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We tested and researched dozens of models to find the best beginner sewing machines, evaluating them on ease of use, size and weight, and versatility. Our top pick, the Brother CS600i Computerized Sewing Machine, features an automatic needle threader and drop-in bobbin, a crystal clear LCD screen, and 60 pre-programmed stitches.
Here are the best sewing machines for beginners.
Best Overall: Brother CS6000i Sewing and Quilting Machine
Brother is one of several trusted brands when it comes to sewing machines, and this particular machine is one of their most popular options. It's well-loved for good reason: It’s reasonably priced but packed with features galore, such as built-in stitches, an automatic needle threader, and an LCD screen. But, the machine is not so complicated that a beginner will feel overwhelmed. It's a good mid-sized model and weighs 13 pounds, so it can stay set up without being an eyesore or it can easily be moved if needed.
Best Budget: Haitral HT-CS141WPU Mini Portable Sewing Machine
When you first start a hobby, it can be hard to know just how invested you should get when it comes to buying supplies and organizing a space, whether the interest will be short-lived, or if you just want a machine for an occasional project rather than frequent use. In those cases, it makes sense to start with an option that doesn’t break the bank, but is still considered a quality purchase, like the HAITRAL Mini Sewing Machine.
This min is petite, lightweight, but durable, too. It has all the basics you’d expect: two speeds, lighting to make it easy to see what you’re sewing, a thread cutter, and more. Newbie sewers say that it’s great to learn on, and is easy to figure out. Just note that this probably isn’t the best option if you’re looking to sew thick fabric.
Best Manual: Janome 2212 Sewing Machine
Looking for a simple option that's still incredibly durable? A manual sewing machine fits the bill though you won’t get the on-screen options and settings that come with a computerized version. Still, if you’re tired of looking at screens all day long (your phone, the TV, the washing machine, and so on), you'll appreciate the straightforward Janome 2212 Sewing Machine.
This machine’s simplicity is a true perk for beginners. You can learn the core tasks that are required for sewing, without having to delve into a complicated instruction manual or watch multiple YouTube tutorials. Even though it's easy to use directly out of the box, it has enough features that it’ll grow with you. In fact, this is a great option for beginners and experienced seamstresses alike.
This machine includes a stitch selection and length dial, along with a stitch chart, bobbin hook, and other key features. It's a good mid-size and weight, and there’s also a convenient storage area underneath the sewing workspace (handy for storing odds and ends).
Best Portable: Magicfly Mini Sewing Machine
If you want to sew with friends, attend classes, or just generally be able to move your sewing machine from point A to point B, a portable machine is a must. These machines are also ideal if you don’t want to take up too much space, or only sew occasionally.
This mini machine has two speeds, a small collection of accessories, and an extension table for bigger projects. It has beginner-friendly features, like an easy threading option, and weighs just under 4 pounds. You can plug it in or power it with batteries (handy if you’re in a location that doesn’t have outlets available).
Best for Quilting: Brother XR3774 Sewing and Quilting Machine
Quilters have specific needs when it comes to sewing, and the Brother XR3774 machine delivers. It comes with a walking foot (a must for quilters), along with an extendable table for draping fabric. It has plenty of beautiful decorative stitches and is available at a budget-friendly price. It's a bit bulkier and heavier than other options, but that's not a bad thing, especially for quilters who need plenty of space to work. And while this Brother machine is incredibly beginner-friendly, long-term sewers will also be able to use it for years.
Best for Embroidery: Husqvarna Viking Jade 20 Sewing Machine
This beginner-friendly machine has a guide located in the lid, so you can take a peek if you’re unsure of how to proceed with your fabric type. That’s truly handy if you’re new to sewing, since figuring out the correct settings for a project is a process that can take experience and time to master.
The Husqvarna Viking Jade has a large embroidery hoop, along with 70 built-in embroidery designs and over 100 built-in stitches. As you get more comfortable with the machine, and with embroidering, you’ll be able to take advantage of the machine’s software for creating embroidery designs.
Another great quality is this machine's portability. Since you can pack up the pedal and power cord, it’s incredibly easy to bring the machine with you on the go while traveling or going to a friend's. Take note, though, that it's definitely on the heavier side.
Best for Young Sewers: Singer Start 1304 Sewing Machine
Looking for a gift for a child? Gifting a sewing machine early on can lead to a lifelong habit and useful skill. Of course, any young sewer will need supervision (needles can be sharp, and a real sewing machine is not a toy).
This Singer machine is lightweight, which is convenient if you envision your child taking it along to sewing classes (or over to Grandma’s house). It also offers just the right amount of basic features to get kids started with sewing: It has a stitch selector, a four-step buttonhole maker, a reverse lever, and more basics. Every dial and button is clearly and simply labeled to avoid making users feel overwhelmed.
