People who have never seen or used a sewing machine may think that it’s not easy handling one. However investing in a sewing machine is a wise decision as it can help you with minor repairs and most clothing, quilting and crafts projects.
Paying a bit more gives you one of the best sewing machines which help produce professional designs even if you don’t know how to sew! The latest machines can also do things like sizing and sewing buttonholes, determining the right thread tension and stitch length and even automatically cuts the thread.
However before you think about buying a sewing machine, it’s better if you first learn all the basic features of the sewing machine. The most basic sewing machine for beginners can handle various fabrics ranging from satin to corduroy and denim without stretching or puckering the fabric or even producing loose stitches.
The Best Sewing Machines of 2017 – Top 8
|Picture||Name||Product Dimensions||Machine Weight||Our Rating|
|Brother XM2701 Lightweight, Full-Featured
||17.8 x 7.6 x 15.1 inches||12.6 lbs||4.9|
|Brother CS6000i Feature-Rich||16 x 6.7 x 11.4 inches||13 lbs||4.7|
|15.3 x 13.1 x 12.6 inches||27 lbs||4.6|
|15.3 x 13.1 x 12.6 inches||13.6 lbs||4.5|
|15.5 x 6.2 x 12 inches||14.5 lbs||4.5|
|Janome MC-6300P Professional Heavy-Duty||13 x 26 x 18 inches||26.5 lbs||4.4|
|17.2 x 8.2 x 12 inche||20 lbs||4.3|
|14.5 x 7.5 x 12 inches||14.6 lbs||4.2|
This Brother XM2701 is not only lightweight and compact in style to fit into most sewing machine cabinets, it has easy-to-learn and use features and a thorough instruction manual which teachers amateurs how to sew like a professional!
Not only can Brother XM2701 be used for your home sewing projects, but it’s also useful in crafting, quilting, altering and making clothes, home decor and much more. It has 27 built-in stitches to choose from, and a built-in free arm for easier sewing of hems on pants and shirt sleeves.
- Runs on a 120v engine with foot pedal
- Light bulb illuminates workspace
- Built-in free arm for sewing cuffs, sleeves and pant legs
- Lightweight with 27 built-in stitches to choose from by turning a dial
- A bilingual user’s manual in English and Spanish and 5 accessory presser feet
- Features include thread cutter, auto bobbin winding, jam-resistant drop-in bobbin loading and automatic needle threader.
- Built-in 1-step auto-size buttonholer
- 25 year limited warranty with free lifetime phone support
- Accessories include buttonhole, zipper, button sewing, blind stitch and narrow hammer feet, screwdriver, bobbins, needle pack, twin needle, darning plate and extra spool pin.
- Reasonably priced
- Not recommended for use in countries which do not support 120V AC even with voltage adapter
- Thread spindle accommodates only small spools
- Manual has poor index and layout and is difficult to understand in parts
- Needle threader obstructs stitching
- Soleplate markings don’t run the entire length
- Some stitches are unnecessary
- No carrying case
- Bobbin tends to jam frequently
- Stitching speed is rather slow
The Brother CS6000i is portable, user-friendly and offers a range of sewing and quilting features. With 60 built-in sewing stitches including decorative stitches and various one-step buttonholes, you can let your creativity go wild to create matching clothing and accessories for your style.
The CS6000i is designed for easy use with its easy-to-view backlit LCD display, adjustable sewing speed controls, automatic needle threader and easy-to-follow threading diagrams. It’s Quick Start guide and bilingual instruction manual makes sewing, quilting and crafting so easy.
- Portable and user-friendly with backlit LCD display, adjustable sewing speeds and automatic needle threader
- Select stitches and set its length and width via LCD display settings
- Machine arm has a compartment for storing accessories
- Easy adjustment of sewing speed using variable speed control
- Setting and accessing bobbin thread is so easy with its jam-resistant top drop-in bobbin
- 25 years limited warranty, free lifetime phone support and bilingual user manual provides for it’s easy and convenient use
- 60 built-in sewing and decorative stitches to choose from
- 7 styles of one-step buttonholes for different types of fabric
- 9 presser feet to select from including buttonhole, blind stitch, zipper, walking and overcastting foot
- Automatically needle threader
- Large table makes manoeuvring quilts and other large projects so easy
- Built-in arm is perfect for sewing cuffs, sleeves and pants.
