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Has plenty of convenient features like a drop-in bobble and automatic threader. Sewing buttonholes is quick and easy. Stitch selection is nicely displayed on the side and settings are easy to select. Has a programmable needle up/down option for applique work.
The outer shell feels somewhat flimsy with plastic construction.
Has 70 built-in stitches and seven one-step buttonhole settings. Comes with a wide table to accommodate large projects like quilting or curtain-making. The settings screen is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. Manages medium-weight projects better than expected.
Occasional quirks with tension. Not ideal if you want to sew heavyweight materials.
External loopers can be color-coded for different projects or user preferences. Durable aluminum alloy material protects against wear and long-term use. Combination of knife and motor makes for a powerful machine that users can operate by plugging it into an outlet.
Can be a bit more time-consuming than other models.
Simple to use. Features 130 built-in stitches and a handy automatic needle threader. Wide table is perfect for big projects. Easy-to-read LCD screen. LED light helps you see every detail. Includes instructional DVD and manual to get you started. Popular for quilting.
Some reported issues with the bobbin jamming.
It has six basic stitches, four decorative stitches, and one built-in buttonhole. The needle can be adjusted in three positions, and the foot pressure can be adjusted for sewing lightweight or thick fabrics. It can sew up to 1,100 stitches per minute and has a heavy-duty interior metal frame.
It doesn't have an automatic needle threader.
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Some clothes mending tasks are easy to do with a needle and thread. But when it comes to major fixes or making clothing or quilts from patterns, you need a sewing machine. Regardless of what you want to sew or your skill level, there’s a sewing machine to match your needs.
Many novice and occasional sewers prefer a simpler mechanical model. These machines are easy to use, and today’s versions offer useful features like adjustable stitches and straightforward controls.
Computerized sewing machines with advanced features like dozens of stitch options and vivid touchscreens meet the needs of skilled sewers working on more complex projects. Some machines can do quilting and embroidery, with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity that pairs with a computer for quick access to patterns. Other models to consider include sergers for overlock stitching and inexpensive compact machines that can quickly mend holes or sew on buttons.
After checking out a range of sewing machines, we chose the Singer Quantum Stylist 7258 Sewing Machine as our top pick. We love its impressive selection of features that make it a practical choice for advanced sewing.
Singer sewing machines are some of the most popular on the market, and the Quantum Stylist 7258 computerized model is no exception. This top seller is packed with features sewers love, including a buttonhole function, drop-in bobbin, programmable needle, built-in needle threader and clear LCD screen. You’ll also find a selection of 100 stitches with simple button controls so you can easily choose the right stitch and size for any sewing project, and a bright LED light to illuminate the work area. This durable, compact sewing machine works well for most mid-level sewing fans and comes at a reasonable price point. Consumers also appreciate the 25-year limited warranty that adds to the machine’s value.
This Brother sewing machine offers lots of useful features and capabilities for a surprisingly low price. It has 70 stitches that are visible on the side of the machine so you can easily access the right one for any project. Push-button controls (including speeds up to 750 stitches per minute) and a vivid LCD screen simplifies choosing the settings you need. It also has seven one-step buttonholes, which come in handy when sewing clothing from patterns. This machine comes with 10 presser feet and a quilting guide. Durable yet fairly compact, this model is straightforward to operate, making it a good choice for beginners. Although it won’t work with some thick materials, the wide table is a nice feature for making quilts and other large items.
Juki sewing machines and sergers are designed to make sewing simple and pleasurable. The company makes many basic and comprehensive models, but this is our favorite pick for any sewing enthusiast who needs a serger, or overlock machine. If you’re new to using a serger, think of it as a way to use overlock stitches to put the finishing touches on fabrics with neat, crisp edges. This top-of-the-line model is simple to adjust and color-coded for excellent results. Compact yet powerful at up to 1,500 stitches per minute, it works with thick fabrics that might challenge some other machines. In addition, it has a strong built-in knife that effortlessly slices through material to complete sewing projects like a pro.
Don’t let the affordable price fool you. This versatile sewing machine is packed with features. It has 130 stitches plus 55 alphanumeric sewing stitches (maximum 850 stitches per minute), so you’ll always be able to find the perfect one for your project. The functions are easy to navigate thanks to the button controls and LCD screen. This machine has automatic needle threading that takes the hassle out of completing this essential task. A built-in light makes the work area easy to see. In addition to traditional sewing, this computerized machine is also ideal for quilting. The wide table can accommodate large pieces of fabric too. This machine comes with eight presser feet and an instructional DVD.
This classic model may not have a lot of bells and whistles, but it does have everything beginners need to learn the craft of sewing with a machine. True to the brand, it has a durable build that’s made to last. The rugged motor makes it possible to work quickly, more than 1,000 stitches per minute. From threading the needle to operating the dial controls to placing the bobbin, the Singer 4411 functions are easy to master. The 11 stitches, enough for many sewing applications, include decorative, basic and buttonhole. Whether you want to sew thin or thick fabrics, this machine’s needle and presser foot are simple to adjust to match your needs.
