The best sewing machine | Wirecutter's review

2021-12-16 08:20:57 By : Ms. Jenny Du

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Although our current options are still unavailable, our remaining options are in stock.

Although our current options are still unavailable, our remaining options are in stock.

We are also considering testing other models later this year.

If you have ever hooked a shirt or tore a nasty hole on your favorite pair of pants, then you will have witnessed the power of a great sewing machine. Making new things or repairing damaged clothes is why a well-made sewing machine is so useful. After more than 30 hours of research-including interviews with sewing teachers, sewing bloggers and sewing machine repairers-and recruiting all beginners to test 15 top entry-level machines, we recommend Janome MOD-19.

In view of widespread inventory problems, we recommend checking retailers several times a week. You can also check refurbished and used machines. If you are looking for something similar to Janome MOD-19, we recommend that you use Elna Elnita EM16, also manufactured by Janome.

This quiet, economical sewing machine can sew a variety of fabrics evenly, with sufficient speed changes and professional functions suitable for beginners or casual sewers.

*At the time of publication, the price was $157.

Janome MOD-19 can handle a variety of fabrics, the dial is easy to read and use, and has enough professional features (such as adjustable needle position, stretch stitches for knitted fabrics, and four-step buttonholes) that may be happy to sew on it for many years. Although Janome has some frills decals that make it look outdated, the mechanical structure of this machine is excellent, which is really important. You can spend more on "beginner" machines with more bells and whistles, but we don't think you need to do this.

The quality of Singer is not as high as Janome picks, but it is a simple machine that can handle all kinds of fabrics well, and is usually cheaper than Janome MOD-19.

*At the time of publication, the price was $161.

If you just dip your toes into the entire sewing process—for example, you want to hem jeans or make some curtains—or if you just have a limited budget, we also like Singer Heavy Duty 4423, which you can usually get for less than $150 goods. The stitch quality of the heavy 4423 is not as good as that of the MOD-19, but it sews uniformly and the dial is easy to read. Our testers (with many years of experience) have said that this will be a great machine for learning. We also found that the heavy-duty 4423 handles stretch knitted fabric slightly better than MOD-19.

This sturdy metal body machine is better at sewing heavier fabric layers such as denim. However, for novices, it can be a bit tricky to use.

May be out of stock

May be out of stock

May be out of stock

*At the time of publication, the price was $310.

Janome HD1000 sews as evenly as MOD-19, but it feels more like an industrial machine, making it easier to sew multiple layers of heavier fabrics, such as denim. The HD1000 also has an old-fashioned metal body, which may be preferred by people who are used to old-fashioned sewing machines. However, threading this machine is a bit tricky and it is easier to jam needles. These two problems may be particularly difficult to correct for a complete novice, but if you are familiar with sewing machines, you should be able to handle the HD1000 well.

This quiet, economical sewing machine can sew a variety of fabrics evenly, with sufficient speed changes and professional functions suitable for beginners or casual sewers.

*At the time of publication, the price was $157.

The quality of Singer is not as high as Janome picks, but it is a simple machine that can handle all kinds of fabrics well, and is usually cheaper than Janome MOD-19.

*At the time of publication, the price was $161.

This sturdy metal body machine is better at sewing heavier fabric layers such as denim. However, for novices, it can be a bit tricky to use.

May be out of stock

May be out of stock

May be out of stock

*At the time of publication, the price was $310.

In order to understand exactly what beginners need for sewing machines, we turned to four well-respected sewing experts and teachers: Susan Khalje, a tailor-made sewing teacher; Linda Lee, the owner of The Sewing Workshop; Katrina Walker, designer and teacher; and popular Sarai Mitnick, owner and designer of independent pattern company Colette Patterns. The first three experts are also contributors to Threads magazine, which is almost a bible for home sewing (at least for clothing). In an interview, Harvey Federman, a sewing machine repairer and owner of Sew Right, introduced us to the difference between mechanical and computerized machines.

Christine Cyr Clisset, the original author of this guide and Wirecutter's associate editor, is an experienced sewer who has been sewing clothes on and off for herself for the past 20 years. She wrote tutorials for the popular home sewing and pattern website BurdaStyle, helped edit several craft books, and hosted a sewing and textile podcast called Thread Cult.

