How To Choose A Sewing Machine

All you need is an idea

You don’t need a computerized embroidery machine (although they are wonderful). Even the most basic sewing machines have some built-in decorative stitches—so check your manual. Whatever you do, start simple! You might want to stitch a motif in metallic thread on the back pocket of your favorite jeans. Or have some fun with glow-in-the-dark stitching on pajamas or color-changing thread on a terrycloth bib. It’s so easy to express yourself in stitches!

Choosing a machine

Your machine is your most important tool, so you want to be sure to choose the one that best suits your interest and needs. There are three basic types of sewing machine. Which is right for you? Read on to learn more.

Sewing machines

Regular sewing machines sew straight and zigzag stitches, with some built-in decorative stitches. They don’t allow you to work hooped embroidery, but they do sew beautiful linear stitches.

Sewing/embroidery machines

These top-of-the-line machines have an embroidery module for sewing multicolor, hooped embroidery. They also have an internal computer that programs (he stitching and allows you to edit designs. When the embroidery module is not attached, the machine works as a sewing-only model—with all the bells and whistles.

Embroidery machines

These specialized machines stitch multicolor, motif- style hooped embroidery quickly and professionally. Keep in mind that they do not sew straight rows of stitches—they’re designed only for embellishing. If you already own a sewing machine but want to do more embroidery, this machine is an excellent tool for expanding your repertoire.

Many sewing machines are computerized, which means they have a large library of stitches, and also allow you to edit, or modify, the stitches. If you’re passionate about decorative stitching, invest in a computerized machine.

A presser foot holds the fabric flat as the feed dogs or embroidery unit moves it along. There are lots of specialized feet that are perfect for fancy stitching. If you buy a special presser foot, make sure it fits on your machine-or buy a shank adaptor kit to make it fit correctly.

  • General purpose/zigzag foot: works well for most sewing purposes, with straight or zigzag stitch; underside of the foot is flat.
  • Satin stitch/appliqué/open-toe foot: features a wide groove on the bottom surface that glides over dense decorative stitches: good for appliqué, satin-stitching, cutwork, and couching.
  • Pin tuck foot: forms tuck by pulling fabric through the center groove: has three, five, or seven grooves on the bottom that act as channels for the sewn tucks and spacers for subsequent tucks.
  • Cording foot: hole or guide feeds decorative trim or thread under the needle thread if there is a groove on the bottom, it can teed more-dimensional trim, such as cording and stranded pearls.
  • Piping foot: deep groove on the bottom surface lets the machine zigzag stitch over a string of pearls or beads.
  • Sequin and ribbon foot: feeds trim through a small tube so the machine can zigzag-stitch over the trim to hold it in place.
  • Overedge/overcast foot: forms stitches over the raw edge to prevent fraying and curling and for decorative purposes.
  • Embroidery/darning foot: designed for machine darning, and free-motion embroidery; may have an attached spring to facilitate the high-speed, up-and-down movement of the needle.
  • Braiding foot: holds narrow braids or cord in place through an opening in the front as the machine zigzag stitches over them.