Your starting point should be, what do I want to use my machine for, and what is my budget? Let’s start with the first question, what type of projects are you interested in? Do you want to do quilting, embroidery, clothing, or general crafts? For instance, if you want to do drapes, then you’re going to require a machine that can handle thicker and heavier fabrics. Conversely, if you want to make baby clothes, then this can often be done with a basic sewing machine or an entry level sewing embroidery machine. With regard to budget, a starting machine for a beginner can range from $60-$800+ for a new machine, (and I wouldn’t recommend the lowest price or the highest price.) You should be able to get a sewing machine that will do 90% of your needs in the middle price range (approximately $200).
However, there are many features and options that will vary from unit to unit, and you should prioritize them to your individual needs and skills. Such as:
1) Am I familiar with Computer technology or do I want a manual machine?
One of the nice things about computerized machines are: they have a touch screen, they can memorize settings, they tell you when your bobbin is almost out and they give you suggestions. Not only that, but there are other features such as drop-in bobbin, needle threader, automatic button hole and number of stitch types. However if you’re not comfortable with technology there are still many manual machines that will do an excellent job.
2) Top Load Bobbin
This should be a must in your new machine. The first reason is because you don’t run the chance of getting your thread caught in the bobbin and bobbin casing. The second reason why a top load bobbin is a must is because you can easily see how much thread you have left on your bobbin.
3) The ability to easily adjust the sewing speed
This feature is very handy for young children or beginners in general who are starting to learn how to sew. It is also great to have when you are sewing a delicate or thick project which requires you to take your time and go slow. The speed control will let you determine the pace at which fabric is fed through the machine, enabling you to sew at a nice steady pace rather than stopping and starting.
4) An automatic reverse lever
This allows you to sew in reverse and reinforce stitches. This feature will immensely help the beginner.
5) Automatic Needle Threader
As you get older this becomes more important. However check the reviews of the unit you’re considering, as many machines’ needle threaders’ are unreliable.
6) Needle up/down button
Pushing a button gives you the ability to use both hands to position your piece. This really comes in handy when working with gathers or tight corners.
We wish you fun in your new craft!