Help Rachel – What sewing machine for a complete beginner?


There must be something about the arrival of Spring.

Must be the birds tweeting and the blossom on the trees.

I have had several requests for help from people wanting to learn a new hobby but are completely overwhelmed with the choice of equipment available.

One search on the internet for a beginner sewing machine and I got back  655,000 results, google kindly told me that it only took it 0.61 seconds to find all these choices for me- thanks but not helpful!

I thought it would be useful if I could break this down for you a little.

What do you  need from a Sewing Machine.

Basic Sewing Stitches

  1. Straight Stitch –

    Straight stitch, length can be adjusted.

  2. Zig Zag  Stitch

    Zig zag stitch – both length and width can be adjusted for satin stitch and buttonhole.

  3. Buttonhole Stitch

If the machine has these three basic stitches then you are good to go.

Other stitches that are useful are

1. Overlock stitch – for finishing seams

2. Fancy stitches – just for fun

Nice extras for the machine  to have are :-

  1. A free arm, this is where part of the main bed of the machine is easily removable to enable access – used in dressmaking , inserting sleeves or bag/purse making etc.

Free arm of machine.

2. Needle down facility – helps you to pivot on the spot, and stops the material from moving.

Where do you buy from?

There are still some specialised shops around where you can go and try out and buy a machine and if you are lucky enough to have one in your area I highly recommend that you do that.

Another place that you can try out machines is at the Sewing and Quilting shows that are held through out the year.

Some  general shops  also  stock machines and some may have the facilities to let you try them out, places like –

John Lewis



The supermarkets – Lidl and Aldi also have special buys on at certain times of the year, two ladies I know have purchased very nice beginner Singer sewing Machines at a very reasonable cost.

The next place is the internet, here I suggest caution, make sure it is a reputable retailer, ideally a sewing machine specialist, phone them up, ask them questions.

What Brands do I recommend? 

I can only recommend machines that I personally have had experience of, and there are others that you might try out and prefer. But these ones I have found to be reliable and easy to use.





How much should you spend 

Expect to spend around £100 for a full size machine, in the Janome or Singer stable that will last the test of time. Both the Elna and Bernina models will be more expensive.

Before parting with any money for your sparkly new machine please check the following

Can you easily buy extra sewing feet for it, and how much are they. Some cheaper un-branded  machines will not have the choice of feet and attachments that you may want in the future.

Why do I need extra feet? I hear you cry – truthfully you probably don’t. But some of them are so helpful and useful to you, and once the sewing bug gets you – you just might want to shop.

What Extra feet  am I  thinking of ?

Embroidery foot – this lets you go a little over excited and sew all over the place  “free-motion” – very addictive

1/4 inch foot – love this little baby – keeps your seams just perfect on the 1/4″ mark, you will be piecing like the Boss Lady in no time with this foot.

Applique foot – a see through foot, makes sewing applique shapes easy-peasy.

If quilting becomes your thing – then the Walking foot is the bees knees.

Once you have the machine, then the fun begins!!

Hope this is helpful, any questions just ask away and I will do my best to help

Happy Sewing

Rachel x

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