Last Updated on June 30, 2021
How to Choose a Sewing Machine: The large functionality and high performance of the sewing machine simplify the work of modern sewists. But they must meet the needs of the master, for repairing clothes, hemming towels, and adjusting things to a figure, a fairly inexpensive model with a minimum set of functions. In a creative workshop, where a variety of products with unique decor are born, you need to choose a model with many sewing operations. Our advice will help you make the right choice.
10 Tips for Choosing a Sewing Machine
1. Types of Sewing Machines
Which of the 3 Types to Choose
There are 3 types of machines on the market. We did not consider outdated mechanical options that were received from grandmothers and remained in the closet as a keepsake. Manufacturers focus on technology, so there are electromechanical, electronic sewing machine and computerized sewing machines to choose from.
A feature of these devices is the combination of a mechanical system and an electric motor. The user independently sets the settings and modes that remain in the memory of the device. These machines usually have a lot of knobs, buttons, and levers. They are reliable and not very expensive, suitable for home use. They are chosen by novice craftswomen who want to master all the functions. Such models are not capable of making complex seams, but they cope with all popular operations.
These machines are distinguished by a huge number of functions. They are equipped with an electric drive, the processes are automated and controlled by an electronic unit. The seamstress does not need to build the parameters on his own; the characteristics are already in the microprocessor. The machine itself correctly determines the criteria. The master sees the parameters on display. Such models are suitable for both beginners and professionals. The downside is the high price. Not everyone needs so many features.
The most modern sophisticated models. They are controlled by a program on a small computer. Such machines not only sew and bead buttonholes but also perform up to 500 types of stitches and greatly facilitate the work. For example, they signal a thread breakage and automatically adjust the presser foot pressure. Computer machines are rarely bought for the home, as the price is justified if the seamstress uses all the functions. And they are often not needed for beginners and even experienced craftsmen.
2. Types of Stitches
How to Choose the Number of Stitches
Modern sewing machines offer such a variety of stitches that even professional seamstresses do not always know all the operations and how to perform them. Judging by the reviews on the forums, it is their number that is the determining factor for many craftswomen. However, we believe that the standard set is sufficient for everyday use.
The most popular are straight and overlock stitches, for which a special foot is used. The zigzag is slightly inferior to them in terms of the number of uses, but it will be useful to many. The rest depend on the goals of the master.
Many machines do double and triple strings. They allow you to make the seam stronger and simulate the thick thread when hemming jeans. They are used for the stretch fabric to prevent tearing. Beginners do not need them, but in an atelier, there is nothing without such lines.
Some machines store additional operations in memory: sewing on zippers, sewing buttonholes, doing pieces, and darning. The button processing function is rarely used. To carry them out, special feet are required. Most sewing machines come with overcast and buttonhole options. The rest are not needed for beginners.
3. Shuttle Type
How to Choose the Right Type of Shuttle
The shuttle type determines the use of the device. Much of this depends on personal preference and the operations performed. The hook is a hook that wraps a loop of the upper thread around the lower thread, moving around the bobbin. The formation of the seam depends on this.
Any type of shuttle is capable of making a straight stitch. But 2 characteristics greatly simplify the task. The category of the shuttle depends on them.
This parameter determines how exactly the hook forms the stitch. There are 2 ways: rotation (rotary) and oscillation (swing). The latter first moves in one direction, then in the opposite direction. The rotary turns around the bobbin.
Any kind of shuttle will entangle the threads and ruin the job if the seamstress makes a mistake. Judging by the reviews of the craftswomen, there is no such device that will automatically do everything for the master. Therefore, the choice here depends on the personal preferences and skills of the seamstress. Any shuttle takes practice; at first, you get tangled threads. Both types are suitable for home use.
The shuttle can be vertical or horizontal. The first is inserted in the back or side of the machine, which looks forward. Some beginners find it difficult to learn the technique, they blame the design of the device. However, the reason is in the approach. The horizontal position assumes that the bobbin is inserted from the top. However, the thread has to make a 90-degree turn, which requires skill. As a result, you will have to get used to any orientation, and professionals do not like to retrain. For most people, a vertical hook will work, as it is less demanding on the quality of the thread.
4. Loop Processing Mode
What Processing of Loops to Choose
One of the additional parameters when choosing is the processing mode, without which the product will not be finished. Modern sewing machines are capable of sewing buttonholes in semi-automatic and automatic modes. The latter is great for beginners practicing at home: just set the foot correctly and put a button in it. Then the craftswoman presses the lever, and the device does everything automatically. It remains to control the process.
