blue background with text and a woman holding a sewing machine

The ultimate sewing machine guide: everything you need to know

The best sewing machine tips and tricks 

Do you desire to become a talented seamstress or a tailor? Maybe you just want a quick way to easily alter your family’s clothes in the comfort of your own home?  Whether you dream of opening your own clothing business or merely require a stitching tool for personal use, this is your ultimate sewing machine guide, we will tell you everything you know to start or upgrade your sewing!

Is it hard to learn how to use a sewing machine? Is it hard to learn to sew with a machine?

Being a beginner at anything can be very scary because we always wonder one thing- will it be too difficult to do without any previous skills? For sewing, the simple answer is no. It is not hard to learn how to use a sewing machine

The easiest part about the sewing process would most likely be using the sewing machine. Preparing your work for more advanced processes like preparing the machine’s thread or using patterns on your material is more difficult- but not impossible. With enough patience and practice, you can learn in no time. 

Best sewing machine for beginners 

How to choose a sewing machine for beginners

Since using a sewing machine is one of the easiest parts of your road to becoming a seamstress or tailor, it’s important to find a suitable sewing machine for a beginner. 

Finding a sewing machine with just enough easy-to-understand features for your specific sewing needs and current sewing skills will make your sewing journey a whole lot simpler. 

Table of Contents

Why you should invest in a sewing machine

Are you reading this because you’re unsure whether or not you should learn how to sew? If you learn the skill, do you even need your own machine? 

6 Reasons why you need a sewing machine

Well, if you needed some convincing, you came to the right place! Reasons you should invest in a sewing machine: 

  • Become your family’s fashion designer 
  • You can alter your heart out
  • Improve your skills constantly 
  • Helps you save money
  • Become an entrepreneur
  • Makes work easier

Become your family’s fashion designer

Do fashion designers have to sew?

Guess who can fix all your family’s clothes and never have to struggle in clothing stores again? You with a sewing machine! 

Imagine being able to make special jerseys for all the newborns in your family, alter all your cousins’ matric ball dresses, and be the family fashion designer for every event. With your very own sewing machine, you can accomplish this title! 

You can alter your heart out

Do I need a sewing machine to alter clothes?

Don’t fit in the pants you bought? Alter it yourself. Want a specific print on your pillows? Embroid it at home. Need to fix your dog’s collar? You got it. 

Skip the lines and the altering disappointments. Anything with fabric in the house is in your control with your sewing machine by your side. 

Improve your skills constantly

Hand sewing skills & Advanced sewing skills 

Going to a sewing class is a great start. However, the only way to constantly improve and master any talent is to have full access to it. A sewing machine is a one-time investment for long-term creativity and art skills that look great on a CV!

Helps you save money

How can sewing help you save money?

With your own sewing machine, you don’t need to visit your tailor every other week. You no longer need to pay a lot for your ideal house curtains. You no longer need to throw out torn pieces and spend money on replacing them. All you need is your machine, fabric, and thread. 

Become an entrepreneur

How can I make money from sewing skills? Is stitching a good business?

Entrepreneurship is the new way forward! What better way to start a retail company than to have your personalized touch on every piece. With your very own sewing machine and skills, you improve your chances of being hired by other textile businesses too!

Are you a start-up creative entrepreneur looking for clientele? Sell your crafts on Fabric8! Click here to find out more.

Makes work easier

Is sewing an easy hobby?

Investing in a sewing machine means you get to perform tasks more easily. Sew through denim, leather, and harsh fabric with ease. 

How do I choose a sewing machine? 

Before diving into your options for beginner-friendly sewing machines, you need to consider some important factors to ensure you are making the best choice. For both your desired task and your current skill set. 

What should I look for when buying a sewing machine?

Points to consider when buying a sewing machine:

  • Desired features 
  • Budget 
  • What you will use it for 
  • How often you will use it 
  • Tech or no tech
  • Storage space 
  • Attachments 
  • Local shops or online shops
  • Upgrades

Desired features 

What are the three important parts of sewing machine?

Top 3 sewing machine features to look for.

What features do you want in a machine? For your first machine, you need 3 main features: control over the functions, a variety of easy stitch types, and a few basic settings.

