Find a good fabric/quilt/machine store. Unless you already have a found one…shop around. Talk to the owners. Talk to the service tech(s). Talk to their customers. Look at their classroom(s), newsletter, fabric and notion selections.
If you already have a machine, it’s important to take care of it. When is the last time you had it serviced? Servicing once a year really is a must, but more often if it’s heavily used. If you can’t remember the last time you had your machine serviced—it is long overdue.
When is the last time you changed your needle? Has it been in so long it’s stuck? With normal use (not leather or upholstery, rip-stop, fur, etc) they usually last about 8 hours. Titanium needles sometimes will last longer. Many sewing issues are due to dull needles, or needles that are wrong for the type of fabric being used. Sewing machine needles, like hand sewing needles come in different kinds for different jobs. It is far easier to change your needle then end up replacing expensive fabric or with a costly repair when your machine eats a piece of a broken needle.
If you don’t have a machine, or have one you want to replace…go try all the different machines you can! Go back more than once, get the right fit-this is a big decision. I learned on my Grammy’s Singer (I still have it and it still works.) Then I used my mom’s Kenmore until I was in high school and bought my own, gently USED machine. It cost me a whole month’s wages (tips included). I t lasted for 20 years (and died.) Then I got a Pfaff Creative 1471-still have it. Last year I bought a New Pfaff Creative 2170. First NEW machine I have ever owned.
I tried them all; Brother, Signer, Viking, Janome, Bernina, and some other off brands. I tried them all more than once, some stores were not happy to have me come back in a third time and not buy (and with that any chance of getting my business was gone.) The deciding factors—the store, technical staff, the Pfaff walking foot—and I already had LOTS of bobbins that I could use with it. Oh, and it was on sale. I do most of my sewing/quilting/crafting purchases only if they are on sale. So if you find a machine(s) you like and you’re not in a hurry—put it at the top of your wish list and watch for a sale.
After you buy your machine—at least take all the free classes that come with your machine. You will kick yourself later if you don’t. You will learn new things, things you have forgotten, and probably a few things you don’t really care about. But remember, things change over time, and one day you’ll probably be glad you learned it. You’ll also meet new people and develop a relationship with your store if you don’t already have one.
Not directly machine related--I am hunting a new seam ripper. They do need to be replaced on occasion; they don’t rip seams as cleanly when they are dull. And yes, we all need them. Over time I have become picky over my tools, and I don’t have to settle for the one from the dollar store right now (but a sharp one from the dollar store is better than a dull one), so I am looking for an ergonomic one that is the right fit for my hand…I’ll let you know when I find it. Suggestions are always welcome.