Sewing Room Essentials

A reader wrote Sunday that she was fairly new to quilting and wondered what three items I would recommend as “must haves” for the sewing room.  I have already answered her but was wondering what you all thought.

Please be specific – don’t just say “a sewing machine”.  If you were helping a new quilter get started, if a sewing machine is one of your top three items, what features would you recommend and why?  Please just name three items and make them fairly large/important items — not good scissors, or a rotary cutter, or a mat — big ticket items or items that require planning.  Some items that come to mind, and I’m not saying these are on my “must have list” but the ones that come to mind are design wall, sewing machine, Go Cutter, big cutting table, big ironing table.

Will you think about it and give me your three must have items for a new quilter?

Later I’ll tell you what’s on my list.  Thanks!


  1. 1


    Items essential for a new quilter might very well be different than for an experienced quilter. it takes a bit to figure out how you will do things. now…after several years….i ‘need’ good light…large ironing surface….place to hang quilts….and lots of space to be messy. LOL years ago i would have been happy with….large table….good steam iron….and a rotary cutter.

  2. 3


    My three would be 1: a good large work table – either that your machine sits on or a bonus if it can be separate. You want to be able to spread things out and have good support for your projects, 2: an adjustable (preferrably large) ironing board/ironing surface. You are going to be doing lots of it – so be sure you are at a comfortable height, and 3: good lighting -both at/near the machine, and in the room in general. I see so many people just light near their machine, but I do so much of my prep work up and away from that light so I had to invest in more lights. I find those 5 necked adjustable ones they sell usually around back to school work great to direct the light where I want it – and with compact fluorescents in them they are nice and bright.

  3. 4


    Such a great question!!! A good iron–heats well, has weight, heats evenly/consistently (sorry, that came to mind cuz mine is giving me ‘fits’ and I just read your “iron” post!!!). A large enough ironing board/table. And a good sewing machine— I own many and the one I use the most is my Juki TL2010Q. It does a beautiful balanced straight stitch (only), a somewhat extended ‘harp’ area, FMQ is stress-free and has the knee operated pressure foot lifter and thread cutter (use it when piecing). Very accurate 1/4″ foot, also. My Bernina 440QE has hardly come out of it’s case since the Juki purchase!! If lighting is a problem, a ‘goose-neck’ (or other) LED-type light is essential, also.

  4. 5

    Diane says

    I would recommend very good needles, high cost brand name needles, also quilting pins, very sharp ones. Try them out until you find a brand that slides through the fabric like butter. To go with those pins and needles I would choose a really good thread that doesn’t knot up when you are sewing with a fairly long thread. You will need these items for when you start sewing on bindings. We need good quality when we are hand stitching.

    • 5.1

      EagleKnits says

      What brands do you recommend? I never realized there was that much difference in needles, pins, and thread.

      • Terri says

        Yes, brand of needles please. Just doing a baby quilt right now I average 3 needles per. I am currently using my needles up, since I have them, but researching better brands. I am so tired of breaking them, and trying to find the broken points when they fly. (I am a hand quilter.)

  5. 6


    You said big items – but to me, there really aren’t many *big* items that are must haves. Lots of nice-to-haves, but not must. Sewing machine – what does it need other than straight stitch. Needle up/down is good to have, thread cutter is nice. Ability to lower feed dogs for sure. Those are the only features I use on mine. Minimum 24×36 cutting mat (and a table to put it on). If you are designing/planning the room – Storage! And more storage. More than you think you need.

  6. 7

    Jill Tanking says

    A good iron, I got on by Sharp from WalMart. Not expensive but good heat. A good heavy sewing machine. Started with a light weight and was always pulling it back to me as I sewed. Some one made me a cutting table that fits over my quilters ironing board. Can put my cutting mat on it.

  7. 8

    Sandy says

    I think a cutting table of proper height (which can be improvised, if necessary), a design wall, and good lighting are the three things I can’t do without. When house-hunting I rejected a lot of houses because they didn’t have studio space with a decent sized blank wall!

