The pandemic has presented many challenges for the sewing industry but also some exciting opportunities. Sewing machine sales soared in 2020, as people started taking more time to pursue interests and hobbies, and were staying at home. Those who couldn’t find sewing machines on the shelves dusted off an unused machine in the attic. And coincidentally, masks were a perfect starter project.
So now it’s two years later. Sewing is increasingly considered an important skill to have, and as a result, sewing teachers are in demand. And we’re seeing the increasing popularity of sewing schools. At EverSewn, we regularly talk to sewing teachers who are considering setting up a classroom in their home or a sewing school. But the decision of what sewing machines to choose can be daunting! From our conversations here are some takeaways for choosing a machine for a sewing school.
Ease of use
Absolutely number one–ease of use. Your students will likely be beginners or near-beginners. Is the machine straightforward to thread and is the bobbin easy to wind? Some machines have diagrams printed right on the machine so you don’t have to continually refer to the manual, or ask the teacher. It is a relief to the teacher when the students have learned to thread the machine on their own and become more independent because that frees the teacher up to do the teaching.
Some teachers even use stickers to label the machine parts, which is a fun way for children to learn.
Stephanie Theisen of Crosscut Sewing Co. in Melrose, Massachusetts says, “In my classroom, we typically use the basic stitches so when I consider a sewing machine for classroom use, I am more interested in the machine features. I look at the feet that come with the machine and make sure that the extra presser feet that I use are available for that machine. I also look for features like a start/stop button and a needle up/down button. Speed control is an absolute must-have for me!”
Speed control is the ability for the machine to sew in slow mode, no matter how far down the sewist is pressing the pedal. Super helpful for beginners!
Catherine Bell of Sew Simple Sewing in Lawrence, Kansas, mentions the need for a machine with adequate throat space. She says, “A machine with adequate throat space is necessary. The throat space or also called the harp space is the space between the needle and the body of the machine. Deep space allows beginner sewists to grow and comfortably sew larger projects with confidence because it allows for better visibility.”
On the subject of visibility, the drop-in loading bobbin system is a great feature. Many teachers express that the drop-in bobbin is easier to teach than front-loading. It is easier to see and has fewer steps to load. It also allows the user to see the bobbin and notice when it is getting low on thread.
Obviously, price is one of the main considerations when deciding on classroom machines. Yes, you want to get as many features for your investment as possible, but bells and whistles might not be as important as you think. Consider the students. Many students will eventually want to have their own machines to sew on at home. Parents will ask for recommendations for gifts–especially around the holidays. Young adults will probably be looking for an affordable option to buy, and they are more likely to shop online.
Students will be more successful at home if they can get a machine that is the same or very similar to the one they learned on in your school.
For instance, EverSewn’s Sparrow 25, which is our most sought after model by sewing teachers, has a “little sister” the Sparrow 20, which looks very similar and has most of the feature buttons in the same place, with a fewer amount of decorative stitches and a smaller price tag.
Maintenance is also an important consideration. Students can be hard on machines. Make sure the machines you choose can be serviced. They will need regular—at least yearly—maintenance. Look for machines with metal frames that are durable and machines that can be serviced by any machine tech, not one specific brand.
Trendy and fun
And while aesthetics may not be the most important factor in choosing a sewing machine, keep in mind that your students (probably kids and teens) might be more enthusiastic to take classes if their tools are trendy and fun.
Features, price, maintenance, aesthetics—these are all the things to consider for a classroom machine. With many machines on the marketplace, you are sure to find one that suits your needs. I hope this article will help guide your decision and thank you for supporting the world’s next generation of sewists!
A graduate of The Wharton School of Business, Emily Greene began her career in New York as a knitwear designer. She has worked across the knitting and sewing industries for many years, and exhibited her art quilts across the country. As Brand Manager at Brewer Quilting and Sewing Supplies, she uses this experience to develop unique and innovative items through new product development and partnerships with “Sewlebrities.” Her focus is Brewer’s owned and exclusive brands, including the EverSewn brand of sewing machines and notions. Find her at www.emilyquilts.com