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Dec 5, 2010

Best Basic or Beginner Sewing Machines: Your recommendations please!


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?

Jump in!


  1. I agree with you 100%. For both of my nieces, I bought Sears (manufactured by Janome) sewing machines. I think they retail somewhere between $200-300 but I got them for about $150 on
    Of course, I had scoured patternreview and read a lot of reviews to make sure I knew what I was getting.
    Sounds like that Brother you featured is an even better deal.

    My stepson uses my vintage machines and he is a total beginner but, you know a hipster would NEVER touch a Janome!

  2. Hmmm, I'm probably not the best person to make recommendations but of course, I will! I learned to sew on my Mom's 1950's era White straight stitch. Of course that was in the 1970's.

    Actually I'd probably step back--if one is a rank amateur with no solid knowledge, try to take a couple of classes first or get a sewing friend to show you the ropes.

    Then, think about what you want to sew. Clothes, plushies, quilts? etc? Each one will have slightly different requirements. And with clothes, think about what you like to wear--if you're a knitwear girl, you're definitely going to want a zig zag to sew with. If you like wovens, then not so much. You could get by without.

    Be prepared to spend some money. That Brother might be ok, but I've been less than impressed with most cheapie machines from big box retailers. That being said, I've used and liked the Janome Gem and I have a BabyLock Audrey as my back up machine. Both are small machines but good--the Audrey even makes a reliable automatic buttonhole!

    Also consider looking at used machines at your local dealer. These are typically trade-ins that they wouldn't put on the sales floor if horrible. That's where my Bernina came from.

    I'm not a big CL, eBay, Freecycle buyer for sewing machines, but I'd really proceed with caution on those unless the prices are extremely low.

  3. You were right. Let's say a beginner sewer buys a machine just for straight stitching, after a while if she likes sewing she is going to want to try something different, like a zigzag or two. Then she would have to get a new machine and have to relearn all its eccentricities and a new manual etc. I think that is too soon to have to learn a new machine. I think it would turn her off sewing. Whereas if she had a machine that could take her to the next level easily, she is more likely to love sewing and go on to enjoy it forever.

  4. Oh yeah, one more thing. Be careful about buying used computerized machines. While I'm a fan and I'm not saying you couldn't get a good one, they are more sensitive due to the electronics. And if you don't know anything about machines, that could be a recipe for disappointment.

  5. I have two recommendations for a beginning sew-er:

    The older Bernina Record series machines are phenomenal. They're strong, made of steel/iron and not plastic (v. important in my mind), have a variety of stitches and even the 930 has an "automatic" buttonhole feature, which is really a dial you switch to create perfect buttonholes. The problem is they hold their value because they're so great, so even on EBay I've seen them listed from $500-900.

    The second recommendation is a White from the 60s or 70s. It has a variety of stitches, you can do buttonholes and it's also metal and sturdy. My first machine (besides the ones of my mom and grandma) was a used White from 72 and it was perfect. My mom is still using it in her winter home in Florida.

  6. I bought my Bernina 1008 as a beginner, and I've never regretted it. It was more expensive than the Brother model above, but it's always been a workhorse and never too complicated to use. I've sewn home dec, clothing, and quilts on it. I've had Percy ten years and he's only had a check-up twice--the first was just regular maintenance and the second time was because a needle hit at a peculiar angle, and the tip broke off and lodged somewhere in his innards.

    I also had an adjunct machine--a Janome, not sure what model--for a while, and I just didn't like it as much. It was okay and would do for a beginner; I just like my Bernina better. I lent the Janome to a friend on a long-term lease and he constructed curtains and an evening gown with it (although not of the same material, a la Scarlett O'Hara), so I would think it would be fine for a rank beginner who doesn't yet know what he or she wants to do.

  7. I'm a beginner and sew with a Kenmore 16231, which I reviewed on my blog:

    I started out with a Brother that I bought from Craigslist, but it broke mid-project and I bought the Kenmore to replace it. I love my Kenmore and although it may be a little pricey for a beginner ($200), it sews well through thick fabrics and feels less plasticy than my Brother did.

