What to look for when buying a new sewing machineWhat to look for when buying a new sewing machine

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In nearly every sewing machine review we read, the relationship with your dealer is cited as a more important consideration than price. However, if you’re looking for a basic sewing machine, you’ll find better deals at discount stores.

One oft-repeated tip when shopping for a new machine is to bring your own fabric samples and test the machines yourself at various dealers. Owners say a few minutes spent working with the machine will give you a good indication of whether it’s the right one for your sewing needs.

The following is a list of features experts say to look for in a sewing machine. The models in ConsumerSearch Best Reviewed meet most, if not all, of these considerations.

Solid construction

The machine should have a good weight, operate quietly and not vibrate off the table. It shouldn’t rattle or have pieces that can be easily snapped off. Make sure hinges, levers and buttons feel strong.

Look for a one-step buttonhole

In reviews, experts greatly prefer a one-step buttonhole, and most machines include a special foot that creates correctly sized, uniform buttonholes.

Warranty and service

The industry average is 25 years on the machine head, two years for most other parts and one year on labor. Make sure your dealer answers your questions and is willing to make minor adjustments without a fuss. If you buy your unit from a discounter, find out where the machine needs to go for service and whom you can call with questions. Some inexpensive sewing machines have only a 90-day warranty; this is often true of entry-level Singer and Kenmore machines.

Buying online can be tricky

If you purchase a machine online, make sure the retailer is an authorized dealer for the brand and the manufacturer’s warranty still applies to your purchase. Note whether the machine is new, used or refurbished. Be sure to ask about a substitute warranty if the original manufacturer warranty does not apply to online sales.

A clear explanation of hidden costs

Top-of-the-line machines offer a wide variety of options, such as software, embroidery cards and additional attachments. Be certain what is and is not included in the purchase price.

Other basic features include easy bobbin winding, droppable feed dogs, a variety of needle positions and adjustable stitch width and length. Also, be sure to get enough stitches. A straight stitch, zip, blind hem and buttonhole (or satin stitch) are standard, but you’ll also want a stretch stitch and at least a few decorative stitches.

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