Buying an Embroidery Machine: The Ultimate Guide

Have you been thinking about buying an embroidery machine?

Perhaps you’ve worked your way through your sewing machine’s decorative stitches and you’re wondering what’s next.

Or maybe you’ve noticed other people’s cute embroidered designs and thought about creating your own.

For that, you’ll need an embroidery machine.

The problem is, there’s a huge variety of machines that can do different types of embroidery. Some also do regular sewing, but many do not.

On top of that, you’ll find a dizzying array of prices, technologies, and available features.

But don’t worry. If you know the basics, you’ll be able to figure out the best machine for you.

How is an Embroidery Machine Different?

A sewing machine stitches pieces of fabric together. An embroidery machine sews images, letters, and decorative stitches onto fabric.

Combination embroidery and sewing machines do both. But few do both at a professional level.

Are you buying an embroidery machine because you’re interested primarily in machine embroidery? Then you may have to buy a dedicated embroidery machine.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a sewing machine first, but with designs and lettering, you’ll find it. Although you may have to sacrifice the most advanced embroidery functions.

There is a machine out there for you, however. If you know what you want and know where to look (and how to look).

Different levels of embroidery machines

Numerous types of machines can do embroidery at a variety of levels.

Most computerized sewing machines, like the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 can do both regular sewing stitches and decorative embroidery stitches.

You can do a lot with decorative stitches, from crafts to clothing and housewares — even crazy quilts. But you won’t be able to do images.

Some higher-end computerized sewing and embroidery machines, like the Brother SE600, can do regular sewing, decorative embroidery stitching and can also do lettering and images.

You may also be able to alter the size and orientation of built-in stitches, lettering, and designs.

Dedicated embroidery machines like the Janome Memory Craft 500E do only lettering and embroidery designs. You cannot do regular sewing with a dedicated embroidery machine.

However, you will be able to import your own embroidery designs, as well as designs you purchase elsewhere.

You may even be able to convert photos and sketches into embroidery patterns and send them to your machine from your phone.

Once the designs are on your machine, most higher-end embroidery machines will allow you to further edit your designs via a large color touchscreen.

Embroidery machines are computerized

Sewing machines come in mechanical and computerized varieties.

Mechanical sewing machines have a limited number of stitches. They also have manual controls, that is, knobs, dials, and sliders.

Embroidery machines are all computerized. Their memory allows them to store designs, lettering, and sometimes stitches.

More advanced machines also store information about color, size, stitch type, orientation, and so on. They can even store imported designs.

Advanced embroidery machines will allow you to edit your designs right on your machine as well.

They’re built differently

There are a few physical differences between embroidery machines and sewing machines.

Dedicated embroidery machines also come in a few different forms.

Sewing and embroidery machine

A sewing and embroidery machine is a regular sewing machine with some built-in embroidery functions.

Some models may come with a removable embroidery table and one or more machine embroidery hoops.

Sewing and embroidery machines may also have a longer throat space to give you more room to work.

A sewing and embroidery machine may or may not have a built-in method for design transfer.

Single needle embroidery machine

A single needle dedicated embroidery machine often has a larger work table to accommodate different sized hoops.

Many models have a touch screen that allows you to perform advanced editing functions such as:

  • Resizing
  • Rotating
  • Moving the image around the workspace
  • Adding or removing design elements
  • Programming different colors
  • Programming various stitch types
  • Combining designs

Almost all models will have a method for design transfer.

Multi-needle embroidery machine

A multi-needle embroidery machine like the Janome MB-7 is an investment. If you’re buying an embroidery machine to start a business, this is the type of machine you’ll need.

This type of embroidery machine works with several needles and several threads at the same time. This allows the user to create unique, complex designs with ultimate precision and at lightning speed.

A multi-needle embroidery machine will always have design transfer technology and will almost always have a touch screen.

Embroidery machines are connected

In addition to built-in designs, many embroidery machines have a way to import outside designs onto your machine.

You might buy designs from the manufacturer or a third party. You might also create them yourself using special apps or software.

Some design transfer technologies include:

  • Apps
  • USB
  • Wi-Fi
  • Embroidery cards

USB connectivity is the most common for mid-range machines. Higher-end embroidery machines often have apps, as well as USB and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Embroidery cards and card readers/writers aren’t used much anymore. Some older machines use them, however.

How Embroidery Machines Work

Machine embroidery involves four main functions: acquiring your design, transferring it to your machine, editing it, and embroidering it.

Acquiring your design

There are three types of embroidery machine designs: built-ins, pre-made designs, and designs you create yourself.

Built-ins, obviously, come programmed into your machine’s memory. Here’s how the other two methods work.

Buying embroidery machine designs

You can buy embroidery designs from third parties like Ibroidery and Smart Needle. Many machine manufacturers also have their own websites where you can buy designs.

Once you’ve downloaded your designs onto your computer, you can transfer them to your embroidery machine via an app, USB, Wi-Fi, or a card reader. The specific transfer technology will depend on your machine.

However, you must be careful. Embroidery designs come in a lot of different file types. Not all of them will work with all machines.

So before you press “buy,” always double-check that the file type will work with your embroidery machine.

Creating your own designs

If money is no object, some ultra-premium machines allow you to create embroidery patterns from photographs and sketches and transfer them wirelessly to your machine.

Check out this top-of-the-line Brother embroidery machine, for example.

Most of us, however, don’t have several months’ salary to spend on a crafting machine.

Fortunately, there are other ways to create your embroidery designs.

First, you can use special software to create designs and digitize them. That is, turn them into a file type that your embroidery machine can read.

One software suite that does this is Embrilliance.

Another option is an online service like This service turns your uploaded photos into machine embroidery files.

There are also a number of freeware options. But quality can vary, so be careful.


Once you’ve purchased or created a design, you may want to edit it.

High-end dedicated embroidery machines will allow you to edit your designs extensively on the machine. However, mid-range sewing and embroidery machines will have limited editing functions.

You may be able to resize, reposition, and rotate the image, but probably not much more than that. You’ll need to do more advanced editing on your computer before transferring the design to your machine.

Design transfer

As we mentioned before, once you have your designs ready to go, you’ll need to move them to your machine. How you accomplish this will depend on your machine.

Your machine may have a USB connection or Wi-Fi connectivity. Alternatively, the manufacturer may offer a design transfer app. Some older machines may also have a slot for embroidery cards.


You’ve acquired your design, done any necessary editing, and transferred it to your machine. Now you’re ready to embroider.

The exact process will depend on your machine. If you have a combination machine, you may have to attach an embroidery unit. You might also have to set up an embroidery hoop.

And then it will be time to use your machine’s computer to position your design and do any last-minute alterations.

Buying an Embroidery Machine: A Guide

That’s a lot to keep in mind! But don’t worry. Here are the highlights. If you’re buying an embroidery machine, these are the main questions to consider.

How will you use this machine?

This is the most important question. On one hand, you don’t want to buy a machine that’s too limited for your needs.

On the other hand, you don’t want something that’s so complicated you’ll be afraid to use it.

Hobby level

If you’re a home sewist interested in dipping your toe into machine embroidery, then consider a combination sewing and embroidery machine.

A hybrid machine like the Brother SE625 or the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9850 is a versatile, lower-cost option. Hybrid machines are regular sewing machines, but also have the following features:

  • A generous selection of built-in embroidery designs
  • Lettering fonts
  • Sometimes have the ability to import new designs
  • Limited editing such as rotating, resizing, and repositioning
  • Sometimes include machine embroidery hoops

Some combination machines are simple. Others, on the other hand, can be quite sophisticated and powerful. There’s also a wide range of prices with no upper limit.

Either way, a combination machine has plenty to keep a hobbyist happy for a long time. Plus, if you discover that machine embroidery isn’t for you after all, you’ll still have a high-quality regular sewing machine.

Buying an embroidery machine for business

If you’re starting a business, or if you’ve hit the limits of what you can do with your combination machine, then you need a dedicated embroidery machine.

You can’t do regular sewing with a dedicated embroidery machine. But if you’re serious about machine embroidery and want maximum creative control, this is what you need.

Some of our favorite models of ultra-high-end dedicated embroidery machines include the Brother Innov-Is Stellaire XJ1 and the Janome MB-7 commercial embroidery machine.

There’s a wide array of available features at this level. Not every machine will have all of them, though. Therefore, it’s important to think about which features are most important to you.

That said, some features you may find at this level include:

  • Advanced on-machine editing
  • Design creation, digitization, and transfer via app
  • Multiple needles
  • Large color touchscreen
  • High-speed stitching
  • Large embroidery area

What are your must-have features?

A closely related question is, what are your dealbreaker features?

Of course, when looking at complex options, it’s tempting to pick fast and hope for the best. But when you’re investing this much money, you want a machine that does what you need it to do.

Therefore, think about the following:

  • Do you want to create from scratch?
  • Would you rather start embroidering right out of the box?
  • How much control do you want over your designs?
  • What level of complexity are you comfortable with?
  • What transfer technology works best for you?
  • How much money do you have to spend on your machine?