The writer Alex Arpaia is primarily a sewing worker, but in the past 10 years or so, she has done sewing projects (and mistakes) since she was a child. Most of her sewing skills are self-taught, which is an ideal background for learning so many new sewing machines, because it is easy for her to see which functions are intuitive or confusing. For example, while researching this guide, Alex learned that she has been rewinding the spool by mistake since she started using the sewing machine.

The machines we introduce in this guide are suitable for the most complete needs of beginners and intermediate sewing masters. Whether you plan to make simple household items (such as curtains or pillows), piece together quilts, or sew clothes, our choice should get you started. If you plan to make only occasional projects, or if you want to upgrade from an inherited crappy old machine, this guide provides you with a good choice.

If you have never touched a sewing machine before, we recommend that you try it at a dealer and buy one from there. Although the sewing machine is relatively simple to operate, the mechanical structure of even a basic manual machine is a bit scary for novices. A good dealer will be able to teach you the basics, such as winding spools, changing needles, threading the machine and adjusting stitches, which may save you hours of frustration when trying to learn on your own. In addition, dealers usually provide free sewing courses. You can read more about distributors below.

If you already have some sewing experience, if you know exactly what kind of project you want to do, or if you already own a cheap sewing machine, you may want to skip to our recommendations for buying a mid-level sewing machine.

Maybe you own an old sewing machine, maybe you inherited it from your parents or grandparents, or you got it from a local thrift store. Is it worth the effort to adjust it?

The original author of this guide, Christine Cyr Clisset, discussed in detail the purchase and maintenance of sewing machines with Harvey Federman, a sewing machine repairer, in this podcast. He said that if the old machine is not good at first, you might better buy a new one. Federman is a distributor of Bernina, Baby Lock and Husqvarna Viking, and he has also been a Singer mechanic for many years. He pointed out that the quality of many sewing machines declined after World War II. "Most people who came in got an old machine. It's an all-metal machine. It's really a lot of rubbish," he said.

But if this machine was considered high-quality at the time, it might still be worth using. For example, the Singer Featherweight machine is coveted by many sewing masters. "If it's black and it's old, it's definitely worth sewing," Federman said. We also talked with people who like to work on old Kenmores, Berninas and other big brand machines. There is no harm in taking your machine to a local dealer for evaluation.

Many people believe that the quality of a new machine with plastic parts is lower than an old or new machine made of all metal. But this is not always the case.

Even if your old machine works, you may still want to upgrade because the new machine has more stitch options and is easier to use. A basic new machine will allow you to make zigzag and stretch stitches, can make automatic buttonholes, may have a top-loading bobbin (easier to load and reduce needle jams), and may have other features that make sewing easier.

Many people believe that the quality of a new machine with plastic parts is lower than an old or new machine made of all metal. But this is not always the case. As Harvey Federman told us: "I think the design of the machine and how the parts work together is more important than metal or plastic. However, if you look at a machine that looks cheap and malleable, that's probably it." On the other hand, Federman said, many metal machines may not sew well or feel cheap. "As far as quality is concerned, an all-metal frame or body does not guarantee anything."

If you are upgrading or restarting sewing after years of interruption, you should consider using a machine that is similar to or better than the one you are learning. We read the reviews of many users who learned on the high-quality machines of their parents or grandparents, but were disappointed when they bought a really low-end new machine. What you learn is usually the criteria by which you judge other machines.

We set out to find a good multifunctional machine for making home decoration projects, clothing and basic quilts. This is not as simple as it sounds. Every major sewing machine company sells dozens of models, many of which seem to have similar functions. Given the wide range of prices for sewing machines sold for "beginners", ranging from $65 to $1,500, finding a good general-purpose machine is especially difficult for us. Having said that, based on our research and personal experience, we have determined that you can get a solid machine with a good warranty and the most basic functions for only US$300 at most.

Sewing machines are either manual or computerized, but the price is lower, and the manual mode is usually more reliable and higher quality. (We have detailed descriptions in the manual and computer sewing machines below.) Regardless of the type, the following are the functions we look for in beginner machines.

