So, I realize with just the title of this blog post that I am opening a total can of worms. Also, if you have followed me closely, or if you are my husband, you know that I have bought and sold a number of sewing machines over the last three years. It just never feels like I have the “right” combination.

I would like to announce, that I have landed on my final selections, and so it is time for confession of the sewing machine purchases.

Before that though, I’d like to tell you a story…

Meet my mother-in-law, Sandy. She is a quilter and garment sewer. She has been sewing for a life time, as her mother sewed as well. I dare not even suggest how many years she has been sewing.

Sandy is one of the more frugal people I know. I was at her house yesterday and she was chopping up a pair of jeans. Next to the chopping was a stack of little jeans fabric squares. “I have been saving labels,” she said. As I thumbed through the stack, sure enough, labels from years of clothing and items purchased along the way. She carefully removed them and then zigzag stitched them to 4.5” squares of upcycled jeans. She proceeded to show me an old Vogue pattern of a jacket she plans to make with all those squares and chopped up jeans. Super fun idea! I suggested hexies for the back.

So, frugal. Yes! She has had the SAME Paff for like 30 years. On her sun porch in the winter it takes like 8 minutes for the computer to warm up enough to sew now. I have personally had multiple conversations with her about wanting a new machine – and they have spanned the last two years. She JUST purchased a “new” machine. MY “old” Bernina 350 Cotton + Steel. Frugal. It looks beautiful in her sun room by the way.

So, when Sandy says, “I want a new sewing machine,” there is most likely some value there.

Insert husband and father-in-law, Earl.

Several years ago, Sandy decided she wanted a long arm. The way the “family legend” goes, when Sandy told Earl this bit of information.

He replied, “What do you need another sewing machine for?”

Well, in total Sandy fashion, she marched him out to his wood shop. She went around the room pointing at each different machine.

“What does that machine do?”

“What does that machine do?”

“What does that machine do?”

(Pause here for you sewists to all feel vindicated and laugh.)

Needless to say, that solved that…but there was actually a lot of truth in there. Planers and table saws and belt sanders and routers and band saws and jointers all do different things.

Sewing machines are not all made the same.

Long arms are not mid-arms, which are not over lockers, which are not domestic sewing machines, which are not sergers, which are not embroidery machines, which are not…

And some sewing machines “feel” better when sewing garments or thicker items like jeans fabric, verses silk or quilting cotton or bags with fusible or leather, etc. Some sewing machines have sentimental value or travel well. Some sewing machines are back ups in case your primary machine is in the shop. My mother taught me this!

I really didn’t have a CLUE what I should have purchased in the beginning. Does anyone?

As my sewing evolved my sewing machine needs and tastes evolved as well.

I found myself deciding between frugal/making due and spending more money/growing my scope. I also found that for me, a mid-arm and then an upgrade to longarm purchase was necessary for me to be able to continue to quilt with my disorder. I never dreamed when I started sewing clothes again that I would love to quilt. I never dreamed when I fell in love with quilting that I would love to make bags.

It is never an easy decision, and when one is on a strict budget it is a completely different conversation.


So where did I land? Have I landed? Honestly, I hope that I have. My “current” sewing machine list includes:

Juki 2200 – I use it for bags, quilting and thread painting smaller pieces

Juki HZL 300 – I use it for garment sewing and traveling now

Babylock Evolution Serger/Combo – I use it for garment sewing (I can make a two hour dress on this sucker)

Handi Quilter Simply 16 on a 12’ Frame – I use it for quilting (obviously, right?)

These are my girls. So far, they are very good to me, and I appreciate how they contribute to my life and my hobby. Just like with all relationships, I go through periods where I spend more time with one or two of them, but after three years, I always come back to others. If you asked me which one I could live without, I would honestly tell you, NONE of them! They all have a purpose in my studio. (I acknowledge here the privilege that comes with this statement.)

Am I done purchasing machines. I finally think that I am…I would like to challenge myself not to purchase a new machine for at least 10 years. I don’t have an embroidery machine, but I don’t ever see myself doing a lot, or any, of that. And besides, my mother has a Bernina 770, so ROAD TRIP, if I do!

Do you have hang ups about purchasing machines? Are you a compulsive machine purchaser? Do you trade machines a lot?

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