Because there are so many available combinations of features, it can be very helpful to have a good picture of what you want to do, and what you’ll need to do it.

What is your technology comfort level?

This is a big one.

Some embroidery machines are complicated to use. Others practically run themselves.

The best embroidery machine is the one that you will use. So it’s important to be comfortable using it.

If you like a challenge, a more complicated machine can stretch your abilities and help you to grow in your craft.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to mess around with complicated equipment, and just want to start embroidering, you’d probably be happier with a model that’s easier to use.

So trust your gut.

How much do you have to spend?

Some embroidery combination machines cost about the same as a mid-range sewing machine. Others, however, can cost as much as a compact car.

It goes without saying that the more you spend, the more features your machine will have. But most of us don’t have an unlimited budget.

If you shop smart, you can often find a good combination of features for less than you might think.

But how much should you spend?

A bit of simple math can help.

First, ask yourself, realistically how many hours you’ll use this machine in any given month. If you’re a serious hobbyist, that may be around 20 hours.

Next, look at how much it costs to rent a similar machine in your area. At the time of this writing, sewing machine rentals range from $10 to $30 per hour. So let’s use an average of $20 per hour.

So, if you were to rent a machine for $20 per hour, and use it for 20 hours, that would be $400.

Therefore, you could look at it this way; you would be getting $400 of use out of your embroidery machine in the first month alone.

Does that mean you should only spend $400? Frankly, that wouldn’t get you very far in terms of an embroidery machine.

But if you thought about the amount of use you’d be getting in six months, well, that $2,400 could buy you a very decent machine indeed. And after six months, your usage will have justified the purchase.

Also, if you’re looking at pricier equipment, consider alternatives, such as:

  • Rent-to-own
  • Small business grants and loans
  • Company financing
  • Purchasing pre-owned or refurbished machines
  • Using makerspaces rather than purchasing

Buying an Embroidery Machine for Your Sewing Room

It’s always exciting to consider buying a new piece of equipment. Especially when you can use it to create beautiful and unique works of art.

At the same time, even inexpensive embroidery machines will cost you a healthy chunk of change. So it’s important to get the one that’s right for you.

First, know your needs as a crafter. How are you planning to use your machine? Which features are your dealbreakers? And how much money can you realistically justify spending?

Next, consider your crafting personality. Do you want a machine that will grow with you and stretch your abilities? Or do you just want to get started right out of the box, with no fuss?

Also, which is more important? Ease of use or ultimate creative control?

Do you have your lists? Great! Now it’s time to go shopping!

Do you have a favorite model? And do you have any advice for people buying an embroidery machine? We’d love to hear about it!



Halloween Pet Costumes: This Year’s Best

The best Halloween pet costumes are original and fun. They don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either. And you can make some of them yourself, even if you can’t sew a stitch.

Halloween Pet Costumes: Choose the Right One

It might look cute, but is it the right costume for your pet? But before you press “buy,” think about this.

Halloween pet costumes: size

Pet costumes, like pets, come in different sizes. For any costume, check the size carefully. In addition, measure your pet to make sure the costume will be a good fit.

Most costumes need you to measure:

  • Around the widest part of the chest
  • Around the neck
  • From the base of the neck to the base of the tail

Halloween pet costumes: shape

Halloween pet costumes tend to come in different types. For example:

  • Full body (onesie)
  • Cape
  • Taco (or reverse cape)
  • Skirt
  • Head piece

Pets, like all of us, have their preferences. For example, your dog might like a little hat. On the other hand, your cat might consider it a grave insult.

Try different types on your pet before committing to a costume. If your pet likes their costume, then they won’t spend all of Halloween trying to take it off.

Comfortable Halloween pet costumes

Does your pet have arthritis? Alternately, are they larger or smaller than average? Or do they have a chronic illness or injury that a costume might make worse?

In that case, try a costume that doesn’t limit your pet physically. A cape is a good choice, or a hat. That way, your pet will be comfortable as well as cute.

Now on to the costumes.

This Year’s Best Halloween Pet Costumes

So which are the must-have Halloween pet costumes this year? Take a look!

1. Bat Cat

Is your cat a creature of the night? With this costume, they can look the part.

This is a light cape-type costume. It slips over your pet’s front legs. Velcro secures it at the neck and chest. It comes in three different sizes so that every cat can find its wings.

2. Spider Dog

Do you remember this video? Polish prankster S.A. Wardega  dressed his doggy up as a tarantula and set it loose on the streets.  People screamed in horror. But viewers screamed with laughter.

Would your dog make a good Spider Dog? Then you can try this adorably creepy look with your own Spider Dog costume.

This costume comes in four sizes. It’s a one piece outfit. This means that it fits over the entire torso. It also has a head piece and eight spooky legs.

The Spider Dog costume is available in four different sizes.

3. Lion Cat

Does your cat  punch above its weight? If so, then this lion Halloween pet costume will show everyone who is the real King of the Beasts.

This costume has a hood with ears and a fuzzy mane. It’s a good alternative to a full-body costume. Also, it’s easy-on and easy-off.  The lion cat costume comes in two sizes.

4. Superhero

Every dog is a superhero, and some cats are, too! Although there are a lot of different superhero-themed Halloween pet costumes, we like this one the best.

Why? Because it’s not just a costume. It also doubles as walking gear.

The base of the costume is a regular dog walking harness. Therefore, it’s great for dogs who might balk at wearing human-type clothes. And there’s a cape, too!

5. Shark

Have you ever wanted a pet shark? Then why not turn your pet into a shark with this shark costume?

This is another onesie-type costume. That is, it fits over your pet’s body with holes for the legs.The shark’s mouth is a hood that fits over your pet’s head. As a result, your pet can move freely and see well.

This costume comes in eight different sizes.

6. Delivery Driver

Did you know that UPS has a page where drivers can post about the dogs that they meet on the job? Well, this costume pays tribute to that special realationship!

The costume fits around your dog’s neck and over its front legs. Also, it comes with a little hat. Finally, there are arms to make it look like your dog is making its own “special delivery.”

This costume comes in four different sizes.

7. Cowboy Cat

There’s a new sheriff in town, and this costume will let everyone know it!

This adorable cowboy cat costume comes in four sizes. It fits over your cat’s front legs and shoulders. The hat sits on your cat’s head.

Also, if you look closely, you can see a little sheriff’s star on the chest!

8. Faithful Mount

Maybe your pet isn’t Roy Rogers. Maybe they’re more like Trigger, his faithful horse.

This fun costume turns your pet into a cowpoke’s loyal steed. Or perhaps, depending on your pet, a bucking bronc!

The costume is a harness-type outfit. It secures around the chest and neck with velcro. It comes in four sizes.


9. Pirate

Is your pet a pirate? They can be with this costume! Like the cowboy costume, this cute pirate outfit slips over the head and front legs. Also, it comes with a little hat.

This costume is available in four sizes.

10. Puppuccino

Does your dog enjoy a puppuccino? Then they might enjoy this costume.

This is a full-body costume. It wraps around the torso and neck. In addition, there are sleeves for the front legs. Finally, there’s a little straw hat — or, rather, a hat that’s also a straw.

This costume comes in four sizes.

11. Puss In Boots

Do you have a taste for the classics? More to the point, does your cat? Then you might like this velvety Puss in Boots costume.

This is a cape-type costume. It won’t restrict your pet’s movements. Also, you can take off the hat, lace collar, and the booties, in case your pet doesn’t like them. Because of its structure, it should fit most pets.

12. Dinosaur

Roar! There are plenty of dinosaur-style Halloween pet costumes on the market. On the other hand, few of them are this cool!

Check out this stegosaurus outfit from Animal Planet!

This costume is the best of both worlds. First, it’s a loose-fitting cape. Also, it has attached sleeves for all four legs. As a result, it stay on, but isn’t binding. The dino’s “head” is a hood.

This stegosaurus costume comes in four sizes.

13. Hot Dog

A hot dog isn’t really a dog. Or is it? This adorable costume makes it hard to tell!

This is a full body costume. The bun wraps around your dog’s torso. On top you’ll find a hot dog with ketchup, lettuce, and mustard. This costume comes in two sizes.

14. Wookie

Every Han Solo needs his wookie! This costume lets your dog become Chewbacca!

This fuzzy wookie costume comes in six sizes. So it can fit a Pug as well as a Great Dane! Also, this is a half cape. Rather than sleeves, it has holes for the front legs. As a result, your pet can move freely but the costume stays on.

Additionally, there are accessories, including a purse and a belt. Finally, the hood slips on and off easily.

15. The Friendly Beast

Is your dog a diamond in the ruff? Is he (or she) a Beast with a heart of gold? In that case, this costume might be the one for them.

This is an officially licensed Disney costume. It has a half cape design. Also, it has sleeves for your pet’s front legs. The fabric is soft velvet and satin. Finally, the hat is an attached hood.

This costume comes in four sizes for your favorite beast.

