Taking on sewing

Hi Community,

What is a good mid-range sewing machine for the fledgling tailor?

Any suggestions for books or YouTube professors that are highly
rated for the self starter would be greatly appreciated.


What is a good mid-range sewing machine for the fledgling tailor? 

Brother is a good brand. Expect to spend at least $300.00 to get
something decent. Spend over a 1K to get something very nice. But, a
300.00 Brother will do pretty much everything you need.

I’ve watched kids learn to sew on cheap machines and expensive
machines and it’s harder on cheap machines, as you might expect.


Bernina, Pfaff, Viking-Husqvarna, Elna. All good reputable machines
with a wide variety of prices. Any dealer will let you try each one.
My favorite is Bernina followed by Elna.

M Foliart

Threads magazine has a wonderful website with lots of information
and videotutorials. Craftsy is also a very nice way to get an
education with good and low cost. As far as a machine,
go to tag sales. A very basic machine is all that is required.
Especially when just starting. You can get great deals at tag sales!
Good luck with your new adventure! Mary Rose

My mom was always a fan of babylock or juki. Easy to operate, and
well built. I have had singers and brothers and brother is
definitely better than singer. But I have a juki now.

The Jewelry Girls

I learned how to sew 50 years ago from my grandmother who was a
professional seamstress/tailor, and then my mother who also was a
professional seamstress who worked with fur (mink, Persian lamb,
mouton lamb, fox, racoon, etc.). (Her book “How to Sew Leather, Suede, Fur” is still available on Amazon). I have sewn on machines
ranging in price from $100 to $8000 and my advice is to keep it as
simple as possible when learning. Find a machine that does the basic
straight, zig zag, stretch and blind stitch and keep the electronics
to a minimum. Mechanical parts and functions are far less frustrating
than electronic parts. If you intend to do embroidery, I suggest you
learn the basics on a basic machine first. You can always trade up.
My favorite “go to” machine is a 1970’s portable Kenmore (what a work
horse!) even though I own a top of the line Elna. Another favorite is
my 1940’s Singer Featherweight, but it only does a straight stitch.

My grandmother made very expensive outfits for very wealthy patrons.
Her words of wisdom, “You have to make the first cut, then you relax
and everything flows” have stuck with me all these years and is some
of the first advice I give my students. So, as with metal, start with
simple tools and a basic machine and you will find everything start
to flow.

Hello. I don’t really see how this relates to jewelry. However you
didn’t say if this enterprise would be commercial or just beginning.
If you just wanta good strong machine for making a few garments or
alterations, then almostany of the machines from the seventies or
earlier are great. Some of the best were made in Japan and all have
steel wheels and gears. If you want industrial thats a whole other
ballgame. I would suggest in the US ABC Sewing in ft worth Texas.
tel: 817.244.4140. ABCSEW.COM - Sewing Machines, Service Repair

Good luck and have fun!
Michael S. Grace

Find an industrial sewing machine dealer, buy a rebuilt second hand
heavy duty machine much cheaper. Mine was bought in 1970 and still
going strong. Can’t use the “toys” sold for home machines.

Ruth Mary

A singer 20U is a good tailors machine, straight stitch and a very
adjustable zig zag.

It was originally sold as such and might be clarified as a lite
industrial - but plenty heavy duty.

It came 2 ways- in a full industrial table, or with a portable set up
( attached motor).

There were plenty sold, so they come up used for sale pretty often.

I’ve had mine for years & put many miles on it (as well as many other
machines) in my sewing business.

Live Oak Studios

Oops. Sorry. I meant to add that a free arm is very useful and
necessary for the professional sewer. The old Singers are flat-beds,
so that second machine with stitches must have a free arm.

Judy in Kansas

My ‘go-to’ sewing machine is the classic Singer my mother brought in

These workhorse machines (even sew through multiple layers of
denim!!) are all metal - no plastic. They can be found on
Craigslist, at yard sales and estate sales, usually for very little
(less than US$50 in a cabinet), because they are common and only sew
straight forward and backward. If the buttonhole attachment is
included, it’s a bonus because they make a beautiful buttonhole.

