What to Expect When Buying A New Sewing Machine

Whether you’re new to sewing and excited to buy your very first machine, or you’re finally saying goodbye to your well-used and well-loved vintage machine, there are some things you want to know about buying a new sewing machine. Let’s talk briefly about what you should look for when selecting your machine, and what you will see when you open up the box.

sewing machine accessories

Presser Feet
The presser foot is the little metal piece that attaches around the needle mechanism. The presser foot’s job is to hold the fabric still and flat as it passes under the needle. The most common presser foot is the Universal or Zigzag Foot. This is the foot used for basic, everyday stitching as well as zigzag stitches, and even a few embroidery stitches. It’s a great, useful foot.


Another is the Zipper Foot. As the name implies, the zipper foot makes adding zippers to your projects easy and painless. The Buttonhole Foot makes beautiful, uniform buttonholes. It’s nice to have a Blind Hem Foot, as this foot enables you to put in nearly-invisible and very professional-looking hem. One that has saved the day on a tricky project for me is the Overlock Foot. This nifty little guy will neaten up the seam edges when you’re working with knit or woven fabrics.


Look for a machine that has all five and you’ll be ready for just about anything. You can also find specialty feet for that special project you’ve got in mind: jeans, patchwork, faux-leather- all of these can be easy with the right presser foot.


Your new machine should also come with one or two bobbins. This is the clear plastic doodad that the thread beneath the machine feeds from. It’s nice to have extras, as these guys are notorious for rolling under sofas and behind dressers. New machines rarely come with enough bobbins for my taste, but you can purchase extras in packs of ten for about a dollar.


Like presser feet, there are many different kinds of needles. The main three that I would expect to come standard with every machine are the Universal, the Jersey, and the Stretch. Their names are pretty self-explanatory. There is a plethora of specialty needles that can be used for everything from leather to embroidery to quilting. Most standard machines will omit these, but a high-end machine should come well-equipped for any project you decide to take on.


Foot Controller and Power Cord
The foot controller is a simple device that allows you to control the speed of the machine with your foot, so your hands are free to guide the fabric. It’s pretty straightforward, but one thing I would advise is to make sure the cord is long enough. When you’ve got an outlet on one side of your sewing table and your coordinated foot on the other side of the machine, having the cord long enough is a must for comfort.


Every sewing machine has the same basic set-up, but the configuration is always slightly different. When getting acquainted with the machine and when troubleshooting, the manual is your friend.


Sewing machines have teeny tiny parts, so most every new machine will come with a set of teeny tiny tools to go with it. These are very handy, so double-check for these before you select your machine.


Carrying Case/Cover
A lot of machines will come with a carrying case or a cover. These are not necessary, but if you’ll be sewing with friends the carrying case is very helpful, and if you go a few months between projects the cover sure does help with dust.


These are the basics, and they’ll do just fine. There are, however, some luxury features that can make the work quicker and easier. You can find working space extensions for large projects, LED touch-screens that illuminate 3-D illustrations of your embroidery designs, accessories that provide better lighting, thread snips that automatically sever the thread for you, built-in needle threaders and more. Some embroidery machines are so advanced they do the work for you! But for me personally- where’s the fun in that? I wish you and your new machine many happy projects!
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