Ahh, the Holidays. Who doesn’t love the faux snow covered window displays at retail outlets and the 20 song Holiday themed playlist the radio stations tune in this time of year? Doesn’t the idea of peppermint everything really get you excited about spending time with extended family and having to buy a gift for your boss?
Not so much?It’s all good, you can confide in me that you’d rather die than have your mom’s eggnog (but I will try to tell you that you should give it chance, just once, because it’s delicious) or vent to me how you took so much time getting the kids dressed up just for the younger one to throw a tantrum when she met Santa. That’s a priceless Christmas card, if you ask me!
But I’m here to make it a bit easier for those of you who have a budding sewist in your life this year with some great sewing tools and gifts. I’m not one for rampant consumerism the last few months of the year, but I can always get behind someone wanting to support a growing love of sewing and crafting. The most high tech item on this list is a better quality sewing machine, which is still a tool and not a computer.
Now, this is by far one of the priciest gift you can get someone who is learning to sew or already regularly sews. Sewing machines come at many different price points and there are bells and whistles galore. This is a very tricky world to navigate, especially if you know diddly squat about sewing to begin with. I’m going to include a few machines that have great online reviews as well as ones that I have a real life friend who vouches for it.
But, before I share these, a very important PSA:
Please DO NOT buy any new sewing machine that is priced under $100.
This is because those machines are a capital C piece of Crap. Just like everything else that has begun to be produced at a fraction of its original cost in far away factories, cheap sewing machines are more trouble than they are worth. One of the biggest obstacles when learning to sew is troubleshooting issues and getting used to your tools, and this is made even more difficult when you are working on a POS that has a 10% success rate.
That being said, I’m not here to promote you breaking the budget when buying a sewing machine. So here are a few affordable options:
The line of Singer Heavy Duty Machines is reasonably priced under $200 and is the sewing machine I have/had at the studio up until this month. I sewed on an older version of this model for years and tackled many different types of sewing projects on it. It withstood my amateur beatings and sewed my entire thesis collection at Parsons. The kids who have been taking lessons at the studio are familiar with this machine and it’s quirks, while I suggest anyone new to these machines to take their time when threading and sewing…they can be finicky. Models 4432, 4423 and 4452, and 4411 are all about the same, only variances are the amount of stitches they have and some are older models.
I have also had limited experience at another teaching studio with this Brother model and do think it’s an OK machine (comparable to the Singers listed above) It is a computerized machine that is quite beginner friendly. It does not have the same ‘upmh’ that the Singer models have, but friendly features like not allowing the kids to sew without the presser foot being down and speed control are really helpful.
Next up, is the machine I have recently upgraded to at the studio: the Viking Jade 20. While the Singers I have listed are perfectly peachy machines, I was having issues with them (that came with the amount of use they were getting, so not something you’ll likely experience at home) and wanted to be able to serve my students better, so an upgrade was in order. I agonized over this decision for weeks and ultimately purchased the Viking Jade 20 sewing machines from Stony Brook Sew and Vac that are now in the studio. These have an MSRP of $800 and are currently ON SALE for $399 (the price I paid for them).
There are also mechanical Viking machines such as the Emerald 116 that are excellent for beginners as well. These are massively superior to the Singer machines I mentioned earlier and are currently on sale for $299. Trust me when I say the extra $100 is worth it in this situation.
Many Janome machines that are in the lower price points also work well, such as the Magnolia 7318 or HD3000. I do not have personal experience but have heard good things from friends and other sewing teachers.
Now, here’s where I’m going to tell you that the adage that you “pay for quality” is 99% true when it comes to the sewing world. The $1000 machine is going to be 1000x better than the $100 sewing machine. So, the best bit of advice I can give you when looking for sewing tools is to establish your budget and then find the best within that budget. Consider how best you want to set up your child (or yourself!) for success in your sewing practice, and buy quality tools that will serve them best. Want to buy a machine they will outgrow, or a machine that will last a lifetime? Sometimes these hobbies they pick up are not a passing phase…just look at me!
