Thursday, April 26, 2012

What Kind of Sewing Machine Do You Recommend?

What kind of sewing machine do you recommend? I get this question, or some form of it, at least once a week and I always give the same answer so I decided it was probably time to just put it on the blog for everyone to see and others to weigh in.

Of course there are many things to consider when purchasing a sewing machine, price and function being the top two. After you have decided how much you have to spend you need to know what you want your machine to do. Will you only be sewing? Are you hoping to do some machine appliqueing or embroidering? What about quilting? Maybe you already know exactly what you want, and even if you don't, now is a good time to visit your local sewing machine repair facility. This may be a sewing machine/vacuum repair shop or it may be at your favorite fabric store but it is always where I suggest people start and typically end their search for their machine. Here's why ...

First of all, I always, always, always suggest you buy something that can be repaired locally. Whether you're a sewing amateur making a few things for the kids now and then or a professional quilter making family heirlooms we all love our machines and I promise, you're not going to be happy when something breaks to begin with. If your machine has to be sent "away" for repair (wherever that is) you're going to be even more disappointed. In addition, typically when you buy from a local shop they offer a warranty for repair and chances are you will already know exactly who will be doing the service for you.

Second, check for trade ins. Many repair shops not only fix machines but they also sell new machines and chances are if they have new machines they have used trade-ins. This is a great way to get "more" machine for your budget. The used machines have been serviced, typically have warranties and often have bundles that can include accessories, hoops and even software at a discounted price. Find a shop that will let you trade in your trade in and you've struck gold.

Third, many repair shops offer ongoing support classes and even if they don't have formal classes they are almost always willing to sit down and show you how to do things. Let's face it, sewing machines have evolved like all other technology and they can be intimidating. Knowing that you have someone you can turn to for help is well worth it.

Whatever you do please don't be fooled by deep discounts at chain stores or celebrity endorsements. Support is the key and you won't get any from a national chain or a celebrity.  

Does all this mean that the only place to buy a machine is at a repair shop? No, of course not. Check estate sales and craigslist. Ask at the fabric shop if anyone is selling one. If you don't need the support you might find what you're looking for at a national chain store.  

Whatever you do ask lots of questions and be clear to those helping you about what you intend to use it for so they can guide you along the way.

Did I miss something? Do you have a tip, a lesson learned? Please feel free to share.   



  1. Hi Ann, I'm not familiar with the Butterfly brand and a quick google search didn't help me much either. No matter what it really depends on the local service. Check with your local sewing machine repairman and be sure that it's something he is familiar with and something he can get parts for before you make your decision. Best of luck!

  2. Thanks for such a great tutorial! This is yet another cool tool for us quilters! I bet there are a lot of us watching ebay like hawks, now!! LOL Love your projects - thanks for sharing with us!

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  4. Does the embird program allow you to transfer the appliques to the program so that you can manuever the names? I am new to this and the only program I have to the monogram wizard plus.

    1. With Embird you can open and merge/manuever the different elements of your design (applique and letters for a name) and then save it as one file to send to your machine for stitching. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with monogram wizard plus so I can't compare them directly.