All sewing enthusiasts can agree, it’s very difficult to decide when to change or replace your old sewing machine.
Imagine using that same sewing machine for decades, and all the memories that attach to it. What if you inherited the machine from your Mom or even your Grandma? Wouldn’t that make the value of the sewing machine even more priceless and difficult to replace?
However, a certain time will come when you have to let go of that old sewing machine that you’ve had for decades because YOU JUST HAVE TO. Now, here are some tips to help you know and decide when to replace your old sewing machine.
1. When you have to pay a huge amount over and over just for repairs
You know it is time to replace your sewing machine when the total costs of repair start to come close to the price of a brand-new machine. It’s impractical to keep spending large amounts of money on repairs and you’ll end up not finishing your sewing projects on time. If sewing is a serious hobby, or especially if you sew to sell, then you should consider replacing your sewing machine as soon as possible.
2. When you always ruin your project instead of finishing it
If you have a sewing deadline to beat: dresses ordered by a friend, repairs from a neighbor, etc. But your sewing machine just won’t cooperate with you. Instead of helping you finish off your projects, it just keeps ruining them. When this still happens even after you spent the time and money to bring your machine to a repair shop and still nothing improves, it’s time to get a new one. This will undoubtedly lessen your stress and help you make much higher quality work.
3. When your machine is older than your Grandma and you just have to get an upgrade
Nothing is wrong with keeping good memories by hanging onto your old sewing machine. As all our reader’s world know, I’m absolutely a fan of vintage sewing machines. But, if you can afford it and you want to explore new trends in sewing, you should think about getting an upgrade to get the latest sewing technology. With a number of key new additions to the basic sewing machine, you’ll definitely find more and better uses for it. The latest sewing machines come with lightweight features, computerized functions, and many other amazing things that both make your life easier and your sewing better.
If you’re now convinced you need a new sewing machine, I’ve got a couple of resources for you:
Here’s a quick and easy guide we put together a while about with all kinds of tips for buying a new sewing machine:
Secondly, here’s a terrific site a friend of mine is putting together. It gives the best advice and reviews in all things sewing machines.
Let us know in the comments below if you have other ways to know that it’s time to replace your old sewing machine!
I know it is the same for most of us. If I buy well, hopefully, the new machine will be a lifelong investment and even something I can give to my daughter eventually. However, I also know that if I choose badly, the new machine may be nothing but trouble and something soon discarded. And who can afford to waste many that way these days?
What is more, once I get accustomed to using a machine, it’s a real disappointment when things go wrong and this can set me back days or even weeks on my sewing projects. Hence we should be extra careful when buying a new one.
A Few Things You Need To Consider Before Buying A Sewing Machine
1. Choose Your Features
The type of machine you buy should depend on the type of sewing projects that you undertake. Even though most sewing machines perform the basic function of sewing, there are certain additional features that you should consider. There are embroidery machines, machines with quilting features, those with options for stretch stitches and some even have specialty feet. Consider if you want to go with a basic model as you are likely to outgrow it once you start doing new projects. Get a machine you can grow into as your skills grow.
Another aspect of the machine’s features is what accessories are available for the machine and whether standard accessories like presser feet will fit the machine. We’ve written a lot about presser feet over the years. If you want to know all about press feet, please review this article More presser feet than you will ever need.
2. Brand Origins And Materials
There are a variety of brands offering sewing machines like Singer, Bernina, Brother, Husqvarna Viking, Kenmore, Janome, Juki, and even Toyota. (One of the best machines I’ve ever owned is a Toyota.) While selecting a brand, you should take into consideration the country of manufacture and the material used for construction.
Many of these brands come from large industrial companies with long histories of quality products and some brands have remained true to their origins. These brands often, although not always, still manufacture in their home countries or countries with reputations for quality manufacturers such as Japan (Toyota), Sweden (Husqvarna Viking), Germany (Pfaff), and Switzerland (Bernina). Sadly, I’ve not been able to find any machines still being made in the US although there are rumors that Brother might have built a plant in the US. Try to choose a machine made in one of these countries. It will give you years of trouble-free use.
