The Best Sewing Machine For Beginners (September 2018)

Learning to sew can be one of the most rewarding skills that you can acquire.

It is a great way to bond with your daughter, mother or even grandmother. Most of the skills that I have learned have come down from my mother and grandmother, it has been an awesome way to bond with the ladies of my family and learn some quality skills straight from the source.

There truly is no better feeling than being able to mend old clothes back into their former prime, creating your own new clothes or being able to make different kinds of gifts & household nick-nacks for loved ones.

But most importantly of all SEWING IS FUN and is a fantastic way to relax and unwind after a busy day or week.  

When you are starting out sewing deciding which sewing machine you should get is a daunting task, it has even been known to scare off potential seamstress.

Never fear, I am here to help guide you through buying your very first sewing machine. I have been in your position before and know how hard it can be.

In this article, I will be breaking down the most common question when buying a beginners sewing machine, then breaking down 5 of the best sewing machine for beginners to make your first buying experience easy peasy.

Close up View of a Sewing Machine Sewing Black Fabric

What Are The Basics of a Sewing Machine?

As a beginner sewer just starting out on the quest to become one of the greats, it is important to remember you don’t need to buy a machine that has tonnes of different features and un-necessary stitches and modes.

The best sewing machine for beginners is a machine that has the below 4 key elements:

  • Performs Well
  • Built with quality
  • Versatile
  • Easy and convenient to use

Lady Sewing Material on a Sewing Mahcine

Who Are These Sewing Machines For?

I have chosen these 5 sewing machines for those of you out there with little to no sewing experience out there. It doesn’t matter if you have never seen a sewing machine before or if you have only played around on your mother’s machine on a rainy day.

These machines are user-friendly, relatively inexpensive and reliable. They are a great machine to learn the basics on and will be a great machine to keep around as a back up once you progress and advance onto a new machine. Anyone from a complete novice to an intermediate sewer will appreciate these machines.

How I Decided On My Top Sewing Machine For Beginners

There are hundreds of different brands of sewing machines out there, and even more different sewing machine models. So how did I narrow all these sewing machines down to just 5 of the best starter sewing machines?

For each machine, I took into account the below key points which are essential to a good sewing machine for beginners.

  • Does The Machine Sew Well Through Different Layers of Material? (Feed Dog Adjustments)
  • The Stitching Capability on both light & Heavyweight Materials
  • Is The Buttonhole Feature Easy to Use and Does It Work Well?
  • General machine Accuracy – Stitching, Seams. Buttonholes, Etc
  • How Easy is The Machine to Thread?
  • How Easy is it to Change a Needle?
  • Is The Presser Foot Easy to Replace?
  • Value For Money
  • Ease of Use
  • How Versatile The Machine is

After taking these key points into consideration I have come up with my list of the best sewing machine for beginners.

Threadded Needle Sewing Material

How I Tested The Sewing Machines

When testing the machines, it was important that I came up with a list of tests that I would do on each machine so I could compare, rate and rank the machines against each other.

  1. The amount of time taken to initially thread the needle
  2. Ease of the setup
  3. How easy it was to switch between different features
  4. Straight stitching
  5. Zigzag stitching
  6. The noise of the machine
  7. The feed dog operation over different materials
  8. Stitching through different materials
  9. Stitching through multiple material layers
  10. How well the stitching stayed in the fabric
  11. The stability of the sewing machine at low speed, mid speed, and top speed
  12. The weight of the machine and how easy it was to move, storage and transport

What Are The Most Important Features of a Sewing Machine For Beginners?

  • Automatic Buttonholer: Even for the most skilled professional seamstress, buttonholes can be very difficult. Having a machine that has an automatic buttonhole feature can be a lifesaver. You can get a variety of different styles of automatic buttonholer from 1 step to 5 step.
  • A Decent Light: Nowadays most machines come with decent LED lights. The older models usually come fitted with halogen lights, to me, it doesn’t really matter which kind of light it is as long as it has enough power to light up your sewing surface that is all you need!
  • Adjustable Needle Feature: Having an adjustable needle allows you to adjust the needle off center to the left or right. This feature comes in handy for when your edge stitching or straight stitching.  
  • Adjustable Presser-Foot Pressure: Having the ability to adjust the amount of pressure needed to work the presser foot is handy to have when you are using a wide range of fabrics.
  • Adjustable Feed Dog Height: When you are sewing a variety of different materials it is good to be able to adjust the feed dog height. For those who are unsure, the feed dog is the little metal piece at the bottom of the needle that helps feed the material through the needle.
  • Built-in Needle Threader: A built-in needle threader will make your life a whole lot easier. Especially if you are sewing with different colors and always changing your thread. This feature is not essential as such, however, if you don’t have the best eyesight you may want to seriously consider this feature as a must-have.
  • Easy To Use: Your sewing machine must be easy to use. You should not need to go through dozens of settings, turn or flick a lot of stitches and knobs to get started. You want the machine to be as easy to navigate as possible.
  • Smooth Stitching: Your machine should produce a nice even seam and stitching. The last thing that you want when you are learning to sew is your machine to wander. It is very important that your machine guides your material through at an even, smooth paste. This goes for all material types from thin to thick.
  • Variety of Presser Feet: As you progress in your sewing career you will want to pick up new skills and techniques. As you learn new skills and techniques you will need a new specialty foot to make the most of your new learned skill. Additional presser feet include edge stitching foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, invisible zipper foot, a blind stitch foot, and a clear plastic foot. Having a machine that is capable of being compatible with generic brands is important as using brand only presser feet and other add-ons can be expensive.
  • Up/Down Needle Feature: This feature lets you decide what happens to the needle when you take pressure off the foot control. You can either have the needle stay embedded in the fabric or have it automatically raise out of the fabric. This feature of more common on the more advanced and more expensive machines so may not be applicable in this listing of machines.

