Toy Sewing Machines vs. the Real Thing

One of our toy testers posed a great question to me this week that I thought I would share. She wants to buy a sewing machine for her kids and wondered whether there was a toy sewing machine that we would recommend. In interest of full disclosure I don’t sew and even though my husband’s business is Andover Fabrics (which specializes in fabric for quilting) I don’t know how to quilt either. During the past few years I’ve learned how to knit (I make a mean scarf) –quilting is also on my life list of things that I would love to explore. So for now, I admire all of the fabric designs and the amazing creativity out there in terms of quilting!

The good news is that I asked Gail Kessler (Fabric Designer and Marketing Director for Andover) what she would recommend. Here’s Gail’s answer…

“Toy” sewing machines do little to cultivate future sewers. Their poor quality almost always leads to frustration and sub-par results. I always recommend purchasing the best equipment that is affordable, and have these two recommendations:

Bernina “Bernette” series – the models range $199 – $399 or so.
Janome Gem – there are several different models in the $199- $399 price range.

These are entry level machines from two fine companies that back their products and provide good service to their customers. I have found over the years that machines sold in the “big box” stores are of the sew-and-throw variety, and would not recommend purchasing a machine from an establishment without on-site service or knowledgeable staff.

I suggest visiting your local sewing machine dealers and check their entry level models, and consider taking a look at gently used machines and floor models as well. At this time of year and through January, many experienced sewers “trade up” and there are bargains to be had for the savvy shopper.

Any sewing machine has movable parts including a sharp needle and a strong presser foot mechanism. I would recommend adult supervision and certainly sewing classes to ensure that the children learn how to sew safely and develop skills that will provide a satisfying creative outlet for a lifetime.

Thanks Gail!

Who knows maybe this will be the year I take the plunge!