The 8 Best Beginner Sewing Machines of 2023

Looking for an easy-to-use sewing machine? We've got you

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Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine

The Spruce / Rebekah Dietz

If you want to start sewing so you can make a quilt, DIY project, or fashionable shirt for yourself, you need an easy-to-use sewing machine that can create an array of even stitches, bind fabric in a flash, and handle thick material. The good news is that there are a lot of sewing machines that check those boxes. The bad news is that there are a lot of machines that check those boxes, making it quite the challenge to figure out which machine will be right for you and your upcoming projects. We tested and researched the top options available, considering durability, features, and stitch options—among other features.

When it comes to finding the perfect beginner sewing machine, Kristine Frailing, a fashion designer and founder of The New York Sewing Center, says you don’t need all the bells and whistles. “You need the basics,” says Frailing. “[That means] stitch length options and a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch.” She also suggests looking for a durable machine—not only in terms of how long it will last but how well it can handle thicker fabrics. In addition to the basic functions, Callie Marsch, a representative for JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores, says you want a machine that has a zipper foot, buttonhole foot, and reverse stitch function. 

From there, which machine you pick comes down to personal preference and how you plan to use the machine. If you plan on learning the craft through classes, you’ll want a machine that’s easy to carry. If you have big project ambitions, like a handmade quilt or an endless supply of face masks, you might want a machine with a few more features.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine

Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine


What We Like
  • 27 basic stitch options 

  • Automatic needle threader

  • Lightweight and portable

  • Has a free arm

What We Don't Like
  • Not great with heavy-duty fabrics

  • Accessories fall out of drawer easily

Brother is known for making beginner-friendly sewing machines, but even more skilled sewers are a fan of this model. We tested the Brother XM2701 sewing machine in an at-home test, and we deemed it to be a reliable option for both the occasional crafter and a master quilter. The machine features 27 basic stitch options—including zigzag, which is essential for beginners. It also has an automatic needle threading system and jam-resistant bobbin, making it easier to set up ahead of a project and operate.

Before starting your project, just make sure you’re using a thinner fabric. The Brother XM2701 can easily stitch through cotton and fleece but won’t make a dent in heavy-duty fabric like denim or leather. For that reason, it is best for beginners who are sewing a tablecloth, quilt, or dress, but maybe not altering jeans. A free arm does allow you to easily access small openings, like a shirt cuff, and sew where needed.

Notably, this machine also comes with six presser feet, including a zipper foot. While it doesn't have an automatic thread cutter—a newer feature in more advanced and computerized machines—this mechanical machine does create even, tight stitches, according to our experience. Plus, changing settings is easy, thanks to the front dial and stitch chart. If you’re hoping to take some beginner sewing classes, the Brother XM2701 is additionally light enough to tote from your home to a studio at 12.6 pounds. Though, consider storing your accessories in a separate bag rather than the included drawer, as it tends to loosen easily.

Price at time of publish: $147

Type: Mechanical | Dimensions: 12.1 x 5.9 x 15.3 inches | Weight: 12.6 pounds | Stitch Options: 27 | Buttonhole Options: 1 | Feet Included: 6 | Bobbin Type: Drop-in

Best Overall, Runner-Up

Baby Lock Zest Sewing Machine

Baby Lock Zest Sewing Machine

Baby Lock

What We Like
  • Free online classes

  • Built-in thread cutter

  • 15 basic stitch options

What We Don't Like
  • Fewer features than other machines

Another brand known for offering a wide selection of high-quality machines, Baby Lock is another great option, although slightly more expensive. The Zest is your best bet for a machine that can tackle all kinds of projects without being too advanced. This machine offers 15 basic stitches and four feet options. A free arm allows you to access tight spots in your projects, and your purchase includes a seam ripper and built-in accessory storage. Ultimately, the Baby Lock is a very simple, mechanical machine. You'll manually select your stitches and settings using the two front dials and load your bobbins through the front of the machine. You can use the built-in thread cutter as you put the finishing touches on your project.

Looking for some guidance as you take on your new hobby? You will receive two months of free access to Baby Lock's library of online sewing classes with your new machine purchase. If you prefer to take in-person classes, Baby Lock Zest's handle and lightweight design also make it easy to carry the machine from your home, to the studio, and back. All in all, as you start to master the craft, you may find the Zest has limited features and want to upgrade. But until that day, the Baby Lock Zest will check all the boxes.

Price at time of publish: $200

Type: Mechanical | Dimensions: 12.5 x 15.5 x 5.75 inches | Weight: 13 pounds | Stitch Options: 15 | Buttonhole Options: 1 | Feet Included: 4 | Bobbin Type: Front-loading

Best Budget

Magicfly Mini Sewing Machine

Magicfly Mini Sewing Machine


What We Like
  • Extension table

  • Can be powered with AA batteries

  • Adjustable speed button

What We Don't Like
  • Limited stitch and feet options

  • Bobbin occasionally gets stuck 

If you're looking for a sewing machine that doesn’t take up too much space and are hesitant to spend hundreds on a new hobby, Magicfly's Mini Sewing Machine checks both of those boxes. But don’t let the size fool you: It has a ton of features, including a display light, a small collection of accessories, and an extension table for a bigger project. You can plug it in or power it with AA batteries, which is handy if you’re in a location—such as a cozy retreat in the mountains—that doesn’t have many outlets available. 

