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Sewing Machines for Beginners – Choosing The Best One for You

Sewing Machines for Beginners – Choosing The Best One for You

October 12, 2021 /

With countless brands and models in the market, it can get confusing when choosing the right sewing machines for beginners. You’re probably thinking… What’s the best sewing machine model to start with? What are all those features for? Is it safe for a kid to sew? Without answers, the questions can get daunting. Here, we hope to offer peace of mind and guide you on choosing your first sewing machine!

sewing machines for beginners

Understanding the basics of sewing is useful and convenient for small projects and day-to-day fixes. Be it to shorten your jean’s length, fix a hole in your shirt, resize your child’s clothes, patch a blanket or add beautiful embroidery to your crafts. All that can be done by hand-sewing, but having a simple machine makes things easier! Even more so if you’re ready for more complicated sewing projects or if you wish to start selling handmade items like accessories or garments. You would want to invest in a good machine to produce quality work while saving time.

beginners sewing machine

We will begin by talking about who this guide is for, followed by the types of sewing machines and essential sewing machine features to look for as a novice sewist. Then, we will conclude with a list of the best sewing machines for beginners. By the end of it, we hope you’ve found something that suits your needs and narrowed down your options for your first sewing machine purchase!

sewing machine threading

WHO IS THIS GUIDE FOR? 

  1. You wish to fix & alter old clothes or resize your child’s clothes conveniently.
  2. You want to start a small business selling customized items like home décor, children’s clothes, accessories, stuffed dolls, baby suppliesface masks,and more.
  3. You want to pick up a new hobby or develop a unique skill set.
  4. You’re studying to be a fashion designer who needs to learn and complete school projects.
  5. You’re amazed by all the beautiful sewing pieces you see and just want to learn.

TYPES OF SEWING MACHINES A BEGINNER SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

how to choose sewing machines for beginners

Mechanical

Mechanical sewing machines come with simple knobs and dials that allow you to control specific settings manually. For example, you could choose from a small stitch selection, change stitch length and width, adjust the thread tension, move a lever, and more. They’re generally more straightforward, with fewer settings to work with. A mechanical machine is easy to maintain and less complicated as compared to a computerized sewing machine. They allow you to learn basic sewing techniques and are a cheaper option. Best for home use and novice sewing projects such as alters, mends, and repairs.

computerized sewing machines

Computerized

Computerized sewing machines promise precise stitching with automated features. They’re designed with an LCD screen that enables you to browse through an extensive library of built-in stitches, patterns, and tutorials. For some models, you could even connect the machine to a computer to upload your designs! While computerized machines make your life easier, they’re a lot pricier and more difficult to maintain than mechanical sewing machines. Best for a home business owner if you wish to create items in bulk.

In general, computerized sewing machines do most of the work for you, while mechanical sewing machines allow you to learn and understand the basics of sewing techniques. If you’re starting in hopes of performing simple sewing tasks, go for the mechanical sewing machine. Otherwise, if you want something more convenient and practical, a computerized sewing machine is your choice!

ANATOMY OF A SEWING MACHINE

anatomy of a sewing machine

  1. Handwheel – For mechanical machines, rotate it to raise or lower the needle.

2. Stitch Index – Types of stitches available on the sewing machine

3. Stitch Selector – To select stitch patterns

4. Bobbin Winder – To wind the thread onto the bobbin for use as a lower thread

5. Spool Pin – To hold the spool of thread

6. Stitch Length Dial – Rotate to control the stitch length

7. Stitch Width Dial – Rotate to control the stitch width

8. Upper Tension-Control Dial – To control the tension of the upper thread

9. Presser Foot & Feed Dog – To clamp, hold, and feed the fabric through during sewing

10. Presser Foot Lever – To raise and lower the presser foot

11. Bobbin Compartment – To hold the bobbin case for the lower thread

12. Automatic Threader – To feed the thread to the needle eye. Subject to sewing machine model.

13. Thread Cutter – To cut the thread that passes through the cutter

14. Reverse Sewing Lever – To reverse the sewing direction

15. Storage Compartment – To store small accessories that you use often during sewing

thread needle on sewing machines

IMPORTANT FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING YOUR FIRST SEWING MACHINE

You’ve probably seen sewing machines with some very cool features, but are they necessary for a beginner? Honestly, not really. As a novice sewist, you wouldn’t want to worry about technical issues or your time or money. While fewer knobs, dials, and buttons mean less fuss and more sewing time, it’d be nice to invest in a machine with extra features if you have the budget. This way, you wouldn’t need to upgrade to a new machine to satisfy specific needs once your skills advanced!

