Saturday 15 September 2012

What sewing machine?

Lots of my pupils and friends ask me what sewing machine I would recommend for a beginner so I thought it was about time I wrote a post about it.

Firstly when buying a machine you need to ask yourself 2 questions:

1) what will I be making on it?

2) When and how often will I use it?

The reason for the first question is mainly to help you decide between a basic domestic model and something a bit snazzier.  If your going to be doing patchwork quilting for instance you might want to consider a model with a bigger work plate (like the one shown above)so that you can have space to spread your quilt out and if your going to be making clothes, then you will want a model with a good variation of stitches and the ability to lengthen and widen your stitch types.

The second question is more about storage.  If it's a machine that your going to pop out of the cupboard to make the occasional little lavender bag or pressie for a friend then a small, lightweight machine that you can pop in and out of the cupboard is really all you need.   You also need to think about your eyesight and if you will be sewing in the evening.  Many of the smaller cheaper models come without a light and this is something that can prove tricky when you work of an evening or struggle to see to thread a needle.

It can be a bit of a minefield with so many makes and models out there.  I tend to find that people who have not asked advice or looked around always go for Singer Machines.  I think this is a bit like buying nappies for the first time, a new parent will buy Pampers as it's the brand they know about the most.  Singers are a famous make and are an iconic image when you see the old beautiful models so everyone assumes they are the best.  I'm not saying they are not good machines, but I personally have had no experience of them other than looking at them in shops and I think they are all a bit heavy.  No good if your going to travel to classes or want to move your machine about a lot. 

I started sewing about 4 years ago now when my mum bought me a John Lewis Mini sewing machine.  These little models are really very basic and will suit you down t the ground of you are just looking to make simple craft projects such as bunting, tote bags or hem a pair of trousers.  They don't have a light on them and you cant do any fancy stitching, but for a basic model they are well made and come in a range of funky colours.  I would say these are also fantastic machines for children and teenagers to learn on as they are very simple to operate.

 After a year or so and as my business grew (yes I started Beautiful Things on a Mini machine)! I decided it was time to upgrade.  It was then I spent the extra money on a machine with variable stitch lengths and widths (you need these if you want to do appliqué on your machine) a light, needle threader and button holer.  I bought another John Lewis Machine, this time the JL125 and have never looked back.  

The machine sews beautifully and touch wood I ha never had a problem with it that has not been able to be solved with a quick call to the Janome Helpdesk.  John Lewis machines are all manufactured by Janome and all of the feet and accessories that Janome sell are compatible with the John Lewis Machines.  On both occasions the helpdesk has simply sent me out the parts or instructions I required free of charge and the service has been wonderful.
I would highly recommend this machine to any novice sewer.  By all means start on a mini machine or something basic, but I can assure you if you catch the sewing bug you will be upgrading before you know it.  This machine priced at £139 is not too expensive in my opinion and will last your for years.

* I would like to point out that I have not been paid or sponsored to write this post by either Janome or John Lewis it is simply my own opinion based on my personal experience.

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