Sunday, March 14, 2010

the best sewing machine for a beginner

My daughter Haven has a birthday coming up (she will be 9), and she has been begging me to teach her how to sew for a while now. So I decided that it's time I bought her a sewing machine of her own that she can learn on. As a result, I have been reading, reviewing, and researching as many different options that I could find in order to make the best decision possible. These are the three I am most interested in as they are not toys, but real, honest to goodness sewing machines, all of them with a cord that plugs in so there are no batteries to have to bother with. So, in no particular order...

Janome Sew Mini


Online I found that I could expect to pay around $60 for this, although I might be able to find a lower price on ebay. It's a 1/2 sized machine backed by a reputable name in sewing machines, and the majority of the reviews I read were excellent. It was reviewed by experienced and inexperienced sewers alike, and most of them loved this machine. It seems like it would be the perfect size for a beginning sewer and a great little machine to learn on. Here is a video of this machine in use.

Pros: Drop-in bobbin, very lightweight and portable weighing in at 5 lbs., numerous excellent reviews online, reverse lever in convenient spot, low price, small machine for small hands, and a medium-slow sewing speed that stays the same no matter how much she presses on the pedal.

Cons: No light, no snap-on presser foot so you cannot change the presser foot, no markings for seam allowance on the needle plate, small and cheap looking foot pedal, no carrying handle, there is only one stitch speed so there is no going slower or faster as you stitch, no stitch length or stitch width choices, and no buttonhole function.


Janome Hello Kitty


This is a 3/4 size machine that also got excellent reviews from both experienced and inexperienced sewers alike, but it's also close to twice the price of the other two machines, the lowest being around $110. This puts it over the top of my price range, but after the trillion or so glowing reviews I have read all over the web, it really has to be considered. I know Haven would love that it's Hello Kitty, but that fact doesn't sway me one way of the other. My only interest lies in whether it's a good sewing machine, not what character has been plastered all over it. Although you would not believe the amount of grown women reviewing it that raved about the over-the-top cute factor and about how much they love and adore Hello Kitty. I guess I must have underestimated the enormous draw of Hello Kitty across all ages. Here is a video of this machine in use.

Pros: Has the most reviews online and almost all were excellent, snap-on presser feet allows for changing out the presser foot, markings on the needle plate for seam allowance, has a light, variable sewing speed so you can go faster or slower, a decent sized foot pedal, buttonhole function, a handle for easy carrying, it's portable and lightweight at 12 lbs.

Cons: The most expensive of the machines I am interested in, some reviews said threading is not the easiest, variable sewing speed by pressing the pedal which could be hard to coordinate for a beginner while also trying to deal with stitching the fabric, reverse lever in an odd spot (odd to me anyways), no stitch length or width choices, and it has a bobbin case instead of drop-in.


Brother LS2000

This is a full size sewing machine, and the price is $60, so it's well within my budget. I have owned two Brother machines in the past and they are well known for their ease in use, so I know it would not be a hard machine for Haven to learn to operate. I am however concerned that it will be to fast for her. One of the criteria I am looking for is a slow stitch speed that will allow Haven to gain confidence and experience without sewing her fingers by accident. And I couldn't find any video of this machine in use, sorry.

Pros: The low price is well within my budget, variable sewing speed so you can go faster or slower, stitch length and stitch width controls, full size foot pedal, markings on the needle plate for seam allowance, reverse lever in convenient spot, easy to use and thread, it has a light.

Cons: Has a bobbin case instead of a drop-in, a full size machine and the heaviest at 15 lbs., no buttonhole function on this model, a faster sewing speed than the other two machines, and variable sewing speed by pressing the pedal which could be hard to coordinate for a beginner while also trying to deal with stitching the fabric.

Whichever machine I buy for Haven, my biggest concern is that it be the best one for her to learn on, I am not as concerned as to whether or not it will grow with her, since there are several excellent full size sewing machines that are well under $100 that she could move on to in a few years time when she is ready. I will be able to give her another one for a present come Christmas or her birthday if that ends up being the case, and the beginner machine can be passed down to Gracen by then, in addition to the numerous other nieces in my family that are also eager to learn. So basically, I'm not worried about getting my moneys worth. And can I also add that being able to watch a video of two of the sewing machines in action was a huge help. Seriously, you would think some of these companies would realize this. So anyways, there you have it.

So, what do you think? Have any opinions on this subject or your own experience learning to sew? I would love to hear it!

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