16. Belle

Does your beast need a beauty? Then this officially licensed Belle costume might do the trick!

This is a cape type costume. It fits loosely over the back. Also, it fastens around the chest and torso. Finally, there’s a pretty brunette wig just like in the movie!

This costume comes in four sizes. So whether your princess is big or small, there should be a size that fits.

17. Buffalo

Have you ever wanted a home where the buffalo roam? What? Not enough space for a whole herd? Then your dog can be a herd of one with this buffalo costume.

This is a hood-type costume. Which means it’s great for dogs who can’t or won’t wear a full body costume. And wow, is it cute. This costume comes in two different sizes.

Alternately, you can choose a moose hood, a sheep, or even a unicorn!

18. Butterfly

As far as Halloween pet costumes go, you can’t get cuter than this. This bright, colorful costume is great for dogs of all sizes!

This pretty monarch butterfly costume comes in four sizes. It has a fitted shirt with holes for the front legs. Also, there are butterfly wings on the back. Finally, instead of a cape, there’s a pretty satin skirt.

19. Ghostbuster

Halloween is when the ghosts come out. So be prepared! This Halloween pet costume comes with a ghost busting top, an official Ghostbusters patch, and even a doggy proton pack!

The top is machine washable. Also, the pack is inflatable, so it’s very lightweight. And if ghostbusting isn’t your dog’s activity of choice, you can also choose the Sta-Puft marshmallow man.

20. Panda

Everyone loves a panda. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to see them. Until now!

This adorable, fuzzy costume looks like a panda walking down the street to meet you! The costume slips over your dog’s head and has sleeves for the front legs. Its as cute as it is comfy!

Of course not every dog wants to be a panda. So it’s good that you can also choose between a lion, a bunny, and a teddy bear. This costume comes in five different sizes.

Make Your Own Halloween Pet Costumes

Yes! It’s easy to make your own Halloween pet costumes. Indeed, you can easily whip one up, even if you can’t sew a stitch. How? We’re glad you asked that!

Halloween pet costumes: the base

First, start with a base. That is, a basic shape. The easiest ones are:

  • Head piece
  • Onesie
  • Cape

Baby hats and onesies are inexpensive. You can also find them at thrift shops.

As for a cape, you can use a bandana or scarf for a small pet. For a larger animal, you can use a baby blanket, towel, or even a rectangle of no-sew fleece, instead.

In the same way that you’d measure your pet for a pre-made costume, measure them for your homemade one. A comfortable pet makes for a happy Halloween!

Decorating Halloween pet costumes

Now that you’ve chosen your base, it’s time to decorate!

First, you’ll need to choose some pet-safe decorations. Avoid anything that your pet might pull off and swallow. Also, avoid materials that may be a choking hazard. Finally, be mindful of materials that may be poisonous to your pets.

Some safe decorations include:

  • Non-toxic fabric paint
  • Non-toxic fabric crayons
  • Markers

However, if you do like to sew, feel free to add buttons, ribbons, fake fur, and so on. Most importantly, though, make sure to sew it on securely so that your pet won’t chew it off while you’re not looking!

Halloween Pet Costumes: Which Will You Choose?

Do you have a Princess Pupper? Or a King Kitty? In that case, why not let them show it this Halloween? On the other hand, if your pet is a little monster, then their costume can bring that to light.

There are lots of cute, comfortable pet costumes on the market. On the other hand, if you’re feeling crafty, it’s easy to make your own.

Which will you choose?








How to Choose a Serger: Your Quick Guide to These Machines

Do you want to know how to choose a serger?

A serger, also called an overlocker, isn’t a replacement for your sewing machine.

Although there’s some overlap, they’re different tools for different types of sewing. They’re also quite distinct in appearance. And under the hood? There’s no comparison.

If you decide you need a serger, you need to know how to choose a serger that fits your needs, specifically.

So, how do you do that?

That’s what we’re here to find out.

How Is a Serger Different from a Sewing Machine?

There are several important differences between a serger and a sewing machine.

They both sew pieces of fabric together, true. However, a regular sewing machine connects the pieces with a single line of stitches.

A serger, on the other hand, sews one or more lines of stitches while simultaneously looping thread around the fabric edges to seal off the seam.

But the distinctions don’t end there.

Number of needles

Your regular sewing machine sews with one needle. Some machines can also use a twin needle to make parallel rows of stitching.

A serger, on the other hand, uses two, and sometimes three needles.

Many sergers use special serger needles. However, you can also find models that use regular sewing machine needles.


Your regular sewing machine uses a top thread on a spool and a bottom thread on a bobbin. 

By contrast, a serger uses between two and eight threads, depending on the machine and depending on the stitch. 

Furthermore, many serger owners prefer to use cone thread. You can, of course, use spool thread with a serger.

On the other hand, a serger uses so much thread that it’s often more cost-effective to buy it on massive cones.


Instead of a bobbin, a serger has one or two loopers. Loopers cast loops of thread over the fabric edges, sealing them off.

Here’s how loopers work.

Differential feed

Sewing stretchy, knit, and ultra-lightweight fabrics is another job that a serger can handle with aplomb.

This comes down to the differential feed.

A regular sewing machine has one set of feed dogs. Feed dogs sit beneath the fabric and move it back through the machine. A serger, on the other hand, has two sets of feed dogs.

The differential feed mechanism allows you to set the speed of the feed dogs relative to one another. 

For many fabrics, it’s best if the feed dogs move at the same speed. However, there may be times when you want one set of feed dogs to move faster than the other.

Adjusting the differential feed can help you to avoid puckering while sewing stretch fabrics. You can also use it to create special effects like ruffles, gathers, pintucks, and lettuce edges.

Cutting knives 

A serger also has a cutting blade that trims the fabric edge while you sew. Some models have two blades that work together like scissors.

Do you still have questions? This quick intro can show you how all these parts fit together.

What Can You Do with a Serger?

A serger’s main job is overcasting. This means sewing one line of stitching, either straight stitching or sometimes a chain stitch, while simultaneously looping thread over the fabric edges to seal the seam.

The main function of overcast stitching is to create strong, flexible, professional-quality seams. But that’s not all you can do.

You can also use overcasting for:

  • Decorative edging
  • Special effects like ruffles and pintucks
  • Professional blind hems
  • Attaching elastic
  • And more

At the same time, a serger has some definite limitations. That is why we say it’s not a replacement for your sewing machine, but rather a companion.

Here are some things a serger cannot do:

  • Straight stitch
  • Zigzag stitch
  • Decorative stitching
  • Topstitching
  • Buttonholes
  • Attaching zippers
  • Sewing on a pocket
  • Monogramming and embroidery

Many people would also say that a serger isn’t the best choice for quilting, due to the bulky seams it creates.

However, some people do use their serger for piecing, and even for creative seam work. Check it out.

How to Choose a Serger

Now comes the important part: not just how to choose a serger, but how to choose a serger that ticks all of your boxes.


Sergers don’t come cheaply.

A bargain basement model will run you about the same as a mid-range home sewing machine. And if you want a premium model, that could cost you a paycheck, or even more than one.

You might be tempted to go for the lowest priced serger you can find. There are, in fact, one or two budget models that consistently score highly with buyers.

But ultimately features are more important than the bottom line. And the available features can vary widely from machine to machine.

Even worse than spending more than you intended is spending that much and still not getting what you want.

So first and foremost, know what you need.

Number of threads

The most common type of home serger is a 2-3-4 serger. That is, a serger that can make two-thread, three-thread, and four-thread stitches.

Some sergers can do more than four threads. But a 2-3-4 serger can do the most common tasks that a home sewist requires.

Be careful, though. Some serging machines, particularly at the lower end of the price spectrum, only do three- and four-thread serging. Some may only do one of these.

This is fine if you’re going to be making primarily clothing and housewares. However, if you’re planning to work with lightweight fabrics or do decorative edgings, you’re going to want that delicate two-thread capability.

Ease of use

A serger is a complicated piece of equipment. It’s complicated to set up, and it’s complicated to operate.

As a result, manufacturers have come up with some workarounds that can make things easier.


Threading a serger can be the worst.

If you think the gauntlet of thread guides and tension disks in your regular sewing machine is a pain, wait until you see the inside of your serger.

Not only do you have to thread two (or sometimes more) needles. You also have those pesky loopers.

Sometimes it literally takes a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers just to get started.

Fortunately, most sergers have a color-coded threading diagram that makes threading a little easier. Some manufacturers make helpful videos, as well.

What’s really cool, though, is a self-threading serger.

Self-threading sergers use air pressure and highly targeted tubes to thread your loopers with a press of a button.

Unfortunately, at this time, you’ll only find this feature on high-end premium models.

But if you can afford it, a self-threading serger can save you a lot of aggravation.

Check out one model of self-threading serger in action.

Stitch width adjustment

A regular sewing machine allows you to adjust the stitch length and width by hand.

If you have a mechanical sewing machine, you’ll use knobs and dials to make these adjustments. A computerized sewing machine has pre-set functions that you access with a touch screen or the push of a button.