Here are the must-have features to watch out for in a sewing machine for a beginner:

  1. Size of the Machine 

If you wish to learn sewing as a hobby or open a small business, you would want to get a full-size machine as the mini sewing machines have very minimal features (only sufficient for sewing tasks like basic fixes). Also, make sure you check the dimensions and weight of the device to ensure it fits the work area you’re planning to place it in. 

  1. Number & Types of Stitches

The purpose of getting a sewing machine is to ease your sewing tasks and help you save time. Before deciding to purchase, you should consider what stitches you will require for the projects you plan to sew. As a starter, look out for at least 10-20 built-in stitches. Some machines come with hundreds of built-in stitches, but they may be too extensive for beginner sewers.

While the two main stitches you need as beginners are the straight stitch and the zig-zag stitch, it will also be helpful to have the buttonhole stitch, overlock/over-edge stitch, blind hem stitch, and stretch stitch

sewing machines decorative stitches
  1. Automatic Needle Threader

This feature allows the machine to help you thread the needle for you instead of doing it by hand!

  1. Attachments & Feet 

This is important if you plan to sew with different fabric types and techniques (e.g., embroidery, quilting). Most sewing machines include a multi-purpose presser foot & zipper foot. It’ll also be nice to have the zipper foot, buttonhole foot, rolled hem foot, blind hem foot, and walking foot. If it doesn’t come with your machine, you should be able to purchase them individually. We explained sewing machine feet in detail years ago; check out this post if you’re interested in learning more!

  1. Free Arm

A free arm refers to an accessory tray that you could slide off from the sewing machine base. Doing so allows you to sew narrow round items like sleeves or hem a pair of pants. It is vital to look for this feature when buying a new sewing machine; otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to complete those tasks. 

  1. Foot Pedal 

All mechanical sewing machines come with a foot pedal, and the needle will stop once you take your foot off the pedal. Modern machines have a press pedal, while vintage machines require performing a “pedaling” motion. On the other hand, some computerized sewing machines replace the foot pedal with buttons to choose where the needle stops.

  1. Bobbin Compartment 

As opposed to a front-load bobbin, top drop-in bobbins are easier to learn and more convenient to use. It’d also be helpful to have a bobbin thread indicator that notifies you when to change your bobbin thread. Some machines have a light that tells you when the thread is low; others have a clear glass or a digital message that alerts you. 

load bobbin in sewing machines
  1. Bobbin Winder

The bobbin winder feature is used to wind thread on the bobbin and distribute thread evenly to match the tension of the sewing machine’s upper thread. Most sewing machines are equipped with a bobbin winder feature. However, if it doesn’t or you don’t want your sewing to be interrupted when the bobbin thread is depleted, you may purchase a separate portable device.

If you’re working on a big project with a built-in bobbin winder, it’d be easier for you to wind more bobbins of the same thread color. As for portable bobbin winders, you’re required to wind the bobbin every time the bobbin thread is exhausted. Position it into the bobbin compartment, and you’re good to continue with your project!

  1. Tension Adjuster 

Having the correct tension is essential as it determines how well your seams will look. Look for sewing machines with easy tension controls and a thread tension guide in the manual. 

  1. Speed Control 

Getting the proper pressure from the foot pedal to achieve a certain speed isn’t easy, especially if you’re a beginner. This is when a speed control dial or lever comes in handy! Once you’ve set a maximum speed to work with, you wouldn’t need to worry about going overboard with speed. 

  1. Extension Table

An extension table is a detachable unit that fits onto the base of the sewing machine. They’re usually built-in on larger devices, but they can be removed and stored away easily for home-use machines. An extension table is useful if you plan to sew larger projects like quilts, curtains, and bedsheets.

computerized sewing machines

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

  1. Decorative Stitches – For fancy projects like applique, embroidery designs, and couching
  2. Built-In Lighting – To avoid shadows for accurate sewing 
  3. Adjustable Presser Foot Pressure – Useful for when you plan to sew with a different fabric weight 
  4. Automatic Buttonhole Feature – Measures the actual size of your button to achieve consistent results. 