Unfortunately, other brands have been sold off or licensed to mass retailers or lower-quality manufacturers and their quality has slipped sadly. You often don’t hear such good things about Singer, Kenmore, and even Juki these days. (I’m talking about the newer machines. I’m sure many of us have an ancient Singer that just won’t quit. I certainly do.) I bought a small Juki recently for light work around the house. It was made almost entirely of plastic and has been nothing but trouble, unfortunately. Generally, lower-quality machines are coming from China, Vietnam, and sometimes Taiwan. Buy these machines with caution.
The price of a sewing machine can range anywhere between $100 to $700 or more. Unfortunately, good quality sewing machines are expensive, and the old saying “you get what you pay for” is definitely true for sewing machines like it is with so many other things.
Sewing machines made of plastic tend to be cheaper and may not provide sewing precision or durability over the years. Metal frames and construction is usually a better choice.
Generally, it is advisable to go for machines in the mid-range, where you can often find a good mix of quality and features at a reasonable price. The absolute cheapest machine is rarely the best option, but of course, only ever buy what you can afford.
4. Buy From A Dealer
When you buy a machine from a big chain retailer selling lot of other items, the salesperson is very unlikely to know the detailed ins and outs of each machine. Whereas when you buy directly from a dealer he will be able to guide you in selecting the right machine based on your exact requirements.
The sewing machine dealer will also be able to provide you with useful information on how the machine works, demonstrate it and teach youhow to clean the sewing machine. For additional information on how to clean your sewing machine, please check out our article on the topic.
Some dealers still even offer trade-ins or trade-ups which can be good value. Dealers are also the contact point for warranty claims which can save you time and headaches in the future. Many dealers offer used machines that could save you a lot of money too.
After-sales support and access to spare parts is also important consideration. A general or mass retailer will not likely provide much or any support and almost certainly not stock spare parts, but your local sewing machine dealer makes their living on such often-needed services.
5. Test The Sewing Machine
Before finalizing on any one brand or machine, you should always test the machine. You’ll almost certainly be able to do this at a dealer but probably not at a mass retailer. Take some swatches of fabric and thread with you to the store and stitch the fabric to see how the machine works. Does it do everything you want it to? How does it work with the fabric and thread you use most often? How is the quality of the buttonhole? This is one of the keys to a garment looking professionally made or not.
You should pay special attention to the smoothness, noise, stitch quality, and stitch options of the machine. If you don’t like it, try another one until you find a sewing machine that you like. The more types of fabric you can test with the sewing machine, the less likely you’re going to get any surprised later when you use it for the first time say on a stretchy knit fabric or light sheer fabric.
6. Buy Local If Possible
It is often advisable to purchase your new sewing machine from a local shop. This way you are not only supporting a local business but also making sure that help is at hand if you need it.
When you purchase the machine from a big shop or through an online store, you may not always get the after-sale service as expected. You also won’t have anyone to turn to if you need help and guidance on how the machine works or to make repairs.
We know it’s not always possible to find a local sewing store anymore, unfortunately, but it’s in all our interests to continue to support the trade when possible.
7. Read The Reviews And Do Your Homework
There’s an enormous amount of information available these days on the internet. The web has become the primary information source for many, if not most, people these days and it is a great tool to use when trying to research a new sewing machine. There are a number of good review sources for sewing machines.
I’ve always found that Consumer Reports is a good place to start when looking for relatively unbiased reviews and information about a product. You may want to check out their section on sewing machines HERE. They also have a useful video on understanding the different types of sewing machines available.
Another great resource is reading through the comments on Amazon from people who have bought particular machines in the past. If you have a look at the machine below, at the time of this writing, nearly 6,000 consumers have left reviews and comments on the Brother CS6000i.
