Sewing Essentials

If you are interested in sewing, quilting or embroidery “Sewing Essentials Online” has something for you.

If you are looking for information on the best sewing machines, the best embroidery machines or best quilting machines then check out our posts by following the links.

We also have posts which describe a range of sewing machine products, beginners advice as well as sewing machine manuals for some of the more popular sewing machines.

Sewing Essentials Advice for Beginners

Buying a sewing machine can be a daunting exercise especially as they can come in with a wide variety of features and price options.

Before reading the text below, which will help you narrow down your options, take a look at this informative video from Singer which outlines the key features you might want to look for in a mechanical, electric or computerized sewing machine.

How to Shop for a Sewing Machine

Always try to buy the best machine for the sewing tasks you want to carry out. Whilst there are many modern lightweight models available on the market today do not expect this type of machine to make easy work of altering your heavyweight curtains or jeans. Some cheaper models of sewing machine are made of very light plastics and are just a few steps away from being toys.

Also think through your longer term sewing aspirations and buy a machine that will suit you now and for the next ten years.

Always try to buy a reputable branded product if possible. You will find a number of products that will provide great functions at less cost however what you have to way up is the fact that you should have your machine for many many years and so aspects such as warranty, spares, service, quality of design, longevity of product and additional features should also be factored into your buying decision.

Prominent brands such as Singer, Bernina, Brother and Janome for example have a long history of providing great service and have built their reputations on reliable and long lasting products. If you are new to sewing ask your friend and perhaps some of the older people in your family about their sewing experiences. You will tend to hear the same reputable brands being highlighted as great buys.

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Three Types of Sewing Machine

There are basically three type of sewing machine. The first and oldest type is the mechanical sewing machine. These machines are controlled manually by wheels and knobs. Although modern manufacturers such as Bernina still produce semi-mechanical machines (they have some DC power), they tend to be light on the features that come with many modern computerized machines.

The second type is the electric sewing machine which can be setup with standard settings to automate very simple sewing tasks. Aspects such as the stitch type, length and width are adjusted by turning knobs and dials.

The third and most modern type of machine is the computerized sewing machine. These machines incorporate large range of features to suit a wide variety of easy and complex sewing tasks.

These days almost all beginners will elect for a sewing machines that is either electric or computerized.  They are very easy to setup and run with the more advanced computerized machines coming supplied with LCD screens, in-built stitch options, software programs and pattern upload options.

As well as the standard sewing machine, there are also a number of advanced machines that are specific to certain sewing functions. These machines are for people that are looking for added feature and advanced level of performance for specific tasks.

Serger machines for example can be used for finishing edges and seams to a very high quality. Embroidery machines can be used to produce an extensive range of pre-programmed multi-colored patterns.  Quilting machines are also available to produce beautiful and ornate quilting projects.

Sewing Machines for Beginners

As a beginner when you are looking to buy a machine think about what you will use the machine for, how often you will use it the functions provided by the sewing machines you are looking at and also your budget.

If you are just keen on carrying out small repairs and alterations then any affordable model that provides a selection of foot attachments will suffice. Look out for a least a buttonhole foot, a zipper foot and a plastic foot for delicate fabric materials.


For very basic sewing pick a model that offers at least a basic range of different stitches. A few zig-zag stitches, different lengths of straight stitches and at least an automatic buttonhole are a basic minimum to get you started.

If you are comfortable with this level of sewing and don’t feel you will expand your skills into a hobby then it’s all about getting the most reliable machine at the most affordable price. Like any cheaper product these days build quality, build material and warranty may all be compromised if you elect for a really cheap model so make sure you do your research and buy a machine that is sturdy and reliable.

Think About the Fabrics You Will Use

Throughout the lifetime of your machine you will encounter many different types of fabric so you need to ensure your sewing machine can cope with them.

If you expect to work with heavy thick fabrics you require a strong and heavy machine machine. If you buy a light machine for heavy tasks don’t be surprised to see the machine shift and move around as it tries to cope with the heavy load.

Also look out for functions such as good needle penetration, a long stitch length. Also ensure the model has a high presser foot lift and adjustable presser foot pressure . If the machine is too lightweight, it will dance around the table so the heavier the better.

If you are expecting to work with light fabrics such as satins and silks get a sewing machine with an adjustable presser foot pressure. This is particularly important as the feed dogs can imprint the underside of the material if the foot pressure is applied at too high a pressure.

In general top loading machines, whereby the bobbin is dropped in at the top next to the needle plate, work much better on stretch materials and fabrics. If you are keen to work with stretch fabrics also ensure your sewing machine caters for stretch stitches. For example is you want to work with knitwear you will need a machine that caters for these types of stitches.

What Type of Projects Will You Undertake

Sewing projects can be as straightforward as repairs and alterations or as complex as dressmaking, home furnishings and upholstery projects, quilting and embroidery.

A basic machine may be suitable for alterations, repairs, dressmaking and crafts. Keep and eye out for ‘buttonhole stitches’ for dressmaking in particular as the less steps, the easier the stitch. The ‘free arm’ will also make sewing trouser legs and sleeves much simpler.