Saturday, May 9, 2009

So You Want to Buy A New Sewing Machine

Believe it or not, my Mother had one of these beauties. This little hand crank model was used for about 4 years, until she could afford a "real" sewing machine. I learned how to sew on this little cutie. We sewed garments, mended clothes, and produced some of the loveliest doll dresses you could imagine. This purchase was made in the early 1940's, and we considered it a real treasure. (I told you I've been around for a long time!). Mom purchased it from the Salvation Army Resale Shop, and it probably cost all of $2.00. Our machine didn't have a fancy case like this one, it just had tiny little legs and it sat on the tabletop. My guess is it weighed in at about 20 lbs. Boy, we've come a long way Baby!

The I'm taking this little jaunt down memory lane, because I want to give you some hints that I think will help you in your quest for a new sewing machine. I don't want you to get stuck with something like the rare old Singer pictured above; a machine that's antiquated, and with very little else to offer except a straight stitch, and a zig-zag.

So you've decided to go shopping and purchase a new sewing machine! Whoa! Let's just do a few things before we head out the door. Let me tell you that your research will require a few trips, maybe several, until you find the right machine for you. Before you head out, talk to your sewing friends. Ask them what brand of machine they have and why they like or don't like it. Do they do the same type of sewing you're going to be doing etc.,etc.,? Write out a list of questions you may want to ask the Dealer/Salesperson about the machine.

This is an important point. You will need to determine how much of a sewing machine you should buy. Are you just going to do the basic stuff, like fixing ripped seams and hemming jeans? Or do you want to go further, and maybe start garment sewing, or quilting, or draperies or bridal wear, maybe machine embroidery? Your answers to these questions will help you determine how many of the bells and whistles you'll want on your machine. Not only is it important for you to buy what you need, and maybe even a little beyond, but it's also good for your pocket book.

O.K. So, we've talked to our friends, we're armed with our wish list and questions, we put on our coats and comfy shoes, and head for the door. We Leave our Credit Card at Home! Hello! Impulse buying is not an acceptable behavior here. Next, we head to A Dealer/Sewing Center! We Do Not go to a big box store! Why? Because the big box stores haven't a clue about sewing machines. The clerk just sells what's stocked on the shelves. If you had a question or a problem with the machine, you wouldn't be able to ask a soul. There is no servicing. Need a repair? Forget it. You'll have to pack it up and send it to some service center in New Delhi! You'll be frustrated with the machine, and it will wind up on a shelf or in your next garage sale. Money down the drain.

So, you go to the Dealer/Sewing Center and you talk to the owner/salesperson and explain the type of machine you want. (You did remember to bring your wish list and questions didn't you?) After listening to your wishlist, the owner/salesperson will gently direct you to a machine that will suit your needs and maybe have a few extras. Sit down, relax, and get a demonstration. Watch how the machine performs, the steps it takes to get a particular stitch or technique done. Now, you tell the owner/salesperson you want to try it. They'll be happy to let you play. Don't be embarrassed or timid. It's your money, and you want to spend it wisely. Sit behind the wheel and test drive it! Test the stitches, test the button holes, refer to your questions, and see if it all feels comfortable to you! If it doesn't, say thank you and leave. Repeat this step as many times as necessary.

Stitch quality and ease of operation is very important. The learning curve shouldn't be confusing and time consuming. The dealer should provide you with free lessons, regardless of how much the machine costs. Ask the dealer if they do their own repairs, or if they farm them out to a third party. The fact that you can talk to the in-house service person and discuss the issues you may be having, is a definite plus. When repairs are sent out to a third party, you rarely can speak with the person who did the repairs, and you may wind up bringing the machine back several times. Nothing is more frustrating than a machine that has mechanical issues. The "issues" always seem to happen when you're in the middle of a deadline project, like your daughter's wedding gown! A good quality, reliable sewing machine, makes any project you tackle easier, and the end result so much better. Last, but not least, make sure you get a warranty. Even if you buy a good used or refurbished sewing machine, the dealership should give you some kind of a warranty. Be sure you get one and that you understand it.

I'm a firm believer in buying the best sewing machine you can afford. Even if you wind up with more bells and whistles than you feel you'll ever need, you'll never regret it. You'll enjoy your sewing adventures more, and feel encouraged and excited to go on to more challenging projects.

Hooray! Your research has paid off! You've found the perfect sewing machine! Congratulations! I've babbled on I know, but I sincerely want you to be happy with your purchase. I want you to enjoy your sewing experience, and expand your sewing knowledge. I want you to enjoy the creative process and revel in the accomplishments, and the compliments. And lastly, I want you to pat yourself on the back for being a very savvy shopper!

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1 comment:

  1. You have given such good advice! I am enjoying reading all your posts (instead of heading for bed like I should). I just finished my block of the month due at our guild meeting next week so I thought I would quickly check my emails. Ha!
    I am a memeber of Carried Away Bags and have an etsy shop. I post some of the things I make at Winding Threads. Karen