The automatic buttonhole presses work without marking on the fabric. They are guided by the button that the seamstress fixes. On such machines, there is a vertical lever that switches the movement of the device. It is on the top and is only used for this operation.
Semi-automatic hinges do not differ much from their more modern counterparts, but they require special knowledge from the master. The main difference is that the whole process needs to be controlled. The seamstress must manually turn on each of the 4 sequential operations and changes the modes in time. For this, a handle is installed on the machines.
The standard semiautomatic buttonhole process consists of several steps. The technician sets the machine to the desired operation and lowers the presser foot. The first cycle can be started with any operation. But then the seamstress switches the device on time with the needle raised, changes the mode. The machine operates in the opposite direction, the master stops the movement.
As you can see from the example, in semi-automatic mode, you need to switch levers regularly. Novice sewists may feel uncomfortable and take longer to get used to. But such a function will come in handy for a professional – the whole process is under control, you can always stop the device, straighten the tissue, increase the distance.
5. Force of Puncture
What Puncture Strength to Choose for Beginners and Professionals
Modern machines are equipped with an electric motor that drives the mechanisms. Sophisticated equipment has multiple levers but is rarely installed at home. Budget models have an AC motor with a voltage of 220 W. This is sufficient for light to medium weight fabrics. Expensive devices have low voltage DC motors. They can handle any material.
Machines with electric motors are united by one criterion – the force of the puncture depends on the sewing speed. The device works with fabrics of any density if the master makes enough effort. To make things easier, manufacturers began installing needle puncture force regulators. With it, the machine can sew both light and coarse fabrics without forcing the master to try so much.
Beginners often pay attention to power, believing that the density of the fabric with which they can work depends on it. We will consider the importance of this factor for budget cars below. Expensive devices allow you to adjust the force of the puncture. In addition, manufacturers often write power, which is several times higher than the mechanical one. The Singer devices are currently the most important on the market.
The force of the puncture also depends on the sewing speed. For home use by beginners, models are suitable that allow you to limit this value smoothly. However, such machines are much more expensive. Some manufacturers, including Brother, offer to sew without the foot control. From the testimonials of the professionals, they lack control. And beginners like to press a button and wait for the result.
How to Choose the Right Feet
It is impossible to sew without paws, so all machines have at least a couple of basic options in the kit. More expensive devices offer more interesting choices. The standard feet include the universal, straight stitch, buttonhole, and zipper feet. Special options are capable of creating satin stitches, cords, blind seams, darning, and more. Below are the most popular feet recommended by experienced craftswomen:
- For assemblies: With its help, it is more convenient to make gathered stitches; the density is regulated by the tension of the threads and the stitch width: the denser the fabric, the less noticeable the result.
- Walking: This allows you to grind multiple layers, most often used for patchwork and quilting.
- Teflon: Designed for working with natural leather, leatherette, and coated materials. Some seamstresses use the roller foot to move the fabric forward at the desired intervals. She also handles raincoats and jacket fabrics.
- With a snail: This allows you to sew on a bias tape without manually basting it. It is enough for a seamstress to cut the fabric obliquely, tuck in the foot and sew. Of the additional options, it is considered the most useful.
Judging by the reviews of experienced sewists, each foot has recommendations for the fabric’s width and density. If they are not taken into account, an overabundance of material will lead to creasing.
7. Sewing needles
How to Choose a Needle by Tip Type
The main characteristic of needles is the point. First, the master determines this parameter, then considers the thickness. The standard tip is pointed and rounded, but the manufacturer offers dozens of additional options to choose from. We have considered the most popular:
- Pointed: Suitable for most synthetic fabrics. There are 7 popular sizes – 60/8, 70/10, 80/12, 90/14, 100/16, 110/18, 120/20 – which are enough for all common materials. The first number indicates the diameter, the second the type of needle.
- Rounded: Most often used for knitwear, suede, fleece, and knitted fabrics. The tip pushes the fibers apart rather than sticking into them. This needle is included in the standard set and is in the home of every craftswoman.
- Stretch: It is called so because of the ability to stitch materials with Lycra content. It is used when working with underwear and swimwear. These needles have a small indentation near the eyelet to prevent skipping stitches.
- For jeans: They are used not only for this material but also for any dense fabrics. They are distinguished by their penetrating ability.
- For the skin: The needlepoint is sharply sharpened to penetrate the products without damaging the material.
- For microfiber: Works best on dense, thin fabrics. Able to create a straight stitch and detach buttonholes.
- For quilting: It features a long tip and a small eye to pass through several layers of material easily.
There are double and triple needles fixed to a nylon block, with wide ribs and slits in the eyelet. They are used for decorative stitches and complex techniques (sewing at low speed for a short amount of time). Beginners and even experienced professionals do not usually need these needles.
