Our Top Picks
Best Heavy Duty: SINGER 4423 Sewing Machine at joann.com
"Ideal for anyone who wants to work with more rugged fabric."
Runner Up, Best Overall: Singer 7258 Computerized Machine at joann.com
"Blends easy-to-use features with advanced options."
Best Lightweight: Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine at Amazon
"This mechanical sewing machine includes 27 built-in stitches."
Best Budget: Janome Portable Sewing Machine at joann.com
"Has an affordable price and comes with helpful accessories."
"The smaller size is great for teaching a child how to sew."
If a needle and thread just isn’t cutting it anymore, it might be time to upgrade to a beginner sewing machine. Beginner-friendly models typically have fewer bells and whistles than their more advanced counterparts, giving novices more opportunity to focus on the basics of sewing instead of figuring out how in the world to operate their machine.
While mechanical machines are more likely to fall into that category, some computerized sewing machines make it easier to use more advanced features, especially for tech-savvy sewers. Particularly useful features for beginners include a top-loading bobbin, one-step buttonholes, an automatic needle threader, and adjustable speed control, letting you slow way down while you’re learning.
A high number of stitches probably isn’t as important when you’re just practicing the basics, though investing in a machine with a greater variety might be worth it for committed sewers who don’t want to upgrade quite as quickly.
We researched the top machines on the market and narrowed it down to these sewing machines, so you can find the perfect one for the types of projects you'll be working on.
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Best Heavy Duty: SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty Extra-High Sewing Speed Sewing Machine
Beginners who want something that’s a little speedier and tougher than other inexpensive sewing machines will want to check out the Singer 4423, which can crank out an impressive 1,100 stitches per minute thanks to a stronger-than-usual motor. It features 23 built-in stitches and a one-step button hole, and includes four presser feet.
Though this Singer is certainly capable of speed, it has plenty of musts for beginners including an automatic needle threader, top-loading bobbin and dial controls. There are also a couple of extras including adjustable thread length and a clear case for storage or travel. Users say it’s especially ideal for anyone who wants to work on thicker or more rugged fabric like upholstery, but they warn it may have more of a learning curve than other beginner-friendly machines. Singer has a Sewing Assistant app to help speed the learning process.
"From winding the bobbin to sewing a buttonhole, the Singer 4423 Sewing Machine keeps things easy. With a metal frame and heavy-duty motor, it doesn’t disappoint on power, either. We were able to sew eight layers of denim without any issues—even on the zigzag stitch."—Rebekah Joan, Product Tester
02 of 05
Runner Up, Best Overall: Singer 7258 100-Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine
Beginners who may have a little more experience and want to get a sewing machine that they can really grow into should check out the computerized Singer 7258, which blends a lot of easy-to-use features with advanced options including 100 stitches and six one-step buttonholes. It also comes with 10 presser feet – perfect for sewers who are gaining confidence and want to experiment with more complex projects.
At its core, the Singer 7258 is still simple to use: It features a lot of no-fuss automatic settings including an automatic needle threader, automatic thread tension, automatic locking straight stitch, automatic reverse and automatic presser-foot pressure. There is also a top-loading bobbin system, a programmable needle that can stop up or down depending on the project, and an easy-to-use speed control that users love because it can help slow things way down for beginners. An introductory DVD is another nice touch. Users praise the smooth stitching and variety of options, but some give it subpar marks for its performance with thicker fabrics.
03 of 05
Best Lightweight: Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine
Owners say the Brother XM2701 is just right for beginners, and most seem to think it hits a sweet spot in terms of features, price and ease of use. This mechanical sewing machine includes 27 built-in stitches, a one-step buttonhole and six presser feet, all of which give beginners a few more options without being too overwhelming.
This compact Brother has several beginner-friendly features, including a dial-control stitch selector; a top-loading, automatic-winding bobbin; an automatic needle threader; and a free arm that makes cuffs, sleeves and other curved fabrics easier to handle. A hard case is available separately for anyone who wants to travel with the machine or add additional protection for storage. Users at all levels find this machine plenty capable for any lighter projects, and many say it is better than many lower-end models at handling thick fabric, too. It also comes with an instructional DVD, which reviewers say is especially handy in helping get up to speed.
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Best Budget: Janome Portable Sewing Machine
Buying a budget sewing machine doesn’t mean you have to settle for something poorly built. Affordable sewing machines are a great choice for beginners and experienced users alike. The Janome Portable Sewing Machine provides all the necessary features you will need with a build quality that is required to survive years of typical use.
This machine offers 11 built-in stitch types that take some of the challenge out of sewing different lines. From straight to zigzag styles, all you have to do is select the right stitch and begin. The sewing machine also comes with some helpful accessories such as a drop-in bobbin, free arm, and extra storage as well.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Best Compact: Singer 1304 Start Basic Everyday Free Arm Sewing Machine
Do you want something tiny but mighty for travel? Do you plan on introducing a child to sewing, but want a smaller-scale, more budget-friendly machine to do it? In both cases, the Singer 1304 might be the answer. This mechanical machine has just six built-in stitches, including one four-step buttonhole, and three included presser feet.
This Singer has preset stitch length and width—a feature that might be too limiting for advanced sewers, but one that’s perfect for a true beginner who doesn’t want to get bogged down in too many settings. There is a simple-to-use dial stitch selector, an included threading diagram, a free arm and an automatic bobbin winder. Buyers can even participate in a free online owner’s class that covers setup, operation and how to sew basics such as hems, buttons and zippers. A few reviewers say the bobbin can be hard to adjust and the thread jams too easily, but it comes highly recommended for anyone who wants a small, lightweight machine to learn sewing fundamentals.