The anticipation of opening Sewing and Fitting Mentor's studio classroom led to sewing machines everywhere in my house! I acquired vintage Singer, Sears Kenmore, Montgomery Wards, and White standard sewing machines.
These vintage sewing machines are true workhorses due to their metal body and interior parts which will withstand the rigors of my new and future students. (And are what I recommend to my students and parents).
I know this from personal experience years of using my mom’s Kenmore sewing machines and the abuse I put it through as a young inexperienced seamstress. One of which I that I still own and use to this day!
When you first begin your journey into sewing and need to purchase a first sewing machine; it’s not important how new, fancy, or how many different kinds of stitches the machine has to offer. The most important factors are simplicity and durability
In clothing manufacturing, the industrial sewing machines only use sew a straight stitch with a back-stitch lever and nothing else. Thus, as long as the sewing machine can sew a straight stitch & zig-zag with adjustable length and width dials you will be good to go.
Should you choose to purchase your first machine used from a private seller and they are unable to give you how frequently the machine has been used and/or the maintenance history on the machine in question, test whether the handwheel and needle both move freely (without plugging it in).
If it passes, after purchasing bring it to a reputable sewing machine service person in your area before beginning your first sewing project.
Also, make a point of inquiring whether or not the seller has the owner’s manual available as well. The owner’s manual is your best resource in understanding the features, accessories, and how to use them along with and problem-solving guide for that particular machine.
Should you choose to purchase a brand new machine bring a few benefits that you don’t get from buying a used sewing machine. First, I highly recommend purchasing from a local sewing machine dealer as this has several advantages. New sewing machines come with a limited warranty. However, by purchasing through a local dealer, they can handle any warranty work needed for their brand of machine that you won’t get by purchasing one online. They can also handle any routine service work you may need as well.
They often offer classes for your choice of the sewing machine at a reduced rate or provided with purchase through them. This gives the new sewist opportunity to learn how to properly use their new sewing machine, all its features, accessories, and how to properly care for it.
Along with the standard sewing machines, I have also purchased overlock (aka serger) sewing machines. The serger sewing machine is designed to use from 2-5 cones of thread to sew, cut, and overcast the edges of the seam allowance. It is most specifically used for sewing knits and quick seam finishes.
I will write more about them and what to look for in a future post.