Finding the best sewing machine for your needs is similar to dating. You will have to try many different brands & models to figure out which is best for your sewing level and needs. And yes, just like dating you will be disappointed by many machines before you find the right one.
I think the best time to purchase or upgrade a sewing machine is during the holiday season at the end of the year. Stores are trying to clear out their inventory and people are selling their old/used machines. All the major sales happen during this time and you can find a great deal with huge savings.
You can find some vintage machines for around $100, but expect to pay at least $200+ for most modern sewing machines. I bought most of my modern sewing machines from
Joann and Amazon for my handmade clothing business.
If you are looking to buy your first sewing machine, I highly recommend buying a secondhand/vintage one. Older machines are great to practice with and most vintage machines are higher quality than modern ones. When I was a child, I learned to sew on my mother's vintage Kenmore machine. She still uses it today and it's over 50 years old now and runs like new. With proper maintenance and frequent cleanings, your vintage machine can last a lifetime (or a few).
You can easily find vintage/secondhand machines on ebay, Facebook Marketplace and local thrift stores. You should ask your parents/relatives if they have any old machines that they are planning on getting rid of. Most older machines are made of metal and have a heavier frame. These machines were built to last unlike most modern machines that have more plastic bodies.
I have used a variety of brands and machines in my 30+ years of sewing experience.
Below are my favorite machines that have been essential to my handmade business
for the past 10 years:
Janome HD1000 Black Edition
I'm going to honest, the main reason why I bought this machine was because it was all black (and I own 3!). But the original model is available in white and a great machine to have for beginner to advanced sewists. It does the essential straight, zigzag and 3-step zigzag stitches effortlessly. It has a buttonhole feature and a variety of sewing feet attachments that are perfect for apparel making. This machine is available at Joann
, ebay and Amazon
The metal frame is heavier and sturdy, especially for sewing thicker materials like denim. I've seen apparel makers using this machines as well as accessory makers and quilters.
The Juki tl-2000qi is my favorite machine and I use this to sew the final stitches onto every handmade order. I ordered mine on Amazon here
. This is a semi-industrial machine that is an absolute beast for heavy straight stitching. It’s a popular model for quilters, but I love it for my own apparel sewing needs. If you don’t have the space or budget for an industrial straight stitch, I highly recommend this model.
Brother 1034d Serger/Overlock
This Brother 1034d is a FAVORITE for indie fashion designers. It’s my favorite for sewing knits and I love this machine so much that I own 4 of them. I sew at a high volume with various color thread cones. To save time and for maximum efficiency, I keep two machines with black & white thread cones. The other two sergers are for rotating different color threads.
It’s beginner-friendly and easy to use for advanced sewists too. This is a great value for serging professional seams if you are unable to invest in an industrial serger that can cost thousands. I know so many indie lingerie makers who use this machine.
I ordered all of mine from Amazon
. You can find this machine at Joann
, ebay and even Facebook Marketplace (new and used).These are not essential, but great additional machines to help with a variety of sewing projects:
Brother 2340cv Cover Stitch
Some sergers have a cover stitch feature, but if are serious about sewing apparel then invest in a cover stitch machine. This Brother 2340cv
is my favorite for finishing hems on my bamboo jersey mini dresses. It adds a professional finish on sleeves, necklines/collars and hems. I've also used the Janome Cover Pro 1000CPX
too.Brother PE800 Embroidery
I purchased this Brother PE800
because I wanted to embroider my own custom bats & spiderwebs onto my garments. It’s an easy machine for a variety of embroidery projects.
I still do not own any industrial machines. I've been made fun of by some designers who scoff at how my apparel business uses domestic sewing machines. Industrial machines are expensive and an investment for many garment manufacturers and home/small business sewists. I think it's silly to assume that everyone can afford and only use the most expensive machines and supplies. There is always a machine to match your budget so keep shopping around for the best deal. I know plenty of sewists who use industrial machines, and still create very simple garments. Don't feel like you have to invest in the most expensive machines to begin your sewing journey. I grew up with extremely limited finances and working with a small business budget. I’m proud to have a collection of domestic machines that produce professional quality finishings.
Sewing will always remain a human/hands-on process. Your projects are the result of your hands and your machine. It's a very manual process and takes years of practice to hone your skills. This is my favorite part of the sewing journey. You have to make mistakes, learn from them, always continue learning and practicing. Most importantly just have fun with making and creating. Sewing has been like therapy for me and it's helped me through some of the worst years of my life. It can be a hobby and lucrative business.
Which sewing machine do you use or are you interested in?
*Disclaimer: With over 30 years of sewing experience, I am excited to independently share my technical sewing tips & tutorials through my own personal investments and honest experiences. My main goal is to keep my content free and accessible to everyone interested in sewing & creating. If you’d like to learn more about sewing & materials from me, I have included affiliate links which I receive small commissions to continue growing my content.