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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!

Janome 525

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. 

The Verdict

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.

A little history

Wednesday, 21 March 2012  |  Nicole

When we took the wall down, one half was covered in old wood paneling, that was covered in really bad wallpaper. But when we steamed the wallpaper off we found some old posters.

Amazingly preserved, we've left it there for future generations to see, along with the beautiful fire place.

We've been changing our shop

Wednesday, 5 January 2011  |  Nicole

On the bank holiday weekend, back in August, I had this great idea to take a wall down in our shop to get more space. Well what alot of work that was!

Saturday night and all is still well at Brighton Sewing Centre, all sewing machines were safely tucked away downstairs.

My friend Bernie was very helpful, you could say he did most of the hard work.

It was a very long and messy day.

But at the end of Sunday we found a brick wall and an amazing Victorian fireplace that had been coverd up all those years ago.   On the Monday we were so busy I didn't take any photograph, until the end of that day

Actually this was the Tuesday, we did open but only briefly, as we needed to put coving up which was incredibly messy and head scratchingly complicated for all those involved.

This is the view from the counter, after a lot of work the shop is ever so slightly wider, wide enough to have things in the middle. Now you won't feel like you're walking into a bowling alley with us at one end waiting to help you.


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