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Finding the perfect sewing machine for you may seem like a daunting process as there are multiple sizes, brands, and features to consider. Some are better for embroidery projects, others are better suited for quilters, and certain models are perfect for making clothes or using thicker fabrics.
That's why it helps to consider what kind of projects you want to make, as well as your experience level, to ensure your machine will be best suited for your needs. For instance, mechanical sewing machines tend to be better for first-time sewers, while computerized options have more features for professional or industrial use. There are even sewing machines designed for kids so they can pick up the hobby from a young age.
"Sewing machines are generally not one-size fits all," Jacquelyn Heineken, the owner of Sew Jersey says. "A well-built sewing machine is generally one of your longest running household appliances and is oftentimes a once in a lifetime purchase," she explains, which is why it's important to invest in a unit catered specifically for your design needs.
Here, our top picks for the best sewing machines.
Best Overall : Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine
Great for beginners and professionals alike
Easy to use
Some users found the design of the machine awkward
Beginners and professional sewers alike will love the features of the easy-to-use Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine. With 63 functions and a built-in needle threader, this machine has all of the bells and whistles of high-tech machines while still remaining simple for first-time users. Other add-ons include blind hem, zippers, zig-zag, decorative stitching, quilting, and an automatic buttonhole feature. There is a jam-resistant drop-in bobbin with an automatic winding system, quick-change sewing feet, and a bright LED light to help create beautiful projects of any size or shape.
Best Budget : SINGER M3220 Mechanical Sewing Machine
Some users had issues with the bobbin
While mini and kid-friendly sewing machines may be cheaper than this model, this Singer Mechanical Sewing Machine is an awesome full-sized version for the price. This machine includes an automatic buttonhole, five presser feet, and a Drop&Sew bobbin system, designed to make loading the bobbin extremely simple. Professionals and beginners alike can use this machine, which also includes a LED lighting system for a well-lit workspace.
Best for Beginners : SINGER M1500 Mechanical Sewing Machine
Powerful and portable
Great for beginners
Comes with instructional video
Some found some mechanical issues with this model
For those just starting out, the Singer M1500 Mechanical Sewing Machine is the perfect pick. This machine comes with an instructional DVD and beginner-friendly stitch patterns to get started. With a built-in needle threader, amateur sewers can switch stitches easily and adjust the size and width as needed. There are also 65 other accessories included such as a seam ripper, all-purpose foot, needle plate screwdriver, and a pack of needles and bobbins.
Best Splurge : Juki HZL-DX7 Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine
Operates very easily and smoothly
Can be adjusted to size larger projects
Suitable for quilting as well
May be too advanced for first-time users
If you are looking to splurge on your next sewing machine, consider a high-quality option from Juki, a brand whose products are designed to last. This particular model can be used to create straight stitches, free-motion quilting, and beautiful zigzag stitching. You can use any fabric you desire thanks to the “box feed” system, which allows you to come up with perfect high-quality stitches no matter the thickness or consistency. Also included is a handy work table, automatic thread tension system, and a detailed instructional manual.
Best for Kids : Magicfly Mini Sewing Machine
Great for beginners or young ones
Some found the top thread to break easily
This affordable mini sewing machine is perfect for kids and those just starting out, but it does not sacrifice quality. The Magicfly Mini Sewing Machine has threading directions that are easy to follow, and the compact size is suitable for small hands. The double threads design makes each stitch stronger and ends sewing without tying the thread. There are also different speed options and a 42-piece accessory set, perfect for gifting to crafty tweens or anyone looking to get into the hobby.
Best Portable : Janome Derby Portable Sewing Machine Graceful Gray
May not be suitable for larger projects
For those looking to take their sewing machine on the go, Janome has a portable and stylish option that doesn't sacrifice quality or accuracy. The Janome Derby has all of the features suitable for basic projects, including a free arm, accessory storage, and threading diagrams. At just five pounds, this high-quality machine can be carried to place to place for sewing emergencies or on-the-go crafting.
