If you’re thinking about buying a small handheld sewing machine or one of the cheap sewing machines that you can get that are miniature sewing machines, the general consensus when you ask people is that they’re complete junk and it’s not worth paying for them.
Even though it might be tempting to get one because they’re cheap, I guarantee you that they’re going to cause you more trouble than they’re worth, and you might end up thinking that sewing isn’t fun at all and is a lot harder than it needs to be.
Let’s look at the differences between hand sewing, sewing with a miniature or handheld machine, and sewing with a regular size machine.
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that will pay me a commission if they’re used to purchase something, at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read the entire affiliate policy here.
What do miniaturists think?
If you ask hobbyists about this question, most of them will tell you not to even bother with the smaller machines or the handheld ones because they’re complete garbage.
They tend to be fragile as far as breaking frequently, and because they’re so small they really aren’t something that you can fix.
The miniature sewing machines and handheld sewing machines are pretty much just toys, or they’re only meant to be used for very small projects that don’t need a permanent fix.
If you’re not familiar with how sewing machines work and you’re not a person who has sewn a lot to begin with, it’ll probably just end up frustrating you and making the job harder than it has to be.
Hand-sewing as an option for miniatures.
A lot of miniaturists prefer hand sewing to using any kind of a machine at all.
Depending on what you’re sewing, doing it by hand is probably easier for a lot of tasks, especially things that are either a small job or that require precise sewing to close seams if you have an object that’s stuffed, like tiny cushions.
Even if you use a machine, you’re going to have to do some hand sewing because it just works out that way.
For small jobs, hand sewing can actually be the easier option, even though it seems like it might take a little bit longer.
That might not actually be the case, because once you get started it doesn’t take that long to do a whip stitch on a seam and close it, and it could take longer to get the machine set up and going than it does to do it by hand.
Hand sewing can also be really relaxing, because it does require concentration and it’s a repetitive motion. So it has that going for it.
Using a full-size sewing machine for dollhouses.
Crafters will say that you should just get a full size machine, even if it’s a smaller model that doesn’t have as many fancy features.
Using a full size machine will also give you the ability to make different projects in addition to your miniature projects.
You’ll be able to sew different fabrics without having to worry about a miniature machine breaking or not having the stitch tension correct, which can be a big problem.
There are a lot of really reliable brands as far as sewing machines go, and there are usually places where you can get them used at a decent price.
Even if you go over to Walmart, they have less-expensive sewing machines that are still very good, and they’ll last a lot longer than a miniature sewing machine will.
One of the best sewing machines that I had was a very basic Singer, and it worked well for me for over 30 years.
You don’t have to get a really fancy machine that’s computerized and has all the bells and whistles, because for basic sewing you just don’t need any of that. It doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think to buy a full size machine.
Why the quality of the sewing machine matters.
Something else to watch out for, which wouldn’t be as obvious if you haven’t been sewing for a long time, is the quality of the actual machine.
The small handheld machines, like I said earlier, are basically toys, and they’re made completely of plastic parts.
A lot of sewing machines these days are made with mostly plastic parts. If you get a good used one that was made in the 70s or 80s, that might actually be a better deal than buying a new one.
The reason for that is that the metal parts in the older machines last longer, and it makes it easier to service them because you won’t have pieces that crack and break on the inside of the machine.
As long as you maintain an older machine by cleaning it out occasionally and oiling the inside parts, (and that’s not hard to do,) they’ll last for years and never give you a problem.
The small handheld machines, on the other hand, will break pretty easily if you try to push them past the limits that they have, and then the money that you saved by buying a cheap device will be wasted anyway.
The quality of the final product matters, too.
Another issue that handheld and miniature machines have is that they might not have very good sewing tension, and the stitches can get completely messed up if that’s the situation.
If you have to redo the stitches all the time, that’s going to waste your time and it basically negates the point of using a machine at all.
If you have to go back and correct your work you might as well do it by hand and do it the first time and not have to worry about it after that.
Mini machines might also not be able to take different types of needles, and that could be a problem if you’re using different types of fabrics.
The needle is actually more important than you think when you’re sewing, because different needles work better on different types of fabrics.
Without being able to switch that out, the handheld machines are really not that useful.
Where to buy a used sewing machine?
The easiest place to find a used sewing machine would be to check on Facebook Marketplace for local sellers.
A lot of people use Facebook to sell things that they’re just clearing out of their houses but work just fine. You can probably get a good machine by just checking around this way.
There are also resale stores for art supplies and thrift stores that carry sewing machines occasionally.
If you keep your eye out, you can get a really good deal on a really good machine but you usually have to act fast if you do see one for sale.
Don’t decide to think about it and come back, because I guarantee that the machine will probably be gone and you’ll lose out.
Even if the machine doesn’t work, it’ll probably cost you less to have it serviced and reconditioned then it will to buy a brand new machine.
If I was at a thrift store and I saw an old Bernina that wasn’t working, I would jump on that regardless of whether it worked or not.
Depending on the brand, you might be able to find a real gem of a machine, pay to have it restored, and end up with a really good machine that will last you for a very long time at a low price.
To wrap this up, don’t waste your money on a miniature sewing machine or a handheld sewing machine.
It might be tempting to only spend $20 to get a quote sewing machine unquote, but it will serve you better in the long term to buy a less expensive full-size machine, whether it’s new or used.
It’ll give you more versatility, it’ll give you more control over the machine and it will give you a better result.
I had a couple of miniature chairs that I made from kits, and I needed to cover the chair seats with fabric. The kit came with solid blue, but I wanted to do something better, so I made some 1:12...
Making a quilt for a dollhouse can be something that you love or hate to do, since it will take some detailed hand-sewing or small machine sewing. I made one but I also designed the fabric that made...