  8. Great recommendations.

    If we could stick to the cheaper side (less than $200 say) that would be great.

    For someone who doesn't know whether they're going to like sewing or not.

    1. Peter: In a major city, there are places where you can rent a machine. But, I think it is important that a beginner that is serious invest in a good, basic machine. The reasons, IMHO, are numerous. A few are: When you make mistakes, the machine won't break! Like mis-threading, wrong tension, bad feed from the bobbin, etc. Second, some cheap machines SOUND like they are ready to explode just because they aren't engineered for balance. A good machine will be quiet and smooth. Further, you shouldn't have to oil it daily to keep it from breaking.
      After renting several, I got a low-end Bernina and have never regretted the investment. It will outlive me. I'm very experienced now, and have an industrial straight stitch machine which does 90% of the sewing, and then back to the Bernina for the button hole or specialty stitch. Even an old, used quality machine from a reputable dealer is worth it. If all else fails, sell it on EBay. But a lousy machine will kill any enthusiasm when it breaks, grinds, burns, or whatever, just because of a silly mistake.

  9. Carol doesn't know it, but how lucky was she to find you on Craigslist? She missed a lot when she skipped out on your appointment.

    I was hoping to see many more responses (more will come, I'm sure) because I'd like that cheapy, basic machine not because I'm a newbie, but because I want one to haul around to classes, etc..

    I've got four machines (five, I guess, if you count the serger), but none are ones I like to subject to the vicissitudes of short-term travel. I wonder if that Brother would meet those needs? I'll have to check it out.

  10. I think the starting sewing really only needs, and will use 3 stitches, so keeping that in mind I feel like a computerized machine is expensive and unnecessary. I really am a knob-turner, and to my experience machines like this have far less issues, even when housed in plastic. My simple Singer from 25 yrs ago has only been fixed once, and is now my daughters' starter machine. It's simple, but highly functional. I never really missed my mother's fancier computerized machine since I could do everything at home with my simpler machine. Powerful machines are scary for starting sewers. I remember girls in my Apparel Design program who had never sewn before being quite taken aback with the industrial straight-stitch machines.

  11. I was entirely self-taught and bought my first sewing machine in 1995.

    I bought a basic mechanical Kenmore for about $150.00. It had straight and ZZ stitch, adjustable width and length, and a 4-step buttonhole. I think it also had adjustable needle position.

    Sewing machines have actually gone down in price since then (mine was metal, the new ones are plastic.) I used all the features on my machine with the first few projects I did. I don't think the needle position feature was absolutely needed, but I did use it early on.

    I was extremely happy with my purchase and used that one machine for about 3 years. The only thing I might change: I think it would have been nice to have a one-step buttonhole function. (At the time, I didn't know about buttonholer attachments.)

    While I love the idea of used/vintage machines, I have to say that I'm glad I got a new machine. It was simple, it worked right out of the box, and I was able to focus on the sewing, rather than the machine.

    If I had someone helping me, a used machine would probably have been fine. Also, I think someone who is skilled and willing to learn from Internet resources might have fun joining discussion groups and reading blogs to learn about vintage machines. But for your average person just wanting to get started sewing, a cheap new machine is a safer bet, IMHO.

  12. I agree with you 100% on that Brother. I bought the older version of the same basic brother machine for about $80 eleven years ago as my first machine. It is lightweight, so easy to use and suited me very well. My mother now uses it when she is in town, and my sister's mother in law uses it when she is in town. She is a seamstress back home, and she loves the brother. It still works perfectly. Love the entry level Brother machines. (actually I love all Brother Machines)

  13. I am just the opposite. After teaching sewing for many years I would recommend starting off with a good mechanical older machine. They are willing to take so much more abuse from new sewers. I had a new sewer in one of my last classes and her new brother was a piece of junk! Most her frustration with sewing was the machine and I am sure she didn't keep up with it. We want new sewers to keep sewing not quit out of frustration! But thats just my two cents and we all know what thats worth!

