How to choose a Sewing machine November 7, 2020 13:11

Looking to buy a sewing machine but don't know where to start?

Don't panic buy here's some advice from our studio owner and sewing teacher Linzi. 

Janome 230DC

Teaching beginners to sew I often hear “what machine should I buy?” and “can you recommend one??”

Here’s my guide to buying a sewing machine and what to look for when buying a domestic machine.

My personal preferences are digital operationtop loading bobbin with a one step button hole and snap on accessories (feet) these features make the machine much quicker and easier to use especially if you are a beginner.

Things to consider when buying:

Digital or Manual model?

The digital will have a small display screen and navigation to help you choose stitch settings quickly and may carry more stitches than on a manual machine. Whereas the manual machine will use turn dials for stitch settings like length and width.

 Top loading or Front loading spool?

Top loading is more simple and you can see the spool during sewing to check how much thread you have left. (Note if the listing does not advertise this as a feature it probably is not top loading so always check the photos!)

Top loading spool sewing machine

New / second hand / reconditioned / ex demo – Second hand is always an option, but consider where will you get it serviced? Search local servicing centres before purchasing a second hand machine. And if your machine is missing accessories or parts you can usually contact the maker directly and download some manuals online for modern machines. Some shops will also sell pre-loved and ex demo machines so you could grab a bargain.

Most importantly – Your budget! – Consider how much you want to spend and how often you will use the machine before you start looking. I suggest you will have to spend at least £100 for a brand new model.


Trusted Brands:

I can personally recommend Janome who supply the machines that I teach with, I have used the 230DC for some years now but the other big hitters to consider are Brother, Singer and Elna.

Where to buy?

Shop local where possible, search for ‘sewing machine centers’ near to you and that way it will be easy to get your machine serviced in the future.

I am based in the North West UK and these are some of my nearest independent shops:

Hobkirk Blackburn – Sell Brother Elna and Janome, offers training on all machines purchased. Mention ‘Stitch Studio Ramsbottom’ for a little extra discount.

Bambers Manchester – Sell Bernina, Brother + Janome

Lords Accrington – Sell Brother


Buying for children or teens

I teach children from age 8 upward to use the sewing machine so I get asked about kids machines a lot. My advise is keep it simple but don’t underestimate what they will need if they are seriously interested in sewing. Consider buying second hand or ex-demo to see if the hobby sticks before splashing out in haste.

 Childrens sewing classes


My advise when buying for youngsters is do not buy a toy machine, good sewing machines do not cost less than £80 new, in my experience these mini machines can be very limiting, so much so that they may put the child off entirely. Parts cannot be changed and projects are limited on these toys.

If you have a machine already in the house, supervise and teach them safety first but let them explore the machines capabilities in the way that only children can with complete creative freedom.

For more advice don't hesitate to get in touch and I can try to help.