BUDGET

It is essential to set a budget before you start browsing; otherwise, you’d spend ages searching high and low for the best machine that meets all your requirements. The price range of a sewing machine goes from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, especially for specialized sewing machines like embroidery machines. As a beginner, you might be drawn to cool machines with lots of interesting features. But honestly, that’s likely to cost you a fortune, and you may not even use half of those built-in features.

With that said, it’d be wise to purchase from reputable brands or dealers and avoid extremely cheap sewing machines. Poor quality means it might break after a few uses, and that would be devastating. Aim to spend around $150 – $200 for a quality basic sewing machine. Please keep reading to see what sewing machines we recommend for a beginner!

sewing machine needles

WHAT ARE THE BEST SEWING MACHINES FOR BEGINNERS?

Even if you’re not a fan of sewing, you’ve probably seen a vintage Singer sewing machine lying around your grandparent’s or parent’s home. They became one of the largest sewing machine manufacturers in the mid-1800s and still stand as one of today’s most popular brands. Apart from Singer machines, the two most popular and affordable machine brands for beginners include Brother and Janome.

If you have a bigger budget and want something with premium quality that can last you a long time, you can consider investing in a Bernina sewing machine. Like many beginners, Joanne, the founder of Craft Passion, started with a Singer sewing machine. As her skill level advanced, she eventually invested in the BERNINA 550 QE. Now, with a clear idea of what kind of projects she likes, Joanne has updated her machine to the BERNINA 535, her trusty sewing machine model.

Check out some of our recommendations for sewing machines for beginners!

BROTHER XM2701

Brother XM2701

The Brother XM2701 is a straightforward mechanical sewing machine with essential features and basic stitches for beginner sewists. It has dials that are easy to navigate along with an informative manual. Since it’s a lightweight machine, you can even carry it to your sewing classes! Not to mention it offers quality at a remarkably affordable price! 
✅ 27 Built-In Stitches 
✅ 6 Sewing Feet 
✅ Automatic One-Step Buttonhole
✅ Automatic Needle Threader
✅ Top Drop-In Bobbin
✅ Free Arm
✅ Built-In LED Work Light
✅ 800 Stitches/Minute

Another Brother sewing machine that is beginner-friendly is the Brother XR3774 model. It offers very similar functions and features, except it has 37 built-in stitches and comes with a removable wide table for large projects. These two basic machines provide quality at a very affordable price point.

Brother CS7000i

Brother CS7000i

Here’s a computerized Brother sewing machine that many experts deem as the best sewing machine for beginners. With almost everything you need to be included in the box, you can start sewing right away! The Brother CS7000i has built-in features that are great for beginners to learn and grow with. Many advanced sewists also enjoy using this great sewing machine because it comes with various stitches and presser feet.
✅ 70 Built-In Stitches 
✅ 10 Sewing Feet
✅ One-Step Buttonhole (7 Styles)
✅ Automatic Needle Threader
✅ Top Drop-In Bobbin
✅ Free Arm
✅ LCD Screen
✅ Additional Quilting Table

There’s not much difference between The Brother CS7000i and its famous predecessor, the Brother CS6000i. The only three things that set them apart are that the latest model comes with ten additional built-in stitches, an extra presser foot, and has a lighter color and extra designs on its body that make it look more elegant. While the Brother CS6000i has all the necessary features to suit beginner sewists’ needs and hobbies, it would be wise to get the Brother CS7000i, because why buy an old model when there’s a new one on the market? 😜

SINGER M1500

Singer M1500

If you’ve ever bought a sewing machine for a kid, this model may look familiar to you. It’s an updated version of the Start 1304 model, a small and portable sewing machine. Many advanced sewers use it as a second machine when they’re on the go. 

The M1500 offers simple features that are sufficient for basic sewing tasks. However, keep in mind that it does not have an automatic needle threader and features a front-load bobbin, which some sewists find inconvenient. With that said, this Singer sewing machine isn’t designed to grow with you. So, if you already know you’re going to do something more challenging, it’s best to skip this model ☺ 
✅ 6 Built-In Stitches 
✅ 3 Sewing Feet
✅ Four-Step Buttonhole
✅ Free Arm
✅ Built-In LED Work Light
✅ Heavy-Duty Metal Frame
✅ Twin Needle Sewing

