As a complete beginner, and someone who's hand stitching leaves a lot to be desired, what sewing machine is recommended by all you experienced milliners out there?

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Rose is my 1st name.  They started calling me "Ma Rose" for whatever reason and it stuck. Its not my last name.

Ruth O'Connor,

It has a lot to do with the type of hats you want to make.  They've given you good answers.  I mostly make fabric hats (Using buckram as a foundation) 98% is sewn by hand, I block my own buckram using hat blocks.  Its according to the type of fabric hat I'm making, sometimes I sew the millinery wire by hand to the hat if the buckram design won't be destroyed by using the sewing machine. I use an upholstery needle and regular garment sewing thread to sew by hand.  If sewing on the sewing machine, I use a Pearls & Piping foot, a heavy needle (to penetrate) & zig zag the millinery wire onto the buck because I use 2 ply buck and 2 pieces.  I need a sturdy form because of the embellishments. See Gold Hat & Hat Blocks

I also make straw hats using ready made Parasisal Hoods and Capelines.  I use hat blocks and millinery wire and my domestic (Janome) sewing machine for the larger hats.  The Fascinators, I sew the millinery wire on by hand. See Purple & Black Hats

And I've used the Flat Pattern Method to make hats using a store bought pattern or one that I've drafted and I can use my domestic sewing machine to do this. See Black and White Hat.

I also use an antique Straw Braid Sewing Machine for making Straw Braid hats.  See Beige Hat.  Happy Hatting.

Here is a machine that helps me out when a flat bed machine cannot do it.  I use this machine mostly for leather but do use it occasionally for hats.  It is a straight stitch only but a walking foot to ease the fabric. 

Is a small sewing machine suitable for embroidery on a hat? I hope the problems with the size will not be

Yes Kenneth it should be ok as long as you have a free arm Some hatters in US are making great embroidered styles with embroidery on crown and flowing through onto felt brim 

If you are still interested in, there is a good review of emboindary machines. I personally recommend you this one I have the same and Im pretty happy.

I have started from the scratch and today I can do decent projects. You need to start from the basics like how a sewing machine work and how to use a sewing machine. Once you know it, move on and start with simple projects and then to complicated ones. 

Hi, I’m looking for a domestic sewing machine for millinery and general straight sewing. I saw this post and thought BINGO!!! The Bernina brand seems to be the way to go .....Can you please suggest a reputable  dealer in Victoria. I’m in Beaconsfield near Berwick. I have been looking for a while at some of the latest machines in various outlets. Has left me overwhelmed. 

Hi, I am also a begginer and just purchased Janome 5018. That is what been advised from the sewing machines trader. It looks a bit difficult, but is exacly what I wanted. Very heavy body and Japanese quality. Suitable for heavy duty fabrics. Now it is my term to gain sewing skills. 

Singer 4432 would be a great machine for you as for beginner. It is versatile and can be used even with leather fabrics, so there is a room for experiments. There is almost nothing complicated about this machine, so go ahead and try it.


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