A Guide to Buying Your First Sewing Machine

foggydress_mermaidOne of my readers (and friend) Chrystal recently told me she was in the market for her first sewing machine, and asked me for some tips to buying one. I started to compile a list of tips to give her, when I decided I would share it with you guys, too. Whether you’re in the market for your first machine, or just want to bookmark this for later, I hope it’s a helpful guide for you.

  1. What do you want to do with this sewing machine? This is a good place to start. Knowing what you want to make with your machine can help you in choose the right one. Here’s a little side story – growing up I used to dream up all sorts of alterations and designs in my head, always with the wish of “If only I had a sewing machine and knew how to sew…” Every time I went to visit my Aunt Rachie, I would hand her a bag full of clothing I wanted altered (she even sewed my wedding dress!). Eventually I think she got sick of sewing all my little projects, and she gave me a beautiful vintage Bernina sewing machine for my college graduation. It was probably from the 70’s/80’s, but it worked perfectly for all my little projects (hemming pants, altering clothing, sewing simple pillowcases and curtains, etc.). Yes, there is a point to this story! My aunt knew what I wanted to sew/make so she gave me a smiple-to-use machine to do just that.
  2. What sewing machine should I get? If you are thinking of going far with your sewing skills, you might want to invest in a heftier (and more expensive) machine, like these. If you want to do small projects, similar to what I mentioned above, then you can start off with almost any basic sewing machine. Some common beginner brands are Singer, Kenmore, Janome, Bernina, Husqvarna and Brother, to name a few. If you are a beginner (like I was – and am) and intend on doing occasional to frequent sewing projects, then I would suggest not spending more than $150-$200 on either a gently used or new sewing machine. Like this Brother Project Runway Sewing Machine on amazon for only $129, or this Janome 41012 Mechanical Sewing Machine from Costco for the same price! The important thing to look for is good ratings online. I think a big plus side of buying your machine from Costco is that you can try it out and return it if you don’t like it. Check out Amazon’s list of top rated sewing machines (this includes some really high-end machines fyi) and their top 100 best sellers. You should also check out sewing machines  at local dealers (those little local sewing shops) who have machines that you can try out. They will likely also offer sewing classes to help you get started, and if you purchase from them, might include offers to service your machine when needed.
  3. So I bought a machine, what else do I need? Sewing machine accessories (this list is not all-inclusive, but is a good start)….
  • 2-4 bobbins
  • set of sewing machine needles (depending on what you want to sew, i.e. denim, leather, cotton, will determine what kind of needles you need, however there are also ‘all purpose’ needles. It’s best to consult someone at the store to assist with this)
  • a seam ripper
  • all-purpose machine oil
  • pins and cushion
  • flexible measuring tape
  • fabric scissors (Never use them to cut paper! It will dull them)
  • brush (for the ‘thread dust’ – you’ll see!)

See picture below for materials (except as per usual, I forgot to include something… the sewing needles! Dang it)


Chrystal, I hope this was helpful! I’m not a sewing goddess or expert by any means, but going from knowing nothing about sewing a few years ago, to now, this is what I’ve learned along the way. Please let me know if any of you have corrections/suggestions to this advice for beginners. And I’d love to hear about all your sewing projects ( like Jessie’s)… hope your weekend is sew amazing. haa.


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  1. oh my goodness I feel so honored you linked my project here. thank you :) I think everything you said was really good. I would definitely recommend going to a store and trying a bunch of different brands of machines. My machine was bought from an authorized dealer and the perks of that are you can always take your machine there if there is a problem, and you can schedule free lessons if you need it. I think for the most part, the saleswomen are genuinely trying to help you find the best machine for you. They really know their stuff. I signed up for a free lesson, a basic intro to my machine and it was very very helpful.

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