Common Sewing machine Issues

Like all technology sewing machines have their issues, some are easy to fix and some can be a little more complicated. One of the biggest issues (and one that I do not recommend you try and fix yourself without consulting a professional) is the thread tension. 

Having the right thread tension is essential to a smooth sew. Having a poor thread tension will usually result in puckering, an unstable loose seam or just a plain old ugly seam. If the tension is too tight you can find yourself with broken thread that has found its way into every little nook and cranny of your machine internals, and I must warn you getting it out is not an enjoyable exercise by any stretch of the imagination.

However, if you are having issues with your machine and think that it may be the thread tension, I would very strongly suggest that you check the below first before you jump on in and start playing with your tension dial.

What To Check Before Adjusting The Tension Dial of Your Sewing Machine

  • Your sewing machine has had a drop of oil placed around the hook area
  • You have the correct presser foot fitted for the specific fabric and sewing technique you are using
  • Is your sewing machine threaded correctly? Did you follow your machines instructions when you threaded the machine?
  • Is your machine clean? Not just the outside I am talking about the internal parts. make sure everything is clean and make sure no foreign objects have made their way into the internals of your machine
  • Are all of the parts of your machine in good working order?
  • Have you used different sized needles, threads or fabrics leading up to your sewing session? Using larger than normal needles, threads or fabric can throw out the balance of your machine and make it seem like it is not working correctly.

The Best Sewing Machine For Beginners – Top 5 Picks

 

Sewing machine name Image
Brother SE400
Singer 4423
Singer 7258
Singer 4411
Janome HD1000

Best Sewing Machine For Beginners – Top 5 Reviews

Brother SE400 – The Overall Best Sewing Machine For Beginners

Key Features of The Brother SE400

  • Automatic Threader: The automatic threader is a fantastic feature for those new to sewing or those who don’t quite have the eyesight that they used to. Simply touch one button and the needle is threaded, no more frustrating time spent in front of your machine with a magnifying glass trying to get started.
  • 7 Point Feed Dogs: You won’t have any problems with any fabric being fed through the Brother SE400, from thick denim to the thinnest chiffon you will notice your fabric being fed through easily. The 7 grab points do a fantastic job.
  • Upper Thread Bobbin System: The jam resistant drop in top bobbin is very reliable and quick to use. Over my testing, I never once had to go fishing for bobbin thread. The bobbins are also prepared very quickly with the bobbin winding system. I am always a little skeptical about these features, however, with the Brother SE400 I had n issues.
  • LCD Backlight & Touchscreen: The LCD backlight is very well lit and very easy to read. There are a lot of different options and features available from the touchscreen, such as designs, design editing, tutorials, and various stitches, modes and machine settings. The only problem is spending to much time looking through all of them and not actually sewing.
  • Computer Connectivity: This is without a doubt my favorite feature of the Brother SE400 machine. I consider myself quite a geek when it comes to technology so the computer connectivity is something I really appreciate. You can plug your machine directly into your computer to download new machine updates and import designs directly to your machine.

Pro’s & Cons of The Brother SE400

PRO

CON

Downloadable patterns and machine updates Needles break easily
Bright and easy to read LCD screen Can be hard to use if you are not technically minded or tech savvy
Plots of additional features you can buy Small embroidery hoop
Large embroidery area
Automatic needle threader and thread cutter
Bright and easy to read LCD screen

My Thoughts on The Brother SE400

The Brother SE400 computerized sewing and embroidery machine is a great machine for those of you out there who are tech savvy and have an ambition of becoming a professional seamstress. It is a very versatile machine that will allow you to do almost any kind of sewing you can dream of.

The machine is in the leading pack of the new generation of sewing machines and is packed full of pre-loaded features. Featuring 5 lettering fonts, 98 stitch pattern, 67 different stitching patterns, 70 built-in embroidery designs, and 8 different presser feet.

