So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a sewing machine. It’s very confusing – sort of like buying a car. There are so many choices, and the terminology can be confusing too. What’s a feed dog, anyways, and why would you need one? What features should you look for? Let’s discuss computerized sewing machines and demystify some of your concerns!
Computerized VS Mechanical Sewing Machines
To understand what a computerized sewing machine is, you should first understand what defines a mechanical sewing machine.
Mechanical Sewing Machines
A mechanical sewing has a simple motor that drives the gears, and a foot pedal allows you to regulate the speed at which the motor runs and how quickly the needle sews. All changes in stitch style, length and width are made by manually moving dials to preset selections.
This also goes for things like thread tension and any other adjustments the machine may provide. It doesn’t automatically do anything. These simple machines are the least costly and tend to be easier to maintain and repair.
Computerized Sewing Machines
A computerized machine uses the computer technology to control its actions. From the speed the needle moves to the tension of the thread and the type of stitch that is produced, almost everything is controlled by one or more tiny computers.
Computerized machines may create hundreds of decorative and utility stitches, and advanced machines have pre-programmed embroidery designs and alphabets. They also may have the ability to accept patterns you purchase or create with an embroidery design program. Basic computerized sewing machines start at a modest price and have basic features while more advanced machines quickly move up into the high-end price range.
There may be a somewhat-steep learning curve with this type of machine. However, once you’ve mastered the basics, sewing is very easy with a computerized machine.
What are the Benefits of Using a Computerized Sewing Machine?
Let’s go back to the car scenario. You don’t need electronic window or seat position controls, but it sure is easier to adjust them by touching a button rather than struggling with a lever. It’s the same thing with a computerized sewing machine. You don’t need to fuss over fine-tuning a setting, as it’s done at the factory for optimum results. The tension is adjusted to compensate for stitch selection, and the stitches are designed to sew perfectly regardless of how quickly or slowly you choose to work.
There are wide varieties of stitch types that aren’t possible with a mechanical machine, and these stitches allow you to create items that simply can’t be made on a mechanical machine. Once you’ve mastered the intricacies of your machine’s abilities, you’ll find it’s easier to do things with your computerized machine. Automatic buttonholes are a snap and hemstitches take the drudgery out of hand-finishing edges. With stretch stitches and overcast stitches, t-shirts and lingerie are now well within your sewing skills.
Which Computerized Sewing Machine Should I Choose?
Once again, let’s go back to the car scenario. Do you plan to drive around town and use the freeway to visit grandma every few weeks, or do you plan to join the NASCAR racing circuit? Decide what you reasonably plan to do with your machine and let that be your guide to how many of features you should include in your machine. Don’t forget, you can always trade in or sell a machine you’ve outgrown.
Most folks need a machine that does basic utility stitches, and if you’re particularly crafty, you may want some decorative stitch capabilities. Don’t go overboard with this first machine. The more features a machine has, the cost goes up accordingly, and the user’s manual may begin to look like a copy of “War and Peace.”
What are the Best Computerized Sewing Machines for Beginners?
This little machine is perfect as a beginner’s sewing machine, particularly if you are on a tight budget. You probably won’t need to buy any accessories, as the machine comes with loads of interchangeable feet, oversize table and other sewing goodies. Its small footprint makes it easy to handle, and it comes with a hard storage case. Brother also provides a 25-year limited warranty and an easy-to-understand user’s manual.
The machine has 20 decorative stitches, 20 garment construction stitches, seven quilting stitches, six heirloom embroidery stitches and seven styles of buttonholes. There are overcast and zigzag stitches for preventing frayed edges, basting stitches for temporarily securing seams, stretch stitches for reinforcing seams, a blind hemstitch for invisible hems and buttonholes for all types of fabrics and applications.
The Brother CS6000i has an illuminated LCD display and threading diagrams for both threading the machine and the bobbin winder. It has an automatic needle threader, and you can sew with the use of a foot pedal or choose from three speeds to sew automatically. The manual had tons of illustrations and basic sewing information, as well as how and when to use the different types of stitches the CS6000i creates. It also has an easy-to-use drop-in bobbin, a built-in free arm for sewing small-diameter items and a wide extension table for extra-large projects.
This machine is a great choice for both its price and features. Beginners will learn with a machine that can do a lot and grow with them while advanced users may choose this as a second machine for utility sewing. You can read our full review of the Brother CS600i here!
Singer 7258 Stylist
Another budget-priced machine, the Singer 7258 comes with everything you need to start sewing the minute you open the package. Not only does it have an instruction manual, but the package also includes an introductory DVD to help you learn the basics of this machine. Your machine also comes with 10 presser feet and assorted sewing accessories so you won’t be running to the store anytime soon.
The machine has an automatic needle threader, drop-in bobbin case and an LCD panel to make all your stitch changes instantly. The Singer 7258 boasts a heavy-duty metal frame, 25-year limited warranty and 24/7 online support.
Between the 10 presser feet and the 100 built-in stitches, this machine can do anything from blind hemming and buttonhole making to gathering, rolled hems, darning, satin and stretch stitches. It has nine utility stitches, can make seven different buttonholes automatically and has eight stretch stitches. It also has 76 decorative stitches for embellishing clothing and crafts.
You can use the foot pedal, or you can use the start/stop button and speed control for continuous stitching. The machine has 13 needle positions and a programmable up/down needle position feature.
Consumer’s Digest has named this a Best Buy and the Singer name has been around for generations. This machine has lots of bells and whistles without overwhelming a beginning user. The Singer 7258 is an all-around practical sewing machine that will grow as your capabilities increase. You can read our full review of the Singer 7258 Stylist here!
Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist
Staying with the Singer brand, the Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist is my third choice for a beginner’s computerized sewing machine. This machine is about double the price of the other two machines in this review, but it’s still a modestly priced machine almost anyone can afford.
This machine has 600 stitches. That’s more than anyone needs and isn’t the reason the machine is on my short list. You’ll wind up ignoring about 99 percent of those stitches, but the other features are what make this a good machine for beginners, as well as advanced sewers.
The package includes a hard storage case and constructed with a durable metal frame. The free-arm feature makes it easy to sew narrow items, and the extra-large extension table is a great bonus for quilting and large projects.
The 18 presser feet, assorted utility, and specialty stitches give this machine the capability to sew any fabric with precision and quality. The large LCD selection screen and editing buttons give you precise control and versatility. Automatic threading and thread cutting features, along with autopilot stitching and stitch editing features make this machine one you’ll use and grow with for a long time. You can Read our full review of the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 here!
These are some of the best computerized sewing machines for beginners, but there are lots of good machines from many fine manufacturers. If you have special needs, you may find other sewing machines that will work well for you. However, these machines are very good value for the price, and you’ll use them with confidence for years.