Sewing machines are either manual or computerized, but the price is lower, and the manual mode is usually more reliable and higher quality.

Easy to use: Controls should be simple and intuitive to use. "You should not change the size of your stitches through a lot of work," said sewing teacher Susan Khalje. Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns told us, “It should be easy to set up the sewing (such as spools and needles).”

Smooth stitching: The machine should produce uniform stitches and seams that do not drift. It should pull the fabric at a good speed, and it should sew a series of fabrics smoothly.

Various presser feet: "The correct professional presser foot makes it easier to learn new techniques," Mitnick said. Some of the most useful feet include clear plastic feet, edge stitched feet, buttonhole feet, zipper feet, invisible zipper feet, and blind stitch feet for making blind stitches. Some machines can only use presser feet of the same specific brand, while other machines use universal presser feet. If the machine uses universal feet, this is a bonus, because extra feet (such as walking feet) can be expensive.

Automatic buttonholes: buttonholes are difficult to sew beautifully, so this is where technology can really help. Some machines have four-step buttonholes (that is, four-step sewing). Others make one-step buttonholes (one-step sewing).

Good light: Older models are usually equipped with halogen lights, while newer models are usually equipped with LED lights. Either way, the light should be bright enough to illuminate your sewing surface.

Built-in threader: We are looking for a mechanism that can thread your thread so that you don’t have to stare at it. This feature is especially suitable for people with poor eyesight.

Adjustable needle function: This allows you to move the needle off the center to the left or right during straight stitching, which is very suitable for edge stitching.

Up/Down Needle Function: With this function, you can choose whether the sewing needle will rise or stay embedded in the fabric when you remove the pressure from the control. (Some machines have a button that automatically raises or lowers the needle.) It will come in handy if you want the needle to stay down so that you can turn the fabric while sewing in the corner. Most of the basic machines we discuss here do not have this feature.

Adjustable presser foot pressure: This machine allows you to adjust the presser foot pressure, making it easier to sew various fabrics.

Adjustable feed dog height: The feed dog is a small metal tooth located under the needle to help pull the fabric across the sewing surface. If you can adjust the height of the feed dog, you can sew various fabrics more easily (for more information about the function of the feed dog, please refer to the working principle of the sewing machine).

We found that most machines priced at $300 or less have similar warranty periods: one year for labor and two to five years for electronic products. Although all these machines have a so-called 25-year limited warranty, they are usually not that useful. "As for the 25-year warranty, that will never work," Harvey Federman told us. “That’s on the head, essentially the frame. If you don’t put it down, it won’t break. The $99 machine can be used for 25 years. The parts warranty is for “defective parts.” Therefore, if it is natural wear or Anything that may be damaged by the needle will not be covered."

If you eventually need to use warranty service, Federman tells us: "Labor accounts for most of the repair costs, and labor is usually only as good as buying from a dealer. In low-priced machines, this may mean after the first year It may not be worth repairing. The parts in cheap machines are usually very cheap, so they are usually not a major part of the repair cost. It may cost 80 to 90 US dollars in labor and 4 US dollars in parts costs."

Because we only found a good comparison review of sewing machines (from Good Housekeeping), we took a closer look at the top rated machines on Amazon, Joann, and Michaels, and relied heavily on the suggestions of sewing machine manufacturers and sewing bloggers to point us out The best machine in our price range.

For the original version of this guide, we tested 11 sewing machines. For the 2017 update, we considered more than 30 machines, but reduced our test group to 7 (including our original choice, Janome HD1000 and Singer Heavy Duty 4411). In addition to the five mechanical machines, we also introduced two computer sewing machines that are particularly popular on Amazon, well-reviewed and well-reviewed, to understand how they perform compared to our preferred mechanical machines. Although we mainly chose machines in the range of US$200 to US$300, we also provide some cheaper options to evaluate what you can get at these prices.

In the first iteration of this review, Ginger Makes sewing blogger Sonja Beck Gingerich and Oonaballoona's Marcy Harriell came to our test space to provide expert guidance for the test. Recently, we recruited novice sewing volunteers from Wirecutter, and also obtained expert test opinions from associate editor Christine Cyr Cliset and full-time writer Jackie Reeve.