What are important features on a sewing machine? 

How to choose a sewing machine for beginners

Some machines have electronic features where you can control the functions on a touchscreen. Others only have embroidery features where you have the freedom to stitch in shapes and letters for decoration. 

Do not be tempted by fancy features and intricate buttons. Consider if you truly need these features for your desired tasks or can you do without them. 


What is the best budget-friendly sewing machine? How much is a decent sewing machine?

Do you want the cheapest option or are you willing to spend some bucks to get your sewing going?

Generally, beginner sewing machines will not have that many features. This means there is no way a seller should make you spend an arm and a leg for a machine with only 1 button and 1 knob. When you start mastering the art of sewing, then you can start digging deep into your pockets. 

How much should a beginner spend on a sewing machine?

For now, buy an affordable easy-to-use machine and maybe spend extra money on a sewing class or a sewing teaching book

When you’ve determined your budget to start up your sewing journey, choosing a sewing machine becomes a little easier.


What you will use it for

Reasons why you need

Never be confused about which machine to buy. Sewing machines are rather specific to certain needs and others, like combination machines, offer diversity. 

How often you will use it

How long can you use a sewing machine?

How will you care for and maintain your sewing machine at home?

Will you be sewing every day as a skill or will you only use your machine for repair purposes? 

If your machine will be left stationary often, rather invest in a basic machine. If you want to start a business, keep an eye out for machines with more advanced features.  

Tech or no tech

Are computerized sewing machines worth it?

To tech or not to tech? 

Is a sewing machine with technology better than one without technology? Well, this is a personal decision. Are you someone who prefers old-school manual machines? If not, check out these machines for beginner tech-lovers. They will take your sewing experience to a whole new level!  (Hyperlink to subheading: 5. Tech lovers)


Storage space

What should I put in my sewing room? How do you organize a sewing area?

The better your sewing workspace, the better you will feel while crafting. Whether you will be sewing from home or at a business, investing in a sewing table is a great option. 

Sewing tables are made specifically for the sewing machine you pick and have all the features you need to create your best work. Shop for your ideal sewing table extension here.


What are the sewing machine attachments?

Do you know what accessories and attachments are available with the machine? Will you need to buy what you want separately? 

As a beginner, the small things in life matter the most. That means a foot attachment might make the biggest difference in the ease of your sewing experience. 

Not sure which sewing attachments and accessories you’d be interested in? Browse our range of sewing machine accessories for a variety of options. 

Local shops or online shops 

Another important thing to consider is where you want to buy it and what benefits you want to gain in the buying process. 

If you buy a sewing machine locally, some shops offer sewing classes when you make a purchase. This is the better option for hands-on learners. 

Fabric store online

Fabric stores near me

In 2022 most things are online. You get the benefit of finding the cheapest options as well as delivery perks in most cases. Sometimes a local pick-up option is available too. 

Generally, online shopping could be the better option because you see honest reviews, you see the company’s policies and you get all the info on the machine before you even spend a cent. 

If you want to learn more about the benefits of online shopping click here


You won’t be a beginner forever. When you begin advancing 3 years down the line, are you willing to buy an upgraded machine with more advanced features and technology? 

When should you upgrade your sewing machine?

Buying an advanced machine as a beginner might help you save money from having to buy an upgraded machine in a few years. However, advanced machines will take you twice as much time to master as beginner machines.

Also, as an unadvanced seamstress/tailor, you are more likely to damage an advanced machine. This means you will have to spend money on repairing your fancy machine. Whereas a beginner-friendly machine was made specifically for someone with very few skills. Hey, that someone is you! 

How do I upgrade my sewing machine?

Do you want to upgrade the software on your sewing machine? Purchase our original brother software upgrades.

What to look out for on a new machine 

What makes a good sewing machine?

Now that you did your pre-shopping planning, you’re ready to start browsing. What qualities should you look for in a good beginner sewing machine? 

  • lifter 
  • automatic threader  
  • Wifi capability for tech lovers
  • needle raiser 
  • simplicity 
  • choose between drop-in bobbin and front-load 
  • foot pressure option
  • portability 
  • a good amount of stitches 

How are sewing machines classified?