While it’s suitable for children, this machine is also a great option for adults. The lack of bells and whistles is a feature, not a deficit, allowing you to get going on projects right away.
Best for Accessories: SINGER M1500 Mechanical Sewing Machine
This Singer sewing machine comes with everything a beginner could need to get started, including an instructional DVD and 57 easy stitch patterns. The machine is equipped with a built-in needle threader and the ability to switch stitches and also adjust their width and size. It also comes with over 65 helpful accessories, including a seam ripper, all-purpose foot, needle plate screwdriver, and a pack of needles and bobbins.
Plus, since it weighs just over 12 pounds, this machine is both lightweight and portable—perfect if you live in a small space and want to store it between uses. Users will go from having no sewing experience to sewing up masks and on to bigger projects like curtains and outfits in no time.
Our top pick is the Brother CS6000i Computerized Sewing Machine, which gets high marks from our tester for its ease of use and advanced capabilities. It has a long list of features, but isn't too expensive at the same time. You can enjoy 60 stitch applications, an automatic needle threader, and an LCD screen. If you're looking to spend less, the Haitral Mini Portable Sewing Machine (view at Amazon) is another great pick. While it only has one basic stitch application, it has everything you need to get started, including a thread cutter and lightweight, yet durable design.
What to Look for in a Beginner Sewing Machine
Sewing machine models vary in size, ranging from compact mini-machines to full-size models that may offer more power and features. When deciding what size sewing machine is right for you, consider where you plan to use and store your machine. A mini sewing machine with a small footprint is ideal when you’re short on crafting or storage space. On the other hand, if you have a designated sewing area and are looking for a full-featured machine, then a standard-sized sewing machine will give you all the options. This type of machine might also have a larger table area that makes it more suited to larger sewing projects.
Sewing machine models vary in how much they weigh, with some portable options weighing as little as 3 pounds and other more heavy-duty models weighing up to 30 pounds. The weight of a sewing machine is important to consider since it may affect how portable the machine is. If you plan to take your sewing machine on the go, such as to crafting classes, quilting groups, or a friend’s house, then you may want to look for a sewing machine that is easily portable.
The motor and housing are the largest determiners of sewing machine weight. Machines made of mostly metal components will weigh significantly more, but the advantage is often greater durability and more stability when working on large projects or heavy materials.
While sewing machines all have a basic purpose, the available features vary widely and suit many different project needs. When shopping for a sewing machine, check out which accessories are included—like a presser foot, walking foot for quilting, or other specialty accessories that might fit your project needs. Many people appreciate the convenience of a sewing machine with self-threading capability. Other user-friendly features to consider include task lighting, a drop-in bobbin, or buttonhole maker.
How do I thread a sewing machine?
To get started with your sewing project, you’ll need to first thread your sewing machine. While your machine’s manual should guide you in the specific sequence for your make and model, the basic process starts by placing the presser foot in the up position.
Next, put your thread spool on the spool holder and bring the thread across the top of the machine, through the thread guide. Insert the thread through the tension mechanism, sliding it between the metal disks before pulling it back upwards. Find the take-up lever and place the thread into the hole. Pull the thread towards the sewing machine needle, using available thread guides as you go.
Finally, bring the needle into an accessible position by adjusting the handwheel. Insert the thread. Your sewing machine should be threaded and ready to go, but it’s always a good idea to make a test run on a sample swatch to check your work.
What should I know about manual versus electric sewing machines?
Manual sewing machines were the mainstay of the crafting world, but in more recent years electric (also known as computerized) machines have been increasing in popularity for their easy operation and advanced functions, such as embroidery.
If you’re looking for a simple sewing experience without frills, a mechanical machine gives you straightforward functionality. Without electronic components, some feel that these machines prove more reliable in the long term. However, computerized machines may shorten the learning curve for some new sewers, since choosing stitches and settings only requires the push of a button.
What type of maintenance do sewing machines need?
Today’s sewing machines usually require just a few basic steps to keep them in good working order. While the manual included with your machine will spell out the details, it’s important to regularly remove the throat plate and use a small, soft brush to remove thread, lint, and debris that might have become lodged inside the machine. Your machine may also require oiling to keep everything lubricated and running smoothly.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Madeleine Burry, a freelance writer who's covered a variety of home topics for The Spruce. When researching picks to recommend, she consulted dozens of customer and third-party reviews, considering quality, ease of use, and affordability. It was edited and updated by Lily Sperry, a lifestyle writer and commerce editor at The Spruce.