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Everyone has an opinion on the best sewing machine for beginners if you start looking around.
You can ask your local sewing shop, Reddit, or Quora, or even check online retailers, and at each place, you’ll find different reviews and recommendations.
Because everyone has unique preferences, circumstances, and budgets, the needs and desires for a first sewing machine vary widely from person to person.
That’s why the right beginner sewing machine for you might not be the right sewing machine for someone else.
So, while I’ll give you my opinion on the best sewing machines for beginners this year, this article will also teach the lingo of sewing so you can understand differentiating features and learn which machine will be best for your circumstances.
And, I’ll let you in on the beginner sewing machine my two young daughters sew on!
Features to Look For In a Beginner Sewing Machine
I’ve written a more in-depth post on how to choose your first sewing machine, but here are some things you should consider when determining which machine will be the best fit for your sewing corner.
1. Mechanical or Computerized
Mechanical sewing machines are “old-faithful types” and don’t have computerized parts.
With fewer functions, they’re less expensive than computerized machines and might be easier to use for beginners who feel challenged by technology.
In contrast, computerized sewing machines have computer parts in them and can be broken down into two broad categories.
First are those with a small computerized LCD interface where you select stitches, like my Brother CP60X above.
For this type of machine, you must use the foot pedal to work the machine, and there are no buttons for foot-free sewing (except the reverse stitch.)
Second, those computerized machines with an LCD screen and the option to sew with buttons instead of a foot pedal.
Button options include the start/stop, needle up/down, reverse/reinforcement stitch, presser foot up/down, automatic thread cutting, and even needle threading on higher-end machines.
I LOVE having the option to sew foot-free, but some beginners may be overwhelmed by the technology of these fancy schmancy machines.
2. Automatic and User-Friendly Features
As a beginner, the easier your sewing machine makes your life when it comes to set up and use, the better.
For example, an automatic needle threader is a helpful feature on a sewing machine.
This apparatus can range from super simple like that on the Brother CS6000i (entry-level machine) or more sophisticated like that on high-end machines like the Brother Luminaire.
Unfortunately, I have a connective tissue disease that affects my hands, so buying machines with easy-to-use needle threaders is now non-negotiable.
Also, the absence of a quick-set bobbin is usually a deal breaker for me.
For example, on my Singer heavy-duty sewing machine, once I wind and drop the bobbin, I have to then manually pull the bobbin thread up before I start to sew.
This isn’t a quick-set bobbin, and it takes a few extra seconds to set up each time I change bobbins.
While it isn’t horrible, many of my other machines have top-drop, quick-set bobbins where I load the bobbin and the first stitch I sew automatically pulls up the bobbin thread. Much easier!
Other things I find helpful for a beginner sewing machine are:
- Easy to thread, and ideally, threading instructions are imprinted or visible on the machine body so I don’t have to keep referring to my manual.
- Error messages–super helpful if you forget to put the presser foot down, etc., and can’t figure out what’s wrong.
- Automatic 1-step buttonhole stitch instead of the less ideal manual 4-step buttonhole stitch.
- Bobbin thread low indicator–only available on higher-end machines, but this is convenient.
3. Throat Space
Throat space refers to the work area to the right of the needle where you can spread your project when sewing.
This won’t be much of a consideration if you only plan to sew reasonably-sized projects.
However, if you’re a quilter who needs to be able to piece or free-motion quilt large quilt sizes or a cosplay sewist who needs to create large costumes, you might want to look for a bigger throat space than the standard 4″-6.”
4. Specialty Machines
Depending on your desires, you may want more than a traditional sewing machine.
In addition to sewing-only machines, there are also:
- Sewing and embroidery combination machines: These sew and then machine embroider when you change modes.
- Sewing machines with monogramming fonts: While not compatible with digitized embroidery designs, these have built-in stitch fonts for basic personalizing.
- Heavy-duty or industrial sewing machines: Choose these if you plan to routinely sew thick fabrics like leather or upholstery, as standard home sewing machines can’t handle that type of stress long-term.
5. Built-in and Included Accessories
A. Additional Presser Feet
Presser feet hold fabric in place as it passes through the sewing machine.
All sewing machines include an all-purpose zigzag foot, and most include additional feet, making specific tasks easier and more accurate.
Even if a sewing machine doesn’t include many feet, you can usually purchase extras separately. (I will not buy a sewing machine unless it has compatible accessory feet I can buy later if I need to use the machine for new tasks.)
However, it’s always easier to choose a machine that has most of the feet you need.
For example, if you aspire to quilt, look for helpful quilting feet like a walking foot, spring action foot, or 1/4″ piecing foot.
Meanwhile, aspiring garment designers may want buttonhole and button sewing feet, a blind hem foot, and a regular and invisible zipper foot.
And, other sewists who don’t own a serger might really want an overcasting foot.