  14. Marie, I also used to think all new plastic machines were junk and I don't have to tell you I prefer vintage. But the Brother I recommended above is a solid little machine and while it's unlikely anybody will still be sewing on it 100 years hence (unlike my 100-year-old Singer 66 treadle), many sewers like it.

    The problem with vintage is that unless you have someone helping you, there are potential problems (like missing parts) that might discourage a basic beginner.

  15. I have a 45 year old mechanical Kenmore that is a workhorse and if accidentally dropped on one's foot, it would need to be amputated.
    I have it serviced twice a year and I LOVE it. I would recommend a great machine , such as this, for a newbie sewer. Mechanical, well loved, one that can take a licking and keep on ticking.

    Having said that......I also own a very expensive Bernina......that is my real toy..... and reward for sewing for 30 plus years.......

    Love them both for different reasons.....

  16. I am a rank beginner, and I went with a Singer 401A. I highly recommend this machine with one important caveat: have it serviced first and get an electronic foot pedal. After I figured that out, I have enjoyed a solid, dependable, simple-to-use machine with NO tension or threading issues and a very manangeable learning curve. Manuals and accessories abound, and they are generally quite reasonably priced. The vintage Berninas are gorgeous, but a significantly bigger investment, and perhaps not quite as robust. I am hard on my machine as a beginner, and it keeps on keeping on. I am making my first forays into knits, and that zigzag stitch is serving me well. I could not be happier! It is a perfect fit for me.


  17. Being a beginner/intermediate sewer myself, she needs a sewing machine that can do straight and zigzag, do basics like adjust stitch length, tension if needed, and has the manual to read for additional information, as a beginer might not have a sewing friend to ask questions to. I got my sewing machine when I was about 25 or so years old, I really can't remember, but I have had the same one for all these years, and this year I turn 44 (or 45, do years really matter?) I consider myself still beginer intermediate because I am always still learning new stuff.

  18. I too agree with you about the Brother for a truly beginning sew-er. It has the basics with straight and zigzag stitches. Years ago I had a cheap Brother machine and honestly it worked great and sewed clothes, quilt tops, and curtains for me with no complaints. I sold it at a yard sale to a woman who had a teenage daughter who wanted to start sewing. (I had a new machine is why I sold it).

    While I sew mostly on vintage machines the only way I'd recommend one to a beginner is if the machine were known to be in excellent working order. Like you pointed out, there is no way of knowing with many secondhand machines. And having to have a machine rewired and such can be a negative experience when starting out. Of course, if a beginning sew-er has a working vintage machine --go for it!

    As someone else pointed out a beginner shouldn't have a machine that is intimidating. I remember when computerized embroidery machines came out and my mother bought one --it seemed overwhelming at first. I don't think that Brother is intimidating at all!

  19. I learned to sew on my mother's 1970's era Kenmore (hello, avocado green). When I decided to get more into it as adult I got an inexpensive Brother at Costco with the idea that if I hated it I could just return it. It was a good training machine, as are the Janomes that Sears sells now. Most basic classes will supply machines so you can figure out what you want. I'm a fan of the less complicated machines that do a few basic things well as starter machines -- kind of like saws. People who teach shop classes generally start students on hand tools b/c they don't have a lot of moving parts and it's hard to cut your fingers off. Eventually, you can move on to table saws. Sewing machines are like that, because the more complicated ones (1) sew faster; (2) sew through a greater diversity of materials; and (3) may have fewer pictures that suggest what the machine is about to do. Those of us who are addicted end up with a couple machines that only do one or two specific functions. This is a little silly now that I think about it.