  8. 9

    Wanda Stenzel says

    I I think a good sized cutting Mat, a good sized ironing surface, plus sharp needles and pins. We are assuming that a person has a workable sewing machine.

  9. 10

    SarahB says

    I would also say a sewing machine but just a basic, high quality one like my Janome 415… no bells and whistles but a workhorse. My second item would be high quality thread! My third would be a large work table… even if I have to cut with scissors and finger press everything I would still need someplace to work out the pattern and pieces. So, 1) machine, 2) thread & 3) large work table.

  10. 11

    Donna F says

    One of the most important things that I can think of is a 1/4 ” sewing foot. It is vitally important to get that 1/4″ while you are sewing or your whole quilt will be off. I have one that has the blade so you can’t sew past the 1/4″. I have other ways of doing it but for me that foot is the best. A comfortable chair is important too especially if you’re going to be sitting for a while. Good thread is another. If you try to sew and the thread keeps breaking, twisting up, and unraveling you will appreciate a good thread. I had to find the thread that my machine likes. All are different and mine will not sew well with certain threads. I won’t tell you what I went through to find this out. Good luck getting started.

  11. 12


    I agree that a beginner might not need what I think is most important now that I have been quilting for many years. If I knew then what I know now, I would want a big table that can be raised when needed, a big ironing board and a good padded floor mat for all that cutting or ironing.

    I have been helping my SIL who is a new quilter and she has all those except the big ironing board. She enjoys using mine and will probably have my brother build her one soon.

  12. 13

    Joan in NE says

    A sewing machine that does a great straight stitch, (for piecing) + a few basic stitches zig zag. A really good iron, my favorite is the Oliso. a good rotary cutter I use martelli +,mat and a couple basic rulers.

  13. 14


    1. The best quality fabrics you can afford to buy with out breaking the bank.

    2. A desgine wall, or at least some place to lay out your pieces.

    3. Good lighting..I prefer daylight bulbs or sunlight bulbs.

    I think that quality fabrics are easier for a beginner to work with. A thin or looser weave fabric tends to be a little more difficuilt to work with in the beginning.

    I use foam board attached to the wall for a desgine wall covered with batting but any place even a spare bed is a must to be able to lay out the pieces to see how the project looks.

    Good lighting is a must Daylight is the best for seeing the colors best. Most lighting has a yellow cast to it and seems to change the fabric color. You need good lighting to prevent eye strain as well.

  14. 15

    Michelle says

    My three important items are..1) work table/ could be just for the machine or big enough to hold the machine and nice area for cutting, 2) a chair that is adjustable for the area that you are working in 3) ironing area…I enjoy a large enough area to sew more than just the blocks together. I like my area big enough to work with the large quilts that I always end up doing.

  15. 16

    Robin C. says

    First, a good ironing station (iron and board), good quality sewing machine, pay a little more for a good one because if its hard to work, messes up or breaks often it will be so discouraging you will lose your religion and give up, and it would say Go cutter for accuracy in pieces cut. And if Possible a dedicated room where you can leave stuff out and close the door.

  16. 17


    My necessities are: good lighting over my cutting area, assortment of basic rulers (especially 12.5″ and 6.5″ square ups), and my design wall.

  17. 18

    arsha says

    1. An accurate 1/4 inch foot or knowledge as how to achieve it.2. Sharp rotary cutter. 3. Adjustable ironing, cutting surface. ending low over a table will hurt your back1

  18. 19

    lynne quinsland says

    hhhmmmm…..for me these are the top 3–

    1) a proper chair that is ergonomic. you will be sitting in it a lot!

    2) a large cutting/ironing surface one surface can pull double duty if need be.

