Baby Bonda Productions makes baby carrier patterns that can be sewn on most home machines. You don’t need a fancy machine and with the right fabric, foam and needle choices, you should be able to sew a safe carrier on almost any machine.

Therefore the answer to “which sewing machine” is “the machine you have.”

Are you looking at buying a new sewing machine and want to get the most bang for your buck? Let me walk you through a few key features of different sewing machines.

Mechanical machines:

These machines are generally considered entry level machines and can be the lowest maintenance. The levers to select stitch type move the parts inside. If you regularly oil and clean your mechanical machine, you shouldn’t need to take it to a repair shop.

Generally the more stitch selections the more expensive, however I personally find I seldom use more than straight stitch and zigzag stitch. And that’s over 30 years of sewing talking! Straight stitch, zig zag, button hole stitch and maybe a blind stitch and you are set to do almost everything I’ve ever sewed.

I do like being able to choose stitch length and stitch width. Longer stitches are useful for basting (temporary) stitching, stitch width is used to move the needle from center for sewing closer to the edge of the material and for setting the width of the zig zag stitch.

Other features that are nice are: built in needle threader; ability to convert to a free arm for sewing small circular items like sleeves; and the ability to change the pressure of the presser foot which is useful when sewing bulky materials.

 

Electronic machines:

These are the mechanical machines with electronic features that make sewing easier. For starters, most electronic machines have a speed selector that will make your machine go slower over bulky seams and when sewing tricky corners.

Another useful feature on most electronic machines is the ability to have the needle always stop in either the up or down position eliminating the manual cranking of the wheel before pulling out your project. Or if you are doing many corners, like on x-box stitches, its handy to have the needle always stop in the down position.

With regular home maintenance, your electronic machine shouldn’t need to visit a repair shop for many years.

Computerized machines:

These machines cover the whole range, from entry level to high end machines. When you push a button to make a selection, the computer assists with the settings. Generally these have many stitch selections, including embroidery stitches, and lots of other nifty features like warnings that your bobbin is almost empty or a thread has broken.

Computerized machines need more frequent maintenance then you can provide at home. They need to be taken in every couple of years for a professional adjustment which you should factor into cost when looking at them.

Brands:

There are generally 3 brands you will find outside of sewing machine specialty stores, Brother, Singer, and Janome. Oh, and yes, and Kenmore, which is the Sears rebrand of one of the three depending on the year and model.

To me the biggest difference is in the parts. Pick each machine up and if it is lightweight, there is a higher percentage of plastic parts. If it’s heavy, there is a higher percentage of metal parts. Metal in the drive system, especially in the bottom feed system lasts longer. If a company designates a machine as heavy duty use, it tends to be built with more metal and less plastic. This will allow it to handle bulkier material with fewer slipped stitches and broken needles.

Where to buy?

It’s easy to find sewing machines on local classifieds and many great deals can be found, especially of the barely used machine variety. My advice is to factor in the cost of a professional servicing on any machine you are buying used, especially if it has sat for a while. I’ve bought several good “deals” that quickly became less than a good deal when issues beyond my level to fix arose.

A good specialty sewing machine dealer will help assess what you need or don’t need in a machine. These stores often add in free sewing lessons to ensure you are getting the most from your purchase. Frequently they will sell refurbished used machines that will then have a warranty and lessons included. If there is reputable store in your area, I would recommend a visit.

If you are buying online or from a department store, I would recommend disregarding the computerized machines and stick with a mechanical or electronic machine. These are designed to be maintained at home and will likely save you money in the long run. The cheapest model may not have as many features as would be ideal, but you very likely don’t need the most expensive one either.

 

Did that answer you questions about where to start when buying a machine? What else would you like to know?

 

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