A serger typically has a stitch length knob like a sewing machine. However, on a serger, two things determine the width of your stitches: the stitch finger and the cutting blade.

Some sergers come with several stitch fingers. To adjust the stitch width, you change out the stitch finger or remove it altogether. This is another crawl-into-your-machine-with-a-screwdriver job.

Other sergers have a selection dial or lever that moves the stitch finger into different positions.

Likewise the cutting blade. With some models, you may have to remove the cutting blade for certain kinds of work, for example, to make a rolled hem.

Other models have a knob that simply lifts the blade out of the way.

If you want to simply sew and not monkey around inside your machine, these are two features that should be on your list.

Differential feed range

As we said, the differential feed mechanism adjusts the speed of the feed dogs with relation to one another.

The difference between the speed of each of the sets of feed dogs may be smaller or it may be greater.

You can also think of this difference in terms of stretch and compression. The more difference there is between the speed of each set of feed dogs, the more the machine will stretch the fabric during sewing.

Likewise, less difference means the machine will compress the fabric during sewing.

Most home sergers have a differential feed range of between 0.7 and 2.0 (where 1.0 is neutral). Some may have a greater range, however. For example, the range may be from 0.5 to 2.25.

A greater differential feed range means more possible degrees of stretch and compression. And this can mean more control over stitching and special effects.

Free arm

Many regular sewing machines come with a free arm. That is, you can slide off part of the base of the machine to reveal a smaller, circular working surface.

This is essential for working small, circular pieces of a project. For example, shirt cuffs, collars, waistbands, and trouser legs.

Some sergers also come with a free arm.

Although a lot of the work that you’ll do with a serger involves long, straight rows of stitching, there may be circumstances when you might want to do free arm work.

These may include:

  • Decorative edging on sleeves
  • Attaching collars
  • Blind trouser hems
  • And more

If you’re going to be using your serger for garment construction, then a free arm might well be an important feature to consider.

Trim trap

A serger trims fabric edges while it sews. This can create quite a bit of waste.

A trim trap catches that waste and keeps it out of your way.

Some sergers have a built-in trim trap. With others, you have the option to buy it separately. Be careful, though. That little bit of plastic can come with a surprisingly hefty price tag.

Alternately, you can make your own waste catcher. In fact, this is a lot of people’s first project with their serger!


Sergers often come with accessories packs filled with tools and notions. Some are more useful than others, however.

Here are a few that you need.

Serger tweezers

Unless you have a self-threading serger you’ll need to thread your loopers by hand. Some of the thread guides can be very difficult to get to.

A long pair of tweezers can make easy work of this task, however.

You don’t need special tweezers, of course. Your bathroom tweezers will work fine.

Still, it’s a nice touch when a manufacturer includes this essential tool.

Serger needles

It’s very handy if your serger can borrow needles from your regular sewing machine. But this isn’t the case with all models.

If your serger requires special needles, hopefully, the manufacturer will include a few extras with purchase.

Hex wrench and/or screwdriver

If you need to remove cutting blades or switch out stitch fingers, then you will probably need either a hex wrench or a screwdriver to do this.

Make sure that your serger’s accessories pack comes with the tools you need to adjust your machine.

Cone adapters

The hole of a thread spool is smaller than the hole of a thread cone. This means that a thread cone can rattle around on your spool pin. And this can affect your stitching.

Cone adapters slip over the thread spool and hold your thread cones steady.

Cone adapters are cheap and easy to come by. But it’s nice if you don’t have to go out and buy them.

Do You Know How to Choose a Serger?

It’s not enough to know how to choose a serger. You have to know how to choose a serger that will do the best job for you.

What are your dealbreaker features? And how do you think you’ll use your serger?

Do you have a favorite serger model? Or perhaps you have some advice for readers looking to buy their first serger.

We’d love to hear about it!



Top Tips for Keeping the Stress out of Thanksgiving

On television, holidays are the best time of the year. But for a lot of us, family gatherings mean stress.

Whether you dread the work or the arguments you just know are coming, hosting a family gathering can be the very opposite of fun.

Never mind having to gush about how thankful we all are.

But there are ways of taking the stress out of Thanksgiving.

Step 1: Know the Stress Points

What are four things that make you dread hosting Thanksgiving? Go on, think about it. We’ll wait.

Chances are, at least one of your stress points is on our list. Because these are among the most common causes of holiday stress for everyone.

And this is important. You’re not alone.

A lot of people hate holiday hosting with good reason.

That said, four major holiday stress points are:

  • A bone-crushing workload
  • Demands and accommodations
  • The inevitable arguments
  • Paying for it all

Plan, clean, cook, serve, clean…ugh!

Nearly every holiday hosting article starts with a plan.

There are to-do lists, calendars, mind maps, idea boards, and oh, yes, that overachiever who isn’t hosting anything, but is happy to sell you project management software.

And that’s all before the day even arrives.


No thank you.

When you host Thanksgiving, it’s natural to feel as if you have to do it all personally, and that it has to be perfect.

It’s not only not true — or at least not as true as you might think it is — but it’s also not necessary.

Forbidden foods and other traps

Cousin Chris is lactose intolerant. Cousin Pat is allergic to green beans. Your grandparents are vegetarians, and one kid won’t eat turkey unless it comes in nugget form and is covered in ketchup.

So, what are you supposed to do? Put together a separate Thanksgiving for everyone?

Heck no.

This can be a tough one, but there are ways around it.

As the family vegetarian with a handful of allergies and deal-breaking “Do Not Likes,” I can (almost) guarantee it.

Whatever you do, don’t bring up…

According to the American Psychological Association, arguments are one of the major causes of holiday stress.

If you’re dreading an argument, chances are, you already know what the topic will be, and who will be locking horns over it.

Whether it’s religion, politics, or someone not living up to a family member’s expectations, there’s always that topic that leaves us thinking “here we go again.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Keeping up with the Joneses, the Smiths, and the neighbors

It’s only natural that you want to lay out an unforgettable spread.

Unfortunately, that can get expensive.

But there are ways of keeping the costs down and still making this Thanksgiving a meal to remember.

Step 2: Build your team

You can’t do it all.

But the good news is, few of us are as alone as we think we are. Even when we’re hosting.

And do you want to know something else?

Most people want to help. Even the people you might think of being particularly unhelpful. Sometimes especially them.

Almost everyone, regardless of age or ability, can do something.

Helping makes people feel needed and important. It also keeps idle hands busy.

Most importantly, when people contribute to an event, they have a stake in its success.

And it goes without saying that having help makes your job a lot easier.

Instead of sitting down by yourself to plan a holiday extravaganza that will leave you feeling drained, call up your reinforcements.

Step 3: Delegate

Now that you have your team lined up, it’s time to get down to business.

Meet your helpers over coffee, lunch, or have a seat around your kitchen table. Host a Zoom meeting. You can even do it over email.

Now, this part can be difficult for those of us (ahem) who are used to trying to do it all.

Ask your helpers what tasks need to be done. Make a list. No idea is too big, too small, or too silly. If someone mentions it, it goes on the list.

This will accomplish a few things:

  • Lets everyone feel heard (sometimes this alone stops problems before they begin)
  • Tells you what your guests think is important
  • Allows your group to agree on what is most important
  • Gives you the chance to put individuals in charge of the things that matter most to them

This is how you do it

Are you worried Auntie A might not be able to eat anything that you prepare?

Do you dread Uncle B’s kids running amok?

Are you wondering how you’ll pick up out-of-towners from the airport and still have time to put the meal together?

Do you shudder at the thought of your sibling’s smart remarks about your holiday decorations?

Does the thought of cleaning up after it all make you want to scream?

That’s what your helpers are for.

Deputize them to assume responsibility for the things that matter most to them.

  • Auntie A will bring food for special diets
  • Uncle B will provide some kids’ activities
  • Cousin C will pick people up from the airport
  • Sibling D will be in charge of decorations
  • Sibling E will organize the after-meal cleanup

Make sure everyone agrees with the distribution. If they’re taking charge of the things that are important to them, chances are, they’ll do a good job.

Also, allowing others to contribute food and decoration will save you money as well as labor.

And that’s a whole series of worries off your list.

Techniques for Success

The day has arrived. Here are some specific techniques to help things to go more smoothly.

Let it go

A lot of the pressure of hosting Thanksgiving is worrying that things won’t go exactly as planned.

Guess what? They won’t.

Delegating has hopefully reduced your workload. But many of us may worry that our helpers won’t perform their tasks to our specification.

We have a rule in our house: If someone volunteers to do something, they get to do it their way.

It might be hard to let go of control; to take the risk that someone else might make a mess of their job.

But think of it this way. You might not be able to control how someone does their task, but that also means you’re not responsible for it going wrong.

So, are the picky eaters less than pleased with their offerings? Then they should take it up with Auntie A while you have another slice of pie.

Don’t let it flow

If arguments tend to crop up at family gatherings, alcohol may play a part. Even if it’s not a problem for any of your guests, it can still lower inhibitions and loosen tongues.

