Best Sewing Machine Reviews
Owning a sewing machine offers plenty of benefits. To begin with, you can mend or alter clothing on your own instead of enlisting the services of a tailor. This helps you save money plus it can be a fun learning experience or a way to bring your creative fashion ideas to life. For those who have a knack for designing garments, it’s also possible to start a business with a sewing machine.
However, when you’re first starting out, choosing the right sewing machine can be daunting. There are dozens of models in the market, all of which provide competing features. So, it can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, this post will provide a review of the top 5 sewing machines for beginners in the market today.
As a first time buyer, you’ll probably be looking for a sewing machine that matches one or more of the following factors:
- Ease of use
- Consistent performance
- Relevant features
- Affordable price
With the sewing machines suggested in this post, you can easily find a balance between all of these five factors.
#1: Brother CS6000i Feature-Rich Sewing Machine
If you want a beginner’s computerized sewing machine at an affordable price, then look no further than the Brother CS6000i. This sewing machine has a lot of great features and so it comes as no surprise that it’s one of the top selling Brother models for years.
Brother’s CS6000i computerized sewing machine comes with a load of features but it’s designed in a way that won’t overwhelm beginners. Choosing stitch patterns as well as selecting length and width settings is a breeze thanks to the backlit LCD control panel and numbered chart of stitch patterns. On the front of the machine, you’ll also find a variable speed control slide and start/stop button.
In total, the CS6000i offers 60 built in stitches and 7 automatic one-step buttonhole designs. While this machine lacks sophisticated embroidery designs, it will allow you to do basic sewing, decorative work, and quilting. The oversized table will come in handy when quilting or working on huge projects. And at the base of the machine you’ll find a free arm, which is perfect for working on cuffs, sleeves and hems.
Like most sewing machines from Brother, this model features a wide range of accessory feet. It comes with a hard cover and power cord as well. Other functions that make the CS6000i convenient to use include the automatic needle threader, intuitive threading diagrams, and the top loading, jam resistant drop-in bobbin.
- Offers a decent range of stitches for quilting, basic sewing and decorative work
- Equipped with built-in compartment for easy storage of accessories
- Lightweight and comes with hard carry case for easy transportation
- Package includes plenty of useful accessories
- Intuitive controls
- Covered with a limited 25-year warranty
- The Brother CS6000i lacks sophisticated embroidery designs. However, it’s possible to do freehand embroidery or create simple embellishments with the provided decorative stitches.
- Thread tension is controlled with a manual dial
#2: SINGER 4411 Heavy Duty Extra-High Sewing Speed Sewing Machine
The Singer 4411 is a good-value manual sewing machine from a trusted brand. This model earns a spot on this list because it’s one the easiest to use sewing machines for novices. It only has 11 stitches to choose from and 4 presser feet. The best part is that stitches as well stitch length and width can be set at the simple turn of a dial. Moreover, this machine’s 4-step automatic buttonhole, clear view bobbin case and top drop-in bobbin make it even more convenient to operate.
Singer’s model 4411 sewing machine was designed with efficiency and durability in mind. In fact, this unit is a real time saver since it has a strong motor that produces up to 1,100 stitches per minute. In addition, Singer’s 4411 sewing machine was built with a solid metal frame interior. The heavy-duty metal frame not only increases durability, it also makes the Singer 4411 more capable of working with heavier fabrics when using the adjustable presser foot pressure-control.
Besides sewing a few basic, decorative, and buttonhole stitches, the 4411 Singer sewing machine has movable feed dogs, which make it possible to do free-motion embroidery.
- Heavy duty interior metal frame
- Stitches faster than conventional sewing machines
- Easy to load top drop-in bobbin with cover
- Adjustable pressure foot control makes it possible to sew lightweight to heavy fabric
- Backed by Singer’s 25-year warranty
- Offers a limited number of stitches compared to the rest of the beginner sewing machines in this list
- Using the 4-step buttonhole takes a little more time compared to machines with a 1-step buttonhole
#3: Brother SE400 Combination Computerized Sewing and 4×4 Embroidery Machine
Brother’s SE400 is one of the bestselling models at many eCommerce sites’ embroidery machine category. This sewing machine is jam-packed with features but it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
It comes preloaded with 67 basic and decorative stitches, 70 embroidery designs, as well as 120 frame pattern combinations, and 5 embroidery lettering fonts. By connecting this sewing machine to the Internet via a PC, you can even download more designs from iBroidery.com. Computer connectivity also allows for efficient machine updates.
Choosing stitch patterns and embroidery designs is a simple process when using the SE400’s backlit LCD and touch pad control panel. There are many other convenient features as well, including the Quick SET drop in bobbin, push-button thread cutter, automatic needle threader, and impressive assortment of presser feet.
