It really depends on your budget, but I'd be inclined to buy her one of
the Janome machines. If you 'think' she'll stick with sewing then maybe
a 6500 or it's recent replacement 6600. These are a heavier machine,
great for quilting and last her for years. Maybe you'll find a good
If you get a machine that is too cheap and doesn't give a good result
this could do more harm to her moral, than good, imho!
When my DD was that age we bought her a second hand TOL Bernina )when
they were a good machine) and it's still going strong. It cost a little
more than an el cheapo but because it gave good results it kept her
interested in her sewing.
Janome has been my favoured machine for the last 20 years. Hope this helps?
I was just about to look up the location for the sewing machine FAQ when
Penny's reply came up on my screen. You will do your daughter a big
favor by having both you and she read it several times. Those of us who
contributed to it worked hard to put in the best advice we could come up
with. As you see we do not endorse any machine. We each have the one
that suits our needs the best.
Think through your choices, try as many machine as possible in your
price range and stay with reliable dealers. If a dealer doesn't want to
let your daughter use her own material, for a trial, run out the door as
fast as you can go.
Thanks Melinda, unfortunately I don't think picking her own machine is
an alternative given the fact that she's never sewn on a machine
before; all of her sewing has been done by hand. We'd like to keep the
price below $400 if possible.
Hi Juno, thanks for the reply. We'll plan on visiting dealers this
weekend for some test drives. Unfortunately, my daughter's never sewn
on a machine before, so we're sitting ducks for unscrupulous dealers.
I think Penny's FAQ will be invaluable.
P.S. You will get the most bang for your $400 by getting a used machine
if that's okay with her -- you don't want to get her a cheap-quality
machine or it could ruin her on sewing. Go visit local sewing machine
dealers and ask to look at used machines in the $200-300 range or else
ones from the 1980s or before -- you will get a good-quality machine
that will last a while for less than brand new prices. The dealer might
also offer sewing lessons or at least consultations as she learns to use
And please tell her that she should take one thing and make it several
times to learn from her mistakes, then move on to something else and
make *it* several times to learn from her mistakes, etc. I took home ec
for 3 years in school back in the days when they really taught it, and I
hardly learned anything at all about sewing (except for
follow-the-leader procedures) until I started doing exactly this. And
tell her to come here and ask all the questions she wants, cry on our
She might like some of the free projects at
If she'd never worn a pair of shoes before, would you buy her some
without her trying them on?
She MUST try them! More hours of sewing machine misery are endured by
those who did not pick their own machine than by those who did - even at
the very top of the market! And many others just quietly abandon the
poor unloved bought-for-them machine...
Think carefully about what she wants to make:
Curtains, cushions, bags, denim stuff: a hardy used mechanical
light weight occasional clothing items: Something with decor stitches
Lots of clothing from scratch: something that does really good
buttonholes and blind hems, with a choice of needle positions for
For $400 you can get a serious amount of machine in the pre-loved
market! Makes to look for:
Husqvarna Viking: you won't see many - we HV fans tend to hang on to our
Bernina - some of the older models are still fantastic
Pfaff: as above. Personally, I find them awkward to use, but Pfaff fans
are as fanatical about their toys as we HV and Bernina fanatics!
Frister & Rossmann - some good machines there, though not as tough as
Older all metal Singers - buy a pre-1964 model! Look out for plastic
gears and avoid...
If she just MUST have new (or has a real reason to need a light weight
drag to classes machine), get back to us.
Since she's never used a machine before, she may be better off taking a
beginner sewing class at Adult Ed. That could be done with the promise
that if she enjoys it she can pick out a machine that suits her. She'll
get the feel of machines that way and have a better idea of what she
wants it to do. As Kate said there are a lot of machines out there that
have been abandoned because they just weren't right. I stopped sewing
for 10 years because I had a machine that never worked right. I'm sure
the resullt will be a better one if she has some understanding of how
sewing machines work.
Thank you for your time and great advice (and sense of humor), and yes,
we always buy shoes without trying them on, don't you? My wife is a
Swede so I imagine the Husqvarna will figure prominently on our search
Used is always a little dicey with teens, but it won't be the first
time. Our Miele vacuum cleaner, which we had for 15 years, croaked a
few weeks ago and I couldn't shell out almost $1,000 for a new one, so
I bought a used one in excellent condition for $100. So, personally, I
don't have a problem with buying pre-owned, convincing a teenager is
Thanks again for your great advice,
Your in Manhattan, take advantage of F.I.T. and see if someone there
can give you advice and help you find reputable dealers. I'd also check
with them on lessons, they may have something that be suitable or again
some advice as to where to find good beginner classes.