For each machine, we tested basic stitches on medium-weight muslin, elastic and zigzag stitches on plain weave, and sew three layers of denim (see how the machine handles heavy fabrics how). We also sew a layer of quilted batting sandwiched between layers of fine cloth to test how the machine accomplishes basic quilting tasks. We did not use specific indicators to analyze the stitch quality, but subjectively judge the stitches based on our past sewing experience.

In order to avoid brand bias, we covered all the logos on the machine so that our testers would not be swayed by their own biases. We also did not let them read the user manual. We want to see if our testers can easily sit in front of the machine and start sewing without fussing.

After preliminary testing, we measured the noise output of each machine using the NoiSee application. Then we took the first three machines home to conduct further stitch quality tests on tricky fabrics such as denim and knitting. Similarly, we judge the stitch quality based on past sewing experience.

This quiet, economical sewing machine can sew a variety of fabrics evenly, with sufficient speed changes and professional functions suitable for beginners or casual sewers.

*At the time of publication, the price was $157.

Among the 15 machines we tested for this guide, Janome MOD-19 provides one of the best combinations of function and value for the junior seamstress. The MOD-19 control device is easier to read and use than the other models we have tried. Although the stitching of other machines is equally smooth, the MOD-19 runs quieter and has greater speed changes. We also like its bobbin loaded on the top, which can reduce needle jams. In addition, it is one of the few economical machines we have found, including an adjustable needle function and an automatic threader, and it can make excellent four-step buttonholes.

We like how easy it is to read the control knobs on the MOD-19. Some of the other machines we tested, such as the Janome HD1000, did not have a separate stitch width dial, and the combination dial tripped some of our expert testers. We also like all the dials of this machine. This is different from the Singer model we tested. You can use the dial on the top of the machine to control adjustable functions, such as tension, needle position and stitch width. Their positions are a little harder to read.

All the machines we tested can sew even stitches, but the sewing of MOD-19 is smoother than other machines we tested. We found that the feed dog pulls the fabric under the needle at the correct speed, so we don't have to make a fuss about pulling the fabric (taboo), even on heavy denim or quilted layers. Although MOD-19 performs well on muslin and denim and quilting projects, it does not handle stretch knitted fabrics as well as our budget choice Singer Heavy Duty 4423.

Although MOD-19 does not have a dial to control the splicing speed, you can control the speed with a foot pedal. All Janome machines we tested have this feature, and we like to have some control over increasing and decreasing machine speed. Compared with the Singer heavy machine, the difference is particularly obvious, the latter seems to have only two speeds-slow and super fast.

We like that the MOD-19 has a plug-in (also called top loading) spool that is visible directly under the needle. Older models, such as the Janome HD1000, have a front-mounted spool mounted under the free arm. These can be a bit difficult to load and can cause stuck pins.

MOD-19 is also one of the few affordable machines that we have tested. It has an adjustable needle position so you can move the needle from the center to the far left. This function can be used for edge stitching, which is one of the features that intermediate sewing masters particularly like.

This machine (and all the machines we tested in the last round) is equipped with an automatic threader, which is something that our previous first choice did not have. The automatic threader allows you to easily thread the thread through the needle without feeling anxious, but it still takes a little time to get used to it. We recommend that you read the manual to understand how it works or view this Janome video.

In our tests, the four-step buttonhole function of MOD-19 was easy to use and produced some of the cleanest-looking buttonholes. However, making the perfect size buttonhole with MOD-19 is a bit tricky, because buttonhole feet don't have size gauges (the same goes for our Singh runner-up feet). You just need to be more careful when marking the length of the buttonhole on the fabric. The top Bernina machines we tested for the first iteration of this review all have a single-step buttonhole function, and we found it easier to use.

The sewing surface of MOD-19 is medium in size, 6 x 9 inches, but there is no surface ruler. If you are interested in quilting, MOD-19 is the most suitable for stitching because of its fast and smooth stitching speed, but we think it is not suitable for quilting things as big as blankets. For this, we recommend that you go to a local quilting shop and rent a long arm; or, if you are a more advanced sewer, please read our section on the best intermediate machines, where we mentioned the selection of quilting machines.

