Our Top ten tips for buying a sewing machine with confidence
1 Always buy from a reputable retailer
Go along, discuss what skills you have (if any), what you are most likely to use it for and how much use it will get. Our studio has Janome machines for you to test drive.
If possible do try before you buy. An official retailer will has a wealth of knowledge about their machines. They should offer you a the chance to try them out. It’s a good idea to take along some of the fabric you use regularly.
There are lots of manufacturers so it is down to personal preference, reputation and budget. We are proud to be an official supplier of the tried and tested Janome range of sewing machines and overlockers. We use our Janome demonstration machines as class machines so they do get put through their paces and have never let us down.
3 Set your budget
Think about how often you are likely to use your machine. Will it be for occasional use, to learn to sew or do you need something you can grow into as your sewing skills develop.
As with many purchases, you do get what you pay for and the price is going to match how much sewing you do, the type of sewing and where you want to go with your sewing projects.
Ask yourself some questions:
Do you need to pay for 500+ embroidery stitches?
Would a fully automated 1-step buttonhole be less scary and more time efficient than the 4-step?
If you are quilter you could consider a dedicated machine with a long-arm like the Janome Atelier and professional range.
Are you a professional sewer? Do you use or heavier fabrics eg soft furnishings? Have a look at the professional range which are built for rigorous use.
The Janome HD-9 dedicated straight stitch machine is a workhorse. Jane’s MC6700P is nearly 20 years old and has stood the test of time – and hundreds of garments!
4 Brand new-v-second-hand and eBay/online auction sites
A tricky one this. Do you know who has owned the machine and its sewing history? It can be a good move if you do but a nightmare if it’s a machine that’s been run into the ground and being sold to fund the owner’s next purchase.
There’s no definitive answer other than take someone who knows about machines and try it out first. Ask the date of manufacture (Jane has spotted her first new machine bought in 1979 with her first month’s pay packet going for more than she paid for it then new).
Do your research – for a little bit more money you might get a new machine with a warranty and after purchase support. Some retailers offer ex-demonstration and reconditioned machines with a short warranty.
Manual machines like the Janome HD2200, have dials, knobs and sliders to control the functions.
Electronic/computerised machines, for example the Janome 230DC, have an LED screen and more automation. They tend to be quieter and when switched on come on at a default straight stitch setting.
Don’t be put off an electronic/computerised because you are a beginner. They are user-friendly and have a great range of stitches and the default settings.
The ‘computer’ part doesn’t make them less reliable either than a manual machine – we’ve yet to have seen one fail, even on older machines.
6 Bobbin case –v- drop in bobbin sewing machines?
If you are new to sewing machine there are 2 types of bottom bobbin mechanism. A front loading bobbin holds the bottom bobbin thread in place in a metal case that is slotted by hand into the front of the machine below the needle. The Janome 423S is an example of a front loading bobbin.
A drop-in-bobbin has a space under the needle the bobbin is dropped into without a separate case. The Janome J3-18 is a great starter machine with a front loader bobbin.
It is personal preference. The more advanced, more expensive Janome machines, the DKS100E for example, have a drop-in-bobbin case.
7 Weight and where you sew
Often forgotten in the excitement of buying a sewing machine, number 7 is important!
Jane spent a lot of years sewing in the hallway so speaks from experience hauling her machine and sewing stuff in and out of the cupboard under the stairs every time she wanted to sew!
Think about the size of the machine as well as how much it weighs. If you are going to have to put it away every time or you struggle to lift, you might be better with something compact like the Janome 230DC or 2200XT.
If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing room you can go for a bigger machine like the Janome Atelier3 or the Continental M17 sewing and embroidery machine.
8 Taking your sewing machine to classes
A lot of our sewers like to bring along their own sewing machines so they can get even more from them. Again is a size/weight may well matter. You might like a second smaller ‘class’ machine so you don’t have to keep moving your main machine. The Janome J3-20 and 360DC are popular.
9 Want to get the most from your machine?
Get some tuition! Have a look at my or our How to use a sewing machine workshop. We promise you will go away with lots of skills, confidence and in complete control of your machine.
10 Still can’t decide?
Don’t despair when looking to buy a sewing machine! Get in touch to arrange a free, no-obligation demonstration on our lovely Janome sewing machines and overlockers.
Download the current Janome catalogue here.