If you love to embroider, this Brother model is an excellent choice. The machine features a 16-square-inch embroidery field, seven presser feet and 80 built-in designs so you can expand your creativity in fabric-based art. You can also embroider names, dates and more to add a personalized touch to clothing, blankets, bags and the like. The SE600 has 103 stitch options for many sewing jobs (up to 710 stitches per minute). Another impressive feature of this versatile machine is the large color LCD screen with touch controls for choosing settings. It also comes with a nice accessory set of essentials you’ll need for your sewing or embroidery projects.
Any pro will appreciate this Janome sewing machine because it’s packed with advanced features that make quick work of projects large and small. The speedy motor is perfect for sewing and quilting at up to 1,000 stitches per minute, and it’s powerful enough to handle thick fabrics. Easy buttons and a large LCD screen simplify choosing from the 172 stitches and nine buttonholes. Straight stitch and zigzag needle plates plus a built-in needle threader take the guesswork out of delivering thread to fabric. It also includes a roomy 10-inch metal work surface for large projects, a dozen presser feet and six LED lights. Although it’s a pricey investment, pro-level sewers won’t mind. They’ll also appreciate the 25-year warranty that covers mechanical components.
Built to make quilting easy, the updated Juki TL-2000Qi has built-in lights and an extension table for working on large projects. It boasts a powerful motor that can deliver up to 1,500 stitches per minute. The aluminum die-cast arm and bed minimize vibration and make it easy to put the finishing touches on all your quilts. When operating this machine, you can easily concentrate on your creative skills thanks to the single pedal that’s straightforward to use. Adjustable stitches and an automatic needle threader round out a comprehensive feature set.
Mechanical: Mechanical sewing machines have manual controls for functions like setting the thread tension and adjusting the length of stitches. These machines have push buttons and/or rotary dials, and for some traditionalists, there’s no substitute for the feel of these controls. Note that mechanical machines are bulkier than the other types.
Electronic: Electronic sewing machines run on electricity and have the ability to execute a number of stitches, usually many more than a mechanical machine. If you’re looking for more options in stitch width and style, these are the machines to consider. The interface is more sophisticated, activating features with the help of electronic switches or LCD display. Electronic machines tend to cost more than mechanical ones.
Computerized: These are also electronic machines, with some key differences. One is that these can be connected to a computer via USB. With an internet connection, sewers can download stitch patterns and transfer them to the sewing machine. For tech-savvy crafters, this type of machine opens a world of convenience and possibility, including the ability to embroider. However, for someone who isn’t familiar with newer technology, this could seem overwhelming. Further, if a computerized sewing machine needs repairs, it can cost more than fixing a mechanical or even an electronic machine.
A serger is more sophisticated than a sewing machine in some ways. For example, it can manipulate two to four threads at once, creating heavy-duty overlock stitches that don’t tug at the material. In fact, a serger is sometimes called an overlock machine. It’s also designed to place stitching over the edges of material for a finished look. However, a serger is not a good substitute for a sewing machine because there are some tasks you simply cannot do with a serger, like topstitching.
Sewing requires meticulous attention to detail. Machines that are easy to use can cut down on sewing time and eliminate errors. Sewing machine elements that can make your tasks easier include the following:
When deciding what features you want in a sewing machine, keep in mind your skill level, what you plan to sew and how often you’ll use your machine.
Beginner: A sewing machine for beginners has the most basic features and usually nothing more. Portable sewing machines designed for use on the go might also offer just the basics. Common basic features include straight and zigzag stitches, reverse button (for lock stitching), adjustable tension and stitch length and width adjustment. These features allow you to handle basic sewing projects.
Intermediate: If you’re looking to expand your abilities, there are more advanced features that aren’t necessary for most projects but are nice to have when you need them. These include one-step buttonhole (there are four-step buttonholes, but they can be tricky); a choice of presser feet, such as buttonhole, zipper and blind hem; automatic speed setting that sets speed either in conjunction with or instead of using a foot pedal; and needle threader.
Advanced: For advanced sewers, the features list continues to grow. Some you might want to consider include free motion ability, layered fabric feeding system, touchscreen control panel and large hoops for embroidery.
Every sewing machine offers its own variety of standard, decorative and advanced stitches, from a few to over 100, but there are some basic stitches most machines offer. You should be able to adjust the width, length and tension of the stitches for the best results. Look for these essential stitches when shopping for an entry-level or mid-range sewing machine.
Straight: The straight stitch is the workhorse of the sewing world. The needle and thread move forward in a straight line while the machine feeds the material toward the sewer. The result is two pieces of fabric joined by a seam. You must be able to adjust the tension on this stitch for light or heavy fabrics and fabrics of different thicknesses. Most machines allow you to adjust the length of the stitch too.
Zigzag: This is the other foundational stitch you must have if you’re working with fabrics that have any stretch. The zigzag allows the fabric to stretch without popping the stitches. You can adjust the height and length of the stitch according to the amount of stretch in the fabric.