Of course, a small machine can only do so much. The Magicfly Mini is limited compared to other machines in terms of stitch options and feet options. Sometimes, the bobbin gets stuck, too. For someone just starting to learn the techniques of sewing, though, it has the basics to get you through, including an adjustable speed button. It comes already tested by the brand as well, so you should notice that it's already threaded and has a bit of fabric sitting under the presser foot.

Price at time of publish: $50

Type: Mechanical | Dimensions: 9.5 x 11 x 12 inches | Weight: 3.65 pounds | Stitch Options: 1 | Buttonhole Options: Not listed | Feet Included: Not listed | Bobbin Type: Drop-in

Best Splurge

Janome 4120QDC Computerized Sewing Machine

Janome 4120QDC Computerized Sewing Machine


What We Like
  • Comes with instructional DVD

  • Built-in thread cutter

  • Easy-to-use control panel

What We Don't Like
  • Manual thread tension control

The price tag on Janome’s computerized sewing machine may make your jaw drop. But, when you consider the features that help you cope with any beginner (or expert-level) sewing challenges, you will quickly realize it’s a worthwhile investment. The jam-proof bobbin makes threading easy and prevents your stitches from running off the edge of your project. Meanwhile, the easy-to-use control panel and LCD screen allow you to easily pivot on corners, control the sewing speed, and make fine adjustments. The only negative of this machine is the fact that it doesn't automatically adjust tension.

With 120 stitch options and seven buttonhole options, the machine will last as your skillset grows. It's also outfitted with a reverse button, built-in thread cutter, hard case, and instructional DVD so you can get to know the machine more and more, and even take it on quilting retreats. Hoping to tackle some larger projects in the future? An extension table is included in your purchase, so you have a space to work with and rest your fabrics. Ultimately, the Janome is flexible, versatile, and ready for anything.

Price at time of publish: $799

Type: Computerized | Dimensions: 15 x 8.4 x 6.9 inches | Weight: 14.3 pounds | Stitch Options: 120 | Buttonhole Options: 7 | Feet Included: 7 | Bobbin Type: Drop-in

Best for Young Sewers

SINGER MX231 Sewing Machine

SINGER MX231 Sewing Machine


What We Like
  • Adjustable stitch width and length

  • 93 stitch options

  • Automatic needle threader

What We Don't Like
  • Not growth-friendly

The SINGER MX231 is the ideal sewing machine for tweens and teens, whose hobbies can change by the minute. At a relatively budget-friendly price, the machine comes with all the features needed by a first-time sewer but doesn’t offer so many that it becomes overwhelming and turns them off from the craft. 

Automated and adjustable are the key traits of a great beginner machine, and the SINGER delivers both. It has an automatic needle threader that eliminates eye strain, while the automatic buttonhole feature removes any guesswork. Any stitch length, bobbin, or thread tension adjustments can be made on this compact machine that's easy for a young sewer to set up in their room or bring to a friend's house. Adjustable presser foot pressure makes it so easy to alternate between heavy and fine fabrics, and with the twist of a knob, you can adjust the stitch length and width to add variety to your piece. 

Because of the limited features, users will likely outgrow the machine as their skills grow, but it will last as long as it takes you to get there. Notably, the machine also features 93 stitch options that make it a bit more versatile.

Price at time of publish: $150

Type: Mechanical | Dimensions: 10.9 x 7.4 x 15.2 inches | Weight: 12 pounds | Stitch Options: 93 | Buttonhole Options: 1 | Feet Included: 1 | Bobbin Type: Front-loading

Best Manual

Janome 2212 Sewing Machine

Janome 2212 Sewing Machine


What We Like
  • Has a free arm

  • Storage for accessories 

  • Two vertical spool pins

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks newer, advanced features

If you're looking for simplicity or just tired of looking at screens all day (your phone, the television, and so on), you'll appreciate the basic and manual Janome 2212 Sewing Machine. Easy to use directly out of the box, the machine will help you master the core techniques required for sewing—no YouTube tutorials required. (Though, there is an instruction manual you can reference if you get stumped or need some guidance.)

The Janome may lack the high-tech, digital display of a computerized and more advanced machine, but that doesn’t mean it lacks features. It includes a free arm, two vertical spool pins, 12 basic stitches, and a seam ripper. It's a good middle-of-the-road size and weight, and there’s also a convenient storage area underneath the sewing workspace (handy for storing odds and ends). As a result, the machine will grow with you as you become more experienced in the craft.

The only real downside to this machine? You may be tempted later on to splurge on more advanced, standout features that manual machines don't always have. However, if you're just starting out, it's absolutely enough.

