Sewing Machines - Picking the Right Brand for You

One of the questions I get most often is about picking a sewing machine. Which brand, which features and where to buy it.  With that in mind I thought I would start a series devoted to these sorts of questions!  If you have one to add please feel free to leave it in the comments or drop me a note at

Today- the first part of the sewing machine equation - Which Brand. There are  quite a few sewing machine brands currently on the market each with their own following of brand loyal customers.  There can be some very good reasons to be brand loyal especially if you have amassed a significant selection of accessories that will only go with your certain brand.  An example of this would be if you were a loyal Bernina customer and had a wide selection of specialty feet it might be very worth it to stay with Bernina in order to be able to keep those feet and get use of them.  

If you were not happy with your previous machine or this is your maiden voyage in to purchasing a new machine it can be a pretty baffling choice given all the machines out there. While I am not the be all end all when it comes to knowing each machine here are the hints I  can pass onto you from my experience in working with lots of students with lots of different types of machine. ( I personally own Brother and Bernina machines, plus a very old Singer)

First off- buy for support and buy at a dealer. At a dealer most often you are going to get classes with your machine and support when something goes wrong. This will not happen if you buy your machine at Wal-mart or late night QVC tv. Dealers usually have a wide range of prices and models so don't think you can't shop there for a machine but be ready with at least $300 to spend. Please also note that most brand lines has mass-market machines that go to places like Wal-mart and another line that is sold only to dealers. These are made differently as a rule and are of better and "repairable" quality where as the machines from the big box stores are not made with eventual repair in mind. 

Certain brands for certain projects and certain brands to avoid.  Of course most any machine can sew but over time some of the brands that we have come to associated with sewing have slipped drastically in quality and are  not the machines they once were. Sadly Singer is one of these companies who has not kept pace with the overall sewing machine industry and at this point I cannot recommend them as a company. I know it's the machine that your mama had and probably your grandma too but at this point the machines they make are not made for the long haul or quality sewing.  ( That said, some of their old mechanical that  you can find on the used market still sew like butter!.. )

If you want to quilt and enjoy fine precision sewing then Bernina is the machine you want.

If you want to enjoy easy to learn hassle free embroidery  and  creative general  sewing then the upper end Brother/ Baby lock Machines will make you a happy camper. ( As a rule Brother machines are not so great at doing free motion quilting- so if that is your emerging passion pass on this brand)

I know a lot of people who love their Janome's for all around sewing, and Leah day rocks the Top of the line Horizon for her beautiful quilitng.

And Viking has a strong following  as well but I will say that I do not like their embroidery software if  you happen to heading in that direction.

There is a right machine out there for each person,  sort of like Cinderella and the glass slipper. Taking the time to find the right fit pays off in the end.

Next time- Features to look for in a machine you can love to a long time. 
and after that - How to Really Test Drive a Machine- tricks they don't want you to know!


Jodi @ SewFearless said...

Buying from a good dealer is a MUST.

Excellent advice all around.

Erika Mulvenna said...

Great article! Speaking of great all-around seiwng machines, did you see the brand new 3 Series from BERNINA?

Kelly said...

Thanks so much for this. Will be getting a new machine in the next few months and this really helps. Can't wait for the next installment!!

Chelley said...

I'm a Janome lover! I have a lower end Janome that I bought "as is" on Ebay. Not the best thing to do, but I got lucky and it has worked out fine. I already knew how to sew and was just learning to quilt.

My most recent Janome (I have 3) was the Jem Platinum 760. It's so great to take to guild meetings and classes and I love love love it! I'd love to have a top of the line model one of these days!