Best for Quilting : SINGER Stylist 7258 Sewing Machine
Sturdy and durable
25-year limited warranty
Includes helpful accessories and features
This Singer sewing machine offers all of the essential features that quilters need at a reasonable price. The machine is sturdy and dependable with time-saving automatic needle threading functionality and multiple included stitches for beginners or experts. Quilters need expansive space for large projects and powerful motors that this machine provides with optimum stitch settings and a strong electric power source. Additionally, the sewing machine is built to last for making quilt projects for years and years.
Best for Embroidery : Brother SE600
Suitable for beginners
4 x 4 inches embroidery screen
Includes port for memory stick
Some users reported seeing error messages on their machine
For those looking to embroider clothes, curtains, pillowcases, or more, be sure that your sewing machine is equipped with all of the features designed for embroidery. The LCD screen makes it easy to view and edit all embroidery designs before you get started. There is even a USB port to upload your own designs so the opportunities are endless. With an automatic needle threader, this machine is optimal for basic sewing projects, but it has the added features for perfect embroidery.
Dimensions: 21.18 x 15.51 x 16.54 inches | Weight: 26.24 pounds | Included Stitches: 103 | Warranty: 25 years
Best for Sewing Clothes : Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 Sewing Machine
Huge range of stitches
Choice of hand or pedal control
Capable of sewing lots of fabrics
Learning curve for wide range of features
A sewing machine that can handle a wide range of fabrics is key for those looking to sew different kinds of clothes. Luckily, the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 Sewing Machine has an extensive range of stitches and features for all of your clothes-making needs. A top-loading bobbin, automatic needle threader, and high sewing speeds ensure successful projects with jamming or hassle. Also, the strong frame of this machine provides a strong surface for any size fabric or project.
Dimensions: 17.25 x 8.25 x 12 inches | Weight: 20 pounds | Included Stitches: 600 | Warranty: 25 years
Best Heavy Duty : SINGER 4452 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
Great for thick layers of fabric
Easy to understand
Some users had issues with this machine's performance over time
Sewers with a bit more experience require a heavy duty sewing machine that can cut through thicker fabrics like leather and denim or layers of thinner fabric with ease. The motor is 60 percent stronger than other sewing machines on the market, so it allows your machine to reach a maximum speed of 1,100 stitches per minute, thus allowing you to get through projects quickly and successfully. While heavy duty, the machine is easy to understand and will not overwhelm beginners tackling large-scale projects.
Best Handheld : SINGER 01663 Stitch Sew Quick Portable Mending Machine
Cordless and portable
Perfect for quick fixes
Not suitable for big fixes or projects
Handheld sewing machines are portable quick-fixes for torn thin fabrics or hems. This one from Singer is cordless and lightweight enough that you can throw in your bag for emergencies anywhere. This option has everything you need to start sewing: bobbins, needles, thread, and a thread spindle. The small machine is easy to use but also includes a scannable QR code for more directions and information.
Best Industrial : JUKI DDL-8700-H Industrial Straight Stitch Sewing Machine
Sews at high speed
Suitable for a variety of materials
While this sewing machine might have a high price tag, it is extremely durable and can be used for small businesses or other industrial settings. This straight stitch lockstitch industrial sewing machine sews insanely quickly for completing projects at a high speed. It also has a large 11-inch arm space to accommodate large quilts, clothing pieces, or other projects. It is an extremely durable choice built for professionals.
Best Serger : Brother Serger 1034D Heavy-Duty Metal Frame Overlock Machine
Durable and long lasting
Easy to use
Controls are on the left side of the machine
Sergers, also called overlock machines, combine three functions into one: simple operation-stitching a seam, trimming the excess seam allowance and overcasting the edge of your fabric, allowing you to achieve professional grade projects in a short amount of time. This option is a durable model with three or four threads that can handle heavy materials like leather and denim. It comes with three snap-on feet and can reach speeds of 1300 stitches per minute.
Best Computerized : Brother Pacesetter PS500 Sewing & Quilting Machine
Manual thread tension
Having multiple features may make this machine difficult to maneuver
Computerized sewing machines add more high-tech features that can make sewing quicker and more accurate. This choice from Brother comes with an LDC screen that displays clear visuals and control over your device. More features include an automatic thread trimmer, a reinforcement stitch, adjustable foot pedal, and manual thread tension, which allows you to choose the tension that suits different weights of thread.
