How to Choose an Embroidery/Sewing Machine

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Anyone who enjoys sewing and has labored on a cheaper quality machine dreams of upgrading to one of the computerized sewing machines, many of which also do machine embroidery. When sewing becomes more than just a casual hobby, it’s time to research investing (and at those prices, it’s an investment!) in a better machine.

The main difference in a name-brand high end machine such as Bernina, Babylock, or Husqvarna and a machine yYou would buy at Walmart is quality. Compare a Mercedes to a Yugo, and you get the idea. While cheap machines can be great to learn on and discover whether or not you would actually benefit from a better machine, a high-end machine will help your sewing achieve a professional, store-bought look.

High-end machines are much heavier than thier cheaper cousins, and are loaded with features. Even a lower-cost high-end machine typically comes with several feet, including a zipper foot, buttonholer, and various specialty feet. There may be dozens of built-in stitches, both decorative and functional, memory capabilities to help you save a favorite stitch pattern, among other features. My personal quest for the perfect machine involved 5 years of research, test-driving machines, and picking dealer’s brains to see what kind of support is offered.

A must is great dealer support. My Bernina 430E is a completely different sewing experience than my other old junk machines I’d used all my life. It didn’t even thread the same as others, so classes are a must. I chose my Bernina due to the proximity to my home (still an hour’s drive away), and the fact that I would get unlimited free classes on my machine, software, and embroidery. They have been great, and I can call with a question or problem. I’ve had my machine almost 2 years, and I’m now starting a software class.  Another big selling point besides dealer support was the fact that my machine was on sale for about $500 off, and I could buy it with 12 months interest-free financing. Makers of these awesome machines are well aware of thier price, and most of the time you can get a good financing deal. Especially with today’s economy, look for competition between the makers. Top of the line offerings can be very expensive-the new Bernina 830, which will only be a twinkle in my eye, retails for around $12,000.  Buy only the amount of machine you need. If you’ve never sewn before, you don’t need to start out with a machine that costs as much as a car.

I chose my machine because it did everything sewing and embroidery-wise that I wanted. Once I began my machine classes, I ended up buying several more decorative sewing feet. Honestly, I probably won’t live long enough to use this machine to its full potential. The main difference in my machine and machines that jump into the $5000 and up price range is that my machine has to have my laptop hooked up to it to do embroidery (but not regular sewing). It doesn’t bother me, and it saved me a few thousand bucks over the machines which have everything built in. These machines all make use of computerized touch screens to perform all the functions.

Last, keep in mind that these machines are an investment. You don’t use cheap quality thread from the discount stores on these machines. I use only Metrosene and Isacord sewing and embroidery thread. Yes, the sewing thread costs double of what I pay at Walmart, but it lasts a long time, and helps keep my machine’s expensive computerized components happy. I’ve used my machine like crazy, have only added oil, and recently took it for its yearly checkup (like women, these high-end machines need thier “yearly” with the doctor!!). With careful maintenance and good care, it’s not unusual for these machines to last 20 or 30 years. Of course, by then, you well may have traded up to that Mercedes-level machine!!

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