8. Ask Your Friends Or Join A Chat Group
It is always advisable to seek the help and advice of someone you know who knows about stitching and sewing machines before zeroing in on a particular model. There’s usually nothing better or more trustworthy than first-hand information and feedback from an acquaintance.
If you don’t have a neighbor you can ask, and join one of the online chat groups about sewing. Here at So Sew Easy, we think we have one of the best online chat groups around where you can get the opinions of nearly 19,000 members (at the time of this writing) and which you can find on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/soseweasychat/
This group is extremely active and I’m sure you’ll find someone with information about pretty much any sewing machine you’re thinking of buying. However, to keep the group focused and useful to its members, the chat is a “closed” group which means you have to request to join. Because we review every new potential member, there can be a short wait to get in from time to time, so please accept our apologies if there is any delay. We always do our best to keep up.
9. Shop The Sales
Like with any other product or commodity, sewing machines will go on sale quite frequently and you can save a bundle. Sometimes prices can be cut in half or even more for brand-new, modern sewing machines. Figure out what machine you want and then keep a look out for when it goes on sale.
10. Consider the Second-Hand Market
While new sewing machine prices have come down a lot in recent years, sometimes you can get a lot more for your money if you buy a good used machine. There are plenty of ways to find a second-hand machine from your local classifieds or bulletin boards to Craig’s List or eBay. As mentioned above, sewing machine dealers often recondition and sell used machines.
You can even potentially buy a good quality industrial machine that will last you a lifetime for a fraction of its new value. We wrote an article about this recently so you may want to review it: Do you need an industrial sewing machine? for more ideas about this. I bought an industrial Pfaff 563 machine made in Germany a few years ago. It’s an absolute workhorse and I have no doubt it will help me sew thick fabrics like denim, multiple layers of fabric, and even leather for many, many years to come.
Hopefully these tips will help you with your choices when next you’re thinking of buying a sewing machine. If you have any other good ideas that we should share with everyone, please leave your thoughts in the comments below. We always love hearing from you!
If You’d Like To Support Our Site
If you want to help us continue to bring you a wide selection of free sewing patterns and projects, please consider buying us a coffee. We’d really, really appreciate it.
What basic sewing machine embroidery stitches can you find already on your machine? In some machines, these types of stitches are also known as decorative stitches. Most machines come with a series of these stitches, on my machine I’m fortunate to have many more than I thought.
I am the proud owner of a Bernina 350 patchwork Edition, a product that is no longer available as I just found out today as I am writing this post. Am I going to be buying a newer model? The tingle and excitement of a new sewing machine are beginning to brew in my mind. It has been two years since I got my Bernina 350, and I think the honeymoon is over.
But, do I really know my sewing machine? Today I took a random look at the stitching card and I realized I have never taken the time to see how the stitches look in real life. In fact, the protective plastic film was still attached to it, that’s how little I’ve used it.
The film is still on the display screen as well, and frankly, I feel a little ashamed… How could I even think of getting a new machine if mine still has not even been unwrapped properly?
This reminds me of people in my country who drive their car for months with the factory plastic covers still stuck onto their seats so that the car will look just a little newer for a longer time. In my case, it is pure neglect. I have been very busy these the last two years.
So what basic sewing machine embroidery stitches are actually in my machine?
I found a total of 85 basic sewing machine embroidery stitches. Some of them are so beautiful my mind started racing to come up with many different ways to use them.
Fabric borders are perhaps the best way to use this stitches.
Repeating a pattern in rows can even change the texture and look of a fabric creating a unique fabric print.
Here I’ve done them on a contrasting color so you can see the different basic sewing machine embroidery stitches this Bernina has.
I have to say I am surprised that this little machine has so many stitches, the possibilities are endless.
The question now is: Do I really need a new sewing machine?
No, I do not need another sewing machine, (sadly..) This Bernina has everything I need from a basic sewing machine. Sure the embroidery stitches cannot be made bigger, but for making borders and decorations they are perfect. I am still amazed that after so many years of sewing, and so many machines later, that this is the first time that I’ve really explored this function fully on my machine. Have you checked yours yet?