  20. What an excellent post! I started out by buying myself a Toyota Jet black - I admit I was swayed because it was black and it looked nicer than the other budget sewing machines. Big mistake! It was rubbish. After a year I had sold that and bought a vintage Singer Featherweight - I was lucky and got a good-ish one... but it still has it's issues. But I certainly wouldn't recommend that to a beginner! I would recommend beginners borrow a friend's machine or at least ask around first (I didn't) Whilst deciding what to buy.

    Here in the UK, John Lewis (a large department store) do their own brand budget sewing machine for £49 in lots of different colours that has the basic stitches and is nothing fancy. For under 50 quid it doesn't break the bank, is in full working order and if you then decide sewing is not for you then it won't seem like such a loss... I have a friend who has just started out and has one of these and i've heard no complaints from her.

  21. I'd definitely avoid vintage Singers. Unless they're from before the early 70s, most likely they're only good as doorstops. The Brother seems like a good choice. One often overlooked choice is a basic Janome - all the goodies of the more expensive machines they also make, but the still low-key brand gives them to you for much less money. Excellent stamina. Handle various fabrics well, including really thick like for jeans and coats. I'd try to steer them to a model with at least a couple real stretch stitches though, just because they're beginners doesn't mean they don't want or need t-shirts.

    You did well to steer Carol away from a machine with issues. Beginners everywhere thank you for letting your conscience have her say.

  22. Personally I would opt for a cheap, bottom of the range new machine. When I learned to sew on my mother's old clunker it was rather frustrating. I didn't have enough experience to know which problems were me and which were the machine. If you start with a new machine, you can be fairly certain that any cock ups are yours and that way you start to improve your sewing. In Australia you can pick up a cheap Janome, particularly around Mother's Day and Christmas.

  23. I started out sewing a few years ago just like Carol, and had never, ever laid hands on a sewing machine before. Because I am the type to jump head first into something and may or may not stick with it, I wanted something cheap but decent so I wouldn't feel bad if I ended up not loving sewing so much. I bought a previous version of the Brother CE5500PRW (Project Runway Edition) from a big box store and it was outstanding. Fancy enough and user friendly enough to make you feel like you were really sewing but, currently retailing at $135, cheap enough that I could decide sewing was not for me and not feel like I threw my money away. Brother makes a super duper cheap machine. Period. The one I used is few steps up from the one you were referring to, and the automatic buttonhole is, in my mind, BETTER than my Bernina 430. That's right. I said the plastic $135 Brother machine automatic buttonhole is BETTER than my beloved Bernina, IMHO....Great topic as always, Peter!

  24. I forgot to add to my previous recommendation that the White I bought came from a sewing machine shop/repair shop. They had a back room of reconditioned used machines and this was the oldest, sturdiest of the lot. I think it was $125 at the time and my guess is you could get a good sturdy used machine for $200 or less from a repair shop.

  25. I have Brother LS220,which looks like the Brother you are recommending except in green. I learned to sew on it a few years ago and it is my only machine. It was easy to learn on and the manual was very easy to understand. I think that the more you sew on it, the more cooperative it gets. It is strange, but when I was a casual sewer, the stitches would skip and the bobbin thread would tangle all the time. But now that I sew regularly, it never does so (even tho I rarely oil the machine). Anyhow, I would recommend an entry-level Brother for a new sewist. I think once a somebody begins sewing more often, they won't be happy with only having a straight stitch option.

  26. I'm a beginner...well was a beginner. And bought a Brother Innovis 40. I love it. Sure, I probably won't pass it off to my not-yet-in- existence children, but it has served me well and has carried me into intermediate-dome quite well. I don't want anything else out of a machine for the time being.

  27. Both my partner and I sew on 2 vintage Singer Rocketeers (500A) and a Singer 431G but we also have 2 Necchi Supernova's available (they're actually under the cutting table). I learnt to sew on my Mother's Singer treadle and she bought me a Brother for my very own when she realised I was using her machine more than she was. That brings back memories!

    I would most definitely recommend a Brother for a starting machine... they're easy to use, have an easy to understand manual and a variety of stitches should someone desire.

