Do I really need a ______________ ?

Posted in: This and That — By on October 27, 2010 6:53 AM

There are tons of tools and gadgets available to help you sew.  It’s so exciting every time you add another one to your collection.  Hands down, sewing machines and sergers are the ultimate tools.  That said, it can be hard to know when it’s worthwhile to invest in a sewing machine or serger, and when it might not be necessary. Only you can make that call, but here are a few questions you can ask that might help you decide.

Do I really need a sewing machine?

You can get a good, basic sewing machine for $150, but they can cost a hundred times that.  A sewing machine is a great investment if you want to take your hand sewing to the next level, want to make your own clothes, or if quilting is your thing.  Projects are so much faster and easier with a machine.  If you aren’t sure about whether to take the plunge and buy one, ask yourself…

  • Have you used a sewing machine before? It may be a good idea to try out a friend’s, or take a class to see if you like machine sewing.
  • What would you use a sewing machine for? For small projects, or hemming and minor alterations, you can totally get away with hand sewing.  In contrast, for clothing, home decor projects or quilting, machine sewing is a wonderful thing!
  • How much do you think you’ll use a sewing machine? Do you think you’ll use your machine enough to get value for your money, or is it possible that your machine will start collecting dust a few weeks out of the box?  Borrowing or renting a machine may be a better option.

Do I really need an electronic sewing machine?

Electronic sewing machines can start at $400-500, and cost much, much more.  The added functionality and number of stitches available make a strong case for investing in an electronic machine… if you’re actually going to make use of the additional capabilities, that is!

  • Are there things you can’t do with your mechanical machine? When you’re learning to sew, it makes sense to start on a basic mechanical machine — it’s much cheaper and you’ll have all of the stitches you’ll need for most sewing projects.   When you’re a more advanced sewer you might make the leap to an electronic machine, but you don’t have to.  Do some research and test out some electronic machines before you make the investment.
  • How much do you sew? Will you really use the machine enough to justify the price?  If you have lots of projects on the horizon, or are thinking of mass production the answer may be yes.
  • What do you sew? Will the projects you work on make use of the extra features of an electronic machine?  Can you do the same projects on your mechanical machine?

Do I really need a serger?

Brand new sergers start at roughly $500 and can cost much more.  You can also find used sergers for less — often because people buy sergers and then decide that it wasn’t needed after all!  A serger will be your new best friend if you sew clothing or sew in large quantities.  Serging will save you a lot of time and will make what you sew much more durable.

  • Do you have finishing stitches on your current machine? Most machines have a few stitches that can be used to finish edges, even if they aren’t as polished looking as a serged edge. Will these suffice? (Stay tuned for a future post on finishing stitches!)
  • How much would you use a serger? Again, will you use your serger enough to justify the investment?
  • Is renting or borrowing a serger an option? This would be a great way to get around the cost of a serger, and give you the opportunity to give serging a try before you actually buy one.

A final word of advice when thinking about investing in a sewing machine or serger is to talk to other sewers — your friends, relatives, or even fabric store staff.  You’ll find that sewers are always excited to share tips with each other, and this is a good way of finding out what brands of sewing machine and serger have worked for others.

With these questions in mind, you’ll make a more informed decision as to what sewing set-up is right for you!

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