When working with lightweight or even sheer fabrics, the best way to finish an edge is often with a rolled hem foot: faster than hand-sewing and a lot easier, if you know how to do it.
What? You don’t? No worries!
Let me share with you my best tips and in no time you’ll be sewing a perfect rolled hem: I can see so many fluttering dresses, silk scarves, napkins (and so on) featuring this couture hem in your future 😉
Wait! I don’t have a rolled hem foot: where can I find one for my machine?
You can try with your sewing machine dealer, if you’re so lucky to have one in the neighborhood. If not, check your manual and see if there is an online shop (or just google *your machine brand* + spare parts online).
You can save some money and get an universal kind of foot. Be sure to choose the right shank version: most of the home sewing machines use a snap-on low shank, but some Singer have a slanted shank (double check in your manual!)
Check out a generic universal rolled hem foot here on Amazon:
Depending on your fabric weight, choose an appropriate rolled hem foot: smaller funnel width goes with lighter fabric, and vice-versa.
Note: you can use a wider rolled foot hem on a lightweight/sheer fabric but you’ll have a hard time squeezing it in a narrower foot a medium weight fabric so, if you want to buy your first one, I’d better choose one with a funnel 1/8″ wide (or more)!
Rolled hem foot anatomy
The rolled hem foot coolest feature is the funnel you see on the front side: it’s here, where the magic happens!
Your fabric will roll up into it and go out in the back, running through the groove, carved in the bottom of the foot… almost unbelievable!
Let’s start with the basics
Here is a step-by-step for you, filled with my suggestions for better results:
1) To get the hem started, you’d better press (or finger press, depending on your fabric) the double crease for the first couple of inches: this will help you guiding it through the funnel.
To do that, press the hem toward the wrong side of the fabric, keeping it of consistent width, just a smidge less than the finished hem width (matching the groove below the foot).
Repeat, pressing it another time toward the wrong side. Put a pin on it to keep it in place. 2) To the sewing machine: lay your fabric on the needle plate, wrong side up.
Lower the presser foot and do a couple of stitches, using the hand wheel. Remove the pin.
Needle down, raise the presser foot and use your tweezers to feed the creased fabric into the funnel, as it is. Lower the presser foot again and start sewing slowly (use a straight stitch, setting length = 2).
Note that you’re sewing ON THE WRONG SIDE of the fabric, so the bobbin thread will show on the right side: keep it in mind when choosing its color and when testing the balance of the seam (it’s important that your bobbin-side of the seam looks perfect, not like the one below – intentionally bad-looking!)
3) Go on sewing and keep feeding the fabric into the funnel, holding it in tension, but without pulling it.
Feed the fabric keeping a consistent hem allowance (double of your foot hem width – see picture 3 in step 2)
Important tip: sew at a slow pace, working small portions (3-4″) each time; stop, re-fold the fabric checking it’s 2x hem width, sew, repeat!
Tip # 2: use both hands to guide your fabric: the right hand will keep the seam allowance raw edge at the right distance, while the left one will guide the fabric so it goes straight under the foot!
Now you may think it looks easy (and it is… just need some practice to get it perfect) but, if you’ve ever tried sewing with one of those rolled hem feet, you may have a few questions coming in mind: let’s go deeper and try to answer to some of them!
Rolled hem on a curve/on bias – problems and solutions
Fabric behaves in a totally different way when cut on the bias. While sometimes is exactly what we want, you’ll rapidly learn that on rolled hems it’s really annoying!
Remember that even a garment that isn’t cut on bias may have problematic rolled hems: any curved hem will be, ultimately, cut on the bias!
There is a cool tip I’ve learned a while ago and that will save your children from learning a few “nice” words (been there…).