If you’re serving alcohol, serve the first drinks with your meal. Set out a limited amount, and when it’s gone, it’s time for something else.

And always have a few non-alcoholic options on the table as well.

Keep it friendly

If you’re worried about arguments, try these techniques to keep conversation friendly.

Focus on areas of agreement. If one of your guests raises a hot topic, don’t take the bait. Instead, circle back to ideas everyone agrees on.

Alternately, have a slightly silly catch phrase that will stop a conversation when things are getting heated, and allow everyone to refocus.

My sister-in-law always says, “Who likes candy canes?”

It’s also helpful to have a phrase that signals the end of the discussion, and an agreement to disagree.

My family says, “I love you, so-and-so” in a cheerful tone.

To us it means “I know we’ll never agree, but I love you anyway. Let’s drop this.”

Make a game of it

If the grown-ups need help acting like grown-ups, turn the tables.

A lot of kids love feeling like the adult in the room. Use that to remind potentially unruly grown-ups of expectations.

A white board (or pen and paper) can act like a swear jar. Deputize one or more of the kids to make a tally mark every time someone wanders into forbidden conversational territory.

That will remind adults to be on their best behavior. It will also encourage kids to be part of the conversation.

Sweeten the pot by offering a prize to adults who behave themselves. Or crown the adult who racks up the most marks the Thanksgiving Turkey and have them collect the dishes.

Handmade for the holidays

You don’t need to take out a loan to set a beautiful table. Handmade decorations can add a personal touch that everyone can appreciate.

Making holiday decorations is a great boredom buster for kids. It can also be a fun activity for adults.

And, it can save you $$$.

Take a Bite out of Stress

The holidays can be a lot of work, no question. But they don’t have to be something to dread.

The many hands of your helpers can make light work of Thanksgiving. They can also make it a lot more fun.


Janome 2212: Is This Your New Sewing Machine?

The Janome 2212 is neither fancy nor impressive looking. In fact, it’s a basic and straightforward mechanical sewing machine. But bells and whistles can be overrated.

For some sewists, a straightforward experience is exactly the right thing. So, is the Janome 2212 the no-frills sewing machine you need?

About the Janome 2212

The Janome Sewing Machine Company has been a leader in sewing machine innovation for a little over 100 years.

The company name means “snake eye” in Japanese. And the round, snake eye-shaped bobbin was just the first of many innovations.

Today, Janome makes a wide range of sewing machines for industrial and home use. From top-of-the-range, features-packed computerized models to simple workhorses, their machines show quality and durability.

The Janome 2212 is on the simpler end of the scale. It’s a mechanical model, which means:

  • Small selection of utility stitches
  • Knobs and dials control stitch parameters
  • Simple, intuitive interface

On the one hand, some sewists may find the lack of decorative stitches and advanced functions limiting.

On the other hand, it’s hard to beat the mechanical sewing machine’s ease of use. If you want to start sewing right out of the box, a simple mechanical machine can help you to do that.

Who Is the Market for the Janome 2212?

There are two types of sewists for whom this type of sewing machine is ideal:

  • Beginners
  • General-purpose home sewists

If you’re starting in sewing, ease is paramount. A more complicated machine can be intimidating. The truth is, if you’re afraid to touch it, you might never learn how to use all the functions.

With that in mind, look at the interface of the Janome 2212.

There are two knobs and a reverse lever. The labels are clear, and it’s easy to tell what each one does just by looking.

And while it’s true that there are only a handful of stitch designs, they’re all the ones that sewists use most.

The Janome 2212 also gives you a few stitches that you don’t typically find on an entry-level mechanical sewing machine. But we’ll talk about that in a bit.

This type of sewing machine is also well suited to someone who does occasional home sewing projects, like housewares and clothing alterations.

Also, mechanical sewing machines tend to be less expensive than more complicated computerized models.

Importantly, because this one is a Janome, it’s sure to have a durable build with quality components.

How to Choose a Mechanical Sewing Machine

Not all mechanical sewing machines are equal in quality and performance. In fact, if you look carefully, you’ll find quite a bit of variation in features even among machines that look quite similar at first glance.

Stitch designs

One of the defining features of the mechanical sewing machine is a small number of stitch designs.

Computerized sewing machines have built-in memory that can store hundreds of designs. The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960, for example, has 600!

By contrast, many mechanical machines have just a handful. The Singer Start has only six. The Brother XR3774 has 37, which is unusual for a mechanical machine because most have fewer than a dozen.

The Janome 2212 has a respectable 12, which include all of the stitches you probably need, plus a few pleasant surprises.

First, you get:

  • Straight stitch
  • Zigzag stitch
  • Blind hem stitch

These are pretty standard, but you also get a few stitch designs that you won’t find on a lot of mechanical machines, including:

  • Overcasting stitch
  • Knit stitch
  • Straight stretch stitch
  • Smocking stitch

It’s not a lot, but it is pretty neat. And for most home sewing projects, you can do quite a bit with just these essentials.

Buttonhole designs

For clothing and household crafts, you will most likely need to make buttonholes. Sewing machines have two different types: a one-step buttonhole and a four-step buttonhole.

A one-step buttonhole is pretty standard on computerized machines. But while some mechanical sewing machines (like the Singer 4452 ) have a one-stepper, others have a four-step process.

What’s the difference?

Well, a four-step buttonhole requires a lot of stopping, starting, and adjusting. Plus, if you’re making more than one buttonhole, it can be difficult to get consistent results. Check this out.

On the other hand, a one-step buttonhole does the entire thing in one go. And if you use an automatic buttonhole foot, you can customize the buttonhole to the exact size of the button you’re using.

The Janome 2212 has a four-step buttonhole. And depending on your sewing needs, this may or may not make a difference for you.

Free arm

With many sewing machines, you can slide off part of the base in order to reveal a smaller work space. This smaller space is called the free arm.

Why might you want less space to work?

Actually, if you’re working with smaller, circular projects – think collars, cuffs, and trouser hems – it’s essential.

And even though a free arm is an inexpensive, low-tech feature that’s easy to include, there are quite a few mechanical sewing machines that don’t have them.

Fortunately, the Janome 2212 does have a free arm. So if you’re looking for a sewing machine for mending and garment making, this could be a good one.

Needle threader

Have you ever tried to jam a fuzzy thread-end through the teeny, tiny eye of a sewing machine needle? It can be frustrating, not to mention headache-inducing.

Fortunately, as they say, there’s an app for that. Well, there’s at least a feature that makes it easier.

A needle threader is another low-tech, inexpensive feature that comes standard with most sewing machines. And if you spend a lot of time squinting at stitches, it can be an eye-saver.

Unfortunately, for some reason, Janome decided not to include this simple convenience with the 2212.

For some people, it might not make a difference. In fact, you can purchase inexpensive sewing machine needle threaders to solve this problem.

But seriously, in our opinion, you shouldn’t have to.

Heavy duty metal frame

At one time, all sewing machines had a metal frame and components. Bit by bit, though, many manufacturers replaced the metal parts with plastic ones.

Of course plastic makes a sewing machine lighter and more portable. And if you’re not using it often or for heavy work, then plastic construction may not be an issue.

However, a heavy duty metal frame does make a sewing machine more stable. In addition, metal-framed sewing machines are better able to handle heavy work, such as thick fabrics and multiple layers.

Janome does make mechanical sewing machines with heavy duty metal frames. The Janome HD3000 is one example. The Janome 2212, on the other hand, is not.

Extra high presser foot lift

The presser foot holds the fabric steady while the feed dogs move it through the sewing machine. You can move the presser foot up and down with a lever on the right side of the needle.

Most sewing machines only allow you to lift the presser foot so far. And for the majority of projects, this is fine.

However, for some types of projects, like quilts, applique, and other work that involves multiple layers, that standard height may not be high enough.

Some sewing machines, and many Janome machines, come with an extra-high presser foot lift. This feature makes it easier to work with thick and layered fabrics.

The Janome 2212 has this handy feature.

Included accessories

If you’ve looked at a lot of Janome machines, you’ll notice that their accessories packs tend to be, well, minimal.

It might look a bit disappointing compared to some of the elaborate arrays of accessories that other manufacturers include.

On the other hand, packages of fun-looking trinkets that no one actually ends up using are a great way to bulk up the price without offering anything substantial in return.

As far as accessories go, here are some that you will very likely end up using:

  • Sewing machine needles
  • Presser feet
  • Screwdriver
  • Dust brush
  • Bobbins

The Janome 2212 comes with three presser feet and some bobbins. The presser feet include:

  • Blind hem foot
  • Zigzag foot
  • Sliding buttonhole foot

Again, it’s not a lot. But you will almost certainly end up using all of these, particularly the sliding buttonhole foot.

Hard case or dust cover

A hard case can protect your sewing machine from bumps, dents, and scratches, whether during transport or storage.

A soft dust cover keeps the dust from gathering on and inside your machine.

Many sewing machines come with one or the other. The Janome 2212 does not.

