Sewing machines – the essential guide

Advice on everything from choosing the right model, to understanding the jargon

Choose the right type of sewing machine

Think realistically about the range of things you may want to sew. A very basic electric machine with manual functions sews light and mid-weight cottons for garments or patchwork, but won’t cope well with floaty chiffons, tweeds or stitching layers of denim.

Advanced sewing and stitching

For making curtains and chair covers or any project that involves thick fabric, a top-of-the-range manual, or better still, a computerised machine, will be a good investment.

Consider weight and accessibility, too. Most machines are light to carry and quick to set up on a table. At the very top of the range, the heavier, more powerful machines will benefit from a dedicated sewing corner.

Suitable for beginners

Electric manual machines, also described as mechanical, have a single motor and operations such as choice of stitch are selected by a dial.

Light, portable and easy to use, with a handful of stitch options, their scale and operating simplicity can be a sensible way to find out if you are going to get much use from a sewing machine before paying out huge sums of money.

Check out pick of the best sewing machines, to find the ideal design for your standard.

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