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Hi FV Friends,

I have dabbled in sewing in the past and I need a hobby so I am interested in sewing and eventually quilting.

Any suggestions on where to start? I need to get a sewing machine. Would anyone recommend a Wal-Mart special or should I look at something else?

Should I invest in taking classes at Joanne or Michael's or just videos and books to keep it frugal?

Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
 

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A sewing machine from WalMart is fine. You can do a lot with a $98 plain zig-zag model. Eventually buy a serger and between the two you'll be sewing happy.

Yes, I recommend a class.
 

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If you were nearby I would give you a sewing machine...I bought one from Wally a couple years ago.
I also recommend a class.
 
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Any cheap machine is likely to be a throw-away. I've already been told by my sewing machine service guy that the cheaply made Brother embroidery machine I paid $500 for is not repairable if something ever breaks on it. I didn't realize that before I bought it or I never would have bought it. However, since it's only used for embroidery and I don't do much embroidery, I'm hoping it'll last quite a while. My main machine is a Viking, and I also use my Chandler industrial machine quite a bit, which saves a lot of wear and tear on my Viking.

OTOH, I wouldn't make a big investment if you're not sure you're going to want to continue with that hobby. If you buy a cheapo machine, IMO it should be considered a starter machine, and when it dies, then upgrade to something of better quality if you've found you enjoy sewing and would use the machine often.

Annual service on a sewing machine in our area is a minimum of $90 each time, per machine. That's just for cleaning and adjustments. It's higher if there's anything really wrong. Check to make sure before you buy any machine that you will be able to get service for it in your area.

What I would recommend is buying a good used machine from a reputable sewing center. You can often get great discounts on basic machines that people have traded in when they upgrade to that $5,000 fancy machine.

Sewing machines are tools, and like many tools, better machines will help you avoid the frustration of dealing with a poorly made tool that doesn't work as well as it should. Professional tools help you create professional-looking results.

Not all machines are created equal. You have to decide if a cheap machine will serve your purposes as well as a better quality machine, and if you're willing to just throw away the cheap machine when it breaks, or if you prefer something that will be fixable.
 

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I would recommend a basic older machine from a thrift store or yard sale, under $50, until you see if you like it. I only ever have had older machines, been sewing for over 45 years and never took a machine in anywhere for an annual cleaning or tuneup. On older, basic machines you can do it yourself.
 

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I started quilting by taking a beginning quilting class, Quilting 101 and using my very old and very heavy machine. I enjoyed sewing so much that I bought a new smaller portable machine to complete the class. And I took classes for a few years until I decided to sew on my own. You don;t need an expensive machine, just one that sews. Quilting doesn't require fancy stitching unless you get really good at it and want to do tricky things. Good luck and enjoy it.

I took classes at a quilting fabric shop, no experience with JoAnn's sewing classes.
 

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I am probably the least experienced person from the whole group, but I sew without a sewing machine. I put myself on a very rigid budget last year and a sewing machine was not part of it. I have a very basic setup for sewing worth about 10 USD if even that, because I wasn't sure I wanted to do a lot with it. With that I made a small bag for the digital camera I got (my dad used to work in an electronic repairing factory, this camera was free to me) from material I had lying around. I also changed the size from one of my sweaters from way too big to tight fitting so I would actually wear it. I made a couple of pillows with material on hand. But doing things by hand takes hours. Literally. If you want to get into quilting you will need a machine, because otherwise it will take you ages to get one finished and you will not finish it because of time constraints. Also important to know might be that I got classes in sewing when I was in primary school, so I knew how to make the stitches, learned how to put buttons on from my mum, it is not like I was beginning from scratch.

What I would advise you depends a bit on your motivation and your character. If you are looking for a hobby and want to try sewing because of that, then I would start with some small and easy projects (like the bag for the camera) that don't require a lot of materials to see if you still like it.If you are sure you want to get big on sewing, see the advice above.
 
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I would look for a sewing machine center in your area. They can fix u up with a used machine and many times they also have many classes that are free to those that buy a machine from them to very small cost. They will walk you through how the machine you buy works and all kinds of tips. I have been sewing for my family for almost 50 years now. I did buy my first machine used and from a sewing machine store. As I got into doing more with mine and as I could save money for a better machine I would trade mine in for a better one. My first machine only sewed straight. 10 years later I got one that zigzag. I was lucky that I had an aunt the sewed and she showed me a lot..
 

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You could check for a used one as someone else suggested at your local sewing store / machine repair shop. I got mine from Sears and it had been returned as the customer didn't like the automatic buttonholer. That meant I got about 300.00 off the price of the machine because it was "used" (for one week). I've had it since 1992 and it's still going strong.

Classes are definitely helpful. It's not absolutely necessary but can make the job easier with tips / tricks. I knew I'd want to make a lot of different things with mine so I wanted one that had more options but if you're not sure you can start with just the basic straight stitch. That's the one I use the most.
 

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Another thing about buying used from a sewing center is they generally have their tech people completely go through their used machines to make sure they're all cleaned and in working order.

I respectfully disagree about getting a machine that will only do straight stitching. Being able to overcast a fabric that might otherwise ravel is useful in so many different situations that IMO, it would be worth extra to get one that will also zigzag. I've had machines in the past that only do straight stitch and my industrial machine only does straight stitch, and the zigzag is worth it on a residential machine. (Industrial machines are a whole different animal.) Even though you're only planning to do quilting, for which straight stitch would be all you need, if you want to do any applique or mending or making a garment with the machine, you would most likely appreciate having a zigzag capability.
 

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I would see about going to a quilt shop and just having a conversation about classes and beginner machines. I have bought several from S.A. and online from Target. You get what you pay for is still the truth. Go online and read reveiws.
I had a White reburbished for DD(expensive) and I got her an embroidery/sewing machine. Joannes does have good classes. DD used to work there. I would ask a lot of people before I plunked down lots of money. And I second,not just a straight sewing machine. You will quickly outgrow that. Its a great hobby.
 
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