This machine comes with a standard warranty: one-year labor warranty, five-year electronic warranty, and 25 years of "defective materials and/or workmanship" (mainly frame). As Harvey Federman tells us, you may never use the 25-year warranty, because unless you drop it, there will be almost no problems with the frame, which will invalidate the warranty anyway. We do not refer to Amazon reviews when choosing, because these reviews are easily manipulated, but during our research, MOD-19 received 3.9 stars out of 42 Amazon reviews (out of 5 stars).

MOD-19 is much smaller in actual size and working surface than our previous first choice, Janome Magnolia 7318. We found that this makes the machine more portable and easier to store, but it also makes quilting and other large projects more difficult to complete. Of all the machines we tested for the latest update of this guide, MOD-19 has the smallest work surface.

This machine also has some plastic features—especially the needle plate, presser foot stand and bobbin winder spindle—the features on the Magnolia 7318 are made of metal. Although Harvey Federman tells us that plastic does not necessarily mean a sacrifice in quality, we think that the function of plastic feels cheaper. However, you do not need to refill the spool on the MOD-19 by deactivating the needle through the handwheel, it is an upgraded version of Magnolia.

MOD-19 is only equipped with four presser feet (normal presser foot, zipper presser foot, blind hem and sliding buttonhole). We think it's worth buying crimped feet to make narrow edges. MOD-19 does use universal feet.

This model does not have the needle up/down function we want. Nevertheless, all the excellent qualities of MOD-19 exceed the lack of these features.

The quality of Singer is not as high as Janome picks, but it is a simple machine that can handle all kinds of fabrics well, and is usually cheaper than Janome MOD-19.

*At the time of publication, the price was $161.

If you are looking for a cheap and compact machine, we recommend the 23-pin Singer Heavy Duty 4423. Our main options and upgrade options are better machines, but in terms of money, the heavy 4423 surprises us.

Singer is sewn evenly and the dial is easy to read. We think that beginners can sit on this machine and start sewing without spending a lot of time reading manuals. We previously recommended Singer Heavy Duty 4411, but 4423 has 12 more stitches, providing all the functions of 4411 and elastic stitches for sewing knitted fabrics. It also has additional decorative stitching.

We like the buttonhole made by 4423. This Singer machine is equipped with a single-step buttonhole foot, which allows you to insert the button into the slot and guide the machine to make a suitable size hole in the button. The one-step function is easier to use than the four-step function of Janome MOD-19, which makes us often review the manual. In our tests, Singer's buttonholes are much wider than Janome, and they don't look so elegant. That being said, after sewing for many years and seldom making buttonholes ourselves, we would not consider the quality or complexity of buttonholes as an important factor in choosing a beginner's machine.

Like our favorite Janome model, you can control the sewing speed of the Singer 4423 through the foot pedal. Although you can use the Janome machine to achieve all-round speed, Singer seems only slow and fast. Singer advertises a faster speed of 1,100 stitches per minute; this may be very suitable for quilting, but it is too fast for most garment constructions. In addition, this machine is extremely noisy-it is the loudest sewing machine we have tested. The noise is about 84 decibels, which is about 7 decibels higher than the MOD-19 and roughly as loud as a garbage disposal machine.

We don't like the white LED light of the Singer 4423, it seems to be darker than the yellow halogen light on the Janome model. It looks particularly dim during the day. We also hate the user manual, which has multiple languages ​​on the same page or spreads, making it difficult for us to find information; the manual also lacks the key to different stitches and why we should use them (features that the Janome manual has).

Despite the Singer name on this machine, we think that if you plan to sew a lot of heavy fabrics, Janome HD1000 will be a better choice. However, in general, we recommend this model to anyone who wants a cheap machine.

This sturdy metal body machine is better at sewing heavier fabric layers such as denim. However, for novices, it can be a bit tricky to use.

May be out of stock

May be out of stock

May be out of stock

*At the time of publication, the price was $310.

We think that Janome MOD-19 provides the best combination of functions for most beginners, but Janome HD1000 is also very good, especially for those who like metal machines or want to sew heavy fabrics. All our testers choose HD1000 as one of their top choices.