You can buy dust covers and hard cases separately, but the hard cases are seldom cheap. It’s a shame that Janome didn’t think to include one of these with the 2212.


Do you want a portable sewing machine? That depends on your needs.

If you’re a beginning sewist, you may want to take your machine to classes. You might also want to take it to meetups.

The Janome 2212 weighs 13 pounds. That’s about the same as a miniature Dachshund. So if you’re looking for a portable machine, you’ve found one in the 2212.

Janome 2212 Review: Pros and Cons

To sum it up, there’s a lot to like about the Janome 2212. At the same time, it has a few faults that we can’t ignore.


  • Impressive array of useful stitches
  • Easy to use right out of the box
  • Extra high presser foot lift
  • Free arm
  • Lightweight and portable


  • Four-step buttonhole
  • No automatic needle threader
  • No included case or cover
  • Stingy accessories pack

Competitors to the Janome 2212

The field of entry-level mechanical sewing machines is a crowded one. As a result, the Janome 2212 has some stiff competition.

Janome HD3000

The Janome HD3000 is a bit more expensive than the 2212. However, it offers quite a few of the features that the 2212 lacks, including:

  • One-step buttonhole
  • Heavy duty metal frame
  • Built-in needle threader

It also has a few more stitch designs, a hard cover, and a few more included presser feet.

If you’re wondering what Janome machine is comparable to the Janome 2212 machine, this might be it. And if you want a few more conveniences, then the Janome HD3000 might be a good choice for you.

Singer 4423

The Singer 4423 is part of Singer’s 44-series of heavy-duty mechanical sewing machines. Singer has a reputation for making affordable, reliable machines that are good value for the money. The 4423 is no exception.

With the Singer 4423, you get:

  • A heavy duty metal frame
  • 1,100 stitches per minute sewing speed (well above the 2212’s 860 stitches per minute)
  • 60 percent stronger motor compared to similar machines
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Dust cover
  • A truly impressive package of useful accessories

If features are what you’re after, the Singer 4423 is the whole package.

Brother XR3774

You might know Brother for their office machines, particularly their printers and printer cartridges. But Brother started out as a sewing machine manufacturer. And today they make some of the best-rated home sewing machines on the market.

One of the niches that Brother fills so well is budget sewing machines with features one usually doesn’t find in the budget price range. The Brother XR3774 falls into this category.

This mechanical sewing machine has an unbelievable 37 stitch designs, with an impressive array of decorative stitches among them. You also get:

  • A one-step buttonhole
  • An automatic needle threader
  • Free arm
  • Eight presser feet

Also, the XR3774 comes with a removable extension table.

Granted, you probably won’t use this unless you’re a quilter. All the same, this is an insane number of features for basically the same price as the Janome 2212.

Should You Buy the Janome 2212?

The Janome 2212 is a straightforward, easy-to-use mechanical sewing machine. Janome’s reputation for quality construction and durability is unparalleled. So, if you’re wondering how to order a Janome 2212 sewing machine online, you won’t have trouble finding it.

At the same time, although the 2212 isn’t a bad machine, it is a bit stingy on features. That’s especially true when you consider what else is on the market.

If you have your heart set on a Janome, and you’re on a budget, this could be a good option.

But if you’re looking to maximize value for money, then the Janome 2212 falls short.


Cute Non-Slip Women’s Work Shoes. Finally!

Cute, non-slip women’s work shoes are hard to find. It’s even harder to find work shoes and boots that fit right. And if you’re looking for something affordable, too, you might think you’re out of luck. Fortunately, that’s not the case!

The fact is, there are loads of cute, non-slip women’s work shoes and boots on the market. You’ll find shoes and boots for different needs, a variety of colors, styles, and materials — and quite a few safety options, too.

You just have to know what you’re looking for.

How to Choose a Work Shoe

You have a job to do and so do your shoes. Their job is protecting your feet, as well as protecting you from slips, falls, and other mishaps.

Different styles of work shoes protect your feet in different ways. Understanding the different safety features can help you to pick the best protection from your feet.

And then you can start thinking about style.


The first order of  business is support. Everyone who spends the day on their feet needs adequate support.

However, some situations call for a high-top boot to support the ankle. Good ankle support can protect you from slips and twists. This is especially important if your job involves carrying heavy things.

For other jobs, you might be more comfortable in a low-top shoe. Low-top shoes are lighter, which means that it will be easier to stay on your feet longer.

A low-top shoe can be a good work shoe option for people whose work involves constant walking, but not necessarily heavy lifting and carrying.

Still other jobs call for a clog-type shoe. Clogs are a favorite, for example, of nurses and kitchen crews.


Slips and falls are a big deal in many professions. If you encounter water or other liquids, or even snow in your profession, then slip-resistant soles are a must.

Hard Toe 

There are three types of toe protection in most work shoes: steel, alloy, and composite.

Steel toes are a workplace tradition. Of the three types, steel is strongest. They’re also less expensive than composite toe shoes.

Composite toe shoes, on the other hand, are lighter and more comfortable than steel. They can be bulkier, however.

Alloy toe protectors contain a mixture of metals.


The soles of work shoes tend to be either rubber, Vibram, or TPU (thermo polyurethane).

Rubber is slip-resistant, oil-resistant, and abrasion-resistant.

Likewise Vibram, which is a high performance rubber.

TPU has all of the resistant properties of rubber, but is longer-wearing and more lightweight.

Now, do you have a better idea what you’re looking for? Great! Let’s move on to the shoes!

How We Chose Our Favourite Cute Non-Slip Women’s Work Shoes

Cute is important, but you need more than that, and we aim to please.

We looked at three different styles of footwear: hard-toed work shoes, soft-toed work shoes, and boot-style work shoes with both hard and soft toes.

In addition to style, we considered safety features. And, of course, we examined the quality of materials and construction.

The Best Cute Non-Slip Women’s Work Shoes

Hard toe, soft toe, high top, and low. We researched the best so you don’t have to.

The Best Cute Non-Slip Women’s Work Shoes, Hard Toe

Whether you prefer steel or composite, you don’t want to miss these low-cut marvels of workplace safety.

LARNMERN Steel Toe Shoes Work Men Women Safety Lightweight Slip Resistant Indestructible Shoes (JNH-LM1801120336-W)

Do these lightweight unisex work shoes look like a steel-toe work shoe? No! And that’s the point!

These cool-looking steelies are made from a breathable synthetic mesh fabric. Also, they have a removable EVA insole. Finally, there is a moisture-wicking lining to keep your feet dry and cool.

These shoes come in an incredible 18 different colors, and 20 different sizes. It would be hard for anyone to not find at least one that they like.


  • Breathable
  • Lightweight
  • Unisex
  • Steel toe
  • Lots of colors and sizes to choose from


  • Lightweight uppers might not provide ultra-firm foot support

Fila Women’s Memory Reckoning 8 Slip Resistant Steel Toe Running Shoe Food Service (5LM00153-6)

Some situations call for a heavier shoe. If your foot needs more protection or support than a lightweight mesh shoe can provide, then check out these steel toe running-style work shoes from Fila.

These tough, slip-resistant shoes have leather for strength and synthetic materials for lighter weight. Inside, you’ll find memory foam and Coolmax fiber fabric for even more all-day comfort.

If a structured shoe with an athletic feel is more to your taste, then this could be your new favorite work shoe.


  • Strong and supportive
  • Steel toe
  • Memory foam footbed


  • Heavier than mesh fabric shoes

Caterpillar Women’s Connexion Steel Toe Work Shoe (P90680)

You may be familiar with Caterpillar as a maker of heavy equipment. Guess what? They also make shoes for people who work with that equipment. The Connexion is one of these shoes.

These steel toe, rubber soled work shoes come in seven different color schemes and a wide range of women’s sizes. They also come in wide widths.

Also, customers praise their roomy fit and breathability.


  • Steel toe
  • Structured for support
  • Roomy fit
  • Breathable
  • Lots of different color schemes


  • Heavier than a synthetic mesh shoe

Timberland PRO Women’s Powertrain Sport Alloy Toe SD+ Industrial and Construction Shoe (TB0A1B7F001)

Timberland is best known for its ruggedly fashionable hiking boots. But they also make really cool-looking work shoes — like these.

These alloy-toe safety shoes are made from durable ripstop nylon. The fiberglass shank and dual-density outsole combat fatigue to help you stay on your feet as long as you need to.

These shoes come in three different colors and a wide range of both medium-width and wide-width sizes.


  • Lighter alloy toe protection
  • Fiberglass shank for arch support
  • Structured outer supports your foot
  • Wide range of sizes and widths


  • A bit heavier than a synthetic mesh shoe

Skechers Synergy Sandlot Work Boot (76553)

Can a hard-toe work shoe get cuter than this? Not by much, in our opinion!

This athletically-inspired shoe has an alloy toe protector and slip-resistant rubber soles. There’s also a memory foam footbed. The outer is made from nubuck.