The Brother SE400 is the perfect choice for newbies who want a feature rich sewing machine that they can grow with as their skills advance.
- Offers an exciting and wide range of utility stitches and embroidery designs
- PC compatible for easy machine updates and importing of extra designs
- Versatile machine that’s perfect for quilting, embroidery and sewing
- Packed with features that enhance ease of use
- Soft cover case included
- Backed by a 25-year warranty
- The preset presser foot pressure cannot be adjusted
#4: SINGER 8763 Curvy Computerized Free-Arm Sewing Machine
If you prefer a computerized sewing machine from Singer instead of the manual 4411 model, then Singer’s 8763 is a great choice. This Singer Curvy 8763 sewing machine’s great balance of price, features, and build quality makes it a perfect choice for those looking to get the best value for their money. It comes with 30 pre-programmed stitches, among which includes two fully automatic one-step buttonhole designs. The push button control panel is also very easy to use. Simply select the stitch pattern you want to sew and the machine will automatically adjust stitch length and width as well as thread tension.
Other features such as the automatic needle threader, work area LED lights, SwiftSmart threading system, and drop-in bobbin make it easy to operate Singer’s 8763 computerized sewing machine. What’s more, this model blends functionality and durability thanks to its multiple presser feet and heavy duty interior metal frame.
- Heavy duty internal metal construction keeps the machine steady while working on large fabrics
- Good selection of stitches for clothes construction, mending, quilting and freehand embroidery
- Automatic adjustments of thread tension, stitch length and width allow for fast selections
- Package comes with clear manual and instructional DVD to help you get started
- Backed by Singer’s 25-year warranty
- You cannot tweak the presser foot pressure outside the three preset levels
- Twin needles have to be bought separately
- Cover or case not included
#5: Janome DC2012 Decor Computerized Sewing Machine
Janome’s DC2012 is a computerized sewing machine targeted at novice home sewers. This machine supports a little bit of every type of sewing, allowing you to complete all your home décor projects with ease.
It has 50 stitch patterns to choose from, including 3 styles of fully automatic 1-step buttonholes, common satin stitches, and several unique heirloom stitches. Stitches can be easily selected at the push of a button and as you set up the machine, you will be able to see all your selections on the backlit LED display. For added functionality, you can use a selection of six presser feet.
The Janome DC2012 can also support freehand embroidery by simply dropping the feed dog. Regardless of what type of sewing you intend to do with this machine, operating it will be easy thanks to features such as the Superior Feed System (SFS), automatic needle threader, speed control slide, reverse stitch option, memorized up/down needle position, and the jam resistant, top loading full rotary drop-in bobbin.
- Great for garment constructing, darning, quilting and home décor projects
- Comes with halogen light bulb for easy viewing
- User friendly computerized control panel
- Operates quietly
- Backed by a 25-year warranty
- Not PC compatible
- Limited buttonhole styles considering the price range
- Cover or case sold separately
- Twin needle set not included
These top 5 sewing machines for beginners offer great variety in terms of prices and features. Therefore, chances are that you’ll find a machine that fits your needs with the help of this list.
Sewing Machine Buyer’s Guide
Purchasing a sewing machine can be exciting, especially if you’re a beginner looking to pick up a new hobby for fun or profit, and it’s your first time machine shopping. But even if you’re getting an upgrade, it’s still exciting to replace your old sewing machine with a better one. There are a lot of machines on the market designed for different users and tasks, and with so many models and brands to choose from, knowing where to start can be confusing. This sewing machine buyer’s guide can help to steer you in the right direction.
Types of Sewing Machines
Choosing the right sewing machine begins with knowing your options. Generally, sewing machines can fall in one of the following categories.
- Mechanical Sewing Machines
These are among the first commercial sewing machines ever made. Although you can get a vintage sewing machine at amazingly low prices, these models are rarely manufactured anymore. Mechanical sewing machines are the most basic available and they don’t have as many features as the electronic and computerized models. They’re usually powered by a wheel or dial on the side instead of a foot pedal and can be cumbersome to use. However, traditional sewing machines are very durable thanks to their metal construction.
- Electronic Sewing Machines
These types of sewing machines use one electric motor to power the needle and other functions. All you have to do when controlling the feed mechanism is apply pressure on an electronic foot pedal. With both hands free, it becomes easy to guide the fabric through the machine.
Electronic sewing machines are usually equipped with a dial for selecting stitch patterns, width, and length. Other features to expect from these machines include an automatic thread cutter, tension setting, automatic buttonhole, and possibly decorative stitches for more creative work.
