Picking A Sewing Machine

 Ok.. We have talked about  Sewing machine BRANDS here, and FEATURES here, and how to shop for a machine here.. so I am going to lay it on the line and tell you the machines I would pick. I am also going to talk about my own machines.  Picking a sewing machine can be hard!

I don't expect everyone or even anyone to agree with me so take my list for what it's worth.. this is what I would tell you if you asked me what machine you should buy with the understanding that you are pretty new to the world of sewing or have at least limited experience.  

I am going to break this list into three price points with the understanding that I really don't think that a machine for less than $200 is going to serve you well in the long run and I highly (really, I beg you!) to save up a bit more.. you will thank me.  Also remember that a top of the line used machine can sometimes be had to a song!.. so don't over look what can really be the deal of a lifetime!

In the under $300 range pickings are pretty slim when it comes to machines with a soild reputation and  machines to back that up. There are lots of machines, just not a lot that are worth getting.

My picks in the tight budget range are both by Brother and part of the Project Runway Collection.

The first is 

Brother PC-210 PRW Limited Edition Project Runway Sewing Machine 

at about $300 it gives you a lot of bang for the buck including needle stop control and 50 built in stitches.

But for just a bit more money ( $450 ish dollars) you can upgrade to a knee lift, thread trimming and many other features that you usually see on more expensive machine. 

Brother PC-420 PRW Limited Edition Project Runway Sewing Machine.


Both of these machines can be found online and comparable models can be found at local dealers ( which I recommend from the warranty standpoint)

Got more cash to spend or ready to move on from your beginner machine?

In this category I am really in love with the Bernina 3 Series Machines.

There are three machines in the 3Series, the 330, the 350( also called the Patchwork edition) and the 380 which is the top of the line for the part of the Bernina Series. Led lighting, speed control and  1 step buttonholes are standard on these machines and making sewing through even the thickest fabrics a real joy.  This series of machines is only sold by dealers so price is a bit harder to come by with each dealer putting together their own deals but for the most part you are talking about in the $700 to $1200 price range with different promtions going on at different times making for better deals at some times.

These are the machine I will be using for my students in my studio.


 When the sky is the limit there are some AMAZING machines out there that will knock your socks off and I am tickled pink that I have the privilege of owning some of these machines. 

The Aurora 400 series is a fantastic machine series with a life time of features and that is why I use it as my primary back up machine and the one I take to classes and conferences with me. While not cheap with a price tag of over 2 thousand dollars this is a machine you could sew on it forever and pass it on with many years of good life left in it.. it's that good.  Each time I get to use this machine I remember why I love it!  This series of machines has so many features but one of the most important to many is the fact that you can adjust the presser foot pressure on this machine making it incredibly versatile with even the most troublesome fabrics.

Switching brands for a moment  we have the Janome Horizon which personally I don't have ANY experience with but I have three trusted friends with it who are in love with this machine so wanted to  offer that up as well. This looks to be a wonderful top of the line machine with all the features that a quilter would dream of and  a price tag that is quite reasonable  at about $3000 MSRP  EDIT: Please give this machine a total test drive, some have told me that the 1/4 inch foot for picky quilters is not true enough for them and the feed is wonky.. I don't know but did want to put this out there!


If you are dreaming about upgrading to a really big machine with the ability to also do embroidery then I suggest the Brother Quattro 2

 This machine while big is easy to use and makes embroidery easy to learn. Both sewing and embroidery are possible on this TOL Brother machine as well as onscreen editing and custom stitch creation. The only thing I would not use this machine for is free motion quilting. While I believe that Brother makes the easiest to use/learn embroidery machine and good solid sewing machines I still contend that free motion is not their strong suit. With the size comes a price that only the most devoted of stitchers are going to want to consider, but at in the high $7 thousand dollar range this machine will give you years of stitching happiness.


I get a lot of questions about what I sew on, and the answer is.. " anything I can get my hands on!".. since I see each machine for it's strengths and it's weaknesses  and really enjoy getting to know each machine I get a chance to use. .. In my personal studio I have a couple of machines, some devoted to embroidery others for such esoteric uses and blindstitching.. and longarm quilting. 

 But the crown jewel of my sewingroom is my Bernina 830

This machine is for the most devoted of sewing enthusiasts  who loves it all, from heirloom stitching to quilting to embroidery which pretty much sums up my love for sewing. With an endless list of features this machine can do it all but is not for the faint of heart. This is a computer that sews and it can be very finicky about how it wants to be treated. This is the machine equivalent of being someone who collects cars and with a price of about $ 12 thousand dollars this machine is a lifetime investment and the sort of gift one gives to themselves with hopes of sewing for the rest of their lifetime on it! 

So there you go.. from $300 to $12,000.. some where in there is the machine that is right for you, now it's your turn to go find it!

If you have questions  or suggestions to add to my list please send them my way and I will add them to this post!

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Thank you so much for the time you put into this series, which I found EXTREMELY helpful. After going through 2 of the under $300, I'm moving on and up. LOLOL. Now I have a few more to try-out.
oshnpashn at gmail dot com.