If you love to sew or want to expand your crafting hobby, chances are you're in the market for a new sewing machine. While you might be overwhelmed by a dizzying array of machines with fancy computer modes, most sewing machines are basically the same. They operate by running thread through a needle that pierces your garment and stitches it for you. As you look for your first sewing machine, take a look at the basic components to make sure everything is a good fit for you. If you know the basics of a sewing machine, you will be able to identify which features are necessary for your hobby and which features you can do without.
Your sewing machine feeds the fabric past the needle and out the other side using a foot and feed dogs. The feed dogs are little moving grippers that snag hold of your fabric and propel it along. Back in the day, you would have to pull the fabric through yourself at just the right speed to get the perfect stitch length, but now the feed dogs do it for you while you guide the fabric on as straight or as curvy a line as you need. The foot is the part of the machine that rests directly on the fabric. If you plan to make garments, you will want several different types of feet for your machine to help you work in tight spaces, on different fabrics and in special designs, such as buttonholes. Consider the cost of zipper feet and buttonhole feet when you purchase your machine; you may end up spending a lot of money on these accessories if they don’t come included.
The threading components of your machine are also very important. Basically, you will use two threads to stitch your projects; the main thread and the bobbin thread. The main thread spool usually rests on top of your machine and feeds down through the needle. This is the thread that you will see on the top of your stitch. The bottom of your stitch is supplied by the bobbin, which is just a fancy name for a tiny thread spool that rests under your needle in the machine. The two threads, when working properly together, form a strong stitch on both the upper and lower sides of your garment. If the stitches are uneven or tangle, then you will need to adjust the thread tension mechanism on your machine to get them into alignment.
As you become a proficient sewer, you will find the thread selection on your machine to be very helpful. If you have a computerized machine, you may be able to select from hundreds of styles of stitches, including many decorative designs for all sorts of purposes. However, you don’t need all of those stitches in order to sew a garment; as long as you have a straight stitch, a zigzag and a buttonhole stitch option you should be find to sew most projects. As you get more confident in your sewing skills, you will be able to press your foot pedal to the maximum and power through Christmas presents, new outfits and home decor in record time.
Sewing machines can be as basic or as fancy as you like, but you want to make sure you get a quality workhorse that will last you for years.