Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Helpful Features on a Sewing Machine

When students come to my sewing class, they often have never sewn before or it has been a very long time.  Some already own a sewing machine but many do not have one at home.  After teaching for over 6 years, I have found that there are certain features in a sewing machine that are helpful to beginner sewists.  So, if you are looking to buy your first sewing machine or looking for a more user friendly machine, here are some things to consider:

1.  Computerized Sewing Machines

When I bought my first computerized sewing machine, I was nervous.  But honestly, there is nothing to be nervous about!  These are wonderful, digital machines that make sewing so much easier.  If you want a certain stitch type, like zig zag, just set it to that number and you have it!  The settings are already preset so you don't have to turn a lot of buttons and knobs to try and make it look how it should.  Computerized machines also tend to be quieter and can go slower which is helpful for beginner students.  You can also move the needle to better position it for sewing in exactly the right spot.  That comes in handy!

2.  Drop In Bobbin

A bobbin is what your bottom thread is wound on.  Sewing machines have either drop in bobbins or front loading bobbins.  My favorite are drop in.  They are easy to load and tend to tangle less.  It is also easier to see when you are running low on bobbin thread.  Beginner sewists tend to find these type of bobbins easier to work with.

3.  Speed Control Lever

On all machines, you are able to control the speed of the machine by using the foot pedal.  Machines now also have a speed control lever on the front of the machine which allows the user to set a limit to the speed so that it cannot go any faster, no matter how hard they press the foot pedal.  This actually comes in handy for my adult students.  It helps to better control the fabric by slowing the speed down and setting a limit to it.

4.  Needle Up and Down Button/Feature

Do you see that button (in the middle) on the machine that looks like a needle?  That is the needle up/down button.  If you press the button, you can put the needle down or up.  But another great feature of these machines is that when the machine stops, the needle will automatically stop up or down depending on how you set it.  On other machines, when you stop...it stops and the needle might stop part way down into the fabric and then you have to turn the handwheel to finish out the stitch so that you can remove the fabric from the machine.  With this feature, you can set the machine so that it always stops with the needle up, that way, it finishes your last stitch for you.  This can be a huge time server for beginners and lessens the likelihood of the thread becoming tangled when trying to take out your fabric from the machine.  

So those are the main features that I tell beginner students to look for when buying a sewing machine.    They are also applicable if buying a machine for a younger sewist as well.  There are many machines on the market that have all of these features.  One sewing machine that I highly recommend to beginner students is the Brother CS6000i.  This machine has been on the market for several years and has good reviews.  I have MANY students who have this cost effective machine (around $144 shipped) and they love it!  It also comes with many accessories that can be expensive if purchased separately.  Unfortunately you cannot find it in stores but it has free shipping on many websites including Amazon!  I am a Amazon affiliate since I love this website and have had great customer service with their products.  Use the link below to purchase the Brother Sewing Machine and I do earn a small affiliate fee.

If you would rather purchase from a local sewing dealer, I would highly recommend going to AAA Sewing Shoppe in Stallings.  They are a Janome sewing machine dealer.  I have a Janome DC3050 and it is my personal machine to sew on.  It has all of the above features but is a little more expensive as it is a more heavier duty model (not an industrial machine, just more solid).  They have other models though that you can look at and compare according to your needs.  

As always, if you ever have any questions about purchasing a machine, please feel free to ask me!

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