Lock: Sewing machines handle the lock stitch in one of two ways. The first is to sew backward over an existing line of stitches, creating a backstitch at the beginning and end of a seam. If this isn’t automatically done by the machine, there is a button or lever to hold down when you want to sew backward. When the button or lever is released, the machine sews forward again. The other type of lock stitch creates a nearly invisible knot at the beginning and end of the seam.
Buttonhole: Sewing buttonholes is considered one of the most difficult tasks for traditional hand-sewers. The top, bottom and sides must be reinforced to prevent rips. Accurate placement is also important. A machine with an automatic buttonhole option removes much of the guesswork by performing a preprogrammed series of reinforced stitches.
Overlock: An overlock stitch might be a little advanced for beginners, but it doesn’t take much time to master and use. The exposed edge of the fabric on the inside of a seam can fray if it isn’t finished properly. You can use a zigzag stitch or pinking shears, but if you want a more finished look, the overlock stitch secures loose seams and creates a professional finish.
Decorative and embroidery: One of the joys of a sewing machine is the ability to create decorative stitches. Many sewing machines, even those in the entry-level price range, offer a selection of freehand and embroidery stitches for creative projects. Adding a personalized initial or floral pattern to a pillow case is easy to do with the right machine and some practice. A few decorative stitches to look for include the crescent stitch (for borders on tablecloths, pillowcases, collars or skirt hems); a darning stitch (for darning socks); a tacking or utility stitch (for quickly holding fabric pieces together before sewing the seam); a rickrack stitch (for attaching decorative rickrack).
Most sewing machines require careful attention to detail and mastery of complex gears and controls. It isn’t an easy process to learn, and mistakes are part of the journey toward becoming a skilled sewer. Here are some common mistakes made by both beginners and experts.
Assuming basic measurement techniques are simple: Measuring 18 inches of fabric with a tape measure or estimating the location of buttonholes with a ruler might seem easy, but when it comes to sewing, very few tasks are as simple as they appear. The final piece might be 18 inches long, but the actual size to measure is often different. There are seam allowances to consider, as well as the nature of the fabric itself. Beginners shouldn’t rely strictly on linear measurements when cutting material.
Taking on large projects too soon: Creating one costume for a school dance recital is different from agreeing to finish two dozen identical costumes in a week. Take the time to learn and master the capabilities of your new machine before you tackle a big project.
Disregarding sewing pattern instructions: Some beginners decide to improvise or rework existing instructions, but more often than not this ends in disappointment. Try not to make the mistake of second-guessing the pattern creators or looking for shortcuts.
Pulling the material too hard: Some beginners pull firmly on the material in order to ensure a straight seam, but this tension creates more problems: the metal teeth that pull the material through the machine can’t grip it properly. It’s better to let the machine do most of the work with minimal interference.
Getting a sewing needle through your finger is an unpleasant experience that can require a trip to the doctor. As with other kinds of machinery, it’s best to take a few extra precautions to prevent injury.
Turn off the machine if you’ll be away for more than a few moments. Foot pedals, needles and the buttons on a sewing machine are tempting for children and pets alike. Turning the machine off prevents them from potential harm or ruining your fabric or project.
Remove any pins from fabric before sewing. Sewing over a pin can bend the needle and throw off the timing of the sewing machine. In the worst-case scenario, the needle can break and the shards could potentially injure you.
Have the machine serviced regularly. Do this at least once every two years or more often if you sew frequently. This keeps the machine running smoothly and removes any potential danger from wiring or electrical damage.
Remember that parts of the machine can be removed to perform a challenging stitch, like blind hemming. You don’t have to force the material to fit the sewing machine.
A. Sewing machines come in a wide range of prices, from less than $100 to more than $2,000. Portable or basic mechanical models are the most affordable, costing around $150 or less. They typically don’t offer a lot of fancy features, but they’re suitable for occasional use and beginners. The sweet spot for most sewers is between $150 and $600. These mechanical and computerized models offer many useful features like adjustable decorative stitches, automatic needle threading and quilting capabilities. Most sergers also fall in this price range. Avid hobbyists and experts can pay $600 and more for a computerized sewing machine that can be used for embroidering and quilting. These durable models have spacious tables for big projects, powerful motors, numerous stitch options, large touchscreens and other high-end features.
A. There are a number of reasons why needles fail. An inexpensive needle might not last as long as a high-grade one. Buy needles from a reputable company. Make sure the needle you’re using is the right one for the task. Size matters, as does the nature of the fabric. A heavier material could cause a weaker needle to snap. Replace your needle after 16 hours of use. Worn needles can fatigue and break.
A. The answer depends on the child’s level of respect for the machine. Some parents allow older children to use a mechanical sewing machine or an electric one with the power cord unplugged and stitches made by turning the wheel by hand. Supervision and training are always advised. Other children might respond well to a toy sewing machine with safety features. Hand-sewing small craft projects might also be a safer alternative to using a sewing machine.
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