B. Stitch Options
As a beginner, you don’t want to buy a machine that only does a straight stitch unless you plan to only mend or hem basic projects.
Instead, choose a sewing machine that at least has the most popular types of stitches:
- Straight stitch
- Zigzag stitch or other stretch stitches (if you plan to sew knits and don’t have a serger)
- Buttonhole stitch
I also like having a selection of decorative, blind hem, and overcasting stitches.
While one of my sewing machines has over 1,000 stitches, I only use around 20. So, don’t feel pressured to purchase a machine with tons of stitches you may never use.
Another helpful thing is having a machine with adjustable stitch length and width or at least several different sizes of each stitch.
C. Extension Tables
If you only sew small projects, an extension table option may not be necessary.
However, if you plan to quilt, work with large projects like curtains, or sew clothes and costumes, that extension table can come in handy and keep projects from dragging.
Simply remove the accessories compartment of the machine and slip the extender table over the free arm.
If you don’t think you can learn your sewing machine independently, purchase from a dealer who offers lessons.
Or, purchase a more popular sewing machine (entry-level Singer or Brother, for example), and you’ll find that the number of YouTube and website tutorials for these machines is much higher than those you’ll find from a 30-year-old pre-owned machine.
Also, I’d much rather watch a video from my home to learn about my machine than drive and lug my big machine into my sewing shop for help.
7 Best Sewing Machines for Beginners in 2023
Based on my experience, here’s a list of the best beginner sewing machines for people who want to start sewing.
While dealers and countries have different model numbers, these listed machines are options you can research online and purchase without driving to a shop.
Also, older pre-owned machines with all metal frames may last longer than machines produced currently, and an argument can be made for buying this way.
However, finding a well-maintained sewing machine from decades past is becoming more difficult, especially since parts from these machines are being discontinued.
|Stitches||70 built-in stitches|
|Maximum Sewing Speed||750 stitches per min (spm)|
I started seriously sewing on the Brother CS7000X’s predecessor, the Brother CS6000i, over a decade ago while working on my doctorate.
Over that decade, Brother replaced the CS6000i with the CS7000i and, more recently, the Brother CS7000X, which I promptly added to my machine collection.
The CS7000X is an entry-level computerized machine with a decent needle threading aid, a ton of accessories, and its token jam-resistant, top-drop bobbin.
Here’s why I recommend it to beginners: I have four- and seven-year-old daughters who both sew (with my help) on this machine.
I like that I can unplug the pedal and let them sew only with buttons, which I supervise like a hawk.
And, there’s a speed slider, so I can set the max speed to the lowest possible value and observe them stitching at snail speed.
My four-year-old can even sew her own pillows on the CS7000X. (As you see above, she insists she can only sew with pink thread!)
However, even though the Brother CS7000X is beginner-friendly, that doesn’t mean it won’t grow with you as you become an intermediate or advanced sewist.
It has 70 stitches, ten presser feet (including a walking foot, 1/4″ piecing foot, and even spring action quilting foot), and an extension table if you decide to venture into sewing larger projects.
While you can buy “better” Brother sewing machines if you have thousands of dollars, there’s really no need to spend that much.
Unless you know sewing is going to be your new favorite hobby, I recommend starting with a less advanced and more affordable machine and then later upgrading to something more expensive once you know exactly what features you need to accomplish your specific sewing goals (quilting, dressmaking, upholstery sewing, etc.)
|Stitches||37 built-in, including one automatic buttonhole|
|Maximum Sewing Speed||850 stitches per minute|
Brother’s other popular entry-level machine that’s not quite as expensive or feature-rich is the Brother GX37.
This is the newer model of its well-loved Brother XM2701.
Like the Brother CS7000X, the Brother GX37 has:
- Automatic needle threader
- Top-drop, quick-set bobbin
- Easy threading instructions imprinted on the machine
- One-step buttonhole
However, differences between the Brother G37 and CS7000X (which may be pros or cons, depending on your desires) include:
- GX37 does not have an LCD screen or the ability to sew with hands only
- Only 37 stitches on GX37 rather than 70 on CS7000X
- GX37 has six presser feet instead of ten
It’s not a computerized or particularly aesthetically pleasing machine, but it’s well-loved as one of the best Brother sewing machines for beginner sewers.
|Stitches||6 types, but 57 stitch applications|
The two Brother sewing machines listed above may be a price stretch for some new sewists, so I’m ranking the Singer M1500 highly as a more cost-effective option.
It’s a basic mechanical sewing machine with only a few stitch options and limited widths and lengths of stitches.
However, there’s beauty in simplicity, and this really is a simple sewing machine with no bells and whistles.
