“Shall I buy a sewing machine for my enthusiastic little fashion designer”?

So she wants a sewing machine…
I often get asked “what sewing machine do you recommend”?

In our classes we use a Janome 3018LE. This machine was the best option for me and our purpose. I needed a machine that was not too complicated for beginners & novice sewers. One that had more ‘metal’ internal components (rather than plastic), durable, tough and will last for years giving us a reliable, consistent performance. And of course, value for money. Usually RRP $599 – they are currently on sale at Sewco Sewing Centre (Mt Gravatt) for $399.
I talked to Linda de Hoy from Urban Sewing Lounge (shes been in the biz for years), her point blank opinion was that you cannot buy a good machine for less than $400. And after road testing a few cheaper models (you know the ones you see for around $150), I have to agree with her. Like many appliances these days you can buy cheaper options, but they rarely perform as well as a better model and certainly do not have the ‘after-sales’ service, if you need a demonstration or it breaks down (a repair would in fact cost more than you bought it for)!

“But she is only 9yrs old” I hear you say. And “how do I know it wont be cast aside”? I can’t suggest how much is too much to spend on a Christmas or birthday present, but I CAN tell you, that if a machine is clunky to use, gets tangled often and does’t ‘feel’ good. Then it is more likely to put them off, (YOU too after you have untangled it a few times), then it certainly will be cast aside.

It has a motor!
Within a machine’s motor and components, there are varying degrees of quality etc. and so the cost varies. Like any machine, you want to get longevity from it, you want it to last and work well. You don’t want it to be too noisy and awkward. You want to enjoy using it with ease. You want to get value out of it.

If you still do want to go ahead and buy a new in the box cheaper machine, then by all means do it. You may be lucky and it works a treat for your budding sewer to learn on and will meet your immediate needs. Below are some tips to think about before you buy.



1. Invest in some classes first. Turn it into a Gift Voucher and make a big deal out of it. (my own kids like yours sometimes convince me they “are dying to do something” only to not like it or give it up after I’ve paid for the outfit or instrument)! There are a growing number of Sewing Machine Classes for kids dotted around in our major cities including our own here in Brissie.

2. Dust of the old family machine and get it serviced. Put a bright new cover on it (hard or soft) you could even personalise it. You can buy these in Spotlight and various stores online. Customers tell me often about machines they have had for 20years and still going strong.

3. Source reconditioned or ex-demo machines. You’ll get a good price on an older, quality model but without the new price tag. Three places in Brisbane are Sewco Sewing & Patchwork (Mt. Gravatt), River City Sewing Machine Centre (Wynnum) & Hendersons Sewing Machines (Chermside).

4. Decide if having a good sewing machine in the home would be useful. Maybe it IS time to invest in one. Its not too late to learn, and knowing basic operation can come in useful (think of those last minute dress-ups when you find out the day before).

5. Don’t overcomplicate it. Unless you plan to do lots of fancy stuff. Look at machines that are easy to use and set-up. A ‘variable speed control’ may be something to consider but not essential. (otherwise you control the speed with your foot pedal). You can do a lot with a basic, good machine. Rely more on your creativity rather than fancy stitches for now.

6. Think about where it can be set up. They do take up space but are much more likely to be used for spontaneous creativity when already set up and ready to go with the flick of a switch. Sewing takes practise and if your daughter/son wants to make and create and get good results, then they will need to practise a lot! Even if its not a long term option, allow the ‘sewing set-up’ to be in place for a little while so that you or your newbie sewer can have a good go at practising.

And enjoy!

(I am not endorsing nor have been paid for any opinions expressed in this post along with recommendations). 

Happy Christmas!


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