Buying or Servicing Sewing Machines
Sewing machine advice from Kat at Sew In Brighton...
At Sew In Brighton we like and use Janome 525S Sewist machines, which are the same machines they used on the BBC's The Great British Sewing Bee (spec at bottom of page). I do, however, recommend going to one of the sewing machine suppliers locally (below) to try out a few different brands and types. Buying locally rather than online also means you can go back for help and advice - even if it's years later I've found! Read our blog article by Ian at Varneys in Portslade for more reasons for buying local. Read our article about Overlockers here
I'd recommend getting a machine with these functions
- adjustable stitch length
- adjustable zig zag width rather than set stitch length and zig-zag stitches (if you say that at the shop they'll show you what that means!)
- adjustable presser foot presser release is handy for quilting, darning jeans with a ordinary foot (though a darning foot will do with normal pressure), some stretch fabrics.
- it's also very useful to be able to adjust the needle position while doing straight stitch manually for doing your own choice of topstitch/understitch width on straps, seams etc.
- feet: I find a transparent square-ish shaped sewing foot very handy and I also recommend getting a zip foot (usually comes with the machine in the little accessories section) and an invisible zip foot. You can buy all sorts of extra feet, but we mainly use: transparent sewing foot, zip foot, automatic or 4 step buttonhole foot (also comes with machine) and invisible zip foot. A teflon foot is great for sewing pvc, leather etc. You can buy these cheaply on Ebay, but it can be hit and miss as to whether you have bought the right one for your machine, so might be less hassle to spend the extra £5 and get from a local shop
- it should also have the range of stretch stitches (most do these days I think though).
- I also am not overly keen on computerised machines! I find them less responsive. Some of my students who own them prefer our janome 525s, but others like computerised, so try them out in the shop
You could wait and buy a machine once you've been to a couple of our classes and tried our Janome 525S and Wimsew (ask your teacher to let you try a different machine at each class), then you'll have had a bit of experience to go on and feel better informed.
Teacher and student comments about sewing machines
- Our teacher Deborah had this to say about the Janome 525S: ''It's a great machine for covering a wide range of fabrics from heavy to lightweight and can carry out a range of techniques. This machine however, is a great choice for covering a wide range of techniques and skills. It's a machine you can grow into and will serve well for many years. I would choose this machine if I was looking to buy.''
- Our teacher Laura made this comment about a £67 Tesco sewing machine in Jan 2014: "One student brought a Tesco's sewing machine to the sewing workshop I was teaching today, and it kept going wrong! I wouldn't advise anybody buys that one!"
- Ian from Varneys (above) advises not to buy Lidl or other cheap sewing machines as you cannot get the parts to repair them and you will have to throw them away if they go wrong
- Regular student Hannah has this to say about her lovely Janome QXL605. "I think it's probably meant to be a quilting machine as it comes with one of those extra large tables. It's normally quite expensive (think around the £400 mark) but I was just lucky in that Varneys had an ex demo one on special for less than £300. It does really amazing button holes!"
- Richard Mouland (who runs a local sewing machine repair service - above) warns that John Lewis sewing machines, whilst being good cheap and cheerful, can be problematic as there are no parts available for them. So should they break all that can can be done for them is to try putting parts on from other makes of machine, which can be very time consuming and not cost effective. As such if you do decide to buy a John Lewis machine and something does go wrong then you might have to be prepared to throw it away.
Local stockists/servicing & repairs
(Please contact these shops before heading over there. Let us know if details are out of date!)
- REPAIRS IN BRIGHTON Richard Mouland. Richard was the sewing machine technician at Jaeger for years - there isn't anything about sewing machines and overlockers this man doesn't know! He does reasonably priced repairs & servicing (£45 for a standard sewing machine, £55 for an overlocker - plus parts - price updated May 2019). He's based in Bear Road, Brighton (off Lewes Rd near the big Sainsburys) - you can drop off to him and collect from there - free parking I believe.