- Light is too small, dim and wrongly placed
- Poorly designed narrow, cheap, plastic foot pedal
- Many consumers complain of tension and bobbin issues
- Bobbin tends to jam constantly
The Brother PE770 Embroidery machine is just what you need to create decorative edges and ruffles to finish off edges and hems of all your clothing including formal wear, stretchy fabrics and linen. it’s a reliable machine offering a choice of 5 inch x 7 inch field functions and creative feet which can be snapped on as required.
Ensure consistent, high quality stitching on heavy and light fabrics by adjusting the pressure of the presser foot. It’s removable stitch finger ensures well-formed stitches on fabric edges. No eye strain while stitching because its brilliant light floods the needle area.
- Comes with included instruction video, printed manual and completely colour-coded and numbered upper and lower looper threading for easy learning and usage
- Professional edge finishing like ruffles, spaghetti straps, join laces and gathers possible on various fabrics including formal wear, linens and knits using its ¾ thread serger
- 5 inch x 7 inch field functions and snap-on interchangeable creative feet to choose from
- Comes with foot controller, soft cover, needles, 10 frame shapes and 12 border styles and works using standard machine needles
- Easy threading with its color-coded upper thread guides and F.A.S.T. lower looping threading systems
- Differential fabric feed improves the stitch quality on most types of fabric
- Adjustable on/off knife and foot pressure for consistent, high quality stitching on both heavy and light fabrics
- Comes with a 25 year limited warranty and lifetime phone support
- The thread in the lower looper’s thread path design tends to slip out every 5 minutes to ruin the tension for sewing the seam.
- Some consumers complain that the knife lever doesn’t work after a while
- Some complain that the access door on the front barely opened
Want to embellish your projects and to make it look unique? Love embroidering and stitching clothes? Then the Brother SE400 Combination Computerized sewing and embroidery machine is worth investing in.
Brother SE400 comes with 67 built-in stitches, 5 lettering fonts and 70 built-in designs to use to create all those bewildering designs you come up with. Its computer connectivity helps import and use thousands of embroidery designs and its one-touch automatic thread cutter makes cutting of threads so easy.
- Reasonably priced for all its features
- Comes with 70 built-in embroidery designs, 120 frame pattern combinations, 5 embroidery lettering fonts and 67 built-in sewing stitches
- The SE400’s computer connectivity helps import and digitalize purchased embroidery designs
- Easily cut bobbin and top thread using its one-touch automatic thread cutter
- Brother sewing machines come with a bilingual user manual and free phone life support
- The backlit touch screen LCD display reduces eye strain while working at the machine
- Easy bobbin-winding system and built-in push-button thread cutter
- Built-in tutorials and quick start guide help with getting started with the machine
- Easy threading of needles with its one touch automatic needle threader
- Includes accessories like soft cover, embroidery hoop, free arm/accessory compartment, accessory feet like button fitting, overcastting, monogramming, blind stitch, embroidery and zipper feet, USB cable, cleaning brush, 2 screwdrivers, needle set, touch pen, spool caps, scissors, seam ripper and bobbins.
- Thread cutter does not work all the time
- Bobbin case tends to jam
- The needle tends to break if the thread gets wrapped around the spool or gets caught on something
Looking for a heavy-duty sewing machine? Well the Singer 4423 Heavy Duty Extra-High sewing speed machine with metal frame and stainless steel bedplate may be what you want. This machine comes with an extra-high sewing speed of 1100 stitches a minute to give a professional speed and faster results.
The Singer 4423 heavy duty interior metal frame ensures the machine remains stationary while sewing with its 60% stronger motor on any sewing machine table. Choose between its 23 built-in essential, stretch and decorative stitches for smooth and even sewing on its stainless steel bed plate.
- 60% stronger motor produces 1100 stitches a minute to bring life to creative ideas on just about anything
- Offers a choice of 23 built-in basic, stretch and decorative stitches
- Has both an automatic needle threader and top drop-in bobbin with clear view cover to monitor the bobbin’s thread supply
- It’s fully automatic 1-step buttonhole feature automatically makes buttonholes in a single step
- Adjustable presser foot pressure gives a new dimension to heavy duty sewing
- Stainless steel bed plate ensures smooth fabric feeding and even sewing
- Heavy duty metal frame assures a long life to the machine
- Included accessories are quilting guide, needles, bobbins, screwdriver, button sewing, buttonhole, all-purpose and zipper feet, seam ripper, auxiliary spool pin, power cord and instruction manual.