Ways the Singer M1500 is not as advanced as some include:
- Mechanical, not computerized
- No needle threader helper
- Buttonhole constructed in four steps
- Pre-set stitch length and width for each stitch type
- Fewer presser feet
However, if you like Singer sewing machines and want more features, you can select a more deluxe machine such as the M2100, M3300 (lowest model with a needle threader apparatus), M3330, or M3500.
I started my older daughter with the Singer Start 1304, an earlier version of the Singer M1500, but I decided that the front-load bobbin–also on the M1500–was not ideal when she could have a quick-set top-load.
Also, I wanted to eliminate pedal sewing as the only option for her so I could more carefully control the speed when watching her.
However, even though I had gripes with the setup for a 7-year-old, it was still a trusty machine with good-quality stitches and one I recommend for older sewists!
|Stitches||23 built-in stitches, including one automatic buttonhole|
|Maximum Sewing Speed||1,100 stitches per minute|
I also own the Singer 4423, one of many Singer heavy-duty sewing machines I recommend.
One reason to own a heavy-duty sewing machine as a beginner is if you plan to routinely sew thick fabrics (think greater than 6mm) like upholstery, leather, or thick canvas.
A standard home sewing machine can occasionally handle thick fabrics, but regularly pushing a machine not intended for heavy-duty use can burn it out way before its time.
The Singer heavy-duty line starts with the least-featured Singer 4411 (which does NOT have a needle threader helper, so NOT an option for me) and has many more deluxe machines above that.
I love the fast speed of the Singer 4423 (although, there’s no speed control slider), and it has a needle threader and a variety of regular and stretch stitch options.
If you want a more “advanced” heavy-duty sewing machine with a computerized screen and additional features, check out the Brother ST150HDH sewing machine or Singer’s newer computerized heavy-duty machine, the Singer HD6700.
Read more in my review of Singer’s 4423 sewing machine!
What if you know you’ll love to sew and want something just a little bit “more” than what I’ve already listed?
If yes, check out Singer’s popular Quantum Stylus machine.
Like the Brother CS7000X, it’s computerized, lets you sew pedal free, and includes an extension table in the box.
What’s unique about the Singer Quantum Stylus is that it has SIX HUNDRED built-in stitches, making it a great option if you like lots of stitch options for embellishments.
It also has five alphanumeric fonts for monogramming or adding letters and numbers to projects. Yes, they’re set in size, but this is still really fun!
And, stitch selection happens on an LCD front panel, which is a little more advanced than the Brother CS7000X’s.
Also, like most other beginner sewing machines I recommend, you’ll still find the automatic needle threader, a wide variety of presser feet (13 to be exact), and automatic one-step buttonhole options.
Janome machines are known for their long-lasting qualities and stitch integrity, and my local library has Janome sewing machines free for resident use.
They’re really lovely machines, but the price point for Janome beginner sewing machines is higher than for comparably featured Brother or Singer machines.
This is why I’ve always purchased other brands for my and my family’s personal use.
Now, Janome does have its very affordable Janome Basic line, but that machine doesn’t do buttonholes, so I don’t recommend it if you plan to sew clothes.
One of Janome’s highest-reviewed sewing machines for beginners, though, is the Janome MOD-15, the newer model of the Janome 2212.
However, the Janome MOD-15, like the Singer entry-level machines:
- Does not have an automatic needle threader
- Is not computerized
- Has a 4-step buttonhole instead of 1-step
- Has the reverse lever on the right of the machine (it’s a personal preference of mine to have it right above the needle for closer access.)
However, the Janome MOD-15 does have a top-loading bobbin and free arm and can still be a great sewing machine for beginners who want to start with the Janome brand.
I like to try everything once, so I bought a generic Amazon mini sewing machine last year.
These things have thousands of reviews on Amazon for some reason, but they’re not a top recommendation of mine for beginners.
Yes, they’re a cheap sewing machine, which is the biggest thing they have going for them.
However, they pretty much only do a straight stitch, are tricky to set up considering their limited functions, and will not grow with a sewist who wants to do more than the basics.
They do fulfill a need in the sewing community (like, maybe you’re camping with no electricity and really want to sew?!), but if you have the budget and space for a standard-size sewing machine, I think the full-size machine is a better purchase!
Buying New vs. Used
If you’re a beginner, I recommend buying a new sewing machine or purchasing used from a sewing shop that’s certified the preowned machine and can offer free sewing classes or troubleshooting.
A lot of times, when you buy off Facebook or eBay, there’s a reason that the seller is trying to unload that sewing machine at a great price. As a beginner, the last thing you want to do while learning to sew is also troubleshooting issues from a poorly functioning machine!
Also, if buying used, ensure parts are still available for the machine and that there’s an appropriate warranty.
Of course, if you have the budget for a nice Bernina, Juki, or even Baby Lock sewing machine, you can find plenty of beginner sewing machines among their offerings. Simply compare features, test in person if they’re retailer models, and choose the best sewing machine for YOU, not someone else.