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Novice buying a sewing machine, advice and recommendations please?

(55 Posts)
MarionHalcombe Mon 07-Aug-17 19:58:41

Hi. I haven't done any sewing for about 30 years, I could make simple (very simple!) Clothes.

I'd now like a cheap machine to make curtains and soft furnishings but I'm lost when I look on Amazon.

Any advice gratefully received, thanks.

Marydoll Mon 07-Aug-17 20:14:01

I had my New Home machine for 40yrs, an 18th birthday present. Initially I couldn't work out why my mother bought it for me. In fact it served me well. I made my bridesmaid's dresses, lots of clothes for my daughter, curtains etc., despite the fact I couldn't sew.
A few years ago, I decided to change it, as although it was still going strong, I couldn't lift it anymore. I bought a Janome (the company used to make New Home machines). I am delighted with it. It is not too fancy, but does the job. It also wasn't too expensive and best of all, I can lift it with one hand.

M0nica Mon 07-Aug-17 20:15:26

In the same situation I bought the 'Which' Best Buy, a Janome sewing machine that cost just under £200. That was 5 years ago and I have never regretted my purchase.

I would avoid the very cheap machines. DGD, aged 10, was given a very basic electric sewing machine for her birthday as she enjoys sewing. It came from John Lewis and, while I have no complaints about the quality. It has a lot of limitations.

For example,it only has one fixed foot, so if you want to put a zip in something, you cannot take the standard foot off and replace it with a zip foot. It has only a limited range of stitches, as I remember. After two visits to me with her sewing machine, she now leaves it behind and uses my sewing machine.

I have looked at JL's current 'cheapo'. It is a bit more advanced than DGDs, but still limited.

One feature essential for older sewers is a built in needle threading device. I have an old sewing machine in our holiday home in Normandy. It is also a Janome and very good, but I have to thread the needle by hand and eye. It can sometimes take a very long time.

eddiecat78 Mon 07-Aug-17 20:18:03

I`ve got a Janome - one up from the most basic model and am pleased with it. Janome is a brand used by many sewing schools - it was on at least one series of The Sewing Bee. There are lots of online suppliers - I would steer away from Amazon and go for a specialist supplier who can give you advice.
However, if funds allow, don`t go for a really basic machine as you might find yourself hooked and wish you had something a bit more versatile.
Please consider signing up to "The Sewing Place" forum where you will find lots of very helpful enthusiasts who will be happy to advise you

suzied Mon 07-Aug-17 20:20:02

Lidl have got sewing machines at the moment , I can't vouch for the quality. I would second Janome as a reasonable basic model.

M0nica Mon 07-Aug-17 20:20:34

Like Marydoll, my old machine is a 'New Home'. It is the same as the one we bought DD at the age of 13 as a legacy gift from her grandmother. She is now a very skilled and talented needlewoman with embroidery machines and other attachments but her New Home machine is still her constantly-used sewing machine.

That is three votes for Janome!

Ilovecheese Mon 07-Aug-17 20:44:36

I've used and given lessons on many different machines and I couldn't honestly say that any one of the well known manufacturers is better than another. I think if you stick to Brother,Singer, Janome or Bernina you can't go far wrong.

If you have not done any sewing for a while you might even want to consider a computerised machine as they have a speed control.

J52 Mon 07-Aug-17 21:31:31

I have a 36 year old Brother machine, still going well, but heavy. They were made of sturdy metal in those days!
I have bought a lighter one, a Janome from JL. It is just as good as the older one and light enough to take to sewing groups.

Jalima1108 Mon 07-Aug-17 22:30:44

I am finding this thread interesting because I may buy a new sewing machine, although I don't do a lot of sewing these days so I don't want to spend too much.

My present machine is a 40+ year old Singer and it has always been fairly reliable but when I used it recently to do some mending it is making a loud thumping noise when I sew. It's also very heavy and as I don't keep it out all the time a new machine needs to be light enough to put away at the back of the understairs cupboard, but sturdy enough not to move around in use.

Jalima1108 Mon 07-Aug-17 22:31:59

I thought of trying out machine quilting so, if I enjoy it, a new machine could get more use.

GracesGranMK2 Mon 07-Aug-17 23:32:32

I would certainly go for a computerised machine. It may sound more complicated but it is actually easier to use. Also buy the best you can. Don't think you won't need those feet or the extra stitches - you may well soon grow into themsmile

MarionHalcombe Tue 08-Aug-17 08:55:43

Many thanks everyone. I have a good starting point with Janine and am going to check on eBay.

