I had a funny experience this weekend. Someone contacted me through Craigslist wanting to buy my Necchi Lydia!
I was delighted -- at first.
Then, as we exchanged emails about it, it became apparent to me that this woman -- let's call her Carol -- knew nothing about sewing. There was no way I could recommend my Lydia to her as her very first machine. For one thing, it's a zigzagger that only does straight stitch due to a damaged cam shaft (a problem common to vintage Lydias). She claimed that was fine; she said she "wanted a good starter/practice machine for garments, pillowcases, etc."
"I don't need to do any zig zag stitching just yet," she wrote.
I talked about it with Michael and I realized that I couldn't feel good about selling a beginner like Carol this machine. When she came by on Sunday I'd show her some of my other machines and make some recommendations. It wasn't worth $50 to me to send someone off with a machine that isn't perfect.
Carol wasn't able to come for the machine today as we'd arranged, alas.
I had it all planned that after I demonstrated Lydia's strengths (a lovely straight stitch, tremendous piercing power) and weaknesses, I'd recommend she spend $10 more and order the Brother LS2125, the model I'd sold to Melissa earlier in the week.
I think that's the ideal starter machine, not the strongest perhaps, but good enough for a basic beginner. It can be purchased on Amazon through various dealers for less than $75. The feedback it has received is overwhelmingly positive. It's lightweight but solid.
Friends, I ask you: knowing what you know today about sewing and sewing machines, what machine would you recommend for the basic beginner, someone who knows nothing about sewing, bobbins, threading, etc., and may not have access to anyone to teach them?
As much as I love vintage machines, I don't think I'd recommend most people go on eBay and pick up a vintage Singer. Too much could be wrong with it. The machine could have electrical problems, it might be frozen, or missing something key that a beginner wouldn't recognize. Most people prefer new, and who can blame them? I'd recommend the Brother, and if they wanted to upgrade to something fancier or stronger, they could always sell the Brother on Craigslist or something similar.
Wise readers, let's make this thread a valuable resource to non-sewers and people thinking of purchasing their first machine.
Please share your insights. What machine should someone like Carol -- someone with no sewing experience, who may not even know what she'll end up using it for -- purchase? How much should she pay?
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!