    3) a machine that YOU love. i have probably 10 too many machines for sewing/piecing. i really use two–they are both REALLY old and i only use that wonderful, beautiful straight stitch that they make. one is a brother, the other is a 1940’s singer. i also use a treadle for piecing and i LOVE it too… i guess that would really be 3 machines that i really use……however, only ONE wonderful (to YOU!) machine is vital. don’t care about the needle up/down, the bells and whistles etc–just a beautiful, consistent stitch on a machine that is easily maintained by me. i love being able to service my machine by myself. for me, that is a MUST.

  19. 20

    dezertsuz says

    Since I have sewn everywhere from in the living room to a pantry closet to an enormous quilt studio, I can honestly say that you can make do with whatever space you have. A design wall is terrifically wonderful, but a floor works well, too, or the top of a bed. A good sewing machine is a must, but until someone knows what features they will use, it’s really hard to say. I know that I adore the Viking feature that allows me to tap the foot and the needle comes up and doesn’t go back down – or tap it and it goes down. I miss that most while using the Bernina. Being able to have a needle I can move is quite important to me, and I like the way I can reverse it side to side and up and down on the Viking. I’d recommend investing in excellent lighting, as some others have said. It makes such a huge difference when you are looking at colors and when you want to see those seams. Although it isn’t a need, I really WANT some kind of quilting machine of the 18″ arm length professional type. It just makes quilting so much easier. As a beginner, I was happy with a good hand-quilting frame, and I still like that.

    • 20.1

      Mel Meister says

      Depending on the model Bernina you have, if you press down with your heel on the foot pedal, the needle will go up. My 730 does this and I rely on it.

  20. 21

    Jean Belle says

    Over the years Ive had at least 5 sewing machines. The things I most appreciate (and miss the most when working on a machine that doesn’t have that feature) are… Accurate 1/4 inch foot. (My new Elna has the best one so far.) A walking foot for quilting and a blanket stitch in the decorative stitches for machine applique. The rulers I need the most are a standard 5 x 24 inch for cutting strips, a 12 1/2 inch square for squaring-up whole blocks, and a 4 inch square for squaring-up individual pieces. One more useful thing is a cutting mat/ironing mat like the June Tailor Quilter’s Cut N Press. I can put it on the dining room table next to the sewing machine and not have to have an ironing board set up.

  21. 22

    Carol Reed says

    A good basic sewing machine is a must. Make sure it has a needle up/needle down. A few zig/zag stictches and maybe a buttonhole/blanket stitch. A high table for cutting (one previous writer said it could be improvised. A work surface for your sewing machine that is lower so you are not reaching up. There are lots of supplies that are nice to have but not a “have to”.

  22. 23

    Debbie Rhodes says

    Good reference book…something with a lot of general information.. Good friend for advice….. and lots of patience.

  23. 25

    Lizzy Hentze says

    1. Good, straight stitch sewing machine. I have a Pfaff and like it because it has dual feed, which helps with piecing accuracy.
    2. Cutting table at the correct height for the cutter. Mine is higher than normal because I am very tall. I do not have to bend over to cut.
    3. Comfortable, adjustable chair.

  24. 26

    Donna says

    For me three important items would be a good chair that can be adjusted to save your back, 1/4 inch foot for your machine and good quality fabric. Good fabric just makes life so much easier in the quilting world. Other things can be added as you learn but in the beginning these would give me the desire and comfort to want to learn more. Oh Yea and lots of patience and willingness to do it over again. Mistakes are good teachers.

  25. 27


    A sewing machine that makes a good stitch. Doesn’t have to be fancy or have lots of stitches. Just a stitch that looks good on the front and the back.

    A hot iron with steam that doesn’t spit or leak.

    Good task lighting and overall lighting for your area.

    And I’ll add #4: Quilting Friends!

  26. 28


    Good lighting.
    Good comfortable and back-supporting chair for sitting in front of the sewing machine for long periods.
    Comfy upholstered chair for sitting and doing hand-sewing or reading quilting books and magazines.

