There are essentially two different types of sewing machines on the market, regardless of brand. They are mechanical and electronic.

A mechanical machine is typically more basic and requires you to make many adjustments manually. It will likely have some decorative stitches, too. These machines are the least expensive and great for a beginner who isn't entirely committed to sewing and wants to give it a try. You might note that I use strictly mechanical machines myself.

Electronic machines are somewhat easier to use because they do more things automatically. They usually have a lot more decorative and utility stitches built in. Many of these machines are computerized and the higher end machines will do embroidery work automatically. These machines can get really, really expensive.

When you go to purchase a machine, the first thing you'll find out is that you can't get a lot of machines from a regular retailer like Amazon or your local variety store. Many manufacturers will only sell through authorized dealers.

In the past, this made more sense, but I don't understand this type of marketing in today's world. I think a lot more of their machines would be sold and more people would really get into sewing, if they were more accessible.

Vacuum Stores?

For some odd reason, you'll find that authorized dealers of sewing machines are often the same people who sell vacuums. You'll see a lot of dealers like Acme Sew & Vac. Unfortunately, in my experience, many of these dealers are not very good with helping you make a purchase decision.

They are either very focused on the sewing machine sales with a ton of machines, services, classes and accessories or they are fairly clueless.

I have purchased from both in the past. I went into a very well re-known dealer in my city who has a showroom that would intimidate even the seasoned professional. I depended on them to help me make my purchase decision.

I ended up spending thousands of dollars, yes that is plural, on an an electronic embroidery machine. In all the time I had it, I embroidered one thing and that was a test sample. I never put any embroidery on anything I made. I didn't even use the built-in decorative stitches.

That machine was destroyed when it was hit by a car in my home.

Crazy huh? (We were asleep in another room and no one was hurt.)  Anyway, I needed to purchase another machine. I decided that I was not going to go back to that prior dealer. I found a smaller dealer looking for more practical advice.

They turned out to be the clueless people I mentioned earlier. They were absolutely no help at all. However, I was a little smarter this time around and purchased a machine within my budget and capabilities.

The moral of this story is that you should NEVER depend on the retailer to help you make your purchase decision. Do your own homework. Make a list of all the things you want to sew. Are you really into fashion sewing, home dec or general crafts? Are you going to be able to justify the expense of a fancier machine by devoting more time to sewing?

I did a lot of research on the net regarding a beginner machine, so that I could make some type of recommendation to you. Time and again the recommendations were for the Brother machines and you don't have to visit an authorized retailer to buy one.

I would opt for the computerized one, if you can afford it. You'll get more built-in stitches, an assortment of presser feet, speed controller, wider stitch width and better tension adjustment.

Another great option is a used machine. Some of the older machines are excellent. They may not have all the bells and whistles, but they are workhorses. You can get a used machine from a sew and vac dealer. They will usually give you some kind of warranty on it, too.

My only advice here is to go with an older used machine. They are cheaper to repair and a lot of times you can do your own maintenance on them without packing it off to the dealer, which is what you have to do with the more modern models because of the electronics.

I thought my new electronic machine was perfect until I inherited my mom’s 1961, Italian made Necchi. It’s the best machine I’ve ever used and it has no electronics. I swear this thing purrs when you use it.

Of course you can visit an authorized dealer and buy a new machine. They do have some models that are less expensive and you have the opportunity to test drive the machines right there. Just make sure they don't upsell you on a machine with features you'll never use.

Sewing Machine Checklist

I’ve created a sewing machine purchase checklist that you can use to prioritize your needs. Use it to do a bit of research before you buy a machine, so you get exactly what you need.