This cool work shoe comes in two different colorways and women’s sizes and half-sizes from five to nine.


  • Breathable nubuck outsole
  • Alloy toe protector
  • Memory foam footbed


  • Only two color choices

Cute Non-Slip Women’s Work Shoes, Soft Toe

In some work situations, you don’t need a hard toe. In those cases, a hard toe might even weigh you down. Here are some of our favorite soft-toe slip-resistant work shoes.

Sticky Comfortable Work Shoes for Women – Nursing – Chef – Waterproof Non-Slip Pro Shoes ( B074KHRN1H)

These waterproof, non-slip work shoes are made from durable rubber. That might sound hot, but they’re also equipped with an absorbent footbed to help keep your feet dry.

These slip-ons come in nine different colors, and are available in women’s sizes and half-sizes from five to 11.

If you’re looking for a waterproof, slip-resistant work shoe, this might be the shoe for you.


  • Waterproof
  • Easy on, easy off
  • Lightweight


  • Not as much foot or arch support as a lace-up shoe

ZONKIM Womens Non Slip Running Shoes Lightweight Breathable Mesh Sneakers Athletic Gym Sports Walking Shoes (B07W6MBJG4)

How about a stylish athletic-inspired non-slip work shoe?

These lightweight, soft-toe work shoes are made from breathable synthetic mesh. They have a comfortable memory foam footbed and moisture-wicking insoles.

The soles themselves are lightweight and slip-resistant.

These shoes come in 15 different colors and patterns, and are available in women’s sizes and half-sizes from 5.5 to 12.


  • Lightweight
  • Wide ranges of sizes
  • Memory foam footbed
  • Breathable
  • Lots of different colors


  • Might not be as supportive as a heavier shoe

Skechers Work Eldred – Relaxed Fit (76551-BLK)

These athletically inspired leather non-slip shoes from Skechers offer not only style, but the support you need to stay on your feet.

These shoes are loaded with comfort features, such as a removable memory foam insole, a mesh collar and heel panel, and a lightweight shock-absorbing midsole.

What’s more, it comes in a respectable range of women’s sizes and widths, including extra wide. If you need a supportive shoe in extra wide, these could be one to check out.


  • All-leather construction
  • Cooling features
  • Shock absorption
  • Medium and extra-wide widths


  • Small selection of colors

Crocs Unisex-Adult Bistro Graphic Clog | Slip Resistant Work Shoes (10075)

Everyone loves Crocs, but did you know they make special non-slip work shoes? They do! And they’re adorable!

Crocs designed these shoes for the specific needs of workers in the hospitality, food service, and healthcare fields. They’re lightweight and comfy. They also resist slippage like a champ.

And with a back strap, they won’t be slipping off your feet, either.  These shoes come in seven different patterns and a wide range of sizes for both men and women.


  • Specifically designed for on-your-feet jobs
  • Back strap keeps them on
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Wide range of sizes and patterns
  • Unisex


  • May not be the best for people who need supportive shoes

Skechers Work Comfort Flex SR – HC (77217)

Skechers does it again with these cute, slip-resistant, stain-resistant work shoes.

These are made from durable, breathable textile treated to repel water and stains. Their lace-up design gives just the right combination of lightness and support.

Even better, there’s a wide number of prints, patterns, and colors to choose from, as well as medium and wide widths.


  • Slip and stain resistant
  • Repels water
  • Medium support
  • Breathable
  • Large number of cute patterns and colorways


  • Not all designs available in all sizes

The Best Cute Non-Slip Women’s Work Shoes, High Top

When you need ankle support as well as foot support, it’s time for a boot. Here are some of the best ones on the market today.

Timberland Women’s Nellie Double Waterproof Ankle Boot ( TB023399713)

If a leather work boot is what you’re after, then you can’t do much better than Timberland. These boots cost a little more, but many people agree that they’re worth it.

These women’s boots have seam-sealed waterproofing, removable anti-fatigue foot beds, and a breathable mesh lining. Also, they have rubber soles and tough, direct-attach construction.

These are soft-toe boots, so if you’re looking for steelies, these aren’t it. But if you’re looking for quality construction, you’ve found it.


  • Tough construction
  • Waterproof
  • Breathable
  • 23 different colors
  • Wide range of women’s sizes and half-sizes
  • Wide widths available


  • Soft toe

Carhartt Women’s Rugged Flex 6 Inch Comp Toe CWF5355 Work Boot (B00T4ZQQCS)

Carhartt has been making hard-wearing, comfortable workwear since 1889. These women’s composite-toe work boots continue the tradition of quality.

These are rugged leather boots with a rubber outsole and cement construction. Toe protection is lightweight, comfortable composite.

They don’t come in a huge variety of colors, but this boot is so attractive you don’t need more than one.


  • Leather upper
  • Cement construction
  • Rubber outsole
  • Composite toe
  • Wide range of women’s sizes


  • Only one color

The Last Word

The right work shoe not only protects you from slips and falls, but supports you through your busy workday. The key to choosing the best work shoe is knowing your needs.

Do your feet need firm support, or are you more interested in a lightweight shoe? Does your job call for ankle support? Which is more important, water-resistance or keeping cool?

And last, but certainly not least, hard toe or soft?

When you’ve taken in all of these considerations, you might wonder if a cute shoe is too much to ask for. It’s not! Today’s market has something for every need and every taste.

Do you have a favorite work shoe? What makes it the best? We’d love to hear about it!


How to Choose the Best Beginner Sewing Machine

There are as many different types of sewing machines as there are sewists. The best beginner sewing machine for you might not be the best for someone else. It’s a good thing you have a lot of choices.

At the same time, those choices can be overwhelming. 

Fear not. If you understand your needs and know what’s out there, making the right choice is easy.

How to Pick the Best Beginner Sewing Machine

Choosing a great first sewing machine comes down to two things. First, you need to know your own needs. Then you need to know the market.

Step One: Know Yourself

A sewing machine is a big purchase. What’s more, your first sewing machine is a purchase you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Of course, you want that memory to be a happy one.

So there are a few things to consider before you press “buy.”

First, you want to get your money’s worth. You want maximum features at minimum cost. What’s more, you don’t want to pay for features you’re not going to use.

Also, you don’t want to lay down a lot of money for the wrong sewing machine, or worse, one that’s only going to sit in your closet.

Before buying the first machine that catches your eye, ask yourself the following:

  • What do you see yourself making with your sewing machine?
  • How confident are you with your present sewing skills?

Whether it’s your first sewing machine or your fifth, the best sewing machine is the one you’re going to love using. And the first step is knowing your own needs.

What’s your sewing goal?

Do you see yourself whipping out your own runway fashions? Or maybe you want to try your hand at a cheerful quilt. Perhaps machine embroidery is more your style.

However you see yourself as a sewist, there’s probably a sewing machine for that. A quick internet search will turn up a huge number of sewing machine types, including:

  • All-purpose sewing machines
  • Quilting machines
  • Embroidery machines
  • Sergers

And more.

You might wonder whether that $20 mini sewing machine would make a good sewing machine for beginners. Alternatively, you might think to splurge for an expensive do-it-all model for your first sewing machine.

However, in our experience, the best beginner sewing machine isn’t an expensive craft-specific model with all the bells and whistles.

Why not?

Well, complex machines can be intimidating for new sewists. Moreover, some semi-pro and professional craft-specific models don’t actually do regular sewing. And, it goes without saying that they can be expensive.

Rather, we think an all-purpose home sewing machine is often the best sewing machine for beginners.

What’s your skill level?

Be honest.

If this is your first sewing machine, your experience is probably limited. And that’s fine. There are plenty of simple models that can get you up and sewing right out of the box.

On the other hand, maybe you’re up for a challenge.

In that case, then a more complicated model can stretch your skills and help you to grow in your craft.

In either case, be honest with yourself. Don’t buy a machine so complicated that it terrifies you. By the same token, you don’t want a model so simple that it bores you before you even get started.

Look at the product. Do the controls look friendly and easy to master? Can you understand at a glance what each button, knob, and dial does? If not, are you willing to spend a bit of time with the manual?

Examine the specs. Will the machine do everything that you want it to? Will it help you to learn those new skills that you’ve been dreaming about?

The best beginner sewing machine for you will tick all of these boxes.

Step Two: Know Your Machines

Once you have a handle on your needs, it’s time to see what’s out there. That can be overwhelming.

There are a lot of different kinds of sewing machines, and many can make a great first sewing machine. Others, however, are less suited to novice users.

Mechanical sewing machines 

Mechanical sewing machines are the simplest kind of sewing machine.

First, they have a limited number of stitch designs. Usually, that means a straight stitch, a zigzag, a buttonhole, and one or two stretch stitches.

In short, they can do everything most sewists need to do, but they don’t have a lot of bells and whistles.

Also, as the name suggests, you control things like stitch length and width with knobs, dials, and sliders. There is no on-board computer.

Finally, mechanical sewing machines tend to be less expensive than other types of sewing machines.

On one hand, some users may find a simple sewing machine limiting.

