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  1. #1
    Disco's Avatar
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    Searching for the right sewing machine for my 11yo Daughter

    My 11yo daughter wants a sewing machine for her birthday for small projects like doll clothes, and probably to sew a seam every now and then for Dad

    I'm a noob when it comes to this, so I was hoping I could get some suggestions from you all. I'd love to get her some classis cast work horse, but I dont think that's her speed. I imagine she would much rather have a new little Brother or Singer with fancy stitches, etc.

    Can you all recommend a reliable beginner machine that would be suitable for an 11yo girl, not too complicated for her, but one that wont hinder her once she learns how to use it? I'm looking to spend around $100 - $200.

    Thanks for the help!
    With beauty all around you, may you walk.

  2. #2
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Get a cast iron workhorse. I say this for a couple of reasons. Doll clothes may be small in size but are hardly small projects. They are very difficult to do particularly if she wants to outfit Barbie dolls and the other 11" dolls. The sheer size of the pieces makes it a real challenge. The fancy stitches on the new machines are intended for full size clothing and decorations. They will be virtually useless for doll clothes. For a machine in the price range you want the fancy stitches come out looking more like ASCII art than anything else anyway. I would say don't bother with them.

    On a more practical level, the new cheap machines do not have very good feed dogs. Often they are only along the sides of the presser foot. That is going to create havoc on small projects like doll clothes. ou need a full set of feed dogs, in front of the needle, along the sides, and in back of the needle to manage small seams like are found on doll clothes. With out a good set of feed dogs she wont have any control over the fabric. You just can't have a 5/8" seam allowance on doll clothes. It just don't work that way. The older machines are easier to turn the fly wheel by hand. So the chances of catching a finger in tiny little places is less than with the cheap new machines.

    DO NOT get a "children's sewing machine" as they are toys. No one will have any luck with them.

    Remember to teach her that sewing machines are power tools capable of inflicting injury to the unwary. Teach her all the safety rules that go with any power tool.

    By the time she "outgrows" a cast iron monster she will have a better idea of what she wants in a more modern machine. So don't worry about that. IMO it doesn't much matter what she "thinks" she would rather have. What matters is she get a machine that will do what she wants and at this point, a cast iron work horse will fill that bill quite well. There's my $0.02.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  3. #3
    Disco's Avatar
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    Thanks, Ramblinrev. Good info!
    With beauty all around you, may you walk.

  4. #4
    Detail Man's Avatar
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    Don't frustrate her with a new machine that won't sew as well. Like Rev said, an older machine will perform better.

  5. #5
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    This will be an excellent investment for the rest of her life. Way to get her interest in sowing this young.

    I have the modern Singer machine with plastic parts and I am happy with it.

    Good luck.

  6. #6
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    I started sewing when I was her age - started with doll clothes and then by the time I was 12 was working on making my own clothing. By the time I was an older teen I ended up making my own prom dress and one for my best friend. The skills have lasted me a lifetime so far and now I'm into complete DIY for most everything I need for backpacking and hanging...

    Get her a workhorse like RR said and for all of his reasons.

    You can either spend a hundred on a piece of crap from the big box store or you can get her something that will last her a lifetime for the same money.

    Worst case scenario you have an extra machine for yourself or you can find someone eager to buy here... in case she loses interest!

  7. #7
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    toy machines are no good :-(
    but would an old work horse suit an 11year old no. get a self threading machine
    more suited to dressmaking for her and find something better for dad...

    I bought a few machines till i got my sailrite walking foot machine now I can sew almost anything like ten layers of webbing half inch thick :-)
    in the UK looking for trees about 14foot apart

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by David View Post
    toy machines are no good :-(
    but would an old work horse suit an 11year old no. get a self threading machine
    more suited to dressmaking for her and find something better for dad...

    I bought a few machines till i got my sailrite walking foot machine now I can sew almost anything like ten layers of webbing half inch thick :-)
    There's no need to get a self threading machine for dressmaking (I've sewed professionally at times) and other than a couple of seams on blue jeans that need special handling because of the number of layers of denim, there's nothing in clothing or doll clothes that will ever need something that handles 10 layers of webbing. Okay, I have to use my reading glasses to thread the machines now but heck, I'm in my 60's ..

    Personally, I'm partial to something like the Singer 401A I have - it handles everything from lingerie fabric to heavy denims with no problems, can handle twin needles, has a bunch of settings for zig-zag and comes with a collection of cams that can be used for fancy stitches. The 401A was one of the first slant shaft machines that allowed the operator to go over straight pins (it's meant to slip past them). It also comes with the ability to make buttonholes although it's one feature that I prefer a buttonholer for. It's also a tough machine which is important when for a younger more inexperienced sewer.

    Disclaimer: I've not had a chance to play with any of the other earlier machines. I learned on an early sixties plastic thing of my mothers, used a whole variety of machines in sewing classes in high school and have used maybe another 5 or 6 different models of my own and friends since then.

  9. #9
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Threading the needle is made easy with a bees wax block. Pull a few inches of the end through the bees wax to stiffen the thread. Put your glasses on (or not) and it will slide right through. I have never been impressed with the "easy threading" features. Bees wax rules.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
    Mrs. Loftus to Huck Finn

    We Don't Sew... We Make Gear! video series

    Important thread injector guidelines especially for Newbies

    Bobbin Tension - A Personal Viewpoint

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Old Boot View Post
    There's no need to get a self threading machine for dressmaking .
    100% agree with you, we dont need it . but I meant for the 11 year old :-) so its fun to sew
    in the UK looking for trees about 14foot apart

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