Want a sewing machine - don't know where to start!

(21 Posts)
Spanneroo Tue 27-Mar-18 10:04:00

I'm hoping to pick up a sewing machine second-hand but I don't really know what I'm looking for. I won't be doing anything particularly spectacular, but would like to start making my own cushion covers and pillow cases/duvet sets for DDs. Suspect I'll do the odd bit of hemming trousers/sleeves too.

We don't have a huge amount of storage space so something that's not enormous would be preferred. The only experience I have with them are the ones we used at school when I was about 14 so any advice is much appreciated!

OP’s posts: |
GreyCloudsToday Tue 27-Mar-18 10:06:07

I have found the low-cost Singers are not good, and would recommend visiting a sewing machine repair shop. Ours also tend to sell refurbished machines, and you would get much better quality for your cash.

Steamcloud Tue 27-Mar-18 10:08:56

Look out for Janome brand. A good make - lots of models at different levels - as hard wearing as sewing machines get these days - and easy/not too expensive to get parts.

incywincybitofa Tue 27-Mar-18 12:49:06

What I would look for is a recognized brand
Top loading bobbin
1 step Automatic Buttonhole
At least a 7 piece feed dog
Drop feed (rather than a cover)
Adjustable needle
Adjustable foot pressure
Stretch stitch
Free Arm- so the storage box comes off- it is handier for sewing tubes and children's sleeves
Make sure a suitable range of feet are available or included
Do you want electronic or manual stitch selection
Would an alphabet be useful?

I also think a good machine needs a bit of weight which is why the cheaper ones aren't always ideal
I have bought machines and an overlocker from here before and can't fault the advice and service www.sewingmachines.co.uk
But have heard good things about www.gursewingmachines.com
John Lewis are also good as they do price match and you can try machines there

Steamcloud Tue 27-Mar-18 13:00:04

Great list there from Incy - couldn't agree more about a top loading bobbin - last thing you want to be doing is faddling about in the body of machine to do this.

DidoAndHerLament Tue 27-Mar-18 13:03:21

I got loads of brilliant advice in John Lewis & no pressure to buy. Janome was recommended.

Belonger Tue 27-Mar-18 13:04:14

This is really useful, I've never used a sewing machine before but am increasingly wanting to give it a go. Is it unrealistic to think I could learn to make some clothes, like simple tunics? I'm wondering if it's just a fantasy and I'm kidding myself!

Steamcloud Tue 27-Mar-18 13:32:57

Not unrealistic at all Belonger!

If you buy a paper pattern they are marked from "easy" "simple" to "difficult" depending on your level of skill. Good tips are to wash and iron material first and keep ironing and pressing as you go. Even iron paper pattern on low if you are using one. And read instructions right through before you start.

Only drawback: material and haberdashery usually adds up to more £££ than buying clothes in a shop; but if you are doing it for enjoyment's sake then go for it!!

NewImprovedNinja Tue 27-Mar-18 13:33:32

Belonger try find a dressmaking class for beginners. I used to go to one years ago run above a sewing shop and you used their machines (Husqvarna). It was really good and although I knew the basics, I still learnt a lot from it and my fellow students.

elQuintoConyo Tue 27-Mar-18 13:40:38

Janome get great reviews. Singer used to be the mutt's nuts but now everything is made on the cheap in China they, like many things, have gone downhill.

I have an Alfa machine, not basic entry level but not a Ferrari either grin I sew housey things, trousers seams, clothes for my son, toys, loads of Christmas decorations, tote bags. I have just turned a pair of ripped jeans into a bag for a beach umbrella!

I am actually going to sew some Easter bunting this afternoon (despite buntimg being most uncool on MN).

I did sewing at school (left 1991) and didn't touch a machine unti about 8 years ago. I haven't done any classes, just youtube and make it up as i go along! Still not mastered zips, fiddly bastards angry

Steamcloud Tue 27-Mar-18 14:28:26

Yes YouTube is fab for tutorials!

Spanneroo Tue 27-Mar-18 15:08:18

Wow - thanks for the input everyone! I happen to live very close to a JL so I will pop in this week once I've got to grips with all of your points, so that I can try some out with a bit of knowledge behind me.

Incy that list is really helpful. Thank you!

OP’s posts: |
Rachyhayes Tue 27-Mar-18 15:17:27

I picked up a relatively cheap sewing machine from tesco about 8yrs ago threw together a few Halloween costumes. Tinkerbell was the first one when my DD was 5. I then signed up to a night class in soft furnishings. I then returned to college at 30 and completed my HND in furniture design including upholstery and have just became self employed 2yrs on.

Go for it

Steamcloud Tue 27-Mar-18 17:20:02

That's amazing Rachy!

NotMaryWhitehouse Tue 27-Mar-18 20:19:45

I think Janome used to be Husqvarna..... my mum has been using hers for the best part of forty years- just gets a yearly service.

I bought a singer confidence about four years ago and I love it - very easy to use and loads of different stitches which meant I didn't buy an overlocker in the end.

calabalamuc Fri 30-Mar-18 13:17:25

I don't think Janome and Husquvarna are the same brand. Husquvarna is the same as Viking. I have read about Janome's being recommended a lot on sewing blogs but two good sewers have told me not to touch them with a bargepole confused

Midnightpony Fri 30-Mar-18 13:18:35

I find the IKEA one very good for tootling around with

Rachyhayes Fri 30-Mar-18 13:46:53

Thanks steamcloud

incywincybitofa Fri 30-Mar-18 14:45:41

Husqvarna and Viking are the same company/machines with different brand names depending where you are in the world
Janome (who make the JL machines) and Elna are owned by the same fund group and the machines are made in the same factory and side by side comparisons might lead you to believe they sell very similar machines under different names. Juki used to own Elna and SInger and there were similarities there as well. Husqvarna also owned Elna for a while.
Singer was at one time the leader in sewing machine manufacture and most respected for quality. To be polite there has been a reverse bell curve, started at the top, hit the bottom and are trying to work their way back up again, their higher end models are very good again.
Brother are appealing to the mass market.
Pffaff has for want of a better expression cheapened itself to come in at the entry market, the lower spec machines. It is a lower spec machine but it carries the name of a highly respected series of machines.
Juki remain very good machines

TheletterZ Tue 03-Apr-18 16:16:29

I've got a John Lewis machine, which is a Janome under a different name (I think). They change the colours out every so often so I got a yellow one for half price. It does everything I want as a beginner, both making clothes and starting quilting.

Belonger Thu 05-Apr-18 07:41:03

Thanks very much for all the advice, I've booked onto a 6 week sewing class after the Easter holidays to see if I like it - wish me luck!

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