Here is the suggestion: first of all, using your regular foot, sew a straight seam almost where the final fold of the fabric will sit, to stabilize the bias so you don’t get the fabric rippling.
Snap your narrow hem foot on, sew the hem and, when you’re done, rip the stabilizing first seam away if it’s visible (you’ll be using a blending thread color, hopefully, I used this fuchsia so it showed to you!)
Intersecting another seam
When sewing a hem in round, most of the times you will need to intersect at least one side seam: please don’t try to squeeze it into the funnel!
Instead, do the following:
Stop (needle down) when you reach the hem
lift the foot and take the fabric out of the funnel, while keeping the fabric creased
put the foot down again and sew over the side seam bulk, controlling the fabric so you sew just on the fold (as you did until that point)
when you’re gone over it, re-slip the fabric into the funnel (use your tweezers or a needle to help yourself) and re-start sewing.
… that’s it 😉
6 more little tips…
… that come into my mind when I hear “rolled hem foot”
Tweezers are your new BFF: get a pair of them if you still don’t have them!
Start your seam holding the thread tails, to avoid the fabric being eaten from the needle throat. If all else fails, add a piece of toilet paper between the fabric and the needle throat and sew over it (gently rip it away after you’ve finished sewing)
Press the whole hem on the right side of the garment after sewing it.
If you are not sure what elastic to use on your sewing project, we are here to help! Today, we are here to teach you the different types of elastics for sewing and when to use them.
Can you imagine your life as a sewer, sewing your favorite projects without elastics? How about making yoga pants or maternity pants without elastic waistbands? Think about those swimsuits, surgical garments, socks, or gowns without the ability to stretch.
Elastic gives us comfort, and a fantastic fit, and provides room for the stretch-ability of our clothes.
What is Elastic?
Elastic is a stretchy and narrow fabric made with a flexible substance. It is manufactured by weaving, knitting or braiding together strands of rubber, latex, or other pliable material that can be stretched and returned to its original shape. Because of the different types available, it is essential for you to know which type of elastic is right for your project.
Braided elastic, the cheapest type of elastic, narrows when stretched and is lightweight. If you think your project will get heavy use, then it is better to use braided elastic because it has a longer life expectancy than other types of elastics. It is mostly used in casings but it is not recommended to be sewn directly to your fabric because it will lose its stretch over time.
If you prefer a soft kind of elastic, knit elastic is a perfect choice! Aside from being soft, it is also comfortable to use. Knit elastic is shrink-resistant and does not narrow when stretched. It can be used in a casing or can be sewn directly to the fabric without losing its stretch. It is an excellent choice for your wash-and-wear project. An example of this is your pajama pants.
Another type of elastic that is stronger than braided and knit elastic is the woven elastic. It is the thickest kind of elastic that does not narrow when stretched, thus, making it an excellent choice when sewing heavy-weight projects. Woven elastic will retain the stretch when sewn directly onto fabric. It is also suitable for casings.
Fold-over elastic (also called FOE) is a flat, thin elastic that has a line along the center that makes it easier to be folded in half. It is used to finish edges on stretch fabrics or garments just like athletic apparel or swimsuits. FOE is typically used for making undies, and baby diapers and can be an alternative for finishing necklines. It comes in varieties of colors and unique patterns so you can choose which one is suitable for your desired project. It does not narrow when stretched.
Lingerie elastic has decorative edges and comes in different textures and colors. Designed for bras and lingerie, it has a plush side for comfort against the skin when used. With your artistic side, you can use it as a design element on the outside of your garment. (Here’s a big roundup of free lingerie patterns if you want to give these a try.)
There are other types of elastic, too, such as swimwear elastic, baby elastic, clear elastic, buttonhole elastic, elastic thread, and even drawstring elastic. We will cover these in a later article but I just wanted to introduce you to the basics now.
If You’d Like To Support Our Site
If you want to help us continue to bring you a wide selection of free sewing patterns and projects, please consider buying us a coffee. We’d really, really appreciate it.