  27. 29


    For a beginner, they might not have the space to dedicate just to sewing, so any corner will do and the cutting and ironing can happen in the kitchen or family room. I started in a corner and finally got my own room ;)…so besides space, my three items for a newbie quilter: the 1/4 inch foot and learn how to use it. The foot I’m talking about has a steel edge to it, not the little red markings. Next up, a 24 X 6 inch ruler, able to go from selvedge to selvedge. And last but not least bins…even dollar store bins, like the stackable ones that are open at the front….we are always needing places to put our works in progress and all the bits and pieces! Have fun quilting!

  28. 30

    julianne says

    the best cutting table..big enough to spread out and still have room for the mat.

    small sharp snips, to cut threads and sometimes to unsew sections or even whole blocks

    and a design wall/system to see the the whole (or section of the the whole) quilt

  29. 31


    A sewing machine that is set into the table so the work surface is level-it makes sewing so much more enjoyable.
    You can make do with a lot-like a flannel table cloth for a design wall. The rotary cutter is a personal preference and may take a few tries. Good lighting is key. I think the 1/4″ foot is Needed.

  30. 33

    Jevne says

    “Sewing Room Essentials”. First, a “sewing room” isn’t essential. I have made 7 quilts this year….the largest is 95″ x 105″….in an apartment. My sewing machine is in the dining room, my 24″ x 36″ cutting mat fits on a kitchen counter. If I need more room, I use the dining table (it’s too low, but it works), I have an ironing table that is 24″ x 48″ made of pegboard (so the steam goes through) on a wood frame covered with batting and canvas. It sets on four 8″ foam cubes on our dining table, just the right height, I love it. When quilting, I move my sewing machine cabinet against the dining table and set up a small table to my left and use it and the dining table to support the quilt….I didn’t quilt the 95″ x 105″ quilt. The living room floor is my “design wall”. I bought my Kenmore sewing machine new in 1962. It has a few decorative stitches which I seldom use, a walking foot, I can drop the feed dogs, and it sews a straight seam. I have a good rotary cutter, scissors, and rulers. My iron came from KMart.
    Would I like to have a “sewing room”, big tables, a design wall, etc.? Sure, but they’re not “essential”.

  31. 34


    Hmmm, good question! Having a place to keep the machine set out all the time has definitely kept me sewing all these years. Even when it was upstairs on a very small desk in one corner of my master bedroom and I had to go down to the dining room to cut fabric, I still sewed. So I think that is important. Good lighting is essential, as many have said, followed by lots of storage!

  32. 35

    Laura Hood says

    Lots of great advice given before me, so I’ll try not to repeat. While not a ‘big’ ticket item price wise, new quilters would do well to gather up some self confidence and jump in! There is a pretty ‘standard’ rule, the 1/4 inch seam, and while it may not be apparent at first why that’s important, trust everyone, it is! Once that’s been mastered then take off! Color combinations should appeal to you; green, purple & yellow can look beautiful to you and not so much so to someone else. Understand too, no-one, and I mean no-one doesn’t make mistakes. Accept that you’re learning, and attempt to free yourself from the drive to make a ‘perfect’ quilt your first time out. The love you pour into your work is the over riding factor when you ‘see’ a block you’ve turned sideways after it’s way too late to fix it. Look at it as a personalized design factor, and understand that unless the quilt is going into competition then you’re probably the only one who will know/see the ooops! Just my two cents’ worth, jump in and have fun!

  33. 36


    The number one thing would be some sort of color wheel that helps a new person understand values and color. The second would be a ergonomic chair so you can sit for long periods with out stress. The third would be light. Either great natural light or daylight bulbs . A machine is great, but many great quilters do everything by hand. A wallpaper roller works great in lieu of an iron.

  34. 37

    Marie says

    3 things to start off sewing. All the answers here are great and would be what all of us use, so I’m going to say a really great seam ripper, cause you are going to really need one, a rotary cutter and pad, doesn’t have to be a large one to start and a beginners pattern, maybe rail fence or 4-patch till one gets the 1/4 inch seam down pat.

