Sewing Machine

I am in the market for a sewing machine, but have no idea what I am looking for. I do not know how to sew and will be teaching myself.
My budget is roughly $100-$120. Can I get a decent sewing machine for that price?
What additional supplies will I need? I saw Martha Stewart place a magnet near her sewing needle to keep her line straight. Should I get on of those too?
I need a machine for sewing things such as napkins, aprons, curtains, table clothes and placemats.
Any feedbak would be helpful?
Here’s a quick story about Elias Howe and the Invention of the Sewing Machine. We read about him this week for science.


  1. Jack's Mommy says

    i got my first sewing maching from walmart for 99$ i think…it was a brother! 🙂

    if you’re just starting out and want to learn some basic stuff, Big Lots has a mini one for $10! It’s about half the size of the regular machines but it’s electric and has a full size needle / bobbin & everything. i love my little machine! 🙂


  2. Joyce says

    I would suggest a used machine from a sewing machine dealer. They will help you, help you, and probably offer classes for you too!

    I’ll be the dissenter…. but would HIGHLY URGE you NOT to buy one from a chain store. MHO! 🙂


  3. Milehimama says

    I was at Goodwill tonight and they had FIVE different sewing machines for under $30.00. If you do some research and decide which machine you want, I bet you could find it at the second hand shops. My Goodwill will let you plug things in to test them, so you would at least know if it runs, etc.


  4. Katrina says

    Hi, I started sewing about July ’07 and I purchased my first sewing machine a Brother XL-2600i. I got it from Walmart for about $114 I think. They even have some cheaper than that. I’ve been very pleased with it so far and have gotten a lot of use out of it. My Mom purchased a Brother that is computerized with more stitches that cost a little more than mine. (She mainly bought it so I could use hers when I visit ;-)..) Anyway, have fun learning. I basically learned on my own and by calling my Mom on the phone every 5 minutes and asking her questions when I was visiting. I have found it to be addictive and the possibilities are endless. I’ll be checking out your site to see what your first project will be.



  5. Mika says

    Hadias, I learned the hard way, getting a machine at walmart as a beginner is NOT the best deal. Call your local sewing machine dealers and see what they have. At mine, I got a secondhand machine that had been traded in, that they had completely serviced. Along with that, I got a warranty on it, as well as free sewing classes. It’s been an invaluable resource as I’ve learned my machine to be able to call an authorized dealer and get the low down. They said the replacement parts for Walmart machines are impossible to get ahold of, even for dealers, so they are basically disposable machines. If you want something not just to learn on, but to be able to use for a long time, go with something from a dealer. I spent JUST over $200 for my machine, and it was not the most basic model they had available. Check it out!


  6. ~ Angi :) says

    I bought the very brother machince for Aubrey last year. simple, basic, economical [I did a price shop, ended up buying in person at {the dreaded} Wal-Mart]instead of online. It works great ~ sufficient for her need at the moment. I’m of the opine that it is all you need . . .

    I’ll be looking into a serger one of these days! 🙂


  7. Hadias says

    Thank you all for your feedback. Also thanks for all of the great links. I visited them all. And the thrifty tips (use masking tape rather than the magnet Martha talked about) are very helpful.

    I am leaning towards a Brother, but I’d also like to check to pawn shops to see if I can get a second ahnd machine…maybe. I am still not 100% decided since I’d like to get a warrantee.

    I will post updates as they come.


  8. Renae says

    The first year of our marriage my husband bought me sewing machine at a sewing repair shop. The owner took trades, so my old metal White machine was less than $100 fully serviced and guaranteed.

    My machine does have markings for all the normal stitch widths, but if I need more help keeping my stitches straight I use masking tape, as well. Not as fancy, but it does the job.

    You shouldn’t need many supplies other than pins, and good scissors. I did buy a quilting foot a few years ago. That has been fun! But not a necessity. I think simpler might be better, especially to start with.

    Please let us know what you find. Best wishes!


  9. Anonymous says

    I have a Kenmore…very basic, no frills. When I bought it about 12-13 years ago it cost $179. I, like you, did not really know what to look for, & decided on a good basic machine, as I was mostly self-taught. There are times I think I’d like to move up to a better machine, but what I have serves me well enough for now. I also have an older reconditioned machine, something called a Gibraltar, that I picked up at a church rummage sale many, many years ago for $20. It doesn’t even do zig-zag. BUT….my sister, who works in the decorator fabric trade, advised me to keep it because it has all metal parts (and yes, it weighs a ton!). In her words, “It may not stand up & do tricks, but it’s a good little machine!”

    To keep lines straight while sewing you could just use a piece of low tack masking tape, removing it after each project. Other things you will find helpful are a small hemming ruler (with a little sliding thingy that runs up & down the middle) to make sure any edges you turn under are even, good quality pins (I like glass-headed because they don’t melt if a hot iron touches them), & a nice, well sharpened pair of scissors.

    best of luck to you!


  10. Milehimama says

    I have that same Brother sewing machine, I also bought it in 1999! It is very basic, but has lots of stitch variations, and I don’t sew all the time or professionally so it fits our needs.

