want to ask is, what kind of sewing do I want to do? Serging? Fancy embroidery? Regular dressmaking or quilting?

Look at the side seams on the knit top you are wearing right now and you will see that the seams are probably about ¼ inch wide and completely covered with thread so they will not ravel out.  That was done with a serger. If you want to serge the seams, then you will need to buy a separate machine called a serger.

Another popular machine is the fancy embroidery machine. It is computerized and will follow the pattern you have programed into the computer. Some regular machines do a little of this, but there are machines that are bigger and have a hoop attached, on which you stretch the fabric, much like doing hand embroidery. The nicest of these embroidery machines can cost up to $10,000!

Many of the less expensive regular machines will do some embroidery work. My regular machine has one alphabet font with no size variation and about 28 special stitches.


However, the possibilities are almost endless with an embroidery machine.

Since most of us can’t pay a used car price for an embroidery machine, the rest of this article will mostly deal with regular sewing machines.


Machines vary widely in price, so how much can you spend? $100 or $10,000? You can buy a fairly decent machine at a discount retail store (like Walmart) or you can go to a sewing machine store and pay more. What you get in the end really does vary, and you should think about this when you decide where to shop.  At discount retail stores, you can get a basic machine – which is good for a starter machine – but from my experience, a $100 machine will not last very long or give you consistent good stitches. Pay a little more and you get a little more. The cheaper they are, the more parts will be made of plastic, and then they will break sooner. However, I bought a Brother machine ($250.00) at one of those discount retail stores and used it when I taught sewing classes once a week for 5 years. I sold it to one of my students at the end of that time and it was still a great machine.


A very basic machine goes forward and backwards and zigzags. However, there are literally hundreds of different special stitches and feet available. Your choice depends on what you think you will use and how many you are willing to pay for.

Another factor to consider is which feet come with the machine. My expensive Bernina machine came with a walking foot (I use this often when quilting or sewing heavier fabrics), but when I bought the cheaper machine, it cost me $60.00 extra for the walking foot).


For me, one consideration I used when buying my machine was the weight. I cannot carry around a 50-pound machine, whereas my cheap little Brother weighed only about 18 pounds. If you are hauling your machine to class, this may be something to consider.

For me, an important thing to have with a new machine is lessons on how to use it. I am an experienced sewer and I was still glad for them. Usually, they are free when you buy the machine and they show you all the features and tricks for using your new machine. A big discount retail store, however, usually does not give lessons.

Do you want to buy new or used?

That’s up to you. Many people begin with an old hand-me-down from their mother or Great Aunt Lizzie. In fact, I still have an old straight-stitch Singer made in 1952. It works great for many projects and I would never sell it!



Think about what kind of machine you want, what kind of sewing you will realistically be doing and how much you can afford to spend.

Be sure you also talk to your friends who sew.

Check out online reviews (like Consumer Reports or Amazon)

Go into the stores that sell machines and test-drive them. Before you go in, figure out how much you can spend and what features are important to you. Then ask all the questions you can possibly think of. Don’t be embarrassed, even if you haven’t ever sewn before. Test-drive a variety of different makers, too.

Happy sewing!

 (After you get the machine, buy extra bobbins! I feel like I never have enough!)


Now that you’ve got your sewing machine picked out, why not check out all of the cute and creative sewing patterns at