If you are concerned about environmentally-friendly fashion then a sewing machine is a must. You can use it to customise, re-work and recycle clothes far more easily than by hand and in a fraction of the time. They may seem expensive, but a good one will last for years and save you plenty of money on splashing out on new clothes when they rip, tear or fall out of fashion.
I finally purchased my sewing machine (pictured above) 18 months ago after years of experimentation ripping up and customising my clothes. Aged 14 I would don a home-shredded vest top, minskirt and fishnets before stomping out of my house in huge DM’s and far too much eyeliner, much to my parents’ dismay. Then in my late teens I discovered the rave scene and would spend hours painstakingly hand-stitching matching fluffy neon outfits, crafting hairpieces out of multi-coloured pipe cleaners and painting UV dots on my face.
Environmental issues weren’t really in my mind when I invested in the machine – I just wanted to learn to make decent, wearable clothes rather than my slap-dash creations that fell apart after a few days.
I would recommend my model (the Juki HZL-60) for new sewers- it is one of the easiest machines I’ve ever used, so perfect for a beginner. It’s cheap as well – there’s no point in splashing out on a pricey machine if you’re not sure home sewing is for you yet. And because it’s good quality it’ll be easy to sell on if you decide it was an expensive mistake.
Always ask for a demonstration in the shop and a ‘test run’ yourself so you can see how easy to use it is (or isn’t!). If there are specific features you want, such as embroidery or over-locking, the model will be more expensive so it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth your cash. I was also given a free in-store tutorial – ask your supplier if they can give you one too.
There are usually second-hand models for sale on eBay and similar places, but you may want to consider whether it’s worth the risk to buy one without road-testing it first. A tricky-to-use sewing machine can bring hours of frustration, tears and dodgy hems!
- Which? has brilliant guide to choosing a sewing machine
- John Lewis also has this guide, although it is biased towards the models they stock
- Readers at craftforum have put together this thread, which contains some sound advice
- A dress a day blog has a helpful, if rather long, guide for beginners