The MOD-19 uses a plastic body, while the HD1000 is made of sturdy aluminum. This does not necessarily mean that the HD1000's housing is better than the MOD-19, but the machine does feel more sturdy. (In fact, we read an Iraqi soldier's comment on Janome's plastic machine. He wanted an aluminum "machine made like a tank" to repair his military uniform.) HD1000 is sewn the same as MOD-19 It's smooth (although the sound is a few decibels louder), the manual control is simple, and we are also easy to read. We like that the HD1000 is equipped with a sturdy plastic case for easy storage and travel.

HD1000 does lack several advantages of MOD-19. First, it does not have an adjustable needle position for straight stitching, so it is not so versatile in edge stitching. Second, the dial is not as easy to read or adjust as MOD-19.

The sewing surface of HD1000 is about half an inch longer than the sewing surface of MOD-19, but we did not notice any significant benefits of this extra length. The HD1000 we received comes with a buttonhole presser foot, a zipper presser foot, a curling presser foot and a hemming guide. (The feet included with the machine may vary from retailer to retailer.)

A bigger criticism of the HD1000 is that it has a front bobbin. This design may cause the sewing needle to jam because the thread may get stuck on the oscillator, basically locking the sewing needle in the down position. Christine Cyr Clisset, associate editor and original author of this guide, encountered this problem on her own HD1000, and we also read several Amazon reviews complaining about this problem. Normally, you can easily solve the problem by raising the needle, but Christine can also solve the problem by cutting the thread around the oscillator or occasionally removing the bobbin case. Nevertheless, this problem is unlikely to occur on the top-loaded bobbin, both MOD-19 and our runner-up bobbin.

We think the Janome HD1000 is a good machine for people who plan to sew a lot of heavy fabrics (such as canvas, denim or even leather). We sew through six layers of denim with ease on this machine, and we read reviews from Amazon customers about the HD1000 sewing well on leather and other heavy fabrics. We did not find any editorial comments about the Janome HD1000, but it does have a long and positive record-after all, Janome has been manufacturing this machine for more than two decades.

Initially we encountered some minor problems in the test, but after we read the manual, it was easy to thread the machine correctly, and we did not encounter any additional difficulties.

If you have the basic knowledge of sewing-such as how to thread the machine, change the bobbin and needles, make simple pillows or clothes-you may want to invest in a mid-level sewing machine that can help you progress to more complex projects. Although you can spend thousands of dollars on a computer model, a budget of US$400 to US$900 will provide you with particularly convenient features, such as the machine telling you which stitch and presser foot to use for a particular fabric.

For guidance on what to look for in a sewing machine at this price and the features offered by a particular brand, we talked to three sewing machine dealers: Harvey Federman in Sew Right, Bayside, Queens, New York; Torri Root, sales manager for Sewing Machines Plus; and Toby Moldave's Viking Sewing Gallery at Joann Fabrics in Colonia, New Jersey. We also refer to sewing machine reviews from and Erin Says Sew, as well as owner reviews from We found more tips on how to buy a sewing machine on the Cool Crafts and Colette blogs. After spending 12 hours researching specifications, reviews and suggestions and testing several models, we made some suggestions for mid-level machines.

If you plan to sew many types of items with many different materials, look for a general-purpose machine like Janome DC5100 or Husqvarna Viking Opal 650. These machines tend to be heavy-duty models that will not move when sewing thick quilts, but they are also delicate enough to sew silk and other thinner fabrics. They have a variety of standard and decorative stitches and needle up/down functions, and they can even automatically adjust the thread tension to make perfect stitches.

If you are most interested in quilting, please choose a machine with a larger sewing surface (preferably an extension table) in order to provide the greatest support for your project. Fast stitching is perfect for tasks such as free-motion quilting, and when you sew thick layers of fabric and batting, heavy machines will not move. We recommend Juki HZL-F300 because it can reach 900 stitches per minute. Usually you need to spend at least three times the money to buy a machine that sews so fast.

If you travel frequently or live in a small space, and do not work on large projects such as quilts, we think you'd better use a compact, three-quarter size machine (that is, its three-quarter size) standard machine ), such as Janome New Home 720. These machines are small enough to be easily put away, and they can handle most clothing and small home decoration projects well.

