Last week I started a new blog series called Frougie Tip Friday. My plan was to start at the beginning…acquiring the tools you need to sew but a new development in pattern sales made me jump ahead. Now I want to go back to the beginning.
I often hear people who are wanting to learn to sew say that sewing is expensive. This perceived expense will often stop them from learning to sew. While sewing can certainly become an expensive obsession hobby, it doesn’t have to be. The largest expense for a newbie sewist is likely a sewing machine. So today I’m going to give you some frougie tips on buying your first sewing machine.
1. Borrow one
My first machine, that I still use, is my mother’s. She had purchased a Singer Precision in the early 2000s under the guise that she would start sewing “again”. (I say again because I’ve never seen my mother sew.). If you ask around I bet your mother, aunt, friend or coworker has a machine sitting around unused. Hopefully they will be more than willing to let you borrow (or have) it rather than let it continue to collect dust. This can be a great way to see if you will truly enjoy sewing.
I went this route with the sincere plan to “try out” sewing. I figured my mother wasn’t using hers and there was no reason for me to spend $100+ dollars on a hobby I wasn’t sure I was good at or even liked. Obviously I ended up loving it and thankfully my mother realized she wasn’t get her machine back 🙂
CONS: You risk receiving a that is not in the best condition depending on how the machine was cared for.
NOTE: When borrowing a used machine try to have to owner find all the parts, especially the manual. If you can not find the manual do a google search with the model name/number and the word manual. You will likely find a free pdf of the manual available for download. The manual is the best way to learn to thread and troubleshoot your machine. Additionally depending on how well used and how cared for a machine was it may need to be serviced. Annual sewing machine maintenance is recommend and can cost anywhere from $75-$100+ depending on your area. You may come out better in the long run servicing a higher quality machine than spending the same amount on a beginners machine.
2. Buy a used one.
I’ve heard of several people finding amazing deals on new and used machines at thrift stores, garage sales as well as on eBay or Craigslist. My mother found Brother CS2300 sewing machine at a local thrift store for just $15. Thankfully, although it could’ve stood a good scrubbing, the machine worked well. I will probably have it serviced soon, but for now it works great for my stepdaughter to learn on. It was missing the flatbed arm attachment, but that is not a necessity for her.
PRO: Great deals can be found
CON: You risk purchasing a machine that is not in working condition. Likely accessories (like the feet, manual and power cord) could be missing.
NOTE: When buying used, keep in mind buyer beware. Do a quick search to be sure you are getting a great deal. Someone could be selling a nice used machine for $100 but if you could purchase that machine brand new for $125 I wouldn’t consider that a great deal. I’d prefer to pay the extra $25 for piece of mind. But if you can negotiate the seller down to $65-75 then I would buy. Another reason to be aware of retail cost is to be a better negotiator. Be clear on what accessories come with the machine. Does it include power cord, pedal, free arm, bobbins, needles? Some of these items can be purchased separately at frougie prices on either Amazon or eBay but they can add up. Also, and somewhat obvious but often overlooked, if you can test the machine do! This can not be accomplished when buying online, but if you see a sewing machine thrift store or can pick up an online purchase be sure to plug the machine in press the pedal and at least see if the needle goes up and down. If there is no electricity available then turn the handwheel (the big wheel on the right of the machine) towards you so see if the needle moves up and down without any thunks or clicking.
3. Watch Amazon
I’ve seen at least 3 machines offered as one of Amazon’s Deal of the Day in the past two months. Usually they have been exceptional prices on brand new machines. I almost gave in, twice!
Pro: brand new, a frougie deal, brand name, free shipping (typically)
Con: waiting for that great sale
NOTE: If you spot an Amazon deal of the day but early, these sales tend to sale out before the end of the day.
4. Buy online
Even if you can’t find a Deal of the Day on Amazon. You can often find a better price on Walmart.com, Amazon.com or Overstock.com Unlike the other options, which can take some time are usually involve some searching, by simply buying online you can have instant gratification and still get a good deal.
PRO: Brand new, free shipping (typically)
CON: Likely wont be a steal, but still a good deal.