Price at time of publish: $250

Type: Mechanical | Dimensions: 11.6 x 15.2 x 6 inches | Weight: 13 pounds | Stitch Options: 12 | Buttonhole Options: 1 | Feet Included: 4 | Bobbin Type: Front-loading

Best Heavy-Duty

SINGER 4452 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

SINGER 4452 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine


What We Like
  • Designed for thick fabrics

  • Can stitch 1,100 stitches per minute

  • 110 stitch options

What We Don't Like
  • Only compatible with Singer plastic bobbins

This SINGER sewing machine has rightfully earned the heavy-duty descriptor. Structurally, the metal frame and stainless steel bed plate ensure the machine will last for years and even withstand the occasional bump in the road. Yet, somehow, the machine is still light enough to easily carry around the house or to classes. There's also the machine's powerful motor, which can stitch 1,100 stitches per minute and help you speed through your DIY projects. The powerful motor is also up to the task of sewing thick fabrics, like denim, canvas, and leather. It's a great option for any beginner who wants to make clothes or put together thick layers for quilts.

Essentially, there is nothing the SINGER 4452 can’t handle. However, if you plan on purchasing this heavy-duty, mechanical machine, consider stocking up on plastic bobbins by SINGER. The sewing machine is not compatible with those from other brands, which is a little inconvenient. However, it does come with 110 stitch options, a seam ripper, a soft dust cover, and four feet options.

Price at time of publish: $220

Type: Mechanical | Dimensions: 15.2 x 6.25 x 12 inches | Weight: 14.5 pounds | Stitch Options: 110 | Buttonhole Options: 1 | Feet Included: 4 | Bobbin Type: Drop-in

Best for Quilting

Brother HC1850 Sewing and Quilting Machine

Brother HC1850 Sewing and Quilting Machine


What We Like
  • Can immediately stop the machine

  • Easy threading system

  • One monogramming font

What We Don't Like
  • Offers many features you may not use

Once you've tackled nine patches, quilting can quickly exceed the beginner level. But if you want to advance to a higher and more detailed level of crafting, then you’ll want a machine that can handle thick fabrics and offers plenty of stitch options, like the Brother HC1850. Sewers are able to adjust the speed to avoid going too fast when learning and press a button to immediately stop the machine if they make a mistake. Threading is also a breeze, thanks to the machine's more advanced system that pushes thread through the needle with the press of a lever. 

And if you get stuck on a project and need some help, simply utilize Brother At Your Side, the company’s free technical support system, which is available (for life) via live chat or phone. Once you have mastered the basic mechanics, take advantage of the machine’s 185 stitch options, eight buttonhole options, and expandable table to create the quilt of your dreams. Notably, the computerized machine also has a monogramming font, but this may be one of the many features you find that you don't use regularly, depending on the projects you have in your queue.

Price at time of publish: $260

Type: Computerized | Dimensions: 15.2 x 12.5 x 19.2 inches | Weight: 10.14 pounds | Stitch Options: 185 | Buttonhole Options: 8 | Feet Included: 8 | Bobbin Type: Drop-in

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine, which our tester praises for the simplicity of its controls, ease of use, and ability to grow with your skillset. It offers plenty of stitch options and feet to get you started. Not to mention, it’s easy to carry from your craft station to a sewing class and back. If you're looking to spend less, the Magicfly Mini Sewing Machine is another great pick. Although it has fewer features than other machines, it has a table extension to offer a larger working surface for bigger projects.

What to Look for in a Beginner Sewing Machine

Stitch Options 

While a beginner doesn't need a million stitch options, Callie Marsch, a representative for JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores, says a straight stitch and zig-zag stitch are non-negotiable. Almost all sewing machines should have these two options, but it doesn’t hurt to do your research since some options that are particularly portable and affordable (like Magicfly's Mini Sewing Machine, our "best budget" pick) only have one basic stitch.

If sewing is a hobby you'd like to grow, then consider machines with more stitch options, specifically those that add a decorative element or lend themselves well to bigger projects like quilting. If you're looking to make your own clothes, look for monogramming options. More advanced machines—these models tend to be computerized—can have close to 200 stitch options for you to choose from.

Included Presser Feet 

The types of presser feet offered with a machine are not an indicator of how much fabric a sewing machine can handle. However, the presser foot on a machine is an interchangeable element that allows you to tackle different tasks with ease—like adding a button or zipper onto your garment. 

Marsch says a good beginner sewing machine will include a zipper foot that inserts zippers, piping, or cording, as well as a buttonhole foot. Some machines may come with more options, but you can always purchase them as add-ons if not. Purchasing additional presser feet later is ideal for sewers who are still learning the basics and want to expand after mastering simpler designs. Just remember: If you're purchasing additional feet, make sure you are buying from the same brand as your sewing machine to ensure compatibility. 


Before purchasing a sewing machine, consider where you will be using it. If you have a designated sewing station in your house and plan on learning through online tutorials, you can opt for a heavier machine. But, if you plan on taking classes at a studio or want a machine that can come with you on crafting retreats, then you’ll want