    A wrist pincushion, or I’ve seen them on straps that hook to your sewing machine, is so helpful! You will also need extra bobbins (very cheap) so you don’t have to wind a new bobbin every time you change thread colors. I have a few that I keep wound with black, red, and white thread, plus blanks for different colors.

    A seam ripper and hem gauge guide (these come in almost all sewing kits I’ve seen). A fabric pencil (the marks wipe off with water) is easier than a rotary/carbon paper, IMO. I like the pins with the different colored round plastic heads. A good pair of scissors!

    I haven’t seen the magnet guide – how does it work?

    Make sure it has a zipper foot and buttonhole setting. (I’ve never seen a full size one without one, but still.) Zig zag and also stitch for elastic/knits. It looks like triangles and lines… hard to describe! Make sure it has a light.

    My other tip? Get a good iron and ironing board! I had just a little tabletop ironing board for a long time and you do a LOT of ironing when you sew, so it pays to have good tools in this department! You will spend so much time preparing your fabric and pattern – more time than the actual sewing part, actually. You have to wash your fabric first, iron it, get the pattern onto the fabric (often iron the pattern too!), mark it, cut the fabric out, pin it together… and then sew.

    Here’s some links from my bookmarks:

    You might try calling a sewing machine repair shop after you’ve picked one and seeing if they have repair issues.

    Do you have any friends or ladies at church that sew? Maybe you could test drive their brand of machine? Most ladies that sew love to talk about it! Also fabric stores often have sewing days where women come in and work on a quilt or project together – it is a good place to inquire.

    I’ve never used the very high end machines, but my Brother does it’s job and that’s all I ask!


  11. Bethany says

    My first sewing machine was a Brother machine. It was the most basic model and cost $98 at Walmart in 1999. I actually just used that machine again last week. It’s kept at my parent’s house in case anyone needs to use a sewing machine for anything, and my mom wanted me to do a project with her while I was visiting.

    It still runs just fine and does everything you need to get things sewn. I sewed a couple dresses for myself, a few dress shirts for my brother, and even my husband’s wedding vest with that machine. I used it on denim to make a quilt from old jeans, and on satin to make bloomers for under my wedding gown.

    You can definately get a decent machine in your price range.

    The main difference in the less expensive machines and the higher priced ones are decorative stitches, how automated things like buttonholes are, and whether they are computerized with a digital screen or just regular.

    You’ll want one that will at least go forward and backward and do a zig zag, but that won’t be difficut to find, because as far as I know only the mini craft models don’t zig zag.

    If you get a computerized machine (I haven’t looked for a long while, so I don’t know what price range they are in now), you can’t use the magnet guide because it will mess up the electronics. But really, your machine will have lines on the throat plate (little piece of metal where the needle goes down) that will indicate different seam allowances. If you want something easier to see, a thick rubber band or a post it note can do as well.

    Another useful feature is called a free arm. Even the cheapest machines offer this, and it just means that the fabric can go under the machine too, which is really useful when you’re hemming jeans or making tubes. Particularly the small kid sizes.

    I hope that helps a little. I can recommend Brother brand items, I’ve not had any trouble with either of my Brother machines. But brand can be a kind of personal thing. The Viking/Husquevarna machines are very nice, and lots of people will tell you they’re the only way to go, but they cost more. Kind of like a luxury car. My sister has a Kenmore, and though she doesn’t use it much, it’s a very good machine, and I’ve always enjoyed working with it when we’ve done projects together.

    Deciding what your priorities are as far as what kind of features you want on your machine (decorative stitches, automatic buttonhole, drop in or front loading bobbins) will help as you’re shopping for one. Whatever the brand, cleaning and oiling it and caring for it as the manual says is the best way to make sure you’ll get your money’s worth.

    I know this is so long already, but I’d like to address the other notions you’ll need. A good pair of shears for cutting fabric, a small pair of sharp scissors for snipping threads (like embroidery scissors), pins and a pin cushion (I like my wrist pincushion, very easy to make, just a tube of fabric stuffed with stuffing with elastic sewn in the ends to hold it on your wrist), a tape measure and a small metal ruler call a seam gauge ruler are all things that I use in every project I make. Other stuff is just fun or convient, really.

    Good luck!


  12. Chayil says

    Great to see that you are adding sewing to your skills. You will love it!

    I can’t really give you any help with wich sewing machine I am still using my very first (25 y.o.) sewingmachine. I am saving for a new one wich retails around 1500 euro’s so I will be saving for quite a while lol

    Here is a link to one of my favorite sewingblogs she has a list of sewing machines for beginners.

    I’ve never heard of the magnet method so it’s definately optional and not necessary.

    I know that you already crochet so you probably own most of the items needed to start sewing already. Things I cannot life without very sharp Scissors, seam Ripper, pins, needles & pin Cushions, iron, ironing Board, scissors to cut out patterns, bobbins and material depending on the project. There are loads of fancy sewing accesoires to be found most expensive so I would advice you to start out with the above items and depending on the projects add to your collection one piece at a time that is how I do it. Also tell friends, family and neighbours that you are starting a new hobby I am sure that lots of people have stuff laying at home that they don’t use.


    ps sometimes it’s wiser to buy a good (with warranty) second hand sewingmachine instead of an inexpensive new one for the same price. The new inexpensive ones cannot sow threw thick layers of fabric like jeans and heavy curtain material.


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