Turning 7 years old is a big deal on its own but for me it was even better because I would be old enough to join 4-H—America’s largest youth development organization, which is still alive and well after all these years, empowering nearly six million young people across the U.S. with the skills to lead for a lifetime.
Unlike most 4-H Clubs these days, mine offered only one program—sewing—and that was just fine with me. I was so excited because I would learn to operate a real, full-size, electric sewing machine.
My first project was big square dish towel. My task was to turn and hem on the sewing machine, all the way around which seemed like miles at the time, without any stitches slipping off the edge. It took forever, but I did it. Every inch of that hem brings back a flood of joyful memories. What an accomplishment. Next up? An apron. I did that too, and with that I began to form a life-long love for sewing.
These days my sewing has settled down to an occasional quilt and decorator items for the house. Oh, how I love to sew, which I understand now makes me a “sewist” (as opposed to the venerable term “sewer,” which always made me cringe a bit).
Learning how to sew on a sewing machine is one of life’s greatest skills because it opens up a world of possibilities with myriad ways to save money. Having a machine and knowing how to use it—whether you’re 7, 17 or 70—is just plain awesome.
I could write for hours on all the pros and cons, ins and outs of mechanical vs. computerized sewing machines. You could easily spend many thousands of dollars to get the latest and greatest computerized machine that does fancy embroidery or one that creates quilt stitches to look just like the most beautiful hand-sewn quilting. And you can just as easily go to the other extreme with the cheapest sewing machine out there and end up with a piece of junk that never works right, is a bear to operate and ends up killing every desire you ever had to become a skilled sewist.
After hours of research and reviews I am excited to give you my picks for the two best inexpensive sewing machines—one for the more advanced sewist (love that word) and one for the beginner.
JANOME MOD-100. This is Janome’s latest easy-to-use sewing machine, a remarkable top-of-the line computerized model that has everything an advance sewist would expect, with a price you’d expect for a beginner machine. The Janome MOD-100 features cutting-edge technology to make sewing much easier including the very desirable drop-in bobbin. I adore this machine’s built-in needle threader, presser foot lift, auto-declutch bobbin winder and generous 7mm stitch width. The backlit LCD screen with easy navigation buttons makes choosing stitches a breeze. The MOD-100 is the perfect option for sewing enthusiasts who want to get a fresh start on sewing garments (you’ll love the four 1-step buttonhole options), home decor and quilting. This sewing machine has 100 built-in decorative stitches. But more than that, it will make sure your projects are conquered with power, precision and confidence. Comes with 25-year warranty, too. About $360.
JANOME MOD-15. This basic mechanical machine is ideal for a beginner of any age, who shows great promise with sewing, but has not yet proven the need for a more advanced machine. This is a sweetheart of a sewing machine, offering all of the basics including 15 different decorative stitches, 4-step buttonhole, four snap on presser feet, bobbin winder and 25 year warranty. About $135. What a deal!