  35. 38


    I’ve been quilting for 30 years, hand quilted until about 8 years ago. Only in the last 5 or so have I had room to have a sewing studio. When I started, I cut on my kitchen island countertop (with a good mat), sewed at my dining room table. I used my king sized bed for my “design wall” and sandwiched and pinned my quilts on a clean swept basement floor on my hands and knees. My sewing studio these days is in the basement and the three big things that I appreciate the most and would recommend are a big cutting table (an old kitchen table), a large work table to support my quilts while I machine quilt (two folding conference tables put together), and my storage (open shelves with see through plastic tubs for fabric so it stays clean, but I can still see what’s in each tub.)

  36. 39

    Mel Meister says

    1. Bernina sewing machine, one of the new 780’s with the dual feed. I have a 730 and love it, but am jonesin” for a new machine.

    2. A very good chair that allows adjustments in several areas.

    3. Steam generator Iron. I saw a Laura Star demonstrated a couple of months ago and would love to have one of those. But they are VERY expensive.

  37. 40

    Pat McG says

    I would want a sewing machine with needle down, needle up selection, the ability to move the needle left or right of center and the ability to slow the speed of the machine to enable slow work. I’d also want a design wall (which I don’t have now) and large sewing table to allow me to quilt my quilt without wrestling with the quilt all the time. Having the machine down at table level would be a requirement for such a table.

  38. 41

    dawn says

    1) great sewing machine that sews straight stitch- My favorite machine was my Husquavarna classica 90 that just died on my last year. any workhorse machine is fine as long as you bond with it and it becomes part of you

    2) great iron- you will be doing lots of pressing and ironoing. I love my Rowenta and if I had my way would get an upgrade. nothing worse than an iron spitting and spewing on your beautifully sewn blocks.

    3) seam ripper. a beginner usually will make friend with a seam ripper as will “seasoned’ sewers too. A seam ripper lets you know that there are no mistakes a seam ripper cant help fix. (unless you cut a piece too small)

  39. 42

    Roberta says

    Cutting and ironing table that is the right height for you, most are too short and you have to bend over doing these chores. An adjustable height sewing chair with no arms so your machine is near you lap, easier on the back and shoulders that way. A sewing machine with straight stitch, buttonhole stitch and a bllind hem stitch. Most any quilting you do can be accomplished with these three stitches.

  40. 43


    Oh wow! I am going to leave my reply first (go with your gut instinct) and then go back and read all the other replies! Hard to limit to just three items, so maybe I cheated a bit and put things into groups.
    1. Sewing machine with walking foot, 1/4 inch foot, and free motion foot. That should take you through piecing, quilting and binding. I have sewn on tons of sewing machines from top of the line to Feather Weight. New and expensive does not necessarily mean the best! I love my sister’s Ken.more from the late 1960’s and my Elna (same vintage) more than anything. If you want to do fancier stitches than my Mom’s old machine with Cams is great. The new machines are wonderful, but pricey. Of course, bobbins, needles, etc. – all goes with the machine!
    2. Cutting station. Rotary cutter, long ruler (I think mine is 6.5X24), 6.5 square ruler if interested in making 6″ blocks, 12.5″ square ruler for 12″ blocks. I find the square rulers makes it so much easier to square up! Love my specialty rulers too such as Easy Angle and Kaladescope – but I bought those as I needed them so it all depends upon what kind of blocks the quilter starts out with.
    3. Iron! Any iron because no matter what you buy or how much money you spend they all seem to die within a year. Unless you manage to find a small iron with no steam at a yard sale for about $5-10 – in which case it probably will last about 20 years! Seriously. I don’t put water in my iron – I keep a small spray bottle near the iron and spray with that. I like the yard sale irons because they don’t have the auto shut-off. So many times I sew and them am ready to press and the iron already shut off. Grrrr. So, if you trust yourself and won’t be worrying the entire time you are at the store if you unplugged the iron – then the yard sale irons are the way to go. Along with the iron you need an ironing board – the wider the better.
    Good luck to the new quilter! Sewing machine, cutting station, ironing station. OK – now I have to go read everyone else’s answers!