If you think you can use the sewing course, we recommend that you try to buy a machine from a dealer. Usually, the dealer will give lessons for the cost of the sewing machine, and the dealer can handle the maintenance and any troubleshooting you may need. The Pfaff 260c Smarter is our choice for dealer machines because it has a simple touchpad for stitch selection and presser foot safety functions, which are usually only available in more expensive machines. This is a good choice if you live near a Pfaff dealer that provides sewing courses and maintenance services. But buying from a dealer is not always the best or convenient (described below). If you think you can't actually take the sewing course, then you have to pay extra for the machine. Models sold online are more affordable, and you can take online courses from sources such as Bluprint (previously called Craftsy) or Creativebug.

The sewing machine is basically a small motor with a housing. The motor operates a shaft with needles, and the needles form stitches to sew the fabric together. On standard machines, a spool of thread is installed on the top of the machine, and the thread passes through the needle; a smaller spool (called a bobbin) is installed under the needle. Thread the needle through the fabric, grab the bobbin thread, and then pull it back into the fabric to form a stitch.

The sewing machine performs many different stitches. The most basic (and most convenient) is the straight stitch, which you can use for many sewing tasks, including making straight seams, basting and open seams. The zigzag stitch has greater elasticity and strength, and is very suitable for sewing elastic knitted fabrics or finishing the raw edges of seams. This is a good visual effect of straight stitches and zigzag stitches. New machines usually have elastic stitches, which are specially used for sewing knitted fabrics, as well as various decorative stitches. If you use a quilt or want an embroidered decoration, decorative stitching will come in handy.

Some other important terms to know:

If all these sewing terms start to look like Greek to you, there are some great online resources to learn all the basics.

If all these sewing terms start to look like Greek to you, there are some great online resources to learn all the basics. We especially like these high-quality tutorials on Creativebug (subscription required) provided by pattern designer Liesl Gibson. The Tilly and the Buttons blog has some good (free) tutorials for setting up the machine and making basic stitches.

Manual sewing machines have simple dials, buttons, and levers. This style has changed since Isaac Singer introduced mass-produced sewing machines in the 1850s. Old-fashioned manual machines are very reliable and easy to use. In this review, we will focus our testing on manual machines.

"Buying a computerized machine at a price of less than $300, you will sacrifice the quality of functionality. A mechanical machine in that price range may provide better quality and reliability." — Harvey Federman, Sewing Machine Repairer

The computer sewing machine is a more modern development. This style has an electronic interface through which you can control the stitches (type, length and width), and some can even sense the type of fabric you are sewing and adjust the stitch or thread tension accordingly. Some will also record the different stitch combinations you make for future use. Most people now buy computerized machines, and there are a variety of machines at every price point. In our discussion of intermediate sewing machines, we did make some suggestions for good computer machines, but their current prices are all over $500. If you have a lower budget, it may be more cost-effective to use a manual machine.

As Harvey Federman, a sewing machine repairer and owner of Sew Right, told us in an interview: "Buying a computer machine for less than $300, you will sacrifice quality for functionality. In that price range, Mechanical machines may provide better quality and reliability."

In our research, we found this to be true: when we compare manual and computer machines at the same price, we noticed that manual machines tend to get better long-term evaluations from the owner, ranging from reliability to stitch quality. aspect. This makes sense, because the funds will be used for actual mechanisms, not for additional (and non-essential) functions.

All the sewing experts we interviewed said that in the beginning, you really only need a reliable basic machine. Most sewing bloggers we interviewed have learned or are currently using basic manual machines to sew.

Like vacuum cleaners and bicycles, sewing machines are one of the categories where you can still get quality service from your local dealer. All the experts we interviewed said that it is best to buy from a dealer. At most dealers, you can try to sew on the machine they show. And once you buy it, if there is any problem with the machine or you can't figure out how to adjust the stitch tension, your dealer will usually provide help for free (within the first year of warranty). When you buy from them, dealers sometimes offer free courses. Some companies, such as Bernina, Baby Lock, Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff, only sell through distributors.

Like vacuum cleaners and bicycles, sewing machines are one of the categories where you can still get quality service from your local dealer.

