Best Sewing Machine for Beginners

by TessaSchlesinger

by Tessa Schlesinger. Best Sewing Machine for Beginners. What to look for in a sewing machine, and how to know whether it's a good sewing machine or not.

If you’re looking to set up a small sewing room in your home, you might be looking for a reliable, easy to use sewing machine and a matching serger. After solid research, my daughter and I selected the Janome Magnolia 7318 and the Janome 8002D Serger. Here’s the feedback on the machinery plus the other equipment that has now been in use some six months…I also share the choices we made for other equipment and how they've fared.

Sewing for Others: What to look for in a sewing machine!

Janome Magnolia 7318 Best sewing machine ever

When sewing for others, one generally does so to develop an income stream. So the last thing you want is for your machine to break (two Brothers), the thread to tangle (Elna), for it to be way to complex for simple tasks (Singer), and so on. Speed, reliability, and ease of use are the most important elements when sewing for others. After some seven years of sewing, I think it’s fair to say that we have finally found the best sewing machine for those who have a small business in the fashion, design, alternation, or costume art business. 

  • The Janome Magnolia 7318 has been a delight from day one. That it was inexpensive as well was just the cherry on top of the tasty cake. Here’s why it works so well:
  • The design is functional and modular. You can take it apart with ease and you can see where everything is.
  • It is light and easy to carry.
  • It comes with quite a few tools so you don’t have to go out and buy them, e.g. ipper foot, buttonhole foot, sliding buttonhole foot, extra needles, extra bobbins, screwdriver (can you believe it?), Lint brush (Ye-es), Seam ripper with a button hole opener attached (not your conventional unpicker), large and small spool holders (which are very useful because they keep your twine in place), and a felt cushion for your pins.
  • It has an extension table which means that you can extend the surface where you are sewing. This is incredibly useful when you have quite a bit of fabric to sew with and you need it to be steady.
  • The accessory storage is under the bobbin case and is large enough to store all tools and a few more.
  • It has a light to make threading the needle easier. Believe it or not, both Brother sewing machines we owned did not have lights! We had taken it for granted for previous machines we owned (and I think there was another Brother involved), but didn’t realize until these two machines that not every sewing machine has a light to thread by!
  • The automatic bobbin winder is fast. For some machines we’ve owned, this gizmo hasn’t worked so well. On the Janome Magnolia 7318, it’s ease personified.
  •  It’s a mechanical machine rather than a computerized machine. Believe me, computerized machines are temperamental and expensive to fix. This machine is so inexpensive that if it breaks down (unlikely), you can replace it for half the price it costs to repair a computerized machine.
  • It's pretty heavy duty. By that I mean that we do a substantial amount of sewing and it hasn't caved in. From experience, some machines are very finicky so it's important that you buy a machine that isn't going to get overheated and tired after you're on dress no 21. :)

This is the Janome Magnolia 7318

Sewing machine for beginners
Janome Magnolia 7318
Janome Magnolia 7318

You Need a Garment Rack To Hang Your finished Items.

Garment rack for fashion design
Garment Rack
Garment Rack

Read Reviews of Best Ever Sewing Machine at Amazon here!

Janome Magnolia 7318 Click to see at Amazon
Janome Magnolia 7318 Sewing Machine

The Janome Magnolia 7318 has wonderful features including 18 Built-In Stitches, a Top Loading Bobbin System, 4 Step Buttonholes and more! The Janome 7318 is an easy to use power...

$299.00  $239.00

Video demonstrating easy to use sewing machine

Janome Magnolia 7318 Best Sewing Machine ever!

Inexpensive sewing cabinet with impressive design features.

sewing cabinet
American Cherry Craft and Sewing Cart American Cherry

Sauder Storage collection sewing craft cart is constructed of top quality engineered wood with a durable American Cherry laminate finish. Drop leaf provides extra work space for...

Only $199.00

Equipment Needed for Your Fashion Sewing Studio

Janome, 8002D Serger, Sauder Sewing Cabinet,

What You Need for Your Sewing/Design Studio

Of course, in order to sew for others, you need more than a machine. We invested in the Janome 8002D Serger which at $200 was a steal on Amazon. Yesterday, we had a prom client and there were layers and layers of hemming that needed to be shortened and hemmed. You have no idea the difference in time saved between pinning, ironing, and sewing on a conventional machine, and just cutting and using the serger. In addition, it has a great look! For the record, if you’re using knit fabrics, it’s easier and quicker to sew using the serger than the machine.


The Sewing Cabinet
There are probably a lot more expensive fancy sewing cabinets than the one we bought. However, the design is fabulous for our needs. 

Incidentally, while I've linked all these products to Amazon for ease of viewing, you can sometimes get lucky by searching ebay for them. You might get better prices, although Amazon is, in my experience, pretty good at giving the best prices. You'll have to compare them for yourself as it's a day by day thingie! :)

Have you designs around for your clients to see

fashion illustrations
Fashion dress and costume anime designs
Fashion dress and costume anime designs

Read Reviews at Amazon for the Janome 8002D Serger here!

The Janome 8002D Serger makes sewing on knit fabrics a cinch!
Janome 8002D Serger Sewing Machine

The 8002D serger provides professional results at an extraodinary value. This 3 and 4 thread convertible serger cuts, sergers and finishes seams in one quick and easy motion. Th...