    • 43.1


      Oops! Forgot the cutting mat. The big, self-healing one! I flip it over when squaring up blocks with the square rulers and that helps it last longer. A little nylon scubby thing that you use for washing dishes (but a new one!) is great for getting little threads/lint out of the grooves as it gets older (I also use my mat to cut fleece, hence the fuzz).

  41. 44

    Deb Praus says

    I remember when I first started. It was in the late 70’s so there were no rotary cutters, very little all cotton fabric and not a lot of help out there.
    I was a sewer so I had a good machine, iron etc. My quilting life changed when I got a cutting table with a large mat and rotary cutter, a large ironing surface and some good fabric along with someone to quilt along with.
    I am now teaching someone to quilt and realize what quality can do for you. I say buy the best you can afford and don’t try to buy it all at once. After all, the first quilters did not have any of these things and still put forth some beautiful and amazing quilts that have stood the test of time.
    I think it depends on what you want to accomplish. I am not one to make quilts to earn the judges accolades. I make them for people to use, to warm their bodies and their hearts. I also learn something new with each quilt I make and that is a lovely part of the process.
    So thanks Judy, I learn something from you all the time and so enjoy your blog. It is one of the first things I look at each morning!

    • 44.1


      I love the point you make about having someone to sew with. I think our quilt group is 5 years going now – we started it with very few members knowing how to quilt, but now everyone does! It makes it more fun to learn as a group! We make both group projects (usually 1 smaller raffle quilt a year and a beauty every other to raise funds for a local charity), plus everyone also works on their own projects. I love that so many more people in my community now know and love quilting thanks to the group!

  42. 45

    Terri says

    Assuming this person has no bank in her closet. Lighting is #1, for obvious reasons. Square up rulers # 2, they make it all work together, if it means just 2, then 12.5 and 6″X 24″. #3 would be the wonderful 1/4″ foot. Low budget items, to dip your toes in the water, but you will ALWAYS need them. Everything else you can work up to. When I was on the truck years ago, I quilted on the bunk, back to the corner, and was grateful for good road surfaces.

  43. 46


    Picking only three is hard, but investing in a good 1/4″ foot is essential. Next would be a couple of non-slip rulers. And finally good lighting at your sewing station with either a light that can attach to your machine or a gooseneck floor lamp that sits beside it. You can adjust it where you need light the most.

  44. 47


    Wow, what a response. I have little to add, but feel I cannot do without a large cutting table, good ironing area and iron and a display board. It assumed you know to get a good sewing machine, best you are comfortable with and can afford. And the cutting boards and rotary cutters are still “new” to some quilter and they are a must. She’ll have a great time and just love quilting in no time.

  45. 48

    Helen Koenig1 says

    A cutting/slicing surface with markings in inches or centimeters like a rotary cutting board, and a rotary cutter and an ironing board/flat surface (both for holding your sewing machine as you sew as well as to iron on) with iron or something to press your fabric (ironing board/flat surface counts as one with the iron.)

  46. 49

    Kristin says

    1- the placemat/accessory holder I made that goes under my machine and holds my thread snips, seam ripper, bobbins, etc. I rely on that constantly.
    2- The grippy plastic, cling stuff I put on the bottom of my rulers. I think it’s made by Omni-Grid and is for sale at JoAnn’s.
    3- My design wall. When I’m working somewhere without one, I feel so lost! It’s such an important tool.