- Some complain the motor is too powerful for the bobbin to keep up which leads to bunching and skipped stitches
- Peddle tends to slip away on a hardwood floor
- Some complain the machine is not strong and happy, and comes with an all plastic case
- Some Singer machines produce noise especially at top speed
As the commercial sewing machine can stitch as many as 1000 stitches a minute, and with its many advanced features, you are assured your projects are quickly completed. There are some features designed specifically for the quilter like 5 different blanket appliqué stitches, a hand-look quilt stitch and a knee lifter to lift the presser foot making this the best sewing machine for quilting.
- Many advanced features ensure your stitching job is easily completed
- The Janome Memory Craft 6300 has the speed and power to produce 1000 stitches a minute
- Offers a choice of 66 block and script monogram stitches and 4 buttonholes
- LED display area displays lots of information including a twin needle guard and low bobbin indicator light
- Extra features like an automatic built-in thread cutter and memory capability
- 9” x 5” throat space to let you work with large quilts
- Its advanced feed mechanism helps stitch the thickest of materials
- Its knee lift helps lift the presser foot
- A box of feet to choose from including a free motion quilting foot, open toe foot and 2 straight line quilting bars
- It’s speed control can be easily slid lower or higher as required
- No free arm which can render the machine useless to some people
- Some consumers complain that the machine stopped just after 2 weeks’ of use
The Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist 600-Stitch is just what it name suggests, the perfect machine for the professional sewster and stylist. It comes with an extension stable, hard cover, 19 presser feet and loads of accessories.
The machine boasts of 600 built-in stitches including 13 fully automatic 1-step buttonholes, 5 different fonts and an exclusive Buttonhole under plate for you to explore your creativity levels. With its stitch editing feature it’s possible to control a stitch pattern’s exact look through mirror imaging and elongation.
- Automatic needle threader saves lots of stitching time and reduces eye strain
- Digital information advisor provides stitch information like its length and width settings, recommended presser foot and selected stitch on its crystal clear LCD screen
- 13 fully automatic buttonhole styles to choose to suit your design
- Stitch reference chart helps you choose the perfect stitch from its 600 built-in stitches
- Extra large extension table provides the required space for extra large sewing projects
- Heavy duty metal frame provides the stability for such a powerful machine while using on sewing machine tables
- A large range of presser feet to use for your different stitching requirements
- Automatic thread cutter trims upper and lower threads for faster and easier sewing
- Its electronic speed control and auto pilot features makes sewing difficult areas easy and error-free by providing complete sewing speed control
- Transparent bobbin compartment cover lets you know how much bobbin thread is left
- Using the automatic thread cutter when the needle is down creates an awful racket
- Some complain the thread comes out of the needle many times for no reason
- Has a flimsy, white plastic bag cover and not a hard cover
- Some complain of low quality button holes
Ardent sewing hobbyists and amateurs alike will like the Singer 7258 Stylist 100-Stitch for the many features and stitches it has to offer. It boasts of 100 stitch patterns to choose from including six fully automatic one-step buttonholes.
Features like the LED display screen for adjustable stitch length or width, automatic needle threader and electronic auto pilot make sewing with this Singer 7258 a cinch. In fact, its auto pilot feature lets you sew without the foot pedal and provides for easy adjustment of maximum speed.
- Stay Bright LED light illuminates the sewing surface to minimize eye strain, lasts for 100,000 hours and stays cool no matter how long the machine is used
- 7 built-in perfectly sized buttonhole styles to choose from, including an additional endless buttonhole to create buttonholes with infinitely long sides
- Bobbin is easily inserted from the top through its top drop-in bobbin system which has a clear cover to monitor the bobbin thread supply
- Automatic needle threader makes threading the needle a cinch
- Optimal crafting, sewing and quilting possible using its 100 essential, stretch and decorative stitches and 10 presser feet
- Can program the needle to stop at the highest position for easy removal of fabric from machine and at lowest position for pivoting, appliquéing and quilting
- Easily adjust the machine’s maximum speed using its electronic Auto Pilot feature
- 69 inches long power cord
- A host of accessories to help you with your stitching, crafting and quilting endeavours
- Some consumers complain that the thin and brittle plastic thread cutting guard easily broke to cause bodily harm while stitching
- Not meant or suitable for sewing jean material heavy duty
Features to look out for while buying sewing machines
While Singer, Kenmore and Brother are famous and well established brands, Bernina, Janome and Husqvarna Viking have grown in popularity. If you want to buy your sewing machine based on brand, it’s better considering how the machine is constructed and its price. Some brands don’t use metal parts and only plastic parts and these machines don’t last quite long.
