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sew easier how to buy a sewing machine
by Yee-Fan Sun
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continued from page 1

The sewing machine my mom bought me that Christmas, a very basic Singer, has moved with me through three homes now. I'm still a pretty slipshod seamstress, and can't sew a straight line to save my life, but with the machine, at least, the sewing goes quickly. I've made countless futon covers and throw pillows, a few sets of curtains, and even a sofa slipcover (though the last involved a lot of cursing). No doubt about it: that machine is still one of the best Christmas presents I ever got.

Sure, you can whip up a throw pillow with just a needle and thread, but let's face it, sewing is heaps easier with a machine. Itching to get a sewing machine of your very own? Here are a few things to consider…

what to look for
Sewing machines can vary widely in the features that they offer and the prices that they command, but for your first sewing machine, there's really no need to get anything terribly fancy. For the vast majority of household uses, you'll just need a machine that can do straight stitches and zigzags. Besides those two stitches, you might occasionally use the blind hem (for when you don't want a conspicuous hem line), reinforced straight stitch (forward three stitches and back two; this gives you the look of a regular straight stitch but with a little more stretch and reinforcement), and buttonhole (for, you know, making buttonholes). Any stitch capabilities beyond those five are almost certain to go unused for all eternity, so there's no point in paying more for a machine that boasts ten, twenty, or a gazillion different kinds of stitches.

Opinions on various brands and models vary widely, with European machines tending to have a better reputation for reliability. But unless you'll be giving your machine some serious workouts, go with any of the long-established stalwarts (Bernina, Janome, Singer, Viking, Brother, Pfaff, just to name a few) and you'll have something that should serve you well for years to come -- or at least be easily serviced if you run into any problems.

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