Sewing Machines


Sewing Machine Buying Guide

Learning to use a sewing machine is a great skill to have that makes a wonderful hobby but can also save you lots of money. You can use a sewing machine to make all sorts of great things from clothes, to Christmas decorations to soft furnishings, so you can enjoy hours relaxing with your machine as well as creating a fantastic item in return for all your hard work.

If you’ve been thinking of buying a sewing machine then you’ll already know there are literally hundreds of different models to choose from, which can make it hard to know which one is best for you.

Our sewing machine buying guide will tell you everything you need to know about sewing machines so you can decide which model is right for your needs.

Types of sewing machine

There are three main types of sewing machine available. They are electronic, computerised and overlocker sewing machines.

Electronic sewing machines

The speed at which this machine runs can be controlled via a foot pedal so your hands are free to work the fabric. Electronic machines vary widely in price and capability, but basic models still have a good choice of stitch styles and lengths.

Computerised sewing machines

This type of machine has several motors which control different functions. Computerised machines contain a chip that can store hundreds of advanced sewing styles and types of stich, as well as producing extremely precise and accurate results. They generally have a display screen and control pad so you can set programs and options. You’re also able to download other information to the machine.

Overlocker sewing machines

Overlocker machines are designed to give hems and seams a professional finish, which could be useful if you plan to make lots of clothes or soft furnishings such as curtains and bedspreads. However, they’re not a substitute for computerised or electronic sewing machines as they can’t perform all the functions you might need.


In order to choose the right sewing machine you need one that performs the functions you want. The following table illustrates the most common sewing machine functions and what they are used for.

Jargon and features

Stitch selection - With a basic model you’ll get a choice of six different stitches, whereas top range models can provide more than 300. It’s essential to have a buttonhole, zigzag and straight stich available for basic sewing, but if you want to do more elaborate things you’ll need decorative, blind hem, overlocking and quilting stitches.

Free arm - A free arm function is of use when you sew around trouser legs, cuffs or similar.

Presser feet - The majority of machines have two or more presser feet (the part that holds down the fabric in order for the needle to pass over it) different feet can help with different jobs like sewing round buttonholes or sewing on zips. You can get lots of different presser feet that can be detached, such as lightweight feet for sewing delicate material.

Adjustable foot pressure - This helps the sewing machine work with fabrics of different weights. Thicker fabrics need more pressure and thinner fabrics like silk require a lighter pressure.

Bobbin -You can find machines with top loading and front loading bobbins. Front loading bobbins are usually found on more basic machines as the bobbin case has to be removed when it needs replacing. Top loading bobbins are generally considered easier to work with.

Information window - Most computerised machines have an information window which will tell you the program and settings you are using and allow you to see when you change settings.

Needle threader - This will perform the troublesome job of threading the needle with cotton so you don’t have to do it yourself.

Needle plate - This goes around the needle at the base of the machine, going over the feed dogs and concealing the bobbin.

Feed dogs - These are the small ‘teeth’ that pull the fabric through the needle plate as the machine works.

Other factors to consider

When choosing a sewing machine you should also take the following factors into account:


If you’re just starting out with sewing then it’s probably best to stick to a basic model until you gain sufficient confidence as it will be easier to use. You can buy a decent machine for less than £300 that will include everything you’ll need to get you started. Once you’ve gained confidence or if you decide that you’ll be sewing much more regularly then you can upgrade to a more complex machine where you can spend anything up to £8,000.

Storage and weight

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing space in your home then you’re going to have to store your machine somewhere and get it out every time you use it, so it’s important to choose a model that can be stored easily and is light enough to move around.


There are lots of sewing machine accessories that you can add on as your skills progress so look for a model with lots of accessories that you can buy later on.


If you’re likely to be sewing thick and heavy fabrics then make sure you pick a machine that’s strong enough to do the job.

Our most popular sewing machines

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