This is an extremely popular option among beginners, says Heineken. "This machine offers a HUGE value for your money, and is built wonderfully well. Plus it comes with a 25 year limited warranty," she shares.
Best Mechanical : Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
Can handle diverse fabrics
No speed control
Mechanical sewing machines may have fewer stitches and less features than computerized ones, but they are easier to maintain and more cost efficient. Also, having less features makes them more beginner-friendly and generally easier to use. This one has all of the useful features for all levels including an automatic needle threader, top-loading bobbin system, adjustable foot pressure, and more. It also comes with a hard cover to keep your machine dust free when not in use.
What to Look for in a Sewing Machine
Professionals tend to use sewing machines with more advanced setting and features, while sewing machines for beginners often provide a simpler interface with basic functions. Most beginner-friendly picks come with instructional guides or videos on how to set up and use your machine. Mechanical and kid sewing machines are also great options for sewing newbies as they have more streamlined usages.
The size of your sewing machine matters for a variety of reasons. First, if you are working on bigger projects, you will want a bigger machine that can handle the scale of your fabric. Bigger sewing machines are especially useful for quilters who often work with large pieces.
Secondly, consider where your sewing machine will be stored and how often you will be moving it. If you have a dedicated craft room or sewing cabinet or table, the size and weight of your machine will not matter as much. However, if you plan to constantly move it out of a closet or drawer, you will want a lighter option. Also, if you plan to pack it away for trips often, you should opt for a portable or even handheld sewing machine that travels well and is lightweight.
"Not all sewing machines are built the same, and while they all make a stitch, they don't all offer the same durability, quality of stitch, or ability to handle multiple kinds of fabrics or layers of fabric," says Heineken. This is why it is so important to do your own research before committing.
Certain machines are made to work with embroidery work while others are better for quilting. Most basic and beginner-friendly sewing machines are perfect for thin fabrics like cotton, but if you are working with something thicker like denim or leather, you may want to opt for a more heavy duty pick. Some are better suited for making clothes while others work extremely quickly, which would be useful in a business or industrial setting.
Mechanical vs Computerized
A mechanical sewing machine means that you will move knobs, twist knobs, manually move a lever, and such to determine stitch lengths, move your needle, or decide if your stitch will be straight or zig-zagged. Computerized sewing machines will configure these features electronically, usually through buttons on an LCD screen.
Mechanical sewing machines are widely considered basic machines that are suitable for beginners. For those looking to try out more features and high-tech add-ons, look towards a computerized machine. But, one is not better than the other; it depends on what projects you are working on. More detailed projects may require the likes of a computerized model, while basic stitches and sewing can be achieved perfectly with a mechanical one.
What is the best sewing machine for beginners?
In general, beginners should look for machines with basic functions and easy-to-follow instructions. As their skills improve, so can the features on their sewing machines as they learn new tricks and have a better grasp on the hobby.
What is the best sewing machine for home use?
The answer to this question will largely depend on your budget and experience level. Heineken recommends purchasing from top-rated brands, including Brother and Janome.
"Alternatively, you can purchase a used machine that is much older and have it simply tuned up if those options are above your budget," Heineken says. "Machines that are older than the 1990s are generally a good choice and will last much longer and you can have it tuned up to run like new!"
Consulting small sewing shops like Sew Jersey is a great option for first-time buyers and it also establishes a relationship with a store that can offer tune-ups and part replacements, if needed.
What is the best sewing machine for industrial use?
Heineken shares that most home sewers will not need to purchase an industrial grade sewing machine. "These machines are really intended for factory uses like cut and sew shops," she says. One of the most important factors of these machines is speed so that businesses and factories can create quality products quickly at a high volume. But, you do not need an industrial machine to get great results.
"If you are sewing leather, or canvas, generally, a well built home machine will be the better choice for both your budget, flexibility and ease of use," Heineken shares.
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This article was written by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce brands covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays. She's also covered similar topics in other roles, including toy reviews, product round-ups, expert-focused articles, and more.