8. Motor power
How to Choose the Right Power
Power in sewing machines is not as important as in other techniques. Inexpensive options have indicators from 60 to 100 watts. The maximum thickness of the material depends on this if the manufacturer has not added a puncture force regulator. With it, power is almost irrelevant.
When choosing a budget model, 70-80 watts are suitable parameters. In electronic machines, the indicators may be lower than in mechanical ones. They do not need to use so many mechanisms and nodes, so much power is unnecessary. The foot release also plays a role in determining the power ratings. In inexpensive models, it is of 2 types:
- Hot, with rheostat regulator: When thick sewing fabrics, the seamstress needs to apply more pressure to the pedal to increase the needle penetration. The speed increases, which interferes with novice craftswomen. In addition, the pedal gets very hot, and the engine runs faster. This leads to premature wear of the sewing machine. Mechanical devices are not very suitable for home use and are considered obsolete. However, buyers of such devices are advised to choose high power.
- Cold, with an electronic regulator: It allows you to press the pedal an unlimited number of times, the machine is automatically controlled. When the seamstress is working with thick fabric, the electronics draws more power and increases the speed of the puncture. There is no need to step on the pedal many times. The power characteristics are practically not important, 60-70 W is enough for most fabrics.
The only thing electronic machine users warn about is not to take too thick fabric. It blocks the needle, the power rises excessively, and the device fails. Manufacturers of machines for the home in the instructions indicate the limits of the density of the fabric.
9. Additional Characteristics
What Feature Is Recommended to Consider When Choosing
The minimum feature set for a home machine includes a straight stitch, a zigzag stitch for overcasting, and buttonholes. However, most devices have several additional features. We reviewed the most popular ones and figured out who might need them:
- Adjusting the presser foot pressure: It is carried out using a spring in budget models and automatically in more expensive ones. The foot rises to a height of 12-15 mm for thick sewing fabrics.
- Adjusting the thread tension: The most beautiful stitch is obtained when the upper and lower threads are interlaced evenly. Their tension in some devices is automatically adjusted. Modern computer devices can determine the density of the tissue and set the correct values. Inexpensive options are equipped with a trim screw on the shuttle, which is adjusted by the master.
- Sewing speed: Sometimes manufacturers add protection against jerks, that is, the pace of work gradually increases and decreases. Several companies, including Janome, Husqvarna, and Brother, use a start and stop button. Others prefer levers.
- Automatic thread trimming: This allows you not to reach for the scissors. It helps when working with products where there are many short seams.
- Upper fabric conveyor: This device attaches next to the foot and helps to tackle thin and slippery materials. Some manufacturers, including Pfaff, equip almost all devices with a conveyor, it cannot be removed. Other brands allow you to purchase the accessory separately.
- Sewing advisor: Modern devices are equipped with a system of help and tips. The advisor tells you which foot to take for a particular operation and shows you how to use it in pictures.
10. Optional accessories
What Accessories Are Needed for Sewing
The sewing machine comes with basic accessories designed to test the device and help you master standard techniques. Then the seamstress buys additional needles, bobbins, feet, and other tools. It is almost impossible to do without them, the standard configuration does not last long. We looked at the most popular accessories and how to use them:
Hand sewing threads are not suitable for sewing machines. The right materials are made from stronger polyester fibers. They are distinguished by low shrinkage, they perfectly keep the given shape. When the correct thread is pulled through the needle, it will not shag or break.
The bobbin paired with the needle will produce the correct seams. The standard kit includes several options, and experienced seamstresses say that the more the better. Bobbins often break (especially plastic ones) and get lost.
Machine parts are in constant motion and are subject to increased stress with regular use. If you do not lubricate the mechanisms with oil in time, the conveyor will stall, the needle will begin to move tighter. Many manufacturers recommend a specific brand in the user manual.
Allows you to cope with capricious slippery fabrics. It moves the layers of material at the same speed. Without it, the bottom layer of fabric will be slightly in front, leading to sagging.
Over time, the craftsman may need rugs to prevent the clipper from slipping, guides, top conveyor soles, and much more. However, for beginners, a couple of the above accessories are enough.
From all the above, we can draw the following conclusions: if you need a machine for the house, hem/darn something, etc. See an electromechanical machine with a motor of 60 watts, a vertical or horizontal shuttle and the obligatory presence of an overlock line.
If you are going to seriously engage in sewing, creativity, work with any type of fabric. It would help if you had an electromechanical machine with a motor from 60 watts, an automatic loop, loop balance, horizontal shuttle, overlock stitches, several decorative thread guides. Or a computerized sewing machine.
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