  28. I like my new Brother (CS6000I, fwiw). It wasn't expensive ($170 from Amazon) & it works nicely. If someone is just starting & keeps on with it, they'll know more of what they are looking for the next time. If not, it's not a big investment.

    I, otoh, am lusting for the new Bernina 830. :-)


  29. Peter, I agree with you 100%. I have a Brother XL 2600 that I bought as an absolute beginner 5 years ago. I sewed a little on it, and then put it away for a while, as I did not yet have the patience to sew well. No matter, it only cost me $65 or $70. When I pulled it out again and began to sew wearable clothing (at least some of the time:)I found that it did everything I needed it to do, and without too much confusion or frustration. I have recommended it to many because it is "sewing dummy proof," as it has a drop in automatic bobbin and a diagram on the front to remind you how to thread it properly. I can't say enough about it, and it has definitely been worth the initial investment. I bought a vintage Kenmore in a table not too long ago, and I felt much more confident learning to use it after having the experience with an easy to use machine. I love the Brother so much that when I decided to buy a serger I went for the 1034D. It is reasonable with my budget, it does what I need, and it is easy to thread with the diagrams again. (via eBay) is where I got my serger. It was a refurb and very reasonably priced. It was nice of you to try to steer Carol in the right direction.

  30. A.J.A. I also got my Brother 1034D as a refurb through and I've had it for nearly a year -- 100% trouble free.

    Thanks for the great advice, everyone!

  31. I am still very much a beginner, though I first starting expressing interest in sewing about seven years ago. My parents bought me the Kenmore Mini Ultra from Sears because they didn't think the interest would last. It's cheap, about $100, and tiny, but I've found it to be a really reliable machine for my purposes. One day I'd like to have something a bit bigger, but the Mini Ultra has been more than adequate and has even surprised me with how much of a workhorse it is. There are a few issues that pop up here and there, but if I'm using good thread and good needles I generally don't have too much of a problem. It comes with plastic bobbins, but those were terrible and I learned to use the regular metal bobbins.

  32. I'm a beginner and I have the basic Singer from Walmart. It probably cost $50 and has a straight and zig zag stitch and . . . well, that's it. It's been easy to learn on because it's so simple, but after a few projects I'm already itching for something a little more sophisticated. Something to help with buttonholes, a blind hem stitch, etc. So while simple is good, I wouldn't recommend bottom of the line. In addition to the quality issues, my cheapie is just too easily outgrown.

  33. When I taught sewing, Id always recommend a decent middle range machine. Something in the range of $200-$350. This would always weed out the people who were in it for the novelty of sewing, or those who really wanted to learn.

    I say that price range because often machines that are cheaper don't have gas petals with much variable speeds. Its GO or STOP. With a middle range machine, one has more control with speed of stitching. Also there's a better chance for a better motor. What if you want to sew denim on your starter? Good luck on a cheap plastic box.

    Also, middle value machines can let new sewers experiment a bit more and see if buying a next level machine is worth it, or stick with their entry one.

    Id they decide to go forth and sew, middle range machines have a bit more resale value, and often you can experiment with attachments.

    I also don't recommend computerized machines as a first sewing machine. Just a bad idea.

  34. Hi, Peter!

    Thanks for your lovely blog - Wonderful documentation of projects with trials and errors -I learn something every time I visit!, as well I love your whimsy and just plain "Fun" approach to life in your tangent posts! Carry on smartly, sir!

    1st - I think you are 100% accurate and correct in your assessment and response to the luggage seller. Good call on seller's integrity, and a very fair and just recourse on your part! :)

    and secondly I praise you for not wanting to sell your machine mismatched to the buyer!! Another testament to your integrity and genuine concern for the plight of the beginner.

