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Beginner Sewing 101

Claudia_Efthimos | Posted in The Archives on

I would like to find a fairly basic sewing machine around $100.
& any tips, or hints on where is the best place to get sewing supplies & material for the best price. Also what other sites are useful & any publications.


  1. ann_s. | | #1

    How do I miter a corner?

    1. Fran_Rohus | | #2

      *I would like to purchase a book of universal sewing terms and illustrations. Can anyone suggest something?

      1. Betty_Kershner | | #3

        *For the second 2 questions. One of my favorite Sewing Books is the one put out by Readers Digest. I honestly believe this is the best general sewing book on the market. You will find your answers in it.

        1. Chris_Knoblock | | #4

          *Claudia; I used to sell sewing machines at House of Fabrics in San Diego, CA. Even our most basic machine (only straight stitch) was $150. And to get zigzag, buttonhole, and blind hem (just the essentials), $300. You can look for a good used machine from a dealer; I don't recommend buying one privately. Be sure to test sew on it; plan on spending about an hour at the store sewing. Chris.

          1. Janet_Hill | | #5

            *Dear Claudia,I purchased a basic Singer, model 4562T, at Walmart for around $100. It has endured heavy use including tailoring for others, sewing a wardrobe for myself and making my wedding dress, with a 4 foot train, 4 bridesmaid dresses and a flower girl dress in the 2 years I have owned it.It does everything that I need, including button holes. It also has several decorative stitches. I purchased different presser feet at my local sewing retailer which allowed me to do even more on it. I believe the extras were worth it, but they were pricey. You wouldn't need them to start out with, however.As for supplies, I look for bargins. My local JoAnn Fabrics has a bargin room. They often have wonderful, designer fabric on sale as soon as it's out of season. I also purchase large amounts of versatile fabric when there's a good price. I am on the mailing list, as well. JoAnn's sends out good coupons every so often.I never pay full price for any pattern. They go on sale frequently, so I take advantage of every sale by buying the limit of patterns. I subscribe to Butterick magazine. They offer good deals on patterns by mail. Of course, I love Threads magazine!I don't think you need to go out and spend a fortune to start sewing. Chances are, if you enjoy it and keep doing it, you'll upgrade machines. No one I know learned to drive in a Rolls-Royce.

          2. silkscape_ | | #6

            *I sewed with a basic zigzag Singer purchased for around $300 12 years ago with no problems all these years until I purchased a computerized model, so I do think you can produce beautiful work with an inexpensive machine. After all, the best "couturiers" use mostly handstitching and would probably consider all the decorative stitches a cop out. However, if you are willing to spend $450 or so, I'd like to recommend a babylock proline 6200. I just recommended it to my mom, also a beginner. This machine is a gem, with a sturdy, smooth, quiet stitch...one-step buttonhole, needle threader, top-leading bobbin, 3-step zigzag (great for seam finishing), infinite needle positions, and quite a nice selection of decorative stitches. Take a look andf let me know what you think.

          3. Terry_L_Hazelton | | #7

            *Claudia,Have you looked at reconditioned machines or trade-ins?? My repair man is so good I would by anything that he said would last, and they usually have very good prices.Terry H

          4. Eni_Chan | | #8

            *I've never picked up a sewing needle before but I love altering my clothing by removing sleeves from a shirt or turning out-dated pants into more fashionable capris. However, I'm spending a small fortune at the tailor's to make these alterations. I have a simple sewing machine at home and I'd love to learn to do it myself but how? I've tried to learn from books but they use terms I've never even heard of. The local community college doesn't have a class on sewing and no one else I know sews either. How do I get started?

          5. Virginia_Crawford | | #9

            *Hi Claudia. You've probably already bought a sewing machine by now, but in case you're still looking here's a tip - take scraps of fabrics to try sewing on. A decent machine will sew well on thick fabrics or flimsy ones without too much tension adjustment. I prefer to buy machines that are mechanical rather than computerised so that any repairs are fairly easily made. I use an industrial machine for straight sewing (Singer 491), a very plain domestic for buttonholes, a Bernette 334DS for overlocking, and a little old 1940's Singer for special details. This last has lots of attachments for pleating, pintucking, keyhole buttonholes, binding, roll hemming...and was only NZ$32!I scour second hand bookstores for dressmaking books. The Singer one that used to come out with their machines is good. Best of luck,V.

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