Onto the Web and Off to the Store

Within the last post, the features of sewing machines available at different price ranges were discussed.  Now that you know a bit more about what range you’ll delve into, you are prepared to move forward.

Let’s Shop Around for that Sewing Machine

You have been given the ability to think more critically through many details pertaining to your aspirations, needs, sewing habits, sewing frequency, and more.  It’s time to search the web and visit your local store to find the ideal sewing machine for you!

There is a chart you can (download here), to help you as you fine-tune your choices.  Use it as you’d like.  Make notes on it.  It will help you find a selection of sewing machines that suit your habits and needs.

After you review the chart, you should be prepared enough to start diligently looking for that sewing machine.  With your group of choices in mind, you can confidently begin searching the web based on price, manufacturer, or features.  It is a good idea to search in all of these aspects to find all sewing machines that are tailored toward what you require.

Start by checking online.  Read the reviews of the different machines.  Don’t focus only on the good reviews.  Scroll down and read the one- and two-star reviews.  Many times, this is where a very particular aspect about the sewing machine is revealed.  It might be the detail that sways you against an otherwise appropriate fit.

As you narrow the choices, there may be something that knocks out a few machines from being viable options.  For instance, you may find a great sewing machine with all of the options you need, but you might need to cross it off of your list based on price.  You will be left with a few others on your list that have similar options, but they’ll fall into a better price range for your needs.

Now that you have a handful to choose from, it’s time to take them for a test drive.

Take Some Sandwiches With You, It Could Be a Long Day

What if the sewing machine you found can’t be tested by you?  Test similar more accessible sewing machines that have features you like, or that fall into a price range that is comfortable to you.

To prepare for your tests, I urge you to take samples of fabric that you usually work on.  The sewing shops I have visited always have icky fabric in the machine.  Icky meaning the fabric is hardly what anyone would be sewing with.  These standard test strips are loosely woven, highly starched, and scratchy to the touch.  You might luck out with a better test strip at your local store, but don’t bet on it.

Take 4″ to 6″ widths of your selected fabrics, and combine them into thicknesses in the way that you would sew them together.  For example, if you are going to primarily quilt, sandwich your batting in between your two pieces of fabric.  This should help you determine the quality of the machine as you test sew them together. It would be a great idea to also bring the binding fabric and to test sew that onto your fabric sandwich as well.  Be ready to sew them by pinning them into sets and placing them into separate ziplock bags to keep them organized.  Make a few sets, some for each machine you will test out. Label all of your organizing bags so that you can evaluate them later.

You should prepare a few “fabric sandwiches“.  Yours might include zipper tape, decor trims, ribbons, buttons, belting, etc.  Don’t forget to include any interfacings you might use (in any of these mentioned or similar applications) in that sandwich.

When you arrive at your sewing machine dealer, let them know you’d like to test a few machines. Since you are there, go ahead and try out the fancier machines after you try the ones that you intended to.  Be diligent in testing the sewing stitch, sewing foot, or another specific task that is high on your list.  Make sure to take notes, and place them into the ziplock bags.  Tell the salesperson what you will be sewing and give them some of the information about requirements you have for your machine.  They may be able to guide you toward sewing machine floor models in stock that you can test, and that were not picked up by your original online search.

Be sure to thank the salesperson and let them know you will make your decision soon, and ask for their business card.

Hand Your Money Over With a Smile

When you are ready to re-evaluate your testing samples, make a few more notes.  A pros and cons list is a great help.  Make a few phone calls to check for any details you may have missed about the finalist machines.  Furthermore, the salesperson may have a special offer in effect, which could sway your final decision.

Once you have narrowed the contenders to the one you prefer, you’ll want to clear up any relevant servicing or maintenance costs.  They may be included under warranty, and again, this could be a financial incentive to buy a different sewing machine.

If you are making a purchase over the internet, read all of the reviews for that particular machine. Make sure that the return policy is clearly stated and that the seller has positive reviews.

I hope you have the patience to make it through all of these steps.  When you do the work to attain your perfect sewing machine, it will make the time you spend with that machine delectable!

In the next post, I’ll share how I came to own the machine that inspired this blog as a mini case study.

Continue on to the next in this series by clicking here, or choose from the options below.

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