Choosing the right sewing machine is critical to sewing success and should be done with the future in mind. A dependable machine can provide decades of faithful service.
A novice may blame themselves for these issues and give up learning to sew altogether. But a sewing machine that runs well is a delight, and beginners will soon be hooked on the results of their efforts.
There are many sewing machine review sites online, with few machines in common between them. There are a few stand-outs available, however. After careful consideration, here are the top six sewing machines for beginners by both rating and affordability.
6 Best Sewing Machines For Beginners
At around $100, this machine carries a ton of good reviews and a great price. The machine is great for beginners with 27 basic stitches, 6 pressure feet, and an easy needle threader. This machine also features a built-in free arm for sewing around pant legs or sleeves.
- Lots of great instructions
- Built-in needle threader
- Cited as not as durable as some
- Not ideal for heavy use
2. Janome 2212
At around $190, this bundle comes with extras such as extra bobbins and needles. The machine itself is very basic, with just 12 stitch variations plus a multi-stage buttonhole option. This helps keep things simple for beginners.
The machine is fairly heavy-duty, even for fabrics like denim. It also has a free arm for hems and sleeves. Janome is a fairly well-known brand, and this machine can very well give many years of consistent service.
- Easy to use
- Retractible feed dogs for free stitching or quilting
- Fairly heavy duty
- No needle threader
- Front loading bobbin more awkward to use
I don’t know how long this deal will last on Amazon, but if you’re really serious about jumping into sewing with both feet, this is the way to go. This multi-tasking machine, normally in the $450 price range, is now just $171.
This sewing and crafting machine features 60 built-in stitches for sewing and quilting, speed control, 7 styles of one-step buttonhole, 9 presser feet, an extra-large extension table, and a free arm for cylindrical pieces. The CS6000i can easily carry you through a lifetime of sewing creativity.
- Increased working area with extension table
- Limiting speed helps control more complicated stitches
- A huge number of stitching options
- More suited for light to medium-weight fabrics
- Some complaints about thread tension issues
I wanted to include a heavy-duty machine in the mix for those who anticipate sewing needs for denim or even leather. Singer has a number of heavy-duty machines to choose from. The 4452 is a basic model with a good rating and an economical price tag of around $200.
The motor on the 4452 is 60% stronger than those on most standard machines. The machine features 32 stitch choices, including automatic, one-step buttonholes. Along with the basic pressure feet, this model includes heavy-duty feet for leather and vinyl, along with a pack of heavy-duty needles.
- High speed
- Sews difficult materials such as velcro
- No place for larger spools of thread
- Some found the pedal to be somewhat sensitive
I don’t generally recommend machines under $100. But I decided to include the Nex as a possible choice for a child. At about $80, this small, easy-to-use machine is a good way to introduce a young one to the sewing world.
At just 5 pounds, the NEX is easy to handle and store. But it’s still a fully functioning machine, with 12 stitches and a choice of battery or electric power. Though I found some of the comments to differ wildly, the machine received an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars, so it’s worth trying as a child’s first sewing machine.
- Lightweight and portable
- Easy to use
- Tutorial video and free tech support
- A little complicated to thread
- All plastic construction shortens lifespan of machine
This winner of the 2020 Women’s Choice Award is a great beginner’s machine. It costs around $210 and is quality built. It features a metal frame, 15 stitches, and four pressure feet.
The machine has a free arm and enough versatility to handle many types of home projects. The quality of the machine means it could last for many years as you expand your knowledge and skills.
- Well made
- Easy to use
- Manual easy to read and understant
- No thread cutter
- Front loading bobbin a bit more complicated to use
What to Look for In Your First Sewing Machine (Sewing Machine Buyers Guide)
These are just a few of the sewing machine options out there. As you consider the choices, here are a few points to ponder.
Your personal goals
What kinds of projects do you anticipate sewing? Are you hoping to make simple repairs to clothes, etc? Or do you have more involved crafting ideas in mind, such as quilting or machine embroidery? The broader the end goal, the more choices you’ll need in a machine, both in stitches and accessories.
How heavy a sewing machine can you handle? How do you plan to store it? Will you need to move it from place to place. These are all questions to consider before you purchase. If you’re limited as far as how much weight you can consistently lift, you’ll need to either purchase a lighter machine or create an area where it can remain set up.
Some machines come with cases for easy storage. Most don’t, but there are fairly low-cost cases available for most models. You may even be able to sew your own soft carrying case.
Low tech vs high tech
Machines with all the bells and whistles are really fun to use. The problem with a really high tech machine is that they tend to become obsolete more quickly. I’ve found that even mechanical parts become unavailable for these machines after just a few years.
For a beginner, I recommend a mostly mechanically-based machine. These machines can more easily handle mistakes a novice may make with threading, bobbins, needles, and all kinds of unexpected things beginners know nothing about before they happen.
Features to look for
There are some basic features that I recommend for any sewing machine. These come standard on most machines, but just in case, here’s a list you shouldn’t do without.
- A free arm
- A built-in needle threader–you can do without this one, but it sure saves time
- Basic pressure feet for that model–at least a zipper foot, and possibly a buttonhole foot
- One-step buttonhole option–again, you can live without it, but why would you want to?
- Built in thread cutter
I’ve had machines with both top-loading and front-loading bobbins. Top-loading bobbins are easier and usually can be seen through a clear plate so you know when you’re about to run out of thread. But either kind works just as well in the end.
Beware of cheap machines. Many are made without the quality control standards needed to ensure endurance and dependability. Without proper calibration, a machine may not stitch at all, may stitch unevenly, may continually jamb or quickly break.
A good, minimum starter budget is between $100-200. Choose a reliable brand. If you invest in sewing success, you’ll find the price is well worth it.
With so many positive reviews and an economical price tag, the Brother XM2701 is a great place to start your sewing career. Make sure it will fill all your sewing expectations before making your final decision.