Bernina Sewing Machine

Types of Sewing Machines

I had always dreamed of creating my own clothes. I’ve always admired how DIY hobbyists were able to translate a sketch into a three-dimensional and best of all, functional garment. As much as I had wanted to join the revolution of homemade garments and accessories, my skills were very limited. So I was stuck with hand sewing pretty much everything together. My creations turned out to be cheap and messy –uneven and loose stitches poking about. Also, my needles constantly broke. This was mainly because it would get beaten from the varying density of fabrics. I would go from denim to cotton like they were twins. This was when I decided to try out a new machine. I went through a few types before finding the right one. I checked out a number of brands as well including the newer versions of Juki, Brother, Bernina sewing machines and even Janome.

MechanicalSewing Machines

I like calling these the manual sewing machines because it doesn’t require an engine and works solely on the power of your foot. These have a hands-on approach and are very receptive to the manual effort of the user. Adjustments are usually done via the main side knob which is officially called a rotary wheel and controls thread tension and stitch size. Mechanical sewing machines will show signs quickly for any problems and because they are fairly simple to operate, any complications are also fairly simple to locate. I had a shiny black manual Singer as an heirloom from my grandmother and rarely had any problems with it.

Pros:

  • Durability

These machines are built to last. Their heavy duty metal casting will last decades which is why so many at the present are heirlooms.They are also easy to oil and maintain.

  • Simple operation

Mainly moving through a foot pedal and a rotary wheel, the thread tension length and width of your stitches are easily adjustable. And because there is no electric motor, you have less migraines to worry about. And no electricity means you can place it anywhere, even outdoors.

  • Affordable

These machines are a lot cheaper than their modern counterparts. The simplicity of its style and use is also a reason for its rock bottom prices.

Cons:

  • Very heavy

These machines are no joke to lug around! In my case (in most cases), mechanical sewing machines will have its own designated spot in the house where you will sew. I can’t imagine having to transport my vintage Singer from one room to the next.

  • Limited

Most of the older machines will be limited to sewing straight lines (although clean and beautiful straight lines). Also, because they are of vintage quality, it can be hard looking for their parts which may already be phased out. One thing also is the difficulty of finding various feeds for older machines as the feeds available nowadays commercially are incompatible.

Electronic/Computerized Sewing Machines

Sans the ostentatious rotary wheel, the electronic sewing machine is exactly what its name suggest – it runs on electricity. Although it does feature an electric motor, a foot pedal is still present to control the speed of the needle. Of course, thread tension and stitch sizes can be adjusted with specific levers and buttons. Electronic models can also have additional features such as various stitching patterns and embroidery. Brands like Juki, Brother and Bernina sewing machines have reputable feedback for their electronic models. Computerized model on the other hand have a gazillion more features and include a motherboard for memory and such.

Pros:

  • Multiple features

I could use all those stitches for more creative DIY projects. Can you imagine how adorable a blanket stitch would look at the hem of a shirt? And without me slaving over it with a feeble hand stitched version.  Modern sewing machines, whether computerized or electronic, have a speed control facility like the Singer 9960 and other electronic Bernina sewing machines.

  • Lightweight

Because many of the electronic and computerized sewing machines are quite light, they are portable thus, easily transported to different venues. And even to and from classes which is why they are a favorite of sewing students who prefer to bring their own machines to class. They are also more compact in frame and less bulky than older mechanical machines so they can be stored easily.

  • Availability of parts

Because they are still in mass production, parts are basically pretty inexpensive and abundant so don’t feel too bad if you break a needle or if you want to try a new type of feed. Only buy new machines with a warranty. At least you’ll feel better that you can get it serviced or replaced once something goes wrong or is defective. Juki, Brother and Bernina sewing machines have parts that are easy to replace.

Cons:

  • Expensive

These types of machines can range up to over a hundred dollars to a gut wrenching thousands of dollars. The additional features are usually the reason behind the steepness of the price.

  • Not made well

As a general rule, you do get what you pay for. So the cheaper machines that boast multiple features may not last you very long either. Because of the commonplace mass production, machines are not what they used to be. Stick with a reputable brand like Singer or Bernina sewing machines that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Best to look for the ones with longer warranties as these are usually a good sign for the company’s track record.