What are the categories of sewing?

Picking a sewing machine can become complicated. Let’s simplify all the terms. Firstly, when you go shopping for sewing machines, you’ll soon discover they are divided into categories. 

What are the 2 basic types of sewing machines?

Two categories of sewing machines:

  1. Domestic sewing machines
  2. Commercial sewing machines

What’s the difference between domestic and commercial?

What is the difference between industrial and domestic sewing machine?

The main differences between domestic and commercial are:

  • Size
  • Stitching
  • Convenience
  • production quantity
  • Price

Domestic sewing machine

What is the other name of a domestic sewing machine?

Domestic sewing machines are also known as mechanical sewing machines. 

As the name implies, these machines are ideal for home use and anything personal. Their features are generally more luxurious with up to hundreds of built-in stitching options. 

These home machines are slow in comparison to commercial but deliver high-quality crafts. 

Types of sewing machines and their uses

Main types of domestic sewing machines:

  • Manual Sewing Machines
  • Mechanical Sewing Machines 
  • Embroidery Sewing Machines
  • Quilting Sewing Machines
  • Electronic Sewing Machines 
  • Computerized Sewing Machines

Manual Sewing Machines 

Are manual sewing machines good?

One of the first sewing machines dating back to the days before electricity. An ancient relic, if you will. No electric outlets, no batteries- everything runs with a hand crank being turned continuously. 

A more difficult option for amateur sewing.

Mechanical Sewing Machines

Which is the best mechanical sewing machine? How does a mechanical sewing machine work?

One of the more simplistic machines. A knob here and there. With a few easy turns, you can get to sewing in no time. 

These machines are typically more affordable for beginner sewers. One electric motor rotates the belts and gears. 

With precise and slow operations, they offer basic functions and require less maintenance for a long lifespan.

Embroidery Sewing Machines

Can an embroidery machine sew?

This machine is used for decoration, arts, and designs. They are fast and effective. Basic embroidery and more advanced electronic models are available. 

Most times they have USB features to transfer designs to the machine and create anything you desire. 

The option of LCD screens is also popular. 

Quilting Sewing Machines

What does a quilting sewing machine do? What kind of sewing machine is used for quilting?

Quilting machines come in two options: computerized or mechanical. 

These machines allow users to sew through multiple layers of voluminous fabric. It makes handling and production of quilting much easier. 

In 2022 it’s much better to invest in a combined quilting and sewing machine to handle a wide variety of crafts.

Electronic Sewing Machines

What does an electronic sewing machine do?

If a sewing machine has switches that control buttonhole making, overlocking, and combining stitches then it is electronic. 

They require electricity and run with an activated foot pedal and motor. They require regular maintenance and can handle complicated designs.  

These machines need a power source to run.

Computerized Sewing Machines

What does a computerized sewing machine do? Is it worth buying a computerised sewing machine?

The most advanced domestic sewing machine out there. They come with USB ports, wifi options, and digital downloads on the machine. 

An LCD touch screen allows you to select settings, features, and adjustments. With buttonhole options and plenty of built-in stitches, this machine gives the user more control.

They also work more precisely than the other machines. 

Which sewing machine is better: electric or manual? 

After considering all the domestic machines available above, deciding if you should go electric or the old-school hands-on sewing route comes next. When it comes down to electric vs manual, it’s always up to the user’s preference. 

Electric sewing machine

Advantages of Electric Sewing Machines over Manual Sewing Machines

  • Has a helpful motor running on electricity 
  • A dial allows you to select stitching which makes sewing easier
  • Electric has more advanced features than manual
  • Beginner-friendly
  • The foot pedal feature allows for more control
  • Speed advantage 

Disadvantages of Electric Sewing Machines over Manual Sewing Machines

  • Electric sewing machines have shorter lifespans
  • Can’t be used without an electric source
  • Require more regular maintenance 

Manual Sewing machine

Advantages of Manual Sewing Machines over Electric Sewing Machines

  • Can function properly without electricity 
  • More affordable
  • Low maintenance 
  • Durable
  • Long-lasting

Disadvantages of Manual Sewing Machines over Electric Sewing Machines

  • Manual sewing machines are slow in comparison to electric sewing machines
  • It’s run by a pedal which means you need to exert more labour in the sewing process
  • Have no advanced features 
  • Settings are difficult to navigate through 

Commercial sewing machines

Which sewing machine is best for commercial use?