01273 624725 / 07931 963185 http://www.brightonsewingmachines.co.uk/home/
- BRIGHTON Brighton Sewing Centre - www.brightonsewingcentre.co.uk - sell JANOME and other brands of sewing machine and overlocker
Brighton Sewing Centre based in Brighton's vibrant North Laines, as well as a lovely range of haberdashery, fabrics + sewing machine repairs.
68 North Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1YD (Not far from Brighton Station or Komedia) 01273 621 653
- PORTSLADE Varneys Sewing Machines, Portslade - sell JANOME and other brands of sewing machine and overlocker
A family run business - established since 1940. Offers excellent advice when choosing your new sewing machine or overlocker. Also have an onsite workroom which provides FREE estimates for repairs/servicing of machines, just bring your machine (complete) to them & leave it for a few days.
56 Station Road (carries on down to the sea from Boundary Rd, the main street in Portslade), Portslade BN41 1DF. 01273 418777. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 9.15 am to 5pm
- WORTHING Bobbin Along, run by Katie Smallbone is a lovely shop selling pretty fabrics, haberdashery, Brother and Juki sewing machines and good quality second hand machines of various makes. Also stocks overlockers and Brother Embroidery machines.
Services all makes and models of sewing machine from £40. See our Blog Post about Katie and her shop here
Tel 01903 200771 - No.1 the Broadway, Brighton Road Worthing, BN11 3EG http://www.sewingmachineshop.co.uk
- WORTHING Cotton On - Industrial and domestic sales and repairs. Cotton On will always try to give friendly help advise for any make of sewing machine. Domestic/ Industrial. All of Sussex covered. Address: 6 Arundel Road, Worthing Sussex BN13 3EG. 01903 264733 / 07810 123 733 Website - www.cottonon.wix.com/cottonon
- BURGESS HILL RE Burrows Ltd - Specialist sewing machine repairer. Tel: 07947 017075 All Makes & Models. Domestic & Commercial. On-Site Repairs.Company Established In 1946. 87, Leylands Road, Burgess Hill, West Sussex RH15 8AA
- PULBOROUGH Stow Sewing Machines - Sewing Machines & Accessories. St. Olaves, Hampers Lane, Storrington, Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 3HZ. Tel: 01903 744704
- HORSHAM / CRAWLEY / STORINGTON Sewing Machine Services Sussex - Over 30 years experience and trained by Pfaff I service all makes of domestic and industrial sewing machines and overlockers and sell and back up the TEXI brand of domestic and industrial sewing machines and manufacturing equipment. Contact Paul Dougherty 07906623164, [email protected] or visit the website www.sewingmachineservices.co.uk
- Please contact us if you repair or sell sewing machines and overlockers in Sussex and would like to be added to this page
About the JANOME Sewist 525S machines we use in our sewing classes:
This value for money Janome machine is lightweight yet solidly built with a top loading, jam proof bobbin system and convertible free arm to sew around sleeves and trouser bottoms etc.
It's a versatile machine with the power and precision you need to get through your projects without fuss.
The Sewist 525s gives you 24 essential stitches plus 1-Step Auto Sized buttonholing and offers both stitch width and length adjustment.
There's a drop feed facility for freehand work and it comes with a hard carry cover.
See it on Janome's website here
When buying more bobbins for the Janome 525S, we've found Ebay to be the cheapest source - check they are the right ones for your machine with the seller.
24 Stitch selections
Top loading jam proof bobbin
Universal 'no fuss' thread tension
Adjustable foot pressure
Variable stitch length
Variable stitch width
Twin needle facility
1-Step Auto Sized buttonholing
Drop feed facility for freehand sewing
Stretch, overlock and blind hem stitches
Deco and satin stitches
Hard carry cover
Built-in carry handle
Extra high foot lift for heavy fabrics
Built-in accessory storage
Weight approx 8kg
Machine Carry Cover
Adjustable Blind Hem Foot
Satin Stitch Foot
Set of Needles
Additional Spool Pin
Spool Pin Felt