Besides its construction, you also have to check out these features before buying your machine. Also make your choice based on how often you plan to use the machine, if you are using it for commercial or personal uses and what you plan to sew with it.
For example, an upholstery sewing machine or a dressmaker sewing machine will be a better choice than regular sewing machines if you plan to use the machine to stitch upholstery or dresses.
If you plan to store the machine in a cabinet when not in use, or if you will be hauling it around onto your table while sewing, then it’s better to look for a machine which is both lightweight and has a handle.
- Optimal ergonomics and well placed controls
The machine should be ergonomically designed with easy to reach and manipulate controls and easy to read machine symbols or LED display. Look for a machine which is responsive to foot pedal pressure and which doesn’t stall while stitching thick fabric or various cloth layers.
- Automatic buttonholer
It’s better if the machine has more space to the right of the needle as it gives you more space for your hands and fabric. If you will be stitching clothes and have to make many buttonholes, look for machines with an automatic buttonholer. With these machines, you just have to insert a button into a slot and the machine sews your buttonhole in a single step without any turning or manipulating of the fabric.
- Needle threader
Needle threader helps pull the thread through the needle eye without you squinting straining your eyes. If you plan to use the sewing machine for free-style embroidery or darning, look for a machine which lets you adjust the feed-dog below the sewing surface if needed.
The needle position feature lets you move the needle and stitching line from left to right or up or down when you stop. The needle down position makes lifting the pressure foot easy and helps turn corners without jump stitches.
- Types of stitches
You can not only stitch basic stitches like straight and zigzag on sewing machines, but also do decorative stitching on the best sewing machines. So if you will need a variety of stitches, it’s better to choose a machine offering many stitch choices.
Don’t forget to check the machine’s maximum stitch length and width too as its better if you can adjust the stitch’s length and width. Long stitches prove worthy to baste new designs you work on while short stitches give small and tight stitches. Adjusting the zigzag length and width proves helpful with appliqué and for finishing off edges.
Check the machine’s warranty like what it covers and excludes. Wait for sales for discounts on your device and always try the machine on several fabric samples to ensure its stitches are even and easy to use.
Sewing machines come with various accessories; you have to check out and find a machine with accessories you will use and require. While basic sewing tasks don’t require many attachments, the best sewing machines come with sufficient bobbins and needles, cleaning tools and special oil. It’s also helpful and useful if you have a few alternative feet to use for specific fabrics and sewing tasks.
If you will be using your machine to sew clothes, look for a dressmaker sewing machine which has a buttonhole, zipper and blind hem foot as standard attachments. You’ll need a walking foot and a ¼” foot to evenly feed thick fabric through the machine and a freehand embroidery foot if you want to do freehand quilting.
In case your chosen sewing machine does not offer these feet, ensure they are available at a reasonable price elsewhere. Its better if the feet can be easily changed by snapping it on and off as it saves time while switching back and forth between feet.
- Motor size
The heavier is the motor and machine, the stronger and easier the machine is for handling heavier fabrics like denims and upholstery-weight fabrics, and for frequent use.
- Plastic or metal parts
Machines made mostly of plastic will not be able to withstand the wear and tear of a machine with metal parts.
Not many people remember to check this aspect of sewing machines. However if the machine you buy makes too much noise, and you tend to sew only in the evening when you are free and kids are asleep, you’re very less likely to use the machine as the noise it creates disturbs everyone at home and your neighbours.
- Frequency of use
If you don’t stitch much and will be using the machine only once a few months for hemming clothes or making new cushions, there’s no point investing in a high-end machine. However if you want to sew, and the only reason you are not doing much sewing is because you don’t have a good machine, then it’s better buying the best machine you can afford.