Do they have built in overlockers?

suzied Tue 08-Aug-17 08:59:28

No you'd have to get a separate machine if you want an overlocker. I sew everyday and have a fantastic Bernina, which I love, but that's after several upgrades. Buy the best machine you can afford. You do get what you pay for. Don't get a cheap overlocker btw, more hassle than they're worth. Took me 3 machines to get a good one.

LadyGracie Tue 08-Aug-17 09:26:29

Our Lidl are selling Singer sewing machines at the moment.

silverlining48 Tue 08-Aug-17 09:32:20

I bought a brilliant sawing nachine for £39 from aldi. Very happy with it.

silverlining48 Tue 08-Aug-17 09:33:01

Sewing machine....

Ilovecheese Tue 08-Aug-17 09:38:11

You could always just use the zig zag stitch to overlock

Lisalou Tue 08-Aug-17 12:02:44

Lidl machines are good, if basic. I was given one as a Christmas present and had never sewn a stitch (i was so novice that i didnt know that a sewing machine has a top thread and a bottom thread - now THAT is being a novice) I used it almost daily for about three years and it is still going strong, I upgraded to a Bernina and am very happy with it - the Lidl one is still going strong, and is used by my 10 yr old daughter.
I also bought a singer overlocker from Lidl and it is ok - probably not the best buy, but it is workable. Neither of the Lidl machines cost more than sixty pounds, I believe.
On the other hand, I have heard very good things bout Brother machines.

spottysocks Tue 08-Aug-17 19:24:59

I have replaced my old and extremely heavy sewing machine of thirty years with a new one from JL and I love it. It's very easy to thread up and does the job from cushion covers to zip repairs, it hasn't got all the bells and whistles from maybe a more expensive model but the stitches are lovely and even for around £100. If it were possible I would try out a few before buying and making your choice. smile

Jalima1108 Tue 08-Aug-17 19:56:43

What make is it spottysocks
(if you are allowed to say on here)

No sewing machines in our Lidl and a rather rude assistant who told DH (no muesli, no sea salt either apparently. )

Lisalou Wed 09-Aug-17 05:37:20

Aw that sucks, regarding Lidl. Another idea is to visit a specialist shop and try some machines. They often have second hand reconditioned ones which will mean you get a bit more for your money, if that makes sense.

GracesGranMK2 Wed 09-Aug-17 08:16:53

I would look at the craft channels on TV (Hochanda and Create and Craft) if you are thinking of buying and don't know what you want/need.

You get 14 days to try the machine. If you go to a shop you will only get a limited amount of time, sometimes them demonstrating rather than you trying, and you are not relaxed. I have bought two sewing machines - not well known names - (one mechanical the other computerised) and a Brother embroidery machine this way. I did try a Toyota before I bought my second sewing machine and know people who swear they are the best for them but it wasn't for me so it went back. You can often spread the purchase price too (the maximum they offer is four months I believe - sometime two or three) which is a consideration for anyone buying up and spending more.

I would certainly do this if I was buying an over-locker as there seems a really big difference between the user-friendliness of the basic machines and the more advanced ones with these.

f77ms Wed 09-Aug-17 08:41:09

I am very happy with my Janome machine . It was £150 a couple of years ago . I would avoid a cheap one if possible .

spottysocks Wed 09-Aug-17 18:25:08

Hi Jalima1108 I bought John Lewis own make of sewing machine (hope this was ok to mention blush) Apparently all the Janome assessories will fit their machines) just to let you know mine didn't come supplied with a zipper foot.

I booked an appointment within their sewing department and an assistant helped me thread up and use whatever machine I wanted to try. I tried out about three all very different machines that i could afford and made my choice. As it happens the most expensive one (within my budget) was the machine with the needle threader which I found too fiddly for me. I actually found it easier without. Of course it all depends on what you want a sewing machine for, there's not much point buying one with all the bells and whistles if it's just going to be used for making the odd cushion cover, a good basic one would do the job just as well. In my opinion I would stick to a branded name like Singer, Jamone, Brother or JL (not the mini machine, although it's probably ok for minor repairs as the reveiws are quite good) Hope this helps smile

MargaretX Wed 09-Aug-17 18:36:15

I would not buy a cheap machine. DD2 bought one from Aldi and as I was the one who purchased it to take to her flat I tried it out. It was OK but very loud.

I have a 20 year old Bernina which sews very fast and quietly, and that is what you need to sew curtains especially if they are floor length. I don't know this Janome make, but when so many think it is a decent sewing machine for the price why not check it out?