    That said, My first machine, and still my primary workhorse is a Singer 6217. I've found it very good for my apprenticeship - plenty of features, all easy to use, not overwhelmingly complex, operation is very straightforward, and I've yet to find a bad habit in any of its function. Great for a solo beginner. For an intermediate, or a beginner with the resources of someone with a live human helper/teacher, I recommend a Singer 750 Golden T&S. A bit more complex, but I love the self-winding bobbin, needle threader, but just make sure it is in good working order, serviced by a competent technician, as the innards,while quite robust, are quite complex. Operation is a bit more complex than my 6217, but still quite easy with a user manual and patience for a very slight learning curve. Lots more decorative stitches, but I'm not a fan of cams - but since I rarely use these, it's no problem for me ;-)
    Whatever model, I think the ideal beginner machine must meet a few basic requirements:
    -Vintage machines are generally built to last and very mechanically simple (having less chances of things to go wrong.
    -should have zig-zag, easy-to-use button hole, blind hem and a few other basic stitches built-in, without the cumbersome cams if possible
    -drop-in bobbin. period.
    -full rotating hook. not the oscillating hook. drop-in bobbin is usually, if not always associated with a rotating hook
    -should have free-arm with extension, and be installed in a cabinet if possible - I think it best to have a relatively permanent "sewing place" set up for the comfort and ease of the operator. This should be a happy place where the sewist finds peace and enjoys being and wants to return to frequently ;-)
    -My 6217 meets all these criterion. for new machines, I suggest cg590 (a supercharged 6217) or a 4423 (one-step buttonhole) both have needle threaders, too.

    I'd like to entertain other suggestions as to these requirements from others - I'm sure to have missed something! ;-)

    God bless you, Peter, in all your endeavors! :-D

  35. I'm sewing on the brother of the machine I learned to sew on. And it's a vintage Pfaff. My 1222E was state-of-the-art in about 1965. It predates me. But I'm not sure I'd rec it to a newbie. The tension is fussy. Weird things (like the feed dogs loosening themselves) happen on a semi-regular basis. And it was expensive. Pfaffs seem to have held their value well. Mine was $500 off ebay. My Mom's was just about that brand new. (Hers is a 1222... the just younger brother.)

    My sister wanted a machine and we picked up a Brother at a yard sale for her for $15. It works well, does what she need it to, and it was cheap. She wants a Pfaff like mine and my mom's, but unless I win the lottery, it's not happening.

    While I haven't used all the embroidery stitches, I've used all of the functions, and the needle position switching is invaluable for french seaming and for getting exact 1/4 inch seams for quilting. Mine is a good all-around machine. It can quilt stuff, manually embroider stuff, and has an array of stitches for every occasion. But as I said... it has quirks. While I'm used to it, a newbie probably needs a more user friendly machine. Maybe one of the new ones that has an electronic, automatic buttonhole function?

  36. I wouldn't recommend a newer, lightweight plastic machine to a new sewer. I would suggest going to a dealer and get a used mechanical zig zag machine. NewVintage Lady's recommendation of a mid-range machine and the reasons for her recommendation are great!

  37. I agree with your advice, Peter. Last year when I decided I wanted to learn, I bought a Singer from the 60's. I don't remember the model number, but I was seduced by its lovely mint green color. Even though I took it to be tuned up, I never got comfortable with it. I found the speed really hard to regulate and I had awful trouble with the tension. It just wasn't for me. My mother got me a Janome 500 as a present, and I've never looked back!

  38. I've had a basic Brother for nearly 10 years and its never done the things I need it to do and never felt right, but then I was brought up using hand-turn/treadle Singers and old green Berninas at school. At the moment its the all-or-nothing footpedal I hate most. I'm looking out for something a bit more heavyweight now, perhaps vintage.

    If I'd sewn with the Brother first I might have given up sewing altogether, so I wouldn't recommend it.

  39. First of all I would tell a new sewist to NEVER EVER buy a sewing machine or serger from Walmart, I know people who have and have never got them to work consistently, even with servicing. Second, I would go with a basic Kenmore (made by Janome), with zigzag, buttonholer, maybe an overlock stitch. My first machine was a Kenmore and I loved that machine, I have now upgraded to a new Kenmore, love it too. The plus with Kenmores (imho) is that they come with a DVD showing you how to use them, something I have referred to many times.

