Friday, March 17, 2017

Let's Begin At The Beginning

Beginner's sewing machines is a bit of a misnomer: why would a beginner want a sewing machine that was "less than" any other sewing machine for a person who sews? There are several reasons why you might not want a "serious" sewing machine:
  • Just trying out a new hobby: why spend much money on something you are only going to dabble in? If you like sewing you can always buy a better sewing machine later.
  • Money is tight and you think you can save money by mending your clothes or making new ones cheaper.
  • Your child/grandchild has expressed an interest in sewing but what if they don't stick with it? Better to buy a beginner's sewing machine.
  • Money is still tight and you can only afford a beginner's sewing machine , just under $100.
Of course, I'm going to refute these ideas but, not to insult my readers, I'll just sum this up quickly. Poor equipment is just that: poor. No one would stay with a new hobby when they struggle to get the equipment to work or it produces poor results. Poor results? You might think to yourself "I must not be very good at it." Yet maybe your equipment isn't very good. Many, many people have used rather crappy sewing machines for years and wondered why their garments do not turn out too well. Of course you will get better with practice but poor equipment can only take you so far.

Enter your choices in beginning to sew:

Brother XL-3750

Brother JX-2517
Brother XL-3100

Brother XL-5130

Most people go with a Brother sewing machine or Singer because they are cheap and easy to find: they are in Walmart, Costco, even Aldi (I kid you not, I almost took a photo).  But these won't last for long and do not give you a good, even stitch. If you happen to jam the machine from sewing over a pin or trying to hem jeans, it can throw the timing off and/or break gears. Let me suggest some alternatives.
Montgomery Wards UHT J1947

Signature UHT J278
Buy vintage! Only the strong survive so the poor sewing machines have all gone to landfills and the better ones are ready for you to try out. I have been pleasantly surprised at some brands that have attached their name to some pretty nice sewing machines: Signature (Montgomery Wards), J.C. Penney's, and Kenmore (Sears), where none of them are actually made by the company that sells them. Even some big names have made more-affordable lines like Bernette by Bernina, and Elnita by Elna. Here are some I've used and thought were pretty nice:
Bernette 330

Elna 1010
J.C. Penney's Stretch Stitch
They usually sell for less than $100 and are made well. For beginning sewing I usually recommend straight, zigzag, and stretch stitches, with a 4-step buttonhole maker. This will take you quite far before you find the need to expand into a "better" sewing machine. What constitutes a better machine? It's not always about money but about performance. If you have never tried a classic Elna, Necchi, Pfaff, Singer or Bernina you are in for a treat. Each one performs differently and speaks to you (or not). If you go into dealerships they basically have the new models and only for a few of the different lines. Where can you try out all the different brands? Why, at my house, of course! I don't have all of my models out all of the time either but if you come to one of my sewing machine garage sales...then you are in for a treat.

I know, I know, I've said I won't do another one and I'm not even looking at anything in a cabinet, but next fall might be a different story. It's a bit like a siren's call but I hope I don't get dashed onto the rocks!

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