- Sewing expectations
If you are keen on, and excited to learn about the many features of a sewing machine, then a machine with lots of features and buttons is right for you. However if you don’t have the patience or interest to read the machine’s huge instruction manual and all its features, then it’s better buying a basic machine.
Consequently, if you plan to use the machine to make heirloom quality quilts, a basic machine may not be of help. If you plan to make your own clothes, it’s also worth investing in a dressmaker sewing machine with variable stitch lengths, overlocking stitches and which switches to a twin needle.
There are no ‘cheap sewing machines’; mid-range machines cost between $300-$600. There are also some machines available for $100 but just think how it may perform when compared to a more expensive machine. Remember, machines made of plastic give less precise sewing as it’s difficult to be precise with plastic parts.
Basically, the more you are ready to spend for your machine, the better are its end results. But if you can’t afford it, there’s no point in looking at high-end machines; so fix a budget and then start your search.
Sewing machine parts
While good task lighting is an important feature of sewing machines, there are these many other important parts in a sewing machine:
- The spool pin is a metal or plastic pin which holds your spool of thread and sticks out of the top.
- Power switches exist in most machines. However if you have kids around, and the machine doesn’t have a switch, plug the machine into a safety strip that has a master switch.
- The bobbin winder is a smaller metal or plastic pin located to the right of the spool pin. It’s next to a small horizontal wheel, the bobbin winder stopper and they both work together to wind thread to your bobbin before sewing.
- Bobbins are now top-loading where you just have to open a panel and drop the bobbin into a shuttle which moves with the machine’s rhythm. The panel’s clear cover also tells you when the thread is running low.
- The thread guide is a geometric metal piece sticking out on the left side of the sewing machine and directs thread from the spool to the bobbin winder.
- The stitch adjustment buttons are located in different spots on different sewing machines. In most machines, they are a few physical buttons located on the front side of the sewing machine next to a small screen. You can use the buttons to choose the type of stitch to create; its length and the stitch direction (forward or reverse).
- The thread take-up lever has two cut-in grooves and is usually on the front left side of the sewing machine. You use it while threading your device after winding thread from the spool, through the thread guide and then around it. The levers usually have numbers and arrows printed near it directing the way to thread the machine.
- The tension dial is a small numbered wheel near the take-up lever which controls the thread tension while sewing. The needle gets pulled to the right if the tension is too tight and if the tension is too loose, the thread ends up looping at the bottom of the fabric you sew.
- The needle clamp screw is a metal piece that holds the needle in place while stitching. It looks like large nail and is found under the sewing machine arm, sticking out of the needle’s right side.
- The presser foot is a small ski-like metal attachment found under the needle clamp screw which holds the fabric in place when engaged. It also guides the fabric through the sewing machine while you sew. Choose your machine based on the number and types of presser feet it has.
Find out how many feet come with the machine. For basic sewing a multi-purpose foot lets you do straight and zigzag stitches, but you’ll want a zipper foot and buttonhole foot too.
An adjustable presser foot regulates how tightly the machine holds the fabric while you sew, preventing puckering in fine fabrics and stretching in knits. A multi-purpose foot lets you do straight and zigzag stitches and is enough for basic sewing but you may also require a buttonhole and zipper foot.
- The presser foot lever is located to the right or back of the needle assembly and is adjusted by moving it all the way down or up as required.
- The needle plate is the silver plate found under the needle.
- The feed dog is a metal guide of two small metal rows found under the presser foot.
- The bobbin is a small thread spool which supplies the backing thread to the needle and is located under the sewing machine.
- The bobbin cover is found under the needle plate and there is a bobbin release or pin next to it which places the bobbin in place before sewing.
- The foot pedal controls the speed of your sewing machine. You have to push it slowly at first to get the machine going and then like a car’s gas pedal, the harder you push the foot pedal, the faster it goes.
Types of sewing machines
There are various types you can buy based on your budget and sewing requirements.
- Mechanical machines
This should be just fine for you if you sew occasionally and are on a budget. You have to manually manipulate controls for basic repairs, stitching simple clothes, hemming and crafts projects.
- Electronic machines
Electronic machines are for those who can spend more, and who sew frequently. These machines have most tedious sewing jobs in computer chips and typically come with an LED screen, touchpad controls, settings for various stitch types and various presser feet to use for different sewing challenges like piping and topstitching.
