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Help guy w/ sewing machine gift need pls

cudavid | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi, I am a guy from Cooks talk, Knots, or breaktime, but never a Threads poster!

My 20 year old daughter  used to do some sewing when she was 13/14 years old  w/ Walmart $99.00 sewing machine, now she wants a machine for her birthday as she wants to get back into it.  Consider her a beginner.

I am clueless, I looked on ebay, and see way too much! What is a good/ bad /brand/ model for a beginner? What should I look for/ stay away from?

 Thanks to all for any help/ comments. I am hoping to spend $200 on ebay or elsewhere as a budget.



  1. maggiecoops | | #1

    Well you certainly asked a loaded question, it's as bad as writing to a car forum and asking what's the best car to get for my child. We will all tell you ours are best, why? because it's what we chose for ourselves. http://www.sewvacdirect.com/sewmachcats.html this is a link to page that allows you to look at machines in whichever price range you're aiming at.

    If your daughter is a beginner she needs a no nonsense machine with swing needle capability,( zigzag ). She does not need a zillion fancy stitches, touch screens, or endless menus, she will need a straight stitch foot, zipper foot, satin stitch foot possibly a button hole foot, rolled hem foot, and if you can get one an overcast foot. That is a very basic range of feet for sewing. Get the biggest wattage motor you can, she needs to know she can sew for a while before things get warm. All the major makes do high quality budget sewing machines. E Bay can be a nightmare for buying machines. Lots of folks of bought very succesfully, but there are some who have paid their money and are still waiting for the goods. Try to purchase from a dealer, local if possible, so your daughter can just drop by when she needs help. A dealer might have classes in basic sewing techniques, at the very least they'll be able to point her in the direction of help as well.  Play your cards right and your daughter could be filling your wardrobe as well as her own!!

  2. PowellPat | | #2

    I agree w/ everything maggiecoops said. With that I'll add that you can check Consumer's Report. The last review I saw rated Sear's as "best buy" because it handled all but very heavy fabrics well and you got more bang for the buck (more accessories, feet and stitches). HOWEVER, there is no dealer to help if she needs it. I have a friend who is very satisfied w/ her Sear's machine but she is experienced and needs no help. On the other hand, I consider myself a beginner and have used my dealer frequently. Of course, if you go the non-dealer route, your dgt can probably find a beginner's class at a fabric store.

  3. mygaley | | #3

    Buy from a dealer so she will have somewhere to go to learn. I bought a used Pfaff computerized at my dealer and the lessons came with it. God bless you both Galey

  4. Crazy K | | #4

    I bought a Janome 'Sew Precise' for my granddaughter last year.  She is also a beginner (17 yr. old) but does a lot of costume stuff for her drama club at school.  I think I paid a little more than your budget but it's a great machine, easier to use and she absolutely loves it.  It does straight, zig-zag lots of utility and stretch stitches as well as a great and very easy buttonhole.

    I have to agree with one poster that mentioned going to a dealer.  That way if she has trouble, she can go for help.  Things on ebay come with a no-guarantee thing and no one to turn to with problems.

    Dealers do have sales and deals and maybe you could bargain with a local dealer.  It's a week late but we were able to 'wheel and deal' last Christmas for a serger for the same granddaughter.  They wanted to reduce year-end inventory.........

    O.K........I've give you way too much nonsense but you have my nickel's worth!


  5. Ralphetta | | #5

    Consider a good dealer your "tech" support.  It is well worth the few dollars  more that it might cost on Ebay. As someone mentioned, they usually give a free class or two  to teach how to use the machine.  It's in their interest to keep her interested in sewing.  Actually, since many people upgraded their machines at Christmas time,  there might be some really good bargains that were trade-ins.  Find a reliable dealer and let them help you.    

  6. OmaAnnie | | #6

    As was said previously most dealers will give lessons to get her going but something else to keep in mind is that if she really does get into the sewing hobby she can always go back to that dealer (who will now know her and her machine) with some "trade in value".

  7. sewornate | | #7

    If you find a used machine on E-bay, I would recommend a 401-A Singer.  They were made in the USA and have some decorative stitches, zigzag, have a slant needle.  It is a gear driven electric machine from the early 60's.  Models that came out after that were not as good.  These have stood up well over time. 

    I buy them used whenever I find them at auction, clean them up and give them (or sell them for what I have in them) to beginners.  Often these have been setting around unused, so they need cleaned and run a bit.  That will loosen them up.  If you have a Singer dealer in your area, they will do this for you for a fee of course.  This particular machine has held it's value well so if you buy it from a dealer, it could still be $200 or so. 

  8. Dogscatschickens | | #8

    The Janome is a good band to try.   Also I think you should think about purchaseing from a local dealer that gives lessons and support.  That way maybe she will stay interested.

  9. sewtimely | | #9

    the best advise you can get...see a dealer.  I have complete faith in my sewing machine dealer.  They know their machines.  You should be able to walk in, tell them about her experience, what kind of sewing she expects to be doing, your price range, and they can show you machines to fit her perfectly.  They will sit down, show you machines and their abilities, and then best of all, she can call them with any questions about the machine, you will have a good warranty, and service.  I hope you are in an area where you have a good dealer.  I wouldn't go any other way.  I've bought 3 machines in 30 years, from the same dealer and I am looking to buy one for a family member.  I told went in told them what I wanted, and they showed me the one I want.  I love them and trust them.  I hope she enjoys sewing and appreciates the gift that you give her. 

    You're a special dad.  I have seen so many that wouldn't care that much.  God bless you.


    1. BernaWeaves | | #10

      I agree with everyone here.  Buy from a dealer.  Many have used machines that they have refurbished, at a good price.  But the best is, they usually give free lessons and are always available for techinical support questions.

      Bring your daughter with you.  Let her know your budget dollar amount, and let her talk to the dealer and try out the machines.

      I went to a dealer for my first new machine and bought a Janome and I just love it.  I think Janome makes the Sears / Kenmore machines, but you don't get the tech support from Sears.


  10. ctirish | | #11

    Hi, I don't know if you have done any looking yet but I thought I would suggest a website. It is called Patternreview.com and it has reviews of many of the sewing machines and prices. Several of the high-end manufacturers have developed a less expensive model for the beginner sewer. I would read some reviews, buy a magazine or two about sewing, Threads, Sew Stylish and read the ads for the new machines. Very few places tell you the price it is a lot like buying a car, so ask about a better deal or what they can add to the deal. Also make sure the dealer offers FREE lessons on the machine, as many as she needs to get comfortable. If you can afford it offer to pay for a couple of classes for her to make a couple of garments. In a class you learn all of the tips and techniques for creating a good looking garment. I find a lot of younger women think they don't need a class and would rather spend their money on fabric. Then they are disappointed when their garment doesn't fit or come out the way they had expected.

    Good luck, j

  11. jjgg | | #12

    All the advice so far is great, but I really think you should let your daughter in on the selection of the machine. Take her to the dealer near yo and let her test drive the machines. There are some very nice basic machines for the price range you are looking at.

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