Crowdstorm's sewing machine buyer's guide
Shopping online for a new sewing machine can be a daunting prospect, especially when faced with jargon such as ‘feed dog’, ‘knee lifter’ and ‘free arm’ (take a look at our jargon buster to find out what the heck they are!).
Here at Crowdstorm we love doing all the hard work for you, and that’s exactly what we’ve done; scouring the web we’ve brought you the best that money can buy, from cheap sewing machines for beginners to top of the range designer models for the aficionados amongst you. Whether it's a Brother or a Singer sewing machine you're after, you'll find the best deals here.
We do this by finding the most trusted UK sewing machine sellers, both high street and online, and put all their best deals and special offers in one place for you to compare. But before you start, if you're new to sewing machines (or just need a refresher) check out our guide below.
Types of sewing machine
Before you get into the smaller details, you need to make a basic decision on the type of sewing machines you're going to compare. These are the standard types available:
- Mechanical: A mechanical sewing machine is a basic model that requires more work by the user as it has no foot pedal but a wheel that you control by hand. Mechanical models are rarer than other, modern sewing machines and those still in use are usually by companies such as Singer, making them quite a collector’s item. These models are less powerful, with fewer features, and cheap mechanical sewing machines can often only work with lighter/thinner fabrics. As you’d expect from an earlier machine, the mechanical sewing machine is very basic and only allows you to do very simple sewing.
- Electronic: Electronic sewing machines are the most common model on the market and contain a motor that controls the needle. The motor is controlled with a foot pedal allowing you to control the fabric and feed it through with both hands, or change dials. Speed is controlled by pressing down on the foot pedal; the harder you press down the faster the machine will work. You can vary the speed and stitch length and style of electronic sewing machines with dials and controls. Electronic models are the perfect sewing machines for beginners and can vary in price and features.
- Computerised: Computerised sewing machines are a step up from electronic models and are best suited to experienced and expert sewers who are looking for a more versatile model. Computerised models are advanced machines, using several separate motors to control different areas and functions. Computer chips control these machines and they have the correct tension, length and width programmed in for each stitch style. This clever machine can also memorise past projects and download programs when connected to the internet. To operate this sewing machine you need a touchscreen and computer.
Beginner versus expert sewing machines
Knowing which sewing machine to shop for can seem like a daunting task but a good place to start is by thinking about your level of sewing ability. An inexpensive, simple model with a few basic stitches may be the best sewing machine for beginners.
For more advanced sewers a reliable machine with lots of features should be the best option. If you’re really after something top of the range, a computerised sewing machine is your best bet. Have a think about what you’ll be using your new sewing machine to do. This will affect the type of model you should be shopping for.
- Dressmaking, alterations and home furnishings: Even a basic model will do the trick. You shouldn’t need to spend more than around £200 to get a cheap sewing machine, but look for machines with some simple stitching – straight and zig zag of differing length, and an automatic buttonhole. Look for models with several foot attachments for inserting a zip and buttonholes. If you’re likely to be working with delicate fabrics look for a plastic foot. A ‘free arm’ will help make working with sleeves and trouser legs easier. If you think you may advance in future to create more elaborate pieces look for a brand of sewing machine that you can buy extra parts and attachments for to save you having to buy a whole new model in the future.
- Crafts and quilting: you’ll need a sewing machine with wider range of stitches and will have to spend a little extra to get a sufficient model. Why not try a computerised sewing machine or specialist embroidery model? If you’re likely to be using your machine frequently it’s worth splashing out for a top of the range model. Consider buying a machine with a memory card too to allow you to download further stitch programs.
Overlock, coverlock and embroidery machines
An overlocker is a special type of sewing machine, sometimes called a 'serger'. They're used to join two pieces of cloth via overlock stitches, cutting off the seam allowance as they work - giving a professional finish to hems, sleeves etc. Standard sewing machines can come with this function, but won't be as good as a dedicated overlock sewing machine.
A coverstitch machine does a similar job, but specifically for hems (usually on knitted fabrics).
Embroidery sewing machines are designed for sewing designs onto fabric. You'll find many sewing machines with embroidery functions, and embroidery machines than can be used for other forms of sewing - but as above, your best bet is to pick a machine that will cover the majority of your sewing chores. If you're concentrating on embroidery, for example, you're probably going to be nest served getting a specialised machine.
If you're new to sewing machines, here's a quick reference guide to some of the terms you may find listed when comparing sewing machines:
- Spool: The plastic cylinder that holds the thread
- Bobbin: The bobbin thread comes up from the bottom of the machine and is the thread you see on the underside of anything you’re sewing. The bobbin is the small spool itself that holds the thread within the machine.
- Feed dog: The aptly named feed dog is situated under the needle and foot and looks like tiny little metal teeth that help feed the fabric through as you sew by gripping the underside of the material. Some feed dogs can be lowered so that they are not in use whilst you sew – useful for embroidery.
- Free arm: A cylinder on the bed of the sewing machine that allows you to sew things like pockets and sleeves.
- Knee lifter: A knee lifter is a feature on some machines which allows you to life the foot without having to take your hands off your work. This is a great option for large or fiddly work.
What next? Buying your new sewing machine
Hopefully we've armed you with the knowledge you need to continue on and purchase your perfect sewing machine - which thankfully is the easiest part! If you are still unsure, be sure to click through on some deals and read the sewing machine reviews you'll find on retailer websites: they can be a great way to fine-tune your final choice, as they'll cone from customers just like yourself.
Once you've chosen, simply click through on the deal of your choice. This will take you directly to the correct page on your chosen store's website where you can complete your purchase. Remember, Crowdstorm isn't a shop itself - we simply offer you a place to compare all the best deals. And we don't charge any commission - these are the standard prices you'd finds at their websites regardless. We can do this because we make our money from advertising, not from you - so it's win-win! Good luck in your search!