- Embroidery or sewing machines
These machines have all the features of an electronic machine with additional monogramming features and can be used for embroidering designs on clothing like garments, pillowcases or bedspreads.
- Mini sewing machines
People usually buy a mini machine for children or if they want a machine to carry along to retreats. The main benefit of these device is obviously that it is portable, handheld and easy to use. In fact, they are considered the best sewing machine for beginners as the big sewing machines are rather difficult for sewing beginners to understand and use.
Besides ease of use, people buy these sewing machines for beginners as they are lightweight, portable and have a simple and straight forward design. Moreover, these cheap sewing machines are perfect to use for simple and small tasks and the right machine to introduce interested children into the world of sewing.
- Handheld machines
If portability is what you are looking for in your sewing machine, then a handheld device may be what you are looking for. With a handheld sewing machine, you no longer have to sit on your sewing workstation to attend to repairs. You can now sit back and watch TV on your sofa while sewing and even do repairs while travelling.
While handheld sewing machines definitely give stronger stitches than sewing by hand, it does not give the same stitching precision as regular machines. This is mainly because regular machines are set up properly and thus stable.
As portable machines don’t have this stability, it can lead to uneven stitches especially if you haven’t mastered the art of using a handheld machine. However the steadier your hand is while sewing, the better the handheld sewing machine’s stitches are.
However hand sewing machines are popular as they give better and more accurate stitches than stitching by hand and they can be used anywhere. These portable machines are also lightweight and compact enough to fit into your bag and lots cheaper than regular sewing machines to comfortably fit an average family budget.
How to use a sewing machine
Sewing machines use the most basic stitch, the lock stitch to make simple straight seams. It makes the stitch by inserting the threaded needle into the fabric. Once it reaches its deepest level, it starts its ascent back through the fabric.
While pulling up, its friction against the fabric and thread forces the thread out of one side of the needle to create a loop without friction. It is at this moment that the bobbin shuttle’s hook catches this loop and interlocks it with the bobbin’s thread. The threads interlock around the fabric pieces to make a lock stitch.
Check sewing machine reviews
Where possible, it’s better if you try out the sewing machine before buying it. However if you plan to buy your machine online and thus can’t personally test the machine, it’s better if you go through online reviews. These reviews are written by people who had used the machine, and will mention the pros and cons of the different machines.
How to thread a sewing machine
It’s only if you know how to thread a sewing machine will you have an enjoyable sewing experience. There’s nothing more frustrating than having the thread continually break while sewing or tension created because of a poorly threaded machine.
So to thread the sewing machine, you need to unwind and attach the spool of thread found on the top of the sewing machine. This is done by taking the thread and pulling it through the thread guide on the top and then brought down and round the take-up lever. You will find small numbers and arrows printed on most machines showing the right way to thread the machine.
There are two general patterns for threading the machine; ‘ going left, down, up, down, into a hook and through the sewing machine needle’ and ‘from spool pin, tension, take-up lever, needle while using the thread guides provided in between’.
The needle can be threaded from left, right or from front to back. It it’s threaded it can be used as a clue for the direction. However if it isn’t, the last thread guide before the needle is found near the direction for threading the needle.
Keep both threads out
It’s important you have threads from both the bobbin and needle thread out. To do this, hold the needle thread taut towards you in your left hand and with your right hand, turn the hand wheel towards you to make a complete needle down/up revolution.
Now pull the needle thread in your left hand up as the bobbin thread which was caught while the threaded needle went down loops over the needle thread. Pull the bobbin thread tail by pulling on one side of the loop or by releasing the needle thread and passing a pair of scissors between the presser foot and plate.
You thus have both thread ends; one each from the needle and bobbin. It’s better to hold both these ends for the first few stitches to prevent them from retreating into the fabric. You can of course let go after stitching for a short distance and use both hands for controlling the machine and fabric.
So you can see that buying the best sewing machine is a cinch only if you know all about it, it’s parts, types and brands. You need to choose a machine fitting your stitching needs, how often you stitch and also something you can afford. This sewing guide aims at helping you choose the best sewing machine. Moreover, here are a few reviews compiled for your benefit, with its individual features, pros and cons.