The first thing you’re going to need is a sewing machine.
I remember this as a daunting realization. I wanted to start sewing but I had no idea how to find or choose a sewing machine and I had no idea if I could afford one that would actually work. I was remembering the first “modern” sewing machine my mother bought when I was a kid and how much trouble she had with it.
Never fear. Sewing machines have come a long way in the last 30 years. You don’t have to mortgage your first born child in order to buy a decent starter sewing machine.
When I decided to buy my first machine I did my research. Amazon.com reviews are wonderful things. You can see how many people give an item a five-star rating and then read what people like and don’t like about an item.
The first machine I chose was a very basic Brother for about $80. I was skeptical. I couldn’t believe that an $80 sewing machine would actually work. If an $80 machine is as good as the reviews say it is, why would anyone pay $5000 for one? (Yep, you could spend that much or even more). But I was stuck. I wanted to sew. I needed a machine. And I wasn’t willing to pay much for one at that point, not knowing if my new hobby would stick or if I’d get bored with if after a few weeks. I ordered the $80 machine.
And I loved it.
It did exactly what it said it would do. It sewed straight seams and even a few decorative stitches. The bobbin didn’t jam. It was easy to thread. It even went through several thicknesses of fabric and cotton batting without breaking the needle. I gave that sewing machine heavy use for a year before deciding that I wanted to upgrade. It would have kept going longer than that. I do, in fact, still have it in my closet. It still works.
Yes, I’ve read the complaints that the cheap models “are all made of plastic.” Well of course they’re made of plastic. It’s not your Grandma’s indestructible 1940’s all metal model in the nice wooden cabinet. What do you expect for 80 bucks? You’re not going to be hitting it with a hammer or dropping it out of a second story window, right? Okay then. Just suck it up, accept that it’s going to be made of plastic, and get on with the sewing.
After about a year, I wanted a machine with more decorative stitch options. I upgraded to another Brother (the first one was so great that it didn’t make sense to switch brands now). This one had 130 stitches plus the capability of doing very basic lettering and was called a “quilting” machine which is mostly what I’m doing with it. It costs about $200 normally but I ordered a Black Friday deal for $119, This machine also has an automatic drop-in-and-sew, no fuss bobbin which I love. I hope to get another year of sewing in before I get the urge to find something even fancier. For around $100, I can afford to upgrade every now and then.
So yes, if you’ve got the money and are willing to spend it, it would make sense to pay more for a higher quality machine the first time and be done with it. But don’t let money be an obstacle and prevent you from taking up sewing. You can buy a cheap machine and it will get you started on your new hobby just fine.