If you’ve been dressmaking for more than a few months, you know that your sewing machine is your life. It’s a trusted companion and workhorse that will get you through the relaxing times and the rushed ones.
Because you depend so heavily on the sewing machine that you use, it makes sense to put some serious time and effort into choosing the one for your studio.
Sewing machines – especially the good ones – aren’t cheap. Indeed, they run from a couple of hundred dollars well into the thousands.
Research is very important when considering a new machine – if you fail to buy one that really does what you need it to, you’re out a bundle of cash and may need to make another purchase anyway! Further, technology and the free market have conspired to create a situation where some cheaper machines are every bit as capable and durable as the expensive ones. As you may be beginning to understand – informed decisions are key when it comes to this important investment.
The very best thing you can do when choosing a machine is to find a way to TRY it. Some specialty shops have floor models that you can take out for a spin. Another option is to sign up for a sewing class at a local adult education program or community college. You may even be able to approach the class’ instructor and arrange for a “private tour,” of the available machines. Even if you need to pay a small amount for the instructor’s time, its money well spent in knowledge and experience. If you truly understand the machine you’re buying, you’re in a much better position to be completely happy with your purchase.
Consider the dealer as a good place to buy sewing machines, too. They’re becoming more and more rare, but it’s likely that you still have an old-time exclusive sewing machine dealer/repair shop within fifty miles or so. Locate this dealer, and stop in for a visit. Is the shop clean and well maintained? Are there a number of machines lined up for repairs? Is the dealer themselves friendly and presentable? You may have found a hidden treasure in this shop. A reputable and trusted dealer is a wonderful person to learn from, and because they know that if they treat you well, you’ll be back when your machine needs maintenance or repair; they have a real stake in getting you the perfect sewing machine. Sure, you may save a few bucks if you buy online, but trust me – a relationship with your local dealer is worth the investment.
If you can’t find a local dealer, ask friends, or even strangers in the local craft store – often there’s a hidden dealer in a community working out of the back room in their home or in the garage. Locals will know where to look. Once you’ve found the dealer you want to work with, talk about warranties and returns. These can vary a lot with mom and pop operations.
Because they’re so expensive, you should educate yourself about the care and maintenance that will be required in order to keep this valuable tool in tip-top shape for years to come. Invest in a small tool sit, some cleaning supplies, lubricant, and some canned air. Keep an eye on belts, motors, and parts, and change them when they statrt to wear. The more carefully you maintain your sewing machine, the longer the machine will perform in your dressmaking activities. Believe me – it’s worth the effort.
It’s a sad fact, but budget is also a major consideration for almost everyone when making a major purchase. We’d all like a room full or the most expensive sewing machines and sergers, but alas, it’s not to be. Know your budget before you start looking around, so that the dealers or salespeople won’t help you to fall in love with something that’s out of your reach. Remember what I said earlier, though – there are durable and full-featured machines out there for nearly every budget, just make sure you do in-depth research on both available features and pricing.
Evaluate available machines based on price, service, durability, and features. This evaluation should outright eliminate many models, leaving you a shorter list for comparison. Once you’ve got a short list, dig into them deeper, and one will usually pop up that calls out to you. Congratulations! That’s your new sewing machine!
You can’t always get the most expensive sewing machine on the market for your dressmaking. But if you approach the process as an informed consumer with an even head, you can be sure that you’ll love the one you do buy.