Follow these 8 Steps when looking for a New Machine...
Purchasing a new machine is one of the most exciting and fulfilling investments you can make. As with any investment, you should educate yourself on both the proven strategies and common pitfalls.
1. Research Online, Purchase Offline.
Let’s start right out with the big one... No matter what the price, a bad decision is an expensive decision. The internet definitely has its place in your buying decision. Use it to educate yourself. Become familiar with new features or techniques that may intrigue you. Good fact finding will save you hours of time and miles of travel. Narrow your machine choice down to two or three brands and models that pique your interest. Rather than spending a little time at a lot of places, give ample time to go to a local dealer and see those brands and models that appear to meet your needs.
2. Be a Value Shopper - Not a Price Shopper
Try not to restrict your creativity by being so set on the right price that you end up with the wrong machine. If you have a specific price range you must stay within, ask if there is a trade-in or trade-up policy that will allow you to move up in features as your skills and budget grow, without losing a big part of your initial investment. A good company will provide a way for you to upgrade your equipment. Some brands hold their value better than others. Ask about the resale value should you decide to change at a later time.
3. Ask About Price Guarantees
There is nothing more satisfying than getting the machine you want at the best possible price. Manufactures offer a variety of promotions throughout the year. Companies who are relationship-oriented sell at today’s price with a money back guarantee for a period of time should special pricing become available. This allows you to make your purchase when the time is right for you and still take advantage of any future promotions that may be offered.
4. Expect and Embrace Training
If you are an experienced sewing enthusiast, do not assume that you will not need education or support on your new machine. The more sophisticated the product, the more valuable a well-educated support team will be. Their expertise can save you hours of trial and error and offer great opportunities to explore new interests. If you are a beginner or a first time buyer, hands-on education may make the difference between whether you find your inner fashion diva or rearrange the closet to make room for the seldom-opened box.
5. Try Before You Buy
A good demonstration is the result of an experienced sales representative. A machine may appear to have all of the features you are looking for when you are watching it perform, but you may not notice the subtle adjustments being made by the demonstrator, leaving you with no idea how much manipulation is going on to make the stitches and feed appear satisfactory. Don’t be fooled by smoke and mirrors. The most important question is, how will the machine feel and handle when you are behind the needle? Ask to sew on the machine using a variety of fabrics and employing a number of techniques. Try thin fabrics, multiple layers of heavy fabrics, buttonholes, etc. Do not concentrate on achieving a perfect outcome as much as evaluating the ease of operation and performance of the machine. Ask about the possibility of taking the machine home for a trial period (before finalizing the purchase) to experience it on your own. Use this opportunity to test it on a project or complete some mending. Put it to the test.
6. Allow Yourself Room to Grow
Avoid the expense of outgrowing the machine too quickly, and anticipate areas of interest. Even though you may not have tried a technique prior to your shopping, purchase a machine that allows you room to grow. Your interest may be minimal today, but you may find that with a machine you enjoy using, you'll want to explore the possibility of projects that would be out of the question with your current equipment. If you have a minor interest in embroidery, ask about the ability to add that feature in the future. Some features can be added as an after-purchase, while some will require an entire change of models.
7. Trust Your Instincts
If you are buying a mid to high end machine, you are probably not buying for necessity only, but are more likely investing in a hobby. There are many brands that are similar in features and quality. If you find the exact same machine at multiple stores at relatively comparative prices, the deciding factor should be, “At which store do I feel most comfortable?” After all, you are not just purchasing a machine, you are investing in an entire sewing environment. Make your purchase where you feel at home. Will you be at ease going into the store for help with projects or asking questions? Is technical help readily available?
8. Always Consider a Store's Reputation
How committed are they to your sewing interest in general? Is their business model designed to make the initial sale with a focus on building a long term relationship, or do they assume you will not be back in the buying market for several years? Do they carry a full line of products that support your hobby including fabrics, notions, classes and educational events and opportunities to share your interest with other like minded enthusiasts? Are they structured for the occasional purchase, or are they set up to be your everyday “go-to” place for years to come?