Commercial sewing machines are used in large industries. If you work in a textile factory or a large business, you’ll use this sewing machine. With just a few stitches and a lot of maintenance required, commercial sewing machines require professional skills. 

More focused on quantity than quality, they operate in bulk. Commercial machines are also best when dealing with very heavy material,  heavy-duty tasks, and threading. 

These machines are generally very large, more expensive, and have extra built-in features.

Which category should beginners look at? What type of sewing machine is best for a beginner?

As a beginner, you want to opt for domestic sewing machines. As fancy as they seem to be, commercial sewing machines should be left for professionals that know how to operate precise and fast machines producing in bulk in the fashion industry. 

These machines are also much more expensive. Domestic sewing machines can easily be used in the comfort of your home. All you need is a desk and a desire to learn. 

How much should a beginner sewing machine cost?

With a variety of sewing machines on the market ranging from cheap to breaking the bank- how much should a beginner pay for a sewing machine?

If you want a basic mechanical beginner sewing machine with very few features, you should be spending around R4 000 or less. When you want more advanced features and electronic options, you’ll be spending about R12 000 or up. 

How much should you pay for a good sewing machine? How much are sewing machines worth?

High-tech options with advanced features and luxury technologies, you should save and look for payment options of about R5 000 per month or less.


What is the most reliable sewing machine?

What is the most reliable brand of sewing machine?

Entering the world of sewing as a beginner can be overwhelming. There are so many brands to select from, which one is right for you? 

Brother vs Singer

What is the difference between Brother and Singer sewing machines?

Although there are many fantastic sewing brands out there, Singer and Brother have amazing value for their prices, they have a big variety of options and many beginner-friendly machines. So which one should you opt for?

Is Brother or Singer better? Which sewing machine is best?

Singer sewing machines

Singer Background

In the business since the 1850s. Singer has come a long way in the industry ever since being invented by Isaac Singer. In just 40 years, Singer achieved a phenomenal market share globally. Their brand expanded quickly. 

At some point, they were producing more than 12k machines a week, which was known as one of the best sewing machine factories in the world, in Scotland. 

Many other factories began to adopt Singer’s Class 15 bobbins and features. Not just sewing manufacturers, Singer also began to produce sewing guides, tools, and supplies. 

Benefits of Singer sewing machines

Singer is well-known for its sturdy and heavy-duty machine options. With fewer stitch features, one can benefit from the simplicity of this brand.

This brand of a sewing machine has good stitches and produces quality crafts. Singer has a good history of good-quality sales. 

Brother sewing machines.

Are brother sewing machines any good?

Brother Background

Coming through later than Singer, Brother started in 1908 in Japan. The company was originally named Yasui Sewing Machine Co. and was rebranded in 1962. 

It started off being a sewing machine service and repair company. This explains why Brother has specialized in creating world-renowned sewing products. 

Not just sewing machines, Brother makes domestic electronics too. With fantastic performance and innovative products, Brother expanded by selling office machines.

Benefits of Brother sewing machines

Brother machines are known for their versatility- from basic manual machines, combination machines to computerised machines with luxurious technologies. 

They have durable and feature-rich machines. The lightweight and compactness make Brother advantageous over its competitors. With up to hundreds of stitching options, Brother turns any project into a masterpiece. 

Let’s sew this up

Which sewing machine is better?

What sewing machine is better? Although there are many great sewing brands out there, Brother sewing machines are praised for their diversity.

From kiddies to adult tech-geeks, Brother has a machine for everyone doing just about anything. Nothing is better than versatility and a whole lot of options to select from a trusted brand.


Brother vs singer sewing machines for beginners

Are Singer sewing machines best for beginners?

Singer machines can be inexpensive when one selects the more basic beginner-friendly options. They have a wide variety of machines for any type of sewing- from quilting to embroidery. 