Singer 7258

Singer 7258

Another Singer sewing machine for beginners is the Singer 7258. It is a computerized sewing machine suitable for home-related projects to small business creations. Apart from basic features, the Singer 7258 is equipped with fancy decorative stitches that allow beginner sewists to explore more complicated projects. The extra stitch options will come in handy once you become an intermediate-level sewist. However, one thing to note is that it does not work well with heavy fabrics and can get noisy. 
✅ 100 Built-In Stitches
✅ 10 Sewing Feet
✅ Four-Step Buttonhole (6 Styles)
✅ Automatic Needle Threader
✅ Tension Control 
✅ Built-In LED Work Light
✅ Free Arm
✅ Start/Stop Button
✅ Top Drop-In Bobbin

Janome 2212

Janome 2212

Another long-standing household sewing machine brand is Janome, a Japanese brand that has been around for 101 years! Janome sewing machines are known to be durable and dependable. If you’re planning to get your child their first machine that can last a long time, the Janome 2212 is one to try out. Though, it doesn’t have an automatic needle threader which can be difficult for starters, especially children. Other than that, it’s easy to use, handles thick fabric well, which is a plus point for the price you’re paying. 
✅ 12 Built-In Stitches
✅ 4 Sewing Feet 
✅ Four-Step Buttonhole 
✅ Adjustable Stitch Width & Length 
✅ Front-Load Bobbin Winder
✅ Free Arm
✅ Built-In LED Work Light

Bernette B33

If you’re someone with a high budget, you should check out Bernina’s sewing machines, a luxury brand in the world of sewing machines. This Swiss company builds sewing machines with high-quality materials that are meant to last a lifetime. Their models can cost up to a whopping $25,000 for advanced-level machines! Bernina sewing machines are a long-term investment and a great choice for those who are serious about sewing. 

Bernette B33

If you’ve been eyeing a Bernina sewing machine but think they’re over your budget, we’ve got a more affordable option for you. The Bernette B33 is a great heavy-duty sewing machine for those who want something simple with quality built. It has fewer features, but the stitch selections are sufficient to handle day-to-day sewing tasks, ensuring a fuss-free operation. However, the Bernette B33 does not come with an adjustable foot pressure, which may be difficult for specific projects like knitting. 
✅ 15 Built-In Stitches
✅ 5 Presser Feet 
✅ One-Step Buttonhole 
✅ Semi-Automatic Needle Threader
✅ Adjustable Stitch Width & Length 
✅ Built-In Thread Cutter
✅ Built-In LED Light 
✅ Free Arm

Bernina B335

bernina B335

We know this computerized sewing machine might be over the budget for most beginners, but it would be a pity not to introduce it! The Bernina B335 is one of the more expensive sewing machines, but it’s small yet packed with extra features that you can grow with! The build quality is excellent, with automatic features that first-time users will appreciate. You’ll learn the basics then eventually progress into something more challenging with the advanced features! The compact size will be a plus point if you’re starting and don’t have a proper workspace. 
✅ 221 Built-In Stitches
✅ 6 Presser Feet
✅ LCD Display
✅ Free Arm
✅ Start/Stop Button
✅ Adjustable Speed
✅ Built-In LED Work Light
✅ Extension Table
✅ Memory (Long-Term/Altered Stitches)

sewing threads

To summarize, here’s how to choose a perfect sewing machine for beginners that matches your needs:

  • Determine the nature of your projects; Basic alters & fixes, Quilt work, Embroidery, Thick fabric, etc. 
  • Basic or Advanced; Choose between a mechanical sewing machine (more hands-on, able to learn sewing skills & stitches) or a computerized machine (more high-tech, with lots of automated functions). 
  • Set a budget; There are sewing machines that will not burn a hole in a pocket, but ensure it includes all the necessary features you need
  • Browse through reputable sewing machine brands; Brother, Singer, Janome, Bernina
  • Check if they have complete user manuals or online video tutorials
  • Read reviews and join an online sewing community

That’s it, folks! We hope you found this guide useful in helping you choose your first sewing machine. There’s no perfect choice of machine, just one that is right for you. Whether you’re buying it yourself, your daughter, or your granddaughter, we’re excited to be a part of your new crafty journey! It might be the best thing you ever invest in. Have fun learning how to sew ☺ 

Disclaimer: Please note that we may earn a commission if you purchase an item through the links above. It doesn’t change the price you pay and supports us to create more craft projects for you!

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