- Computerized Sewing Machines
Computerized sewing machines are best suited for the experienced sewer who wants to upgrade or beginners who are planning to develop their skills. These machines work by using several motors and electronic chips to control different functions. Their working mechanism makes it possible to produce plenty of different stitches. In fact, basic models usually have hundreds of stitch patterns to choose from and you can expand your stitch options by downloading more designs from the Internet.
Standard features to expect from computerized sewing machines may include an automatic threader, automatic thread tension system, and extra needle penetration power, which is good for heavy fabrics. These machines are usually controlled via a touch screen or touch pad control panel linked to an LCD or LED screen. Some of the more advanced models have a programmable memory that makes it possible to save past projects or frequently used stitches.
- Specialized Sewing Machines
As the name implies, specialized sewing machines usually perform a specific task. Since they have fewer functions than other machines, specialized sewing machines cannot be used as a replacement. In most cases, these units work best as a second machine. There are different specialized sewing machines that perform various functions. A few examples include:
If you work on fabric projects all the time, an overlocker or serger can be a great addition to your sewing arsenal. The primary role of an overlocker is to produce professionally finished hems and seams. Some models can have decorative stitch options but overlockers are not equipped to sew buttonholes or zips.
One of the biggest advantages of having an overlocker is that it can sew a seam, finish the edge and cut off excess fabric in one fell swoop.
Overlockers work differently compared to other sewing machines. Depending on the model, they can use 2 to 9 spools of thread at once as well as multiple needles to create an overcast stitch. As a result, overlockers produce attractive rolled hems on lightweight fabric such chiffon and silk.
Some of the best features to look out for when in the market for an overlocker/serger include differential feed, color coded thread paths, as well as stitch length and bite control.
- Embroidery Sewing Machines
Embroiders are special purpose sewing machines for creating embellishments on fabric. These machines make intricate, attractive monograms and allow you to download or digitize your own designs.
What to Consider Before Buying a Sewing Machine
Choosing the right sewing machines involves a lot more than just price. There are many other aspects to take into account before making your final decision. But to begin with, you’ll want to consider which models match your needs and fall in the price range you can afford. Other factors to think about before investing in a sewing machine include:
- The Type Of Projects You Intend To Work On
Thinking ahead about the kinds of projects you’re interested in will help you to match a machine with your needs.
For simple dressmaking, alternations, and repairs, a basic machine with one-step buttonhole and other common stitches would be ideal. Look for a sewing machine that has a free arm if you intend to work on trouser legs and sleeves. If you want to decorate home furnishings, upholstery, cushion covers, curtains, and other fabric items, then settle for an embroidery sewing machine.
In addition, an overlocker would be an essential addition for adding that professional finish to garments if you are a tailor. Ultimately, the right sewing machine to buy will largely depend on what kind of work you intend to do.
Sewing machines offer a wide range of features that differ depending on the brand. There may be differences when it comes to features even with machines that fall in the same category. Some sewing units may have specialty feet while others might give you additional stitches, a work lamp, quilting feature, among other functions.
When thinking about what features you would want to see on your preferred sewing machine, make sure to carefully assess your needs and skills. If you’re thinking about taking classes or going beyond basic sewing, avoid getting a machine that you’ll outgrow quickly.
A good computerized or electronic machine would be the right choice for crafters who intend to develop their skills. On the other hand, if you don’t intend to expand your sewing skills, then don’t get talked into buying a sophisticated sewing machine with advanced features that you’ll never use.
- How Often Will You Use the Sewing Machine?
If you want a sewing machine for regular use, make sure to go for a sturdy design that has a metal frame. Heavy duty sewing machines can handle everyday use and continue to produce consistent results.
- Size of the Machine
The size of a sewing machine is an important factor that you shouldn’t overlook. Before buying any machine, you need to consider whether there’s enough storage space for it at your workshop or house. A lightweight machine is the best choice for students that need to transport their machines in between classes. Also, look for machines with features such as a carry handle, case or bag if easy transportation is high on your list of priorities.
- Brand Reputation/Customer Reviews and Ratings
When shopping for a sewing machine, you’ll no doubt come across many brands. This provides you with many options to choose from and a wide range of price points to compare. However, it’s best to settle for a reputable brand that’s known for manufacturing high quality sewing machines.
Singer, Brother, Kenmore, Janome, Juki, Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff, Babylock, and Bernia are some of popular and long established sewing brands that come highly recommended. But whether you’re in the market for a sewing machine, overlocker or embroidery machine, it’s advisable to read customer reviews as this will help you learn more about the performance and quality of various sewing machines from different brands.
Sewing machines don’t always come cheap. Therefore, it’s important to buy a machine that’s covered by a warranty in case it malfunctions just after a few uses. Some brands only offer warranties when you buy your sewing machine from approved sellers, so find out whether the store you choose to buy from offers a warranty for your desired machine.
