Choosing a sewing machine

Choosing the right sewing machine isn't easy. I hope this article will give you a helping hand!

My current machine is a Janome 2032. A basic entry level sewing machine that my dad bought for me about four years ago. We chose this machine on the recommendation of my dear Aunty who taught me all the basics and got me into sewing. 

I started to get (more) serious about sewing 2 years ago when I finally moved into my own place where I had the room (and a decent table!) to set up my work space and I haven't stopped since! 

Over the past few months I have come to realise that, although I love my little Janome 2032 dearly, I have come to the stage where I have outgrown the parts. 

Don't get me wrong - this machine is a beauty and still works great, even after the past two years of some serious usage! However, it just feel like I've hit a cross roads and it's time to upgrade. 

Once I had decided it was time to upgrade I took to the magical wonderland of information (or the internet, whatever you call it) and began researching machines. Only to discover...

So. Many. Machines.

I couldn't believe the choice out there - from all the different brands and the different ranges within the brand and all the different styles in that range! A true minefield! So I started working out a game plan. Here's a guide to follow:

1. Know your budget for your sewing machine

 What are you willing to stretch to? And which sewing machine is the best your money can get you? 

Once you know your budget you can start rifling down the humongous list and look at what is realistically available to you.

2. What do you want from the sewing machine?

So this a really important question to ask yourself, and it comes with its own list of sub-questions such as: 

  • What is it that you want from your machine?
  • What type of sewing are you doing?
  • What level of sewing are you at? 
  • What features are important for a sewing machine to have? 

If you're new to sewing you probably just want something that will help you pick up the basics (nothing too fancy - some of these machines can do some pretty fancy stuff and that means more buttons and dials which cranks up the fear factor for a humble beginner!). If you're looking to upgrade (like me!) look at the reasons why you're wanting to upgrade. For me, I yearned for more stitch options and more importantly, to be able to alter the width of my stitches on my machine. I wanted a machine with a one-step button hole to make life a bit easier and I also wanted to buy a machine that would enable me to grow. 

3. Work out the brand that suits you

My first machine was a Janome and I loved it. It was simple to use and understand and I worked well with it. However, I decided I would look into other brands to see what they were like. My first thought was the Bernina, as I had read that people who use Berninas LOVE their Berninas. I had also heard the same about Pfaffa. But then I read somewhere else that Pfaffa's weren't that good.

In the end, it's best to develop your own sense of what brands are available, and think about which fits you. Don't worry too much about other people's reviews unless they're universally bad.

4. Go with what you're comfortable with and what works for you

You're the one buying the sewing machine and you're the one that is going to use it. Don't buy a brand because someone else had a good experience with it. And equally, don't avoid a particular brand or machine because someone hasn't had a good experience with it. I'm not saying that you shouldn't look at reviews because they can be extremely helpful, but they're not the whole story. Which leads me on to probably the most important thing...

5. Try out the sewing machine (if you can!)

I consider myself lucky living in a city with a sewing machine specialist. I consider myself even more lucky that it's within walking distance to my house! If you're stuck deciding between brands or styles or if you really aren't sure what is right for you then try and get to your local sewing machine specialist. They will have advice on the best machine for your budget and you can often get to trial the machine and see how it runs and more importantly how it feels for you. 

So which sewing machine did I choose? 

I looked at a couple of different machines and narrowed it down to three:

The Bernina 350 PE

I mentioned above that I had heard that people who have Berninas LOVED their Berninas! I liked the look of this machine and it has some really cool features. However, the price point was a bit sticky. I was prepared to spend the money if it meant I had the best machine for me but I did see some other machines that had pretty much the same features for less money.

The Janome DKS100

I had lusted after this machine for a while. I mean look at - stunning! It also had similar features to the Bernina (except the memory function). At this point I was pretty much settled with this machine - I had used a Janome before and was comfortable with them, the functions I wanted were all there, and most importantly the price point didn't make me grimace. 

But then I read a sewing machine thread that said, if you can buy an industrial machine then do so. Which led me to finding...

The Juki HZL-G210

Juki HZL-G210

This machine looked amazing. It had everything I wanted and looks like it has some pretty decent hardware and technology behind it. I didn't really like the purple 'excite' lettering on the front but I figured I could get used to it if this was the one. However, I looked into local dealers and sadly there were none. I was concerned about sourcing parts should I ever need to and was uncomfortable purchasing without being able to try it out. 

Buying the sewing machine

In the end, I decided to get the Janome DKS100. Taking my own advice I went out to try it and...

I bought the Janome TXL607 instead! Here she is:

After I tried out the machines and spoke with the dealer I just fell in love with this machine. It had all the features I wanted (and more!). It felt roomy and spacious, was the right price point (it was actually on sale and came with some free kit) and most importantly, it felt right. For the same price as the Janome DKS100 (during the sale) I felt I was getting more for my money but still got all that I wanted from it. 

So a final tip... Don't be drawn into changing your mind unless it feels right and sits within your ideals!