  47. 50

    daneesey says

    This is a challenging question! Okay … I really, really like my magnetic pin holders. Invest in at least two or three good ones — one to keep at your machine, one at your cutting station, one on the ironing board. And plenty of good quality, sharp pins, while you’re at it. I also like my little pressing board (that’s a cutting mat on the other side). I got the June Tailor brand — I got the 15″ square one, and I wish I’d gone ahead and gotten the bigger one. And invest in good, quality acrylic rulers. I think my absolute favorites are the Creative Grids rulers. Invest in an assortment of squares and definitely one 6″ X 24″ ruler! 🙂

  48. 51


    I love a good heavy iron that never turns off. I have mine on my radio and turn it off at the strip, if the radio is on the iron is too. Mine is on all day long. It is an old rowenta

  49. 53


    It’s not a big ticket item, but the tool I wish someone had suggested to me to use when I started quilting is a notebook. I jot down inspirations for quilts, measurements, notes for numbers of pieces needed, pressing directions, things to try, etc. Date everything and put in the quilt name if there is one. It’s a godsend; I can figure out yardage needed, cutting instructions, layouts, and so forth once, write them down and then refer to the notebook when I need the memory jog.

    A design space of some sort, a cutting space, a pressing space, a good iron and a good sewing machine are great to have, too.

    I do my quilting in an RV; the kitchen counter holds my ironing pad, the bed is my design wall, and the table does double duty as a cutting and sewing space.

  50. 54

    Mona Roberts says

    The most important thing to me is having my sewing machine surface level (Can NOT abide sitting at a sewing machine set on top of a table–nuh uh, ruins the whole experience!)

    And really, can’t live without plastic trays, boxes, drawers, containers. Even if I had only one of everything, I’d still want a plastic box to put one fat quarter and my tools into.

    I do love my design wall, too.

    These would be the three things I really couldn’t stand to be without–taking on a desert island type of thing, but having more of everything is, of course, more better 🙂

  51. 55


    The most important things in my sewing room are the lighting, cutting/work table and the sewing table that my machine sits in. I find that I cannot work comfortably when the ergonomics aren’t right.

  52. 56

    Kathy C says

    GOOD cutting table (right height and big enough for a large mat)
    Good rotary cuter with sharp blades.
    a set of good non-slip rukers.
    You won’t need fabric because all your quilting friends have such huge stashes they will be happy to share.

  53. 57

    Cindy from CA says

    Actually — the VERY best thing about quilting is that it does NOT require a lot of expensive equipment!!!!!!

    The most expensive thing you HAVE to have is a sewing machine. But you can have a simple machine or an older machine or a hand-me-down.

    I think that most of these responses have hit it right — the ergonomics are some of the most important (non-obvious) things to consider. A good chair, good lighting, a cutting table at the proper height. This is where to place your early dollars.

  54. 58

    Diane says

    I would say #1 would be any machine that you can get an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance. Also the manual to this machine so you can learn it inside and out. I really feel like when I really understood my machine I sewed much more accurately and had a lot less frustration and therefore much more enjoyment. I can’t give one brand as I sew on many; Bernina, Featherweight, Singer 301,Brother…I can’t say it enough,learn your machine and you will be happier.
    #2 Lighting. I use one of those bendable bright lights and it has made a world of difference. Any good bright light will do the trick as long as you can see where you are sewing. I recently went to Ikea and bought a cheap goose neck lamp that helps with my rotary cutting. I discovered the ceiling fan light was not enough especially when i cast a shadow on the cutting area with my body.
    #3 A good, comfy, supportive and adjustable chair. It took me years to spend the money one one but I am so glad I did. It doesn’t have to be expensive but they can be so shop around.

  55. 59

    Rosalie says

    1. a large cutting/ironing surface at the right height (DH cut a piece of plywood to fit over a table that has adjustable legs and then i covered it with batting and a large piece of denim – can use it for cutting mat and ironing!); 2. storage space (I spend a lot of time hunting for things as I don’t have a place for everything – and probably wouldn’t put it away if I did!) – drawers and shelves are great; 3. good lighting