Sewing Machines - Old vs New
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
One of the perks of servicing and repairing sewing machines, is that we get to see so many different types. It is always interesting chatting to customers who bring in older machines and hear their stories; it was a wedding present 40 years ago, I got it for my 21st Birthday, it was handed down from a grandmother, it was found at a car boot sale...
When they are bought in, we often get asked whether the owner should upgrade to a newer machine, and in most instances, after a service, the answer is no. If the machine works and does everything you want it to, then there is no reason to. However, if you would like some of the newer functions such as needle up/down, or a lighter machine to carry to classes, then it can be a good idea to buy a new machine.
- they are generally cheaper to buy
- many of the machines sew a lovely straight stitch
- the way they are built means you can clean and oil them easily
- the tension is easy to adjust, and so they are good for sewing with thicker threads
- lots of the machines are made of metal, and so built to last
- the hand crank machines are very good to use with children, as they can control the speed easier than with a foot control.
- they can also be used in the garden for summer sewing, as they don't need to be plugged in.
- the machines look stylish. My 1918 Singer had some fairy lights round it at Christmas!
- the machines can be really heavy, not easy to transport to classes, or even around the house.
- buying new feet for them can be tricky, and for lots of the machines not many types of feet were made.
- lots of older machines only do a straight stitch.
- if you buy a second hand machine as it is inexpensive, it is likely you will need to get it serviced, so you have to add this to the cost.
- it may not have a manual, so you will need to find one online
- if you do not know where the machine has come from, you do not know its history. It maybe that it was used in a school for 30 years, and so is feeling a little frail, and won't give you the best results.
- you can have confidence it will work straight out of the box.
- most come with an over edge stitch, which is better for neatening seams than a zig zag.
- many have a speed control facility, which is good for sewing with children, or if you are new to sewing.
- they can be easier and cheaper to fix as the parts are still being made
- it will come with a manual, and there will be Youtube videos to help you get started
- many of them are light, so easy to transport and take to classes
- new machines come with a warranty, so you can have confidence you will have a working machine
- some modern machines are very good looking. We like the DKS100 and the Bernina 380 is very nice.
- sewing machines can be expensive.
- some new machines are not as well made, so be careful before you buy, and shop from a reputable specialist retailer.
- many now only come with a dust cover, so you need to buy a bag or keep it in the box between use.
Whichever machine you have, or are planning to buy, do remember...
- change the needle often
- use good quality thread
- clean your machine regularly, and make sure it is covered when not in use to protect it from dust.
Choosing a sewing machine - mechanical or computerised?
2 CommentsSunday, 13 January 2013 | Nicole
One of the most common questions we get asked in the shop is whether people should buy a mechanical or computerised sewing machine.
There are pros and cons of both, but overall it is mainly down to your preference. This however, doesn’t make the decision process any easier – so today we share with you the pros and cons of both!
Mechanical sewing machines
Familiarity – Most people have used a mechanical machine before either in a class, or even when they were at school. This means mechanical machines feel familiar. This is a real benefit because you already roughly know how it works – and can dive straight into a project when you take home your new machine.
Nostalgia – There’s something nostalgic about a mechanical machine. Whether that’s a distant childhood memory of your granny sewing your clothes, or the beautiful, classic sewing machines from the 50s.
A break from technology – So many parts of our lives are computerised these days that some people prefer to use a mechanical machine to relax and unwind and feel that at least one part of their life isn’t connected to a computer.
Price – Mechanical machines start at a much lower price range than computerised ones. The Janome 525, which is one of the most popular machines for beginners, starts at £249
More processes needed – When using a mechanical machine there are many more processes needed than when using a computerised one. For example, you always have to use the turning wheel to control the needle which makes sewing much more time consuming.
Less button hole options – If you like making clothes, then you are limited in choice when it comes to button holes.
Janome CXL301 - £269
Computerised sewing machines
Time-saving extras – Computerised sewing machines often come with some fantastic features like the ‘needle down’ function. This means that whenever you stop sewing, it stops with the needle in the fabric making it much quicker to turn fabric. Other great features include ‘locking stitch’ which finishes your stitching underneath for a neater finish.
More control – A computerised machine has much better speed control, and you can also choose to have no foot control at all.
Versatile – Whether you are sewing very delicate fabric, or thick layers - a computerised machine copes well with variation and has accurate tension control.
Optional extras – The higher spec machine you get, the cooler the features! The higher range computerised machines come with features like the cutting tool which cuts your thread for you! They also tend to have more options such as a wider range of button hole options.
Lighter – Computerised machines are often lighter to carry than mechanical machines – but again this is a personal preference. Some people might prefer a heavy machine as it makes them feel like it won’t easily break!
Daunting – Some people might feel overwhelmed with all the buttons on a computerised machine and this might reduce their enjoyment of sewing. The machines are in fact very logical, and no more difficult than a microwave!
Cost - There are many affordable computerised machines, but if you need a more advanced machine it is likely that a computerised version will be more expensive than the mechanical equivalent.
Fundamentally there isn’t much difference between mechanical and computerised machines. It simply depends on which one you find most comfortable and what you want the machine to do. The best thing to do if you are buying a new machine is to pop into a shop and ask for a demo. At the Brighton Sewing Centre we offer this service free of charge.
Make a list of the basic functionality you want the machine to have and then try a few out! Just like when you buy a pair of new shoes, you know if they are comfortable or not!
Often people make the mistake of thinking they have to pick a machine that will last a lifetime. Just like other machines or technology – you probably won’t stick with one your whole life. So just make sure to choose one that suits your current need.
Take a look at our range of sewing machines online or pop into the shop for a demo and we can help you choose the right machine for you. Don’t worry if you don’t have a clue about sewing machines, we’ll make sure you leave us feeling confident in your choice.