Computerized or mechanical sewing machine – which is better? This is a question I get a lot and so I’ll go through the basics of each type of machine, the pros and cons of each, and compare some of the best computerized sewing machines and three of the best selling mechanical sewing machines.
Things to Consider When Deciding Between a Mechanical or Computerized Sewing Machine
It used to be that there was only type of sewing machine you could buy and that was mechanical. Nowadays, you hear about computerized sewing machines everywhere. All major brands carry them, but is is better? There are some things to think about to help you figure out which type of machine is right for you?
What type of sewing will you be doing? Different features matter depending on what you are doing. I can honestly say that many of the computerized machines have a ton of features, built-in-stitches, buttonholes, and more that beginning sewers just won’t use. It looks very cool and fancy, but I’ve said this a dozen times throughout this site – most of the time when you sew you only use a few basic stitches so a computerized machine with 200 built-in-stitches is not really useful. There is no use in paying for a feature you will never use.
If you are going to be doing basic sewing – simple home projects, repairs, alterations, etc. then a mechanical machine will likely be just fine.
How technologically savvy are you? Computerized machines have a lot of automatic features that some find convenient and a big time saver, while others are turned off by all of the buttons, lcd screens, etc.
What’s your budget? If you compare a two sewing machines from the same brand and one is computerized and one is mechanical, then the mechanical one will be cheaper. It may be $50 cheaper or a $100 or more cheaper, but it will definitely be less expensive. Again, this is because of the simplicity of a mechanical machine. So if you price is a big factor for you, then you can find great mechanical machines that will save you some money over their computerized counterparts.
And as I mentioned above, make sure you are not paying more for features that you don’t need and will never use.
Computerized Sewing Machines Pros and Cons
Pros of Computerized Machines
Many automatic features such as automatic needle threader, automatic needle up and down, automatic thread cutter, auto tension, etc. These features are convenient and save time.
Another automatic feature that you can find on many machines is a ‘locking stitch’ which finishes your stitching underneath for a neater finish.
Dozens of stitch options. Some machines have hundreds of stitch options including letters and symbols. This really opens up the possibilities for what you can do with your sewing projects.
Dozens of automatic buttonholes. Creating a buttonhole could not be any quicker or easier than it is with a computerized machine. You simply put on the buttonhole foot and press the button or press the foot pedal and let it do it’s work – voila you have a perfect buttonhole every time.
More control – A computerized machine has better speed control, and many machines have the option where you don’t even have to use the foot pedal.
Cons of Computerized Machines
Can be overcomplicated. For beginning sewers a computerized machine can have so many features that it can be quite overwhelming and often times, you can pay for features that you simply will never use.
They don’t last as long. I say this with a cringe because yes it is true that you can find mechanical machines that are 100 years old, but are you really going to hold onto your machine for that long? Not likely.With technological advancements, many people buy machines after 5, 10, or 15 years. Often you buy a new machine not necessarily because the old one died out, but because you just want to try a new machine with features that the other machine didn’t have.
I sometimes hear people say that they want to buy a machine that will last a lifetime. Please don’t put this kind of pressure on yourself 🙂 Just like any technology – you probably won’t stick with one your whole life. So just make sure to choose one that suits your current needs.
Cost. While there are plenty of affordable computerized sewing machines, if you need something more advanced it is likely going to cost you more than the mechanical equivalent.
Mechanical Sewing Machines Pros and Cons
Price. Most mechanical sewing machines start at a lower price range than computerized ones.
Easy to maintain. Mechanical machines don’t have all of the intricate electronic mother boards and electric parts that computerized machines do. Many owners of mechanical machines say it provides for easier maintenance and less problems.
Work horse. Depending on the type of mechanical machine you buy, you can get a seriously heavy-duty machine. There are many vintage (and modern) mechanical machines that will sew through just about anything you throw at them.
Limited number of stitches. If you are impressed by the hundreds of stitches that a computerized machine offers, then you’ll notice that most mechanical machines have a fraction of that.
Less buttonhole options. If you like making clothes, then you are limited in choice when it comes to button holes.
Can be more complicated. What I mean by this is some beginning sewers prefer to have the machine do everything automatically with a touch of a button. With a mechanical machine there may be various settings that you have to tinker with yourself. For inexperienced sewers, this may be more than they want to deal with.
The Bottom Line of Which One is Best?
This is a difficult, if not impossible, question to answer and that is because sewing machines can kinda be compared to underwear, not everyone is going to be comfortable with the same style.
My greatest advice if you are shopping for a sewing machine and you are trying to decide between a computerized or mechanical one, buy the best one you can afford. BUT you also have to balance that with features that you will actually use.
If you are new to sewing it is better to use a good basic machine for a while and then decide later if you need one of the fancier machines with hundreds of built-in stitches. In my experience, I have a machine with 294 built-in stitches and I regularly use only three of them 🙂
Happy shopping. If you have any questions, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help.