Sewing machines are great for hemming pants and curtains and other minor alterations. With a good one, you can repair your throw pillows, mend the seams on a tent, or stitch that rip in your grill cover, too. But, that’s hardly all. Owning your own sewing machine can open the door to a world of creative projects.
To a beginner, sewing machines might seem complicated. But, they’re actually pretty simple. There are two types of sewing machines: mechanical and computerized. They both share three common elements: a motor, a pulley system to move the needle and thread, and a paddle to operate it. Each type of machine has its pros and cons.
Computerized machines come with a variety of built-in stitches. Some of them are quite elaborate. And you can swap those stitches with the touch of a button. These machines take a lot of the guesswork out of sewing, which might be especially important for beginners. But, when problems arise, they may stem from software issues. So, maintenance and repairs can be more expensive than they would be for a mechanical machine.
On a mechanical machine, you adjust settings and stitches with a knob. These basic machines offer the essential stitches for sewing projects. But, the pared-down offerings don’t include decorative embroidery stitches. While the options are simpler, maintenance and repair are often simpler (and cheaper) too.
This guide will help you choose the best sewing machine whether you’re a newbie or an intermediate sewer.
Our Top Picks
Below are some of the best sewing machine picks for beginners and a few others for the intermediate stitcher who’s ready to up their game. The picks are based on ease of use, durability, and price.
Brother is well-known for easy-to-use and economical home crafting machines. This is our top pick because it’s a great option for beginners and experienced seamsters alike. The XR9550PRW makes it easy to add decorative stitches to your project. Decorative options are just a few among the 165 built-in stitches that also include utility, heirloom and quilting stitches as well as seven one-step, auto-size buttonholes. All the stitches are pre-programmed and easy to read on the LCD display.
New seamsters can create embroidery stitches and adjust thread tension with the touch of a button. Seasoned sewists have plenty of stitch options and accessories to complete quilt projects without a dedicated quilting machine. The larger detachable table is great for quilting, too. The XR9550PRW will even thread your needle for you. The automatic needle threader and quick-set bobbin system will have you threaded up and sewing in seconds. This machine also includes eight sewing feet, a quilt guide, and a protective hard case.
The only real disadvantage of the Brother XR9550PRW is that it’s a fully computerized machine. If it breaks due to a software malfunction, it can be expensive to repair.
The Singer MX60 is a mechanical machine. That means you’ll turn a knob to switch between the six different stitches. The length and width of the stitches are pre-set. So, that’s one less decision you’ll have to make. This machine is designed to take care of light sewing tasks such as hemming, patching holes, and creating buttonholes. It comes with basic accessories to get you started, including a general purpose foot, a zipper foot, a buttonhole foot, a darning plate, needles, and bobbins. The Singer MX60 is a solid machine for simple sewing needs and is a great choice for hobbyists and beginners.
Manual machines have one significant advantage over computerized ones: They are easier to repair. Since they don’t have any computerized components, the solution to most malfunctions is a minor adjustment.
Juki machines are standard in industrial sewing because they are so tough. The smaller, home machines are built with the same quality. This is a mechanical machine, so it doesn’t offer decorative stitches. But it still does some other important tasks for you. The intuitive sub-tension system helps maintain the correct thread tension while you sew. The even-feed foot ensures difficult-to-feed fabrics run through the machine easily.
The Juki TL-2010Q also has LED lighting and a large work area of up to 23 inches with the attached auxiliary table. The TL-2010Q can handle large quilts, apparel, and home decor projects. This machine is well suited to free-motion quilters or those who run a small sewing business but are not ready to upgrade to a full, industrial machine.
Quilters need a machine that gives them enough space to move large, heavy, layered fabrics with ease. The Brother XR3774 delivers. It’s a mechanical sewing machine designed with must-have quilting features that both new and experienced quilters will appreciate.
The sewing machine comes with an oversized table that makes it easy to maneuver larger quilting projects. The included specialty sewing feet should meet all your quilting needs. The included walking foot allows for smooth feeding of multiple layers. The spring-action quilting foot can accommodate varying fabric heights. The clear plastic foot lets you see what you’re doing while you sew. Plus, there’s 37 built-in stitches, including decorative stitches that will make your project look professional.
This machine is not just for quilters though. Makers can sew apparel, create home decor, and complete basic repairs on this one. The Brother XR3774 is an affordable, yet feature-packed, machine that will take care of most of your sewing needs.
A serger is a specialized machine that trims and encloses the edges of the fabric inside a thread casing. You can find serger stitches along the hem and the inside seams of a t-shirt, for example. Sergers use multiple threads to create strong, durable stitches that won’t fray and last for years. The Brother 2340CV coverstitch serger features multiple functions that are great for working with stretch fabrics and creating necklines and hems.
Sergers can be intimidating to thread, but the Brother 2340CV’s color-coded system is easy-to-follow. This machine also features adjustment dials for stitch length, a presser foot dial, snap-on feet, and a differential feed, which allows you to alter the speed at which your fabric feeds through the machine.
For most home sewers, sergers are optional. There are other ways to create a professional looking seam, but those methods take longer and involve multiple steps. Sergers finish seams fast. This is a good pick for the home sewer that wants to add a professional finish to sewing projects.
This beginner machine features everything you need to get started with machine sewing. It’s a mechanical machine with a few options that will not overwhelm beginners. You can even teach your children this valuable skill on the Magicfly mini sewing machine.
The Magicfly is a basic machine that will make a simple running stitch and teach beginners how to thread a machine, fill a bobbin, and perform basic sewing operations. It comes with a 42-piece sewing accessory kit that includes bobbins, needles, a threader, a pair of scissors, and tape measure. It also features an extension table, which makes the sewing machine more stable and provides extra workspace.
Keep in mind: This is a small machine and not suited for larger projects. But, it’s not just for kids! The Magicfly mini sewing machine is a great option for small spaces or to keep as a backup machine.