If you are up to date with your electronics and are tech savvy it is an easy machine to use, however, if you are more of a traditionalist who doesn’t use a whole lot of tech you may want to stay away from this machine. It can be frustrating to figure out how to use all the technical features and buttons. The option to upgrade and download patterns is truly fantastic. Being fairly tech savvy I found the whole process very easy, but again might be a bit of an issue for those who are not so tech savvy.

Overall it is a fantastic machine and one that will give the user a lot of versatility and options. It is lightweight, easy to store and transport. A perfect choice for the beginner who loves their tech features and computer synchronization.

Rating: 4.7 / 5

Singer 4423 – The Best Vaue For Money Beginners Sewing Machine

 

Key Features Of The Singer 4423

  • 23 Built-in Stitches: When you are ready to put the finishing touches on your work the 4423 gives you 23 different stitch options! The different stitches are easy to change between and there are lots of unique designs you can use. Perfect for those just starting out, you get plenty of different styles to play and practice with.
  • Automatic Needle Threader: The automatic needle threader feature of the Singer 4423 is a beauty. With the push of a button, you can have your needle threaded. This feature is great for those who are new to sewing and don’t quite have the art of threading a needle under control yet. It is also great for those who don’t have the best eyesight – I know how annoying it can be trying to see that eye hole.
  • One Step Buttonhole: Making the finishing touches on your homemade shirts is a piece of cake with the one-step buttonhole. Easily make perfect buttonholes every time. This is another great feature for those who are just starting out sewing and don’t quite have the skill set yet to manually make buttonholes.
  • Powerful Motor: The Singer 4423 has an impressively powerful motor for the price. It can easily deliver 1,100 stitches per minute. That is more than enough power to keep any beginner busy.
  • The range of Standard Accessories: The 4423 comes with a huge range of accessories, this helps you get more for your money and gives you lots more options straight out of the box. Accessories such as:

    • General purpose presser foot
    • Zipper foot
    • Buttonhole foot
    • Button sewing foot
    • Quilting/edge guide
    • Additional needle pack
    • Bobins
    • Spool caps
    • Auxiliary spool pin
    • Spool pin felt
    • Screwdriver
    • Seam ripper
    • Lint brush
    • Soft dust cover

Pro’s & Cons of The Singer 4423

PRO

CON

Very easy to set up and use No computerized functions
Solid internal metal body Sewing heavier fabrics can be difficult
Simple 1 step buttonhole feature Overall it is a heavy machine
Fully automatic threader Touchy foot pedal
Very smooth and fast machine

My Thoughts on The Singer 4423

The Singer 4423 is a heavy-duty sewing machine suited to those beginners who want to invest in a machine that is going to stay with them for years to come.

Thanks to its beginner friendly features such as the automatic needle threader and 1 step buttonhole it will help you go from total beginner to professional seamstress in no time.

it is a fairly heavy machine so it is not an ideal machine for those of you out there who do not have a dedicated swing area at home, or for those who plan to take the machine with them.

Considering the machine power, beginner friendly features, price and durability of this machine this is a fantastic machine and one of the best value for money machines out there at the moment.

When it comes to functionality the 4423 is a great machine, it has no problems sewing on thicker materials like canvas, corduroy, denim, leather or vinyl. When it comes to delicate fabrics you won’t have any issues either, lycra, silk, and satin are all safe.

Overall I would have no hesitation recommending the Singer 4423 to anyone if you are looking for a cheaper machine that will last and see you through your beginner stages (or you just want a reliable, cheap machine) the Singer 4423 is the one for you!

Rating: 4.6 / 5

 

Singer 7258 – The Easy to Use Beginners Sewing Machine

Key Features of The Singer 7258

  • 100 Built-in Stitches: With around 100 built-in ready to use stitches the 7258 has the perfect stitch for you. It has 75 decorative stitches, 7 buttonhole stitches, 8 stretch stitches, and 8 basic stitches. The decorative stitches range from flowers all the way to stars and vines. Whatever your project is the 7258 has the perfect stitch for you. Switching between stitches is as easy as a press of a button on the easy to use LCD screen.
  • Electronic Push Start and stitch selection: One of the great features of the 7258 is how easy it is to start and select the settings you want. You don’t need to use the foot pedal if you don’t want to, the machine can be controlled via the start and stop button. The fully electronic display is easy to read and easy to navigate. When you select the stitch that you require the machine automatically selects the best width, length, and tension for you. You can make further manual adjustments if you need to, however, I find the machine is perfect 99% of the time.  
  • Automatic Needle Threader & Automatic Tension: Threading a needle on the Singer 7258 is simple and fast. Your needle is threaded in under 6 seconds at the push of a button, fantastic for those with bad eyes, or zero experience with needle threading. The Automatic tension feature also works automatically while sewing to make sure you are always at the right tension – this helps limit jams, broken thread, and sloppy stitching.
  • Jam-Proof Bobbin System: Singer has made loading in a new bobbin very easy. The top loading jam proof system allows you to load in a new bobbin with ease thanks to the magnetic vertical axis. The system is held in place with a clear cover, which means that you can always see how much thread you have left, and the automatic bobbin winding system makes setting up for a new project fast and easy.   