I have a second machine, a basic Janome, I bought to *do zigzag and
blind hemming. **It’s OK, but clunky. That old Singer - sews
beautifully and quietly - quilters love them.

My suggestion? Have two machines. Find an old, all-metal Singer for
cheap to zip through straight-stitched seams. Then try out all the
other brands at a store and take scraps of denim, jersey, and
broadcloth to test them. LISTEN to the machines. Run them at high
speed. Run them slowly, which is touchy and not all machines do it
smoothly. Especially test them embroidery stitches are superfluous.

There you have my humble opinion, based on nearly 50 years of home
sewing and award-winning garments.

Judy in Kansas, where today is supposed to be rainy all day. What a
lovely August so far!

I have 2 Berninas but they were in the $1200–$2200 range. I love

But I bought my daughter (who is very crafts-minded) a $350 Janome
and she is able to do some wonderful things with it. the stitching is
nice and even, it can handle fairly thick fabrics, comes with a bunch
of useful feet, and it has a lot of controls that my Berninas have
(stitch length and width, speed, utility and decorative stitches,
free motion stitching).

I bought my daughter-in-law (who is not at all into crafts and
didn’t know how to use a sewing machine) a $250 Brother, and that’s
worked pretty well too. I taught her how to use it and she’s done
some simple repairs by herself and made some things with my or a
friend’s guidance. I’ve used the machine and find it very easy to use
and capable, also comes with decorative stitches, various feet, even
speed control.

My suggestion is to go to a good sewing machine store and try out
the lower end machines; see what feels comfortable to you. My sewing
machine store is great, they have a wonderful selection of machines,
and really provide support in teaching and answering questions. Many
JoAnn stores have a concession with machines (they might be
Brothers); I haven’t looked in those concessions but that might be a
good start if there’s no sewing machine store in your area.

Happy sewing!

Before this Orchid turns into a sewing chat room, perhaps this
thread might bette be moved off forum or to some social networking

Jerry in Kodiak

Last year i expanded my business to include embellished purses. I
had a great Kenmore from the late 90’s that i had gotten at a garage
sale 4 years ago for $15. Dozens of quilts later it broke, and i
have decided to have it rebuilt. This day and age it is hard to find
a machine that fits you and your needs. I will pay about $100 to
have it reconditioned, and it should double the life.

in the meantime i have had to go through half a dozen pieces of
junk. I finally got another garage sale Brothers that is pretty

My suggestion is to go to the nearest sewing center, try out all of
their reconditioned machines. The older the better. Build a
relationship with this company, and they will look for anything you
need. Blessings and hope you enjoy your wanderings into sewing as
much as i have. always pat

I was given a portable Montgomery Ward sewing machine in 1976. It
was a gift but I think it cost ~ $95. It is still working pretty
well. I sometimes have a difficult time getting the tension right and
I sometimes wish it had a bit more power, but I can usually fiddle
the tension and I’m not making sails so it is sufficient for my

I did recently think I wanted a new one, but for the life of me I
cannot remember why. It sews backwards and forwards, does zig-zag of
various widths and “concentration” of stitch down to satin, so can do
button holes; has 3 stitch types I never use and don’t know the names
of, one of which is called “stretch” which I think might be very
useful and I should investigate. It also has a “free” stitch which
they call “Darn” and it basically disengages the feed so you can
randomly stitch in any direction. I think this is an excellent
machine so I think I’ll keep it and have it reconditioned just for a
treat. Oh and it’s all metal. Def look for an old one.

To whoever was worried Orchid would become a sewing circle, relax.
With metal so expensive these days people are being creative with all
sorts of materials. I know jewelry usually means metal but it doesnt
have to. And the topics on Orchid will go back to being primarily
about metal and stones.


I realize I am a bit of an old-fashioned gal but I learned to sew on
an old singer treadle machine and wish I still had it! Barbara back on
the island from Maine

I got my Bernina in 1974, which makes it 40 years old. Made in
Switzerland, all metal parts, and still runs perfectly. Does almost
everything the new computerized machines do, but without the
exorbitant cost, steep learning curve, and complications. Alma