Most sewing companies will offer to replace your machine in case of manufacturer defects while others have a money-back guarantee that you can claim in case your machine malfunctions before a certain time frame. So, be sure to compare warranty deals and if possible, read the fine print to know what’s covered or excluded.
- Sewing Machine Prices
Prices for sewing machines will vary from one brand to the next. It’s possible to get entry-level sewing machines in the $100-$200 price range but be prepared to fork out anywhere from $300-$600 for a mid-range priced machine. Top of the line sewing machines cost a lot more, typically $700-$2000. These models are usually engineered with durable materials, making them ideal for professional tailors and seamstresses who sew on a daily basis.
It’s also important to consider what accessories come with the sewing machine you intend to buy. Some brands offer accessory feet, dust covers, hard storage cases, spool caps, bobbins, cleaning brushes, needle sets, seam rippers, and other accessories along with the sewing machine itself.
Having a complete package will save you the extra hassle or expense of buying accessories separately. In addition, sewing machines designed with an inbuilt storage compartment will help you to keep all your accessories organized and within easy reach.
- Ease of Use
Last, but certainly not least, choose a sewing machine that’s designed to provide easy operation. Different brands add varying features to enhance ease of use on their sewing machines. Some companies manufacture their machines with work lights, oversized tables, good ergonomics, or touch screens for easy operation. Take your time to find out what makes a certain machine easy to use before buying it. Remember that intuitive features will make your work less of a chore.
Common Sewing Machine Features and What They Mean
It’s easy to get confused by all the jargon used to describe different features of a sewing machine. As a buyer, you should be conversant with the different terms used to describe sewing machine functions in order to make an informed purchasing decision. With that in mind, here are terms used to describe common sewing machine features and what they mean:
- Automatic Buttonholer
Most sewing machines sew buttonholes on garments automatically. Depending on the model, buttonhole making can range from a 1-step to 4-step process. Fewer steps make it easier to create buttonholes. More advanced machines assess buttonhole sizes with the help of a buttonhole foot. Simply put a button on the buttonhole foot, and the machine will create perfectly sized holes.
- Auto Thread Tension
This feature automatically adjusts the thread tension according to your fabric. As a result, it helps you to avoid creating loose stitches or garments that appear puckered due to over tightened thread.
Sewing machines have a metal spools for holding threads that are called bobbins. Bobbins can have either a front or top loading mechanism. When loading thread, you have to open the bobbin case. Look for sewing machines that have a drop-in-bobbin with automatic thread take up. Such machines make the process of preparing to sew easy. A clear cover on the bobbin case also lets you know when thread is running low.
- Drop Feed
This feature means that you can lower or “drop” the dog feeds, which in turn allows you to do freehand embroidery or darning.
- Feed Dogs
The feed dogs are zigzag shaped teeth that pull and guide fabric through the sewing machine. Feed dogs move fabric under the presser foot as the needle stitches.
- Free Arm
The free arm is a cylinder you will find on the base of some sewing machines. It’s usually exposed by removing a piece of the base. Sewing machines with a free arm make it easy to work on sleeves, trouser hems and other difficult to sew areas.
- Integrated Dual Feed
This feature facilitates smooth and equal feeding of thread when stitching 2 pieces of fabric together. The integrated dual feed is therefore a handy feature for quilting.
- Knee Lifter
Some sewing machines have a special lever that can be pressed with your knees. This lever is called a knee lifter and it provides better control when quilting, attaching appliqués or sewing around curves.
- Lock Stitch Facility
This feature locks off seams at the end of a sewing sequence with a reverse stitch. It’s a must-have feature if you want to ensure that the stitches and embroidery patterns on your garments and fabrics are securely locked off at the end.
- Needle Plate
This is the component just above the dog feeds, which has a hole where the needle goes through. To stitch even seams, you should use the recommended needled gauge based on the size guide measurements on your needle plate.
- Needle Threader
This is a handy feature that makes it easier to thread the needle. Some brands describe this feature as an “automatic needle threader.” Basically, it’s just a small hook behind the needle that pulls thread through the eye when withdrawn.
- Needle Up/Down Function
With this function, you can program the needle to stop in the up or down position. This is a useful feature when manipulating seams around corners.
- Presser Feet
Presser feet hold fabric against the feed dogs while sewing. You can choose to move the fabric by lowering a special lever on the presser foot. Presser feet make it easy to perform specialized sewing functions. There are many specialized feet for tasks such as quilting, darning, buttonholing, zip making, patching, binding and so much more.
Sewing machines can have a plethora of other functions besides the ones mentioned above. Before making your final choice, read the specs sheet of your desired model to learn whether the features offered match your sewing needs.