Are Brother sewing machines best for beginners?

Just like Singer, Brother has amazing sewing machines for beginners working with a low budget. What makes Brother stand out from other sewing brands is that their cheapest sewing machines have greater features.

Fantastic for beginners, Brother has many user-friendly machines that are easy to set up and simple to learn. With many lightweight options, seamstresses and tailors do not need to worry about heavy transportation. 

How does a sewing machine work step by step?

Do you want to learn how to use a sewing machine step by step? Interested in making beautiful projects with a community of seamstresses online? 

Join Live Tuesdays with Fabric8 at 7 pm. Here you will learn:

  • Beginner Sewing Tutorials⁣
  • Live Q&A With Our In-House Sewing Expert With Over 30 Years Experience⁣
  • Learn how to use a sewing machine
  • Free Downloadable Patterns⁣
  • Demonstrations Of Sewing Products 
  • Detailed explanations of sewing supplies and accessories⁣
  • Sewing Tips & Tricks

You can join our sewing classes for FREE live on any of these platforms:

What is a seam guide?

Brother SG1 Seam Guide

If you’re not good at sewing straight, we have you covered! 

A seam guide is a sewing accessory that assists with sewing even. It helps you to keep your edges straight. Create beautiful crafts with seam guides. Seam guides also allow you to work faster.

Do you want to learn how to use one? Learn here

To oil or not to oil: oiling your sewing machine

What kind of oil do you use on a sewing machine? What oil is equivalent to sewing machine oil?

White mineral oil is the oil you need to use on a sewing machine. This oil is odorless and colourless. 

This oil is ideal for machines because it does not cause a build-up on the machine parts. These oils are generally cheap and available readily.  

What parts of a sewing machine need oiling? Which sewing machines should be oiled?

New machines very rarely need oil. You should mainly oil the older machines. Oiling too much can void your warranty with your supplier. 

Benefits of oiling a sewing machine:

  • To maintain its lifespan
  • To lubricate it 
  • Help avoid metal friction 
  • Prevents excessive wear
  • Rust protection
  • For your machine to run smoothly

Best sewing machines for beginners South Africa

What is the best sewing machine brand in South Africa? What is the best sewing machines for beginners South Africa?

The best sewing machine brand for beginners in South Africa are brother sewing machines.

Both Brother and Singer have excellent quality, reliability, and performance. For beginners, however, Brother machines are advantageous over Singer machines. 

Brother has a top drop-in bobbin in their most basic beginner machine. This is easier to use in comparison to Singer’s front-load bobbin for beginners. 

Brother is more compact, has more stitch options, is lightweight, and has a longer warranty. This is beneficial to anyone starting off their sewing journey.

Best sewing machines for advanced sewers

Are you an advanced seamstress? Brother has a machine for you. Shop their pro range: 

Our top 15 picks of sewing machines:

  1. Brother GS3700-3P Mechanical Sewing Machine
  2. Brother Brother FS60X
  3. Brother A16 Computerised Sewing Machine
  4. Brother A150 Computerised Sewing Machine
  5. Brother F420 Computerised Sewing Machine
  6. Brother NV1800Q Computerised Sewing Machine
  7. Brother NV180 Combination Sewing and Embroidery Machine
  8. Brother NV2600 Combination Sewing and Embroidery Machine
  9. Brother XP1 Combination Sewing and Embroidery Machine
  10. Brother BP3600 Embroidery Only Machine
  11. V3SE (SPECIAL EDITION) Embroidery Only Machine
  12. Brother NV18E Embroidery Only Machine
  13. Brother NV800E Embroidery Only Machine
  14. Brother 2504D, 3 or 4 thread Overlocker
  15. Brother 3550CV Coverstitch Machine

Shop al of these machines on our website, check out our large range of sewing machines

Final stitches 

Sewing is an amazing and underrated skill. 80% of the things around us exist because of sewing. From the clothes that you’re wearing to the material chair or comfy bed you’re reading this on- sewing machines made that happen. 

Investing in sewing skills is a new type of freedom. You can repair, create and sell anything you desire. With endless possibilities of stitching, decoration, fonts, and designs- you can paint your world in bright colours.