What Should I Consider When Buying a Sewing Machine?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Purchasing a sewing machine for use around the house is not only practical; it can also open the door to creating your own personal designs for clothing, window treatments, bedding, and other handy items. Depending on what you want to accomplish with your machine, there are a number of options to consider. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider various types of sewing machines.

A woman working with a sewing machine.
A woman working with a sewing machine.

Your first task is to define what you intend to do with the sewing machine. If basic repairs and simple projects are what you have in mind, then a small unit that does well with basic stitching will do nicely. However, if you plan on using the equipment for more elaborate projects, you will want something more robust and feature rich. You may even consider one of the industrial sewing machines if you have a wide range of projects in mind. Machines of this type can handle big jobs like putting together comforters or sleeping bags, as well as detailed work such as embroidery. In fact, an industrial style embroidery sewing machine may be just what you need.

An industrial sewing machine may be used to sew heavy material.
An industrial sewing machine may be used to sew heavy material.

Along with the intended use, there is also the matter of space to consider. If you have a sewing room in the home, you can go with just about anything you like, such as a beautiful cabinet sewing machine. For added warmth, you could choose to go with an antique sewing machine complete with the wrought iron cabinet framing. If you lean more toward a modern touch, then a model crafted with a sturdy wooden cabinet and a cavity that allows you to recess the machine when not in use would be a great option.

Alternatively, if space is limited, consider tabletop sewing machines that can easily be stored in a closet or cupboard when not in use. While smaller, a sewing machine of this type is great for apartment living, usually includes each of the basic sewing machine stitch options, and can be set up on the dining room or kitchen table in just a couple of minutes.

As you begin to consider your sewing machine options, you will find that you can purchase new units or go with refurbished or secondhand models. Keep in mind that refurbished is a little different from used. A refurbished unit has been re-inspected and upgraded to comply with factory standards, whereas a used sewing machine has not undergone any type of refurbishing at all. Still, you can often find refurbished units at prices that are very friendly to a tight budget. Some will even come with limited warranties, making the option even more attractive.

Unless you trust the source, it is usually a good idea to purchase a machine from a local vendor. This gives you the opportunity to actually sit down in front of the machine and try it out with a couple of quick stitches or buttonholes and see if the machine performs up to your expectations. Buying locally also eliminates any chances for the machine being damaged during shipping or some other unforeseen issue arising at a later date.

As with any purchase, it is important to make sure the sewing machine you buy has the features you need, is within a price range you can afford, and will fit into your home with ease. Keeping these three basics in mind will help you to focus on models that are right for you rather than being sidetracked with other models that may look great but not be practical for your needs.

Tabletop sewing machines are great for working with lighter fabrics for at-home projects.
Tabletop sewing machines are great for working with lighter fabrics for at-home projects.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


don't buy something huge which will just go to waste. Get something to start which has the basic things: needle, feed dog, etc.

Also make sure you kind of know how to sew and otherwise follow the instructions.

If you need any more help, an online site should be able to help. or call into your local sewing shop. it works wonders. And cheer up. you will get used to it.


My mom has always had a Singer and loved it. Something else to consider: don't pay a lot of money for a lot of features you won't use. And most people are going to want a portable machine, unless they do a *lot* of sewing and get a cabinet model. A decent machine will run about $80-$150 U.S. dollars.


The last thing anyone would want or need that has a large range of projects in mind is an industrial machine! Almost all of the industrial machines are designed to do one thing only. The only versatile machines are the ones designed for home use, which are meant and designed with many fabrics taken into consideration....from chiffon to canvas and back again...try that with an industrial machine and you will be disappointed. If you just need a straight stitch machine, select a Singer 15 class because parts are readily avaiable and these things make butter out of the heaviest of materials and can in a pinch sew the most delicate chiffons too! These are the best machines for home use and the most versatile of any machine out there...probably the reason they are still made and sold today in Eastern parts of the world after more than a century!!!

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