Deciding whether to hand sew or machine sew depends on several factors. You’ll want to consider the size of the project, the level of difficulty, and what type of fabric you’re working with. You’ll also need to consider any pressing time constraints.
Is It Better to Sew By Hand or Machine?
In short, there is no pat answer. A professional will tell you that you need both skills. If you don’t plan to really sew extensively but want to learn basic sewing for clothing maintenance and small projects, hand sewing will probably be enough. Any more than that and you should seriously consider purchasing a reliable machine.
Hand sewing is ideal for small repairs. It can also add to creativity. There are positive and negative sides to hand sewing. Here are a few to consider.
- It’s a great learning tool for beginners. Teaches how stitches work and how pieces fit together.
- A small sewing kit can travel anywhere for making quick repairs.
- Great for invisible stitches for hems or linings.
- Hand basting can hold pieces in place until machine sewed. This can be helpful when putting in a zipper or adding a patch, especially for beginners.
- Hand stitching adds creativity. Some examples are simple stitches for embellishment along edges or on jean patches.
- Hand sewing can often make the best invisible repairs to store-bought quilts or comforters.
- Hand sewing can be relaxing when stitching a creative project.
- It is almost impossible to make all stitches the same size when hand stitching.
- Longer seams that are hand-stitched can appear slightly puckered or pull unevenly unless close attention is continuously given to thread tension.
- Hand sewing is more time consuming overall.
The impact of the invention of the sewing machine on the commercial clothing market is incalculable. But it doesn’t always guarantee the quality you might expect. Still, for many home sewing projects, learning to use a machine is a definite plus.
- Saves time on large projects with long seams or clothing from scratch.
- Saves hands from too much stress, especially for those with a disability or arthritis.
- Handles heavier fabrics more easily.
- A machine zigzag stitch is a great way to finish seams so they don’t fray.
- It’s easier to make precise, consistant seam allowances with a machine.
- Machine stitches are always even and uniform.
- Bulky sewing machines are not easily moved from place to place. They are not intended for travel.
- Many creative machine stitches have a , well, factory-made look that cannot be mistaken for hand embroidery.
- It is sometimes impossible to access damaged areas on some articles of clothing with a machine.
Many sewing projects require a combination of machine and hand sewing. The final closing or repair of a pillow or stuffed animal will be more professional if hand sewn. And I have personally found that, even if you know what you’re doing, there are some fabrics that cannot be invisibly hemmed by machine.
There are always ways to expand and expend your creative juices with both hand and machine sewing. Learning some basic hand-embroidery stitches adds a personal touch. There are machines that can do some embroidery work as well, but that is quite a financial investment.
Repairing a seam that has come loose may require hand-sewing skills, especially if it’s in a lined garment. And no matter what kind of machine you may have, I’ve never found one that can sew a button on as well as a simple needle and thread.
When repairing heavy material, a better result may be attained by using an appropriate needle and thread through the original stitching holes, especially if it’s either real or faux leather.
If you’re just learning to sew, the best advice I can give you is not to balk at hand sewing. It’s an irreplaceable skill that will always be available, even if the electricity goes out or you’re far from home. But if you’re home, enjoy your machine. It’s as simple as that.
However, if you do decide to learn how to sew with a sewing machine you don’t want to buy more of a machine than you need. That’s why I put a guide together which goes over the sewing machines I recommend for beginners.