In other words, you may find cheaper deals on entry-level machines through large retailers such as Amazon, Target, or Walmart. Of course, the flip side of the lowest price is that if you have questions about how to operate the machine, no one can ask for help.

If no one in your life knows how to sew and can teach you, we think it's worth buying from a dealer and getting a free course. Some suggestions from experts will save you a lot of time and frustration, and make you sew in a more enjoyable way. You can take the machine away when it needs to be repaired. In contrast, if you buy a machine online and there is no certified dealer near the machine, you may end up having to ship it far away for repairs, which can become expensive and annoying.

If there is no dealer near you, buying online may be a good choice. In the 15 years of owning the Janome HD1000, associate editor Christine Cyr Clisset has not used the warranty. If you have a decent machine from the start and someone can teach you the basics (or you are good at self-study), then you might well buy online.

Although most sewing machines work right out of the box, you do need to wind the spool and learn how to thread the machine, and the user manual should explain this. Today, you can also find a large number of wonderful online videos that can teach you about machines. (This is a good video tutorial for winding bobbins and threading machines similar to Janome MOD-19).

Most machines come with a small brush, and you should use it to clean the fluff from the bobbin case, around the feeding dog, and any other places you see fluff collecting. Keeping these areas clean will help the machine run smoothly. Do not use a can of compressed air as this will blow the lint back into the machine.

Some models, including Janome HD1000, require a little sewing machine oil every once in a while. The oil is usually provided with the machine, you should only use a little and follow the instructions in the manual. MOD-19 should be no problem, no regular oiling is required; ours does not have oil.

If you encounter tension or stitch quality problems, you can take some steps to troubleshoot. First, make sure that the sewing needle is inserted correctly; the flat part of the shaft should be facing the back (the round part is facing the front). Secondly, as Federman said, removing the bobbin and rethreading it can usually solve many problems. Finally, changing the needle is not a bad idea, because slight warping can cause stitch drift or other problems.

It is easy to adjust the upper thread tension on most machines, but if you find that the lower thread is tangled or gathered at the bottom of the stitch, the lower thread tension may not be tight enough. If you are tilting mechanically, you can increase the tension by tightening the screws on the bobbin case. We like this video of the operation of the top loading machine and this video of the front loading machine.

Our main choice used to be Janome Magnolia 7318. We had hoped to continue recommending Magnolia, but the representative of Janome told us that the company would stop using this model. After three years of long-term testing, our Magnolia performed very well. If you can find it, we still think this model is worth buying.

We once recommended Singer Heavy Duty 4411 as our budget sewing machine choice. At the same or sometimes lower cost, you can get Singer Heavy Duty 4423 (our current runner-up pick). We prefer 4423 because of its wider stitch range — 4411 has no stretch stitches — and the price is similar.

We tested the Brother CS6000i and it received a lot of reviews (positive reviews) on Amazon, but we came to the conclusion that its use is not as intuitive as the mechanical machines we have tried, and its mechanism feels very cheap.

Brother ST371HD is one of our testers' least favorite machines. When we turned them, the dial felt cheap, and the stitching on this machine was very uneven. In addition, it is very loud when it runs. Together, these problems are a spoiler for us.

Sonja Beck Gingerich, creator of Ginger Makes, test help, November 17, 2017

Marcy Harriell, creator of Oonaballoona, test help, November 17, 2017

Christine Cyr Clisset, improve your sewing machine IQ! , Thread Cult, March 22, 2013

Sewing machine reviews, good housekeeping service

Susan Khalje, fashion sewing teacher, email interview, November 17, 2017

Linda Lee, owner of The Sewing Workshop, email interview, November 17, 2017

Katrina Walker, designer and sewing teacher, email interview, November 17, 2017

Sarai Mitnick, owner and designer of Colette Patterns, email interview, November 17, 2017

Harvey Federman, sewing machine repairer and owner of Sew Right, telephone interview, November 17, 2017

Christine Cyr Cliset is the associate editor responsible for the Wirecutter family report. She previously edited recipes and craft books for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and began reviewing kitchen utensils in 2013. She sews many clothes herself, which makes her fascinated by high-quality fabrics-whether it's on skirts or bed sheets.

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