Pro’s & Cons of The Singer 7258

PRO

CON

Auto tie off system The machine struggles on thicker, more heavy fabrics
Clear top bobbin storage The cover is thin and not very durable
You can use the machine without the foot pedal No adjustment on the presser foot
Lots of pre loaded stitches
Easy access storage area

My thoughts on The Singer 7258

The Singer 7258 is an automatic sewing machine that beginners will love. It has lots of automatic features great for beginners. The automatic needle thread, thread tension, and magnetic bobbin system make the set up a breeze.

The machine has a maximum speed of 750 stitches per minute which can be adjusted within seconds using the adjustment lever.

Other helpful features include the free arm feature which makes creating collars, cuffs, sleeves and hems a piece of cake. Great for quick fixes or for learning new techniques.

Thanks to the automatic systems set up out of the box are fast and simple, a very welcoming machine for beginners. The work surface is well-lit thanks to the LED bulb installed.

Overall the Singer 7258 is an easy to use machine that has lots of pre-loaded features and stitches. I would not hesitate to recommend this machine to anyone who needs a quality first machine that is able to be taken anywhere.

Rating: 4.6/5

Singer 4411 – The Basic Beginners Sewing Machine

Key Features of The Singer 4411

  • Powerful Motor: The Singer 4411 is capable of reaching 1100 stitches per minute. This is a great amount of power and is a machine that can get through any fabric with ease. Because of the power, it is not the best machine for teaching young ones as if you put your foot right down on the pedal the machine will literally nearly take off.
  • Sturdy & Durable: On a whole, this is a fairly heavy unit, however, it is also a very solid and durable unit. If you can manage to carry it around or take it with you there is very little chance that the machine will get damaged in transit. Because of the overall weight, it is essential to set up the machine on a sturdy table to avoid shaking or wobbling. Because of the sturdy frame and basic features of the machine you should expect this machine to last a very long time.
  • Pre Loaded Settings: The 4411 comes pre loaded with 11 built-in stitches and a four step buttonhole. This is enough for beginners to start playing with different stitches but makes you focus on getting the basics perfected before getting distracted with all different kinds of pretty stitches.

Pro’s & Cons of The Singer 4411

PRO

CON

Easy to use the reverse lever Heavy unit
Fast machine Limited built in stitches
Solid, durable construction No auto thread needle
Fantastic machine to learn on
Easily sews heavier fabric

My Thoughts on The Singer 4411

The Singer 4411 is not much to look at, but its what is on the inside that counts right? The Singer 4411 is a manual machine that has a very solid construction and has all the essential features to get you sewing.

This machine is best suited for those beginner sewers who are on a budget but still want a reliable, heavy duty machine. The 4411 does not feature an automatic threader, however, does include a very powerful motor capable of making 1100 stitches per minute. It also has no issue sewing through tough denim or leather.

It is a fairly heavy machine because of the metal frame, and it is best when set up on a sturdy table.

Because it is not jam packed full of features the 4411 is one of the cheapest units on this list, however, it is still one that I would recommend for the beginner who wants to learn how to sew while learning everything from threading a needle to tensioning your thread.

Rating: 4.5/5

Janome HD1000 – The Basic Beginners Sewing Machine

Key Features of The Janome HD1000

  • 13 Built-In Stithes: The HD1000 features 13 pre loaded stitches. It is a great machine or basic sewing and repairs.
  • Sturdy & Durable Construction: The solid metal body of the HD1000 allows it to be transported and moved around with house without having to worry about damages. It is a tough unit and it can even hold up to sewing very heavy fabrics such as denim and leather or multiple layers of thinner fabric.
  • Simple to Use: There is no LCD screen on the Janome HD1000, however, it is still a very simple and easy to use sewing machine. The buttons and knobs are well labeled and set out making for a great user experience, even for those users with little sewing experience.

Pro’s & Cons of The Janome HD1000

PRO

CON

Solid and durable machine No LCD
Easy to use and basic machine Bottom loading bobbin
Not many technical parts
Very affordable unit

My Thoughts on The Janome HD1000

If you are looking for a cheap, very solid machine you need the Janome HD1000. This machine is a very basic sewing machine equipped with only the very basic features. This is reflected in the affordable price.

It is a great machine for a beginner who is looking to mend clothing and learn the basics of sewing without getting distracted by unnecessary features or add-ons.

Learn all the basics without breaking the bank!

Rating: 4/5

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