I recently bought a new sewing machine. It's a Brother Innovis 350, which is an upgrade from the Janome I started out with. It was a bit of a long, drawn out process as I did a ridiculous amount of research.
I therefore thought I'd share a few tips I picked up for those of you thinking of buying your first sewing machine or upgrading to a new model.
Put a message out on twitter and facebook asking if anyone has any recommendations. Not only will you get advice and brand names but you never know, someone might be selling their machine!
Set yourself a budget, stick to it and spend it!
Numerous people advised me to set myself a budget and spend it. In the case of sewing machines, it really is true that the more you spend, the more features you get.
Go to a specialist sewing machine shop!
I tried going to an un-named department store but was told that I would have to buy a machine before I could try it. Not only that but the range of machines was very limited. I could rant about this but I'll save your ears. Instead, ask around and do a few internet searches for your nearest specialist shop. These shops know what they're talking about and will insist that you try any number of machines before you purchase one - they realise how important that element is. And, you don't have to buy a machine despite trying them out first. You can walk away and have a think about it first.
I went to Sew...Northampton, which was my nearest shop and I truly cannot recommend this husband and wife team enough! They were friendly and welcoming, VERY knowledgeable, let me play around on the machines for hours (yes hours!) and when I'd chosen one, they ensured I knew how to thread the machine by demonstrating and getting me to have a go. They also carried my machine to my car for me! Oh and they repair machines too!
Tell the shop owner what your budget is and what specifications you're looking for.
They will pick out machines in your price range and to your specifications. That helps narrow things down. Also, by saying what your budget is, you never know what offers they might give.
I managed to get a shop model machine at a vastly reduced price (despite it being in perfectly good working order and still having a 3 year waranty), with a quilting kit thrown in. I had mentioned that I wanted an extension table to give quilting a go in the future.
Go with a good brand
There are lots of good brands out there, so you can't go too wrong if you were to pick one of these:
Warranty and after care
When you do purchase a machine, make sure you've got a good warranty and an after care option. Sew...Northampton allow you to take the machine back within a set time frame if you're not happy with it. They also service machines and encourage you to contact them if you've got any questions about your machine.
I hope that helps but if you have any tips, do leave a lovely comment below :-)