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Sewing machines. What do I need?

So, you want to sew. Whether you plan to make a wedding dress, or upcycle clothes from the goodwill store you need some basics first! 
Older machines sound like a great place to start. Pull out Grandma’s old Singer and get to work! You will quickly realize that her old hand-me-down is not up to the task. Machines from yesteryear only had to deal with a few fabrics. Todays technologies have created better, long lasting fabrics that move and behave very differently. You need a modern machine designed with those fabrics in mind to make your experience fun and worthwhile.
There is nothing more frustrating than sewing together some fabric and seeing poor results. The tension could be way off and the stitches may not be straight. This is NOT YOUR FAULT! Older machines have unsophisticated tension systems that require adjustments for every fabric and thread you use. This lack of consistency makes it impossible for a beginner to get it right and have a good experience. Remember that line of stitching that is not straight? Older machines had limited fabric contact and the feeding systems were not nearly as good, causing you to struggle to go straight!
Both of these issues are easily solvable with a modern machine of good quality. I always recommend a new sewer get a machine with AUTOMATIC TENSION. Automatic Tension will move the tension dial to adjust for what you are doing. You will always have a nice even stitch, pulled up tight and strong. Beware machines that use the word Auto Tension, but in reality just leave the tension in one setting. This one size fits all is not always correct, but because you think it is automatic you assume you are not doing something correctly. Don’t blame yourself! When in doubt you can always ask us and we can help you find the real answer to your issue. As a new sewer you need guidance from someone who knows what is available, and how to use it!
You also want to get a good feeding sewing machine. Many models can now feed from the top as well as the bottom, making your stitches straight and level. You should be able to sit on your hands and the machine should sew a straight and even line. If it can do that you are set up for success. 
There are many other features you can get as well. You can automatically thread your needle, get your needle to stop up or down on a whim, and even have the foot raise automatically to pivot a corner easily. Which features will be useful to you is a personal choice. We recommend that you go to a store with a selection of machines and models so you can sew on them. Pick the one that best fits you. Ask questions and get to know the people at the store. They will be your first line of defense against problems you may have in the future. We have always recommended that you should buy the dealer first, then pick the machine that meets all of your needs. If you live near us please come in to try some machines and meet us. At Above and Beyond we all sew. We can answer questions about a machine, or also how to go about a project. We even have a beginner sewing series that you can take to grow your sewing skills. 
Please take the time to learn about sewing and machines. You will not regret it!