Shopping for a Good Beginner Sewing Machine…At a Good Price

I love old fabrics–And love making all kinds of cool things with them, like my Kiki’s Rewind Design 1970s  rug.

But vintage sewing machines are a another story.  Old sewing machines can be difficult, especially for beginners. Here’s how pal Melissa and I selected her brand new sewing machine FOR UNDER $175.

1) Go to a sewing machine store. It’s very important to test drive  before you buy.  Sew Unique in Raleigh NC is my sewing machine dealer.  I’ve known the owner, Kris for years.  I trust her opinion, and I’ve followed her recommendations (with great results) before.  So when she said the Janome 2212  is a good beginner machine, we made the trip.

2) Look for 3 basic features: Straight stitch with stitch length control, zig-zag with length and width control, and button-hole stitch.  The Janome 2212 has other stitches, but straight stitch, zig-zag and button-hole are the big three.

3) Sew.  See how the machine feels and the stitch looks on both sides using a nice cotton scrap. Then switch to heavier and lighter fabrics.  We were very impressed by the way the Janome handled layers of denim.  I was impressed by the features for money.  Melissa was sold.

Needles break.  Buy extra before you leave the store.

And make sure you can bring your machine back to the store  for regular service or any repairs–another important reason to use a specialized dealer that can fix machines on site.

Finally, some sad news–Don’t buy a Singer.  This company once ruled the sewing machine world.  They made great machines like the 1953 industrial that I picked up at a tag sale last summer–It still runs like a race car. But Singer quality and machines hit the skids some time ago.  Save your money, talk to other seamstresses.  Go test drive the Janome 2212 instead.



  1. Christine, you mind reader. I’ve been meaning to buy a machine for ages, but didn’t know where or how to start looking. Your post has inspired me to get out there and find a starter sewing machine this week! Have checked on the web, and the model you plumped for isn’t listed in the UK, but there are plenty of Janone machines to choose from, so now I know what to look for, I just need to make the decision. Great post. Many thanks Naomi

    • Good luck with your sewing adventrue. I think you will enjoy it very much since sewing is more play with color and texture–something gifted gardeners like you do very well.
      It’s also “green” to remake things and get a second (or third) life out of them.

      Garden blog partner Melissa and I make great outdoor cushions with SUNBRELLA fabrics. Do you have those in UK? We buy big samples very cheaply at our local Scrap Exchange. It would be a good first project for you.

      Thanks for the comment. Happy gardening and sewing (soon I hope) Christine

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