Only $299.00

If you're a sewer, you will always have masses of fabric...

shelving for fabric
Piles of unused fabric
Piles of unused fabric

A Serger for Sewing Knits, Finishing Hems, and Seams is very useful

Janome 8002D Serger
Janome 8002D Serger Sewing Machine

The 8002D serger provides professional results at an extraodinary value. This 3 and 4 thread convertible serger cuts, sergers and finishes seams in one quick and easy motion. Th...

Only $299.00

More Equipment you need for your Sewing Room or Fashion Design Studio

Garment Rack, Scissors, Cotton, Magnetic Cushion for picking up pins, etc.

The Garment Rack
You do need a rail to hang clothes of clients. It has such a ‘studio’ feel when you do. You can pick these up for anything from $10 up. Just a little hint to impress here. We hang up costumes sewn for anime conventions and San Diego Comic-Con because it gives our clients an idea of what we do. Truthfully, it’s more my daughter that does the pattern making and sewing these days, but she’s a total wiz at it. If you’re at San Diego Comic-Con this July, be sure to go to the panel where she is speaking on Masquerade and costumes. Well, to get back to I was saying, the hanging rail is a must for keeping things tidy and looking professional.


Plastic Shoe Box Containers
Okay, don’t think I’m daft. It’s experience that has taught that that it’s best to put things in see-through containers. There are so many things that one uses when in a sewing and design business – zippers, buttons, twine, glue, measuring tapes, paper (for pattern making), pattern making tools, cloth cutting scissors, paper cutting scissors, small scissors, too many scissors, and more. These containers can be found most places and are generally used for storing shoes. However, they are very handy to pile one top of each other on your shelf and then you can see at a glance where to find things. More importantly, things can get in a mess very quickly, so you know where to put things – at a glance – when you finish using them.

Pin Cushion that makes picking up pins easy

Magnetic pin cushion
Grabbit Magnetic Pin Cushion

GrabbIt magnetic pin cushion makes it easy to store your straight pins and have easy access to them while sewing. This item ships from Tiger Textiles in Grand Rapids MN and will...

$13.99  $7.90

Storage for Patterns and More Equipment for your Fashion Sewing Design Studio or Sewing Room

Large Envelopes and Box to Store Patterns
One of the things that happens as a designer and seamstress is that, whether you create them yourself, get them from clients, or buy them readymade, you will have a mass of patterns. You will also know that once you remove them from their envelope, you will never fold them quite that way again, and they will never fit. Buy large brown envelopes and glue the cover of the pattern on the envelope and store all the pieces of the pattern in it. Then hunt for the right size box to store your patterns in and store them according to what they are. There would be a section for trousers, for dresses, for suits, for fancy costumes, etc. 

Scissors, Measuring Tape, Cotton and Twines, etc.
You will also need several pairs of scissors. Keep one scissors for cutting paper and another for cutting fabric. Keep a small 'snip' scissors for cutting thread and small pieces. Keep spares. I promise you that Murphy and Scissors are on very good speaking terms. They disappear to places you know you never put them.

In terms of twine and various cottons, you need to use cotton with cotton fabric, polyester with polyester fabric, and so on. You should have a lot of black and white, plus a range of most colors, Over a period of time, you will get a feel for which colors your particular clientele enjoy most. 

Biggest Best Kept Secret is Magnetic Pin Cushion.
You so totally need this. Trust me, when you've dropped the box of pins for the third time in a day, you are going to love just taking your magnetic pin cushion and just holding it over the pins and they gravitate upwards without any work on your behalf.

Advertising your Your Skills to Others

Marketing Fashion

Of course, once you've put it all together, you will  need clients. We use craigslist, ebay, backpage, facebook, and other freebie classified ads on the web that are local. Through experience, we've come to know how much time something will take us (you will need to keep a very careful log of this for about three of four months initially) and we charge accordingly. You need to be competitive in your market so start high, see how many responses you get and keep dropping until you have quite a solid client base. Then you can begin to up the price a bit. From experience, it's better to have clients at a lower price than no clients at a more expensive price. I can tell you one thing: It does pay! People want alterations, sewing, better prices for design items, etc. So if you're a dab hand at sewing, this might just be thing you need to change your life!

Updated: 09/12/2014, TessaSchlesinger
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


TessaSchlesinger on 12/08/2012

Yup, they're great machines. And obviously I have one, too! ;)

2uesday on 12/08/2012

I have a Janome sewing machine and it is a pleasure to use it.

Having used machines in the past that cause problems this one stands out as having been designed well. It is as if someone who has experience sewing and of using a sewing machine has designed it. I really like how the model I have makes making button holes and zips easy to work.

I have an older heavier weight machine that I use when I want to stitch through thick layers or to do freestyle machine embroidery. However the automatic stitches for the embroidery on the Janome are useful to have as they can add decorative features to clothes. Even threading it and filling the spool on this machine is easier than on the ones I used in the past.

Tolovaj on 05/25/2012

There is a store with Janome machines near our house. It is located in a trade center where is a lot of different stores. It is not hard to spot how crisis effects almost half of businesses located in this center, but Janome is not one of them. It seems they have costumers no matter if economy is is in great or bad shape.
Reading your article I understand what is so special about these machines...
Thumbs up!

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