On the other hand, though, other users will enjoy a mechanical machine’s ease of use. And, quite frankly, manual controls allow a sewist to fine-tune their stitches in a way that’s impossible with push-button computerized controls.

If you want to get started sewing right away, and don’t want to keep flipping back and forth between your machine and the manual, then a mechanical sewing machine may be for you.

Electronic sewing machines

Electronic sewing machines offer a compromise between mechanical machines and high-tech computerized models. Basically, they have a simple onboard computer, but it’s not as advanced as that of a computerized sewing machine.

The simple computer inside an electronic sewing machine makes certain features possible that are impossible with a mechanical sewing machine.

These include:

  • Speed control
  • Programmable needle position
  • Manual start/stop
  • Generous selection of stitch designs
  • Increased selection of buttonhole designs
  • Push-button control of stitch length and width
  • Automatic thread tension

These features aren’t strictly necessary. In fact, you can go quite far without them. However, many sewists find that these additional functions make sewing easier and more convenient.

Electronic sewing machines tend to be a bit more expensive than mechanical sewing machines. However, the price range is quite wide. What’s more, if you do your research, you can often find great deals online.

If you want a first sewing machine that will stretch your skills and grow with you, then a computerized sewing machine could be a good choice for you.

Computerized sewing machines

Singer introduced the first computerized sewing machine, the Touchtronic 2001, in 1978. It was revolutionary at the time.

However, technology advances fast. As a result, today’s computerized sewing machines have features and functions that Isaac Merritt Singer probably never even dreamed about.

Like what? You might ask.

Well, in addition to the functions listed in the previous section, advanced computerized models can provide some truly astonishing features, including:

  • Touch-screen controls
  • Hundreds of stitch designs
  • Monogram fonts in several different alphabets
  • Editing stitch and embroidery designs right on the machine
  • WiFi and/or USB connectivity
  • Uploading your own designs onto your machine
  • The ability to combine stitches into sequences
  • Stitch sequence memory
  • On-board video tutorials
  • Sensors to tell you when your thread is running out

You won’t find all of these features on every computerized sewing machine. However, if you research carefully, you can find a machine with a combination of features that you need.

The downside of advanced computerized models is complexity. These machines’ interfaces can be intimidating. Also, it can take years to explore and master all the features and functions of a computerized sewing machine.

But maybe that’s what you want.

If you’re a serious beginner, and the idea of mastering complex technology excites you, then an advanced computerized model may be the best beginner sewing machine for you.

Sewing machines by level

Your sewing machine search may include a combination of domestic and industrial sewing machines.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to tell the difference.

Industrial machines tend to be focussed. They do one thing, they do it well, and they’re made to do it all day long.

Industrial sewing machines also cost a lot. And many of them are enormous.

However, you’ll find a range of levels even among domestic sewing machines. It’s important to know the differences.

All-purpose home sewing machines are just what they sound like. They perform a variety of basic functions that equip them for different crafts.

You can use an all-purpose sewing machine for making clothes, housewares, quilting, and more.

Some all-purpose machines come with crafting accessories that make them more attractive to crafters, particularly quilters. These might include a detachable wide work table and even a machine embroidery hoop.

All-purpose sewing machines come in mechanical, electronic, and computerized variations. You’ll find a wide range of complexity among all-purpose machines. Likewise, you’ll find a wide range of price points.

Intermediate sewists who want to pursue a specific craft at a higher level may choose a semi-professional sewing machine.

Semi-pro machines are often quite a bit more expensive than all-purpose sewing machines. They often have more stitch functions, as well as advanced craft-specific features such as:

  • A knee lifter (for quilting machines)
  • Built-in embroidery designs
  • On-machine embroidery design editing
  • Multiple thread capacity

Professional (or semi-industrial) sewing machines tend to be one-trick ponies. Like industrial machines, they’re tough. They’re also quite expensive.

Professional-level sewing machines are great if you’re starting your own business. A pro machine doesn’t make the best sewing machine for beginners, however.

Specialized sewing machines

Your search for your first sewing machine may also turn up a variety of specialized sewing machines.

Although we think an all-purpose model generally makes the best beginner sewing machine, if you go far enough in your chosen craft, you may eventually want to invest in a specialized sewing machine.

Quilting machines

Quilting machines come in a variety of forms.

Some manufacturers dress up all-purpose sewing machines with quilting accessories to appeal to aspiring quilters. You might find, for example:

  • A detachable extra-wide quilting table
  • A heavy duty metal frame
  • An extra-high presser foot lift to accommodate multiple layers
  • Extra quilting and decorative stitches
  • Included specialized presser feet, like a walking foot

This type of machine can take a hobbyist far. However, there may come a time when you want more advanced quilting features. A semi-pro quilting machine may include:

  • An extra-long throat to accommodate large projects
  • A knee lifter

Professional quilting machines are a different animal altogether. A high-speed straight-stitch only machine is one choice. A large, prohibitively expensive longarm quilting machine is another.

But these fall outside the purview of this article.

Embroidery machines

Embroidery machines also come at different levels.

Many entry-level computerized sewing machines have a variety of decorative embroidery stitches. These provide ample opportunity to experiment and create.

If you outgrow embroidery stitches, however, and want to move on to pictures and text, then an embroidery machine can help you to do that.

Even lower-level embroidery machines can offer an array of really fun features, like:

  • The ability to upload and use your own designs
  • Onboard design editing capabilities
  • Extensive memory to save and re-use your favorite designs

Be careful, though. Many advanced embroidery machines don’t do regular sewing. So you may need a separate machine for other types of sewing.


Serging means sewing a seam while simultaneously sealing off the seam edges. A serger (or overlocker) is a sewing machine that does this and only this.

A serger uses three to six different threads simultaneously. It does not do regular sewing, and it doesn’t have decorative stitches.

If you’re planning on sewing garments, a serger can be an excellent investment. However, we wouldn’t recommend it as a first sewing machine.

The Best Beginner Sewing Machine: Features

Now that you understand the market, it’s time to talk features.


Your mileage may vary, of course, but these are a few features that we don’t want to do without.

One-step buttonhole

Most sewing machines come with a one-step or a four-step buttonhole. You can get by with a four-stepper, but why would you want to? Check out the difference here.

A one-step buttonhole isn’t just easier. It also allows you greater consistency, in case you need to do multiple buttonholes. Also, if you use an automatic buttonhole foot, you can tailor the size of your buttonhole to a specific button.

Automatic needle threader

Do you hate trying to thread a hand-sewing needle? Now imagine trying to jam that fuzzy thread-end through the eye of a sewing machine needle. You’re working at an angle, and there’s no wiggle room.

An automatic needle threader is an inexpensive, low-tech tool that makes threading your needle a snap.

Even the lowest-level mechanical machines often have an automatic needle threader. But be careful. Some sewing machines do not.

Reverse stitching

Almost every sewing machine has reverse stitching capability. This is essential for locking your stitches at the beginning and end of a row.

It’s also helpful for sewing curves, angles, and other fiddly tasks.

Free arm

A free arm sewing machine allows you to detach part of the base in order to create a smaller workspace.

Why might you want a smaller workspace?

For one thing, it’s essential for small, circular work like collars, cuffs, waistbands, and hems. Here’s how it works.

Most sewing machines have a free arm, but plenty do not. So check carefully before you buy. Especially if you’re planning to use your machine to make clothing or housewares.

Nice to have

There are other features that aren’t strictly necessary, but which can make sewing easier.

Start/Stop button

Most of us start and stop the sewing machine with the foot pedal. But if your foot pedal breaks, a start/stop button allows you to run your sewing machine without it.

Also, a start/stop button allows you to make a one-step buttonhole with a single touch. And that’s very convenient.

Finally, a start/stop button is an important accessibility feature for people who are unable to use the foot pedal.

Manual speed control

Again, a lot of us use the foot pedal to control our sewing machine speed. But manual speed control allows you to set a maximum sewing machine speed using a slider.

It’s like cruise control for your sewing machine. If your foot slips, you won’t lose control of your work. And again, if you can’t use the foot pedal for whatever reason, manual speed control allows you to adjust your speed anyway.

Programmable needle position

Most sewing machines start with the needle in the “up” position by default.

However, if you sew long enough, you’ll find that for some projects, it’s more convenient if your needle starts and stops in the “down” position.

A programmable needle allows you to set your default needle position where you want it for any given project.


One way that manufacturers justify a higher price is by loading a machine up with features most people never use. What different people consider essential varies, of course. But some features are gimmicks, plain and simple.

These may include:

  • Hundreds and hundreds of stitch designs
  • Onboard “social” features like sew cams and live broadcasting from your machine
  • Excessively large accessory packs

Choosing the Best Beginner Sewing Machine

At the end of the day, your first sewing machine should be one that you’ll use over and over. For this reason, an all-purpose sewing machine is often the best choice in terms of price and features.

Additionally, knowing your own goals and needs will allow you to pick the right type of sewing machine, and at the right level.

Did you find this information helpful? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!