  40. My first machine, bought just 3 years ago, was a Brother 2600i that cost $100-$120 at the time but is now on Amazon for $86. It was the perfect starter machine for me: easy to use, sturdy and with a few features to grow into, like buttonholes and a blind hem stitch. I had no sewing experience at all when I got it.

    I've upgraded since, but have passed the Brother on to another beginner. It's still going strong.

  41. Last Christmas I gave my 13 year old daughter a Kenmore 1030. It's very small and portable, does straight, zigzag, blindstitch and one or two others. It's vintage and very cute. Anyway, she has jumped into using it and loves it. I only paid $35, too, which was great.

    If you really want vintage, this is a good way to go.


  42. Hi Peter!
    I am a bit late here, but would like to put my oppinion. I own just vintage machines and I love them! One of my friends, an absolut begginer, asked me for some recommendation a year ago. At that time I was 100% convinced that vintage would be the best choice! Although I recognized that, a beginner would have liked also to try fancy stitches and also to do buttonholes. So the choice was a Singer 5107, from the 70's. This model is not the strong- bilt Singer anymore, it was made in Taiwan, but still all metal outside and that we got for €30 with manual and complete attachments. If for one side I thought was the right model choice, for the other, I needed to visit her all the time to clean the machine, put to test all the stiches and, give her some simple notions about needles and threads, etc. All in all, it was a lot of "couching" and phone calls, because she was constantly thinking, that the machine had problems, just because it was old. I am sure now, that if it was a new new one, she would have immediatelly recognized that the problem was only her lack of experience.

    So I would recommend the vintages if, like you said, the person knows someone, who is willing to help with the machine, or if the person has the natural interest and respect for old things, if not, better that he/she buys one of the new plastic models and lives happy!

    in Germany

  43. Kenmore 1030 -- I'm jealous!

    I agree with you Andrea -- great points!

  44. I LOVE my Necchi Lydia's...yes, I have 3 of them! I absolutely love them and are perfect for the beginner sewer because they are so simple. I buy old machines...not computerized ones...I am talking OLD. I fix them up and when someone wants to learn to sew before they buy I let them take a machine to play with. I usually give them a lesson or two to get them going. I also have a few quilting tools to send along also until they feel they can get their own. I buy sewing tools and rulers on sale so I can pass the savings on to them. I have quite an assortment of extra things for people who do not want to go into the expense of buying all kinds of tools they may not need at first. I just think being able to sew opens up a whole new world for those that need a creative outlet and I want to be a part of that!

  45. That's fantastic, LaRae -- very inspiring!

  46. As a 41-year-old dude who's just purchased a rather nice 1952 Singer 206K25 for $12.99 I can only say the vintage aesthetics of the machine are the only reason I have it. I'm a complete beginner...not yet even threaded the machine up...we'll see if this fad sticks with me.

  47. i love sewing, but do everything by hand as i cant afford a machine, however i have just inherited this LYDIA and she is lovely, all working, but i have no manual and i dont know how to thread her, would hate to do it wrong and nobody seems to have these anymore its all the LYDIA 3, and they arent the same!!! I cant find instructions anywhere!! Could anyone help me please!? Xx


  48. I bought the brother LS2125 as my first machine and agree completely with you. This unit has features I haven't even tried yet, but has only caused a problem when I ask too much, such as expecting it to sew through several layers of denim without jamming. I only wish there were more patterns available for men. I'm recently retired and just started sewing as a way to put in time.

  49. Oh my goodness. The Necchi Lydia was my first sewing machine! Or rather, Mum had one and my sister and I learnt to sew on it. She traded it in for a Globe, which turned out to be nowhere near as good. I loved that Lydia! :)

  50. Hey. Is a singer 217 (1960's model) a good starting model for men's shirts?



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