When beginning to look for a *better* sewing machine models, I highly suggest you look at sewing stores such as Stony Brook Sew and Vac in Bordentown and Paramus Sewing Center up in North Jersey. These are the places that sell quality machines and where you can test the machines before you buy them, which is something you can’t do when purchasing from Amazon.
Also, if you are looking to purchase a better quality sewing machine from Stony Brook, I can have it delivered to Brielle! Make sure to tell the owner, Howard, that I say hello! He’ll be happy to hear about all the sewing machines being purchased for kids!
One of the most important tools next to a sewing machine is a good pair of sewing scissors. The budget option is a pair of Fiskars that have a screw visible so that they may be sharpened when they begin to dull. 8” is the longest I would suggest for a kid, while adults may find the longer versions preferable for cutting fabric.
Here’s where I’m going to suggest to spend your money at a small business as opposed to Amazon, such as the sewing store Topstitch that’s based in Atlanta. They have all of the tools you will need and an easy to navigate website. Click here to be taken to their tools page!
But because we can’t always be perfect, here are some Amazon links. I love the first option here because they also get a short pair of snips that can be super helpful when trimming threads! (All Amazon links in this post are for my affiliate program where I get a commission if you purchase through me, so thank you in advance!)
The better option for sewing shears would be one of these next two pair. I still use my mother’s pair of Ginghers she purchased in the 80s and I have sewed with since I was 8! Amazon has the best prices on Gingher Shears.
Kai’s are really high quality scissors that come in a few different lengths:
A small pair of snips is an important part of any kit, and if you want to be the coolest gift giver ever I highly suggest a pair of these UNICORN SNIPS!!!
Or a pair of brightly colored stork snips (very common in a sewing kit, I have some stork snips too!)
Pins & Needles & More
Get your kid a box of quality pins. The cheap pins you can find can be dull from the get-go, break easily and just aren’t worth the hassle, plus the difference is all of a few dollars that won’t break the bank. Pins are something that should last a good long time for anyone sewing at home and if you buy *glasshead* pins, you’ll never worry about your kid melting the plastic butterfly off their pins when they’re using the iron. We use non-glasshead pins at the shop though, I just always remind kids not to iron over them.
Also consider a magnetic pin dish, this leaves no excuse for pins all over the table while they are working (just ask them what Miss Julia’s #1 pet-peeve is…)
I’m also totally in love with these Bobbin Savers, they keep my bobbins organized (and off the floor, where they often end up and get stepped on!)
Getting a multi pack of better quality thread is also a good idea (*please don’t buy cheap thread on amazon! Stick to the brand names here*)
Finally, grab a pack of hand sewing needles while you’re at it:
And how could I forget a seam ripper!? These guys are absolutely critical to anyone’s sewing practice- they help us fix our mistakes!
There are lots of other fun things to set your kid up for sewing at home. You may have noticed that scrunchies are quite popular lately, and I buy my elastic for scrunchies by the spool (so they never run out! This also makes each scrunchie cost only pennies!
I always recommend bringing your kid over to Joann’s on a day off so they can shop for fabric on their own. There are so many things to choose from and they will have an absolute blast searching for just the right fabric for whatever creation they’ll be making next. So a gift card to JoJo’s is always a great thing to stick under the tree too! Quilting cotton is the type of fabric we use the most often for our beginner projects here at the studio, but it’s also fun to check out all the garment and specialty fabrics that Joann’s stocks.
I wish there were independent fabric stores locally, but Joann is your best bet price and choice-wise.
BUT if you’re looking to keep it small, I highly recommend Hawthorne Supply Co’s website for beautiful fabrics. You can buy a gift card right on their site, and you can’t go wrong with anything that you buy through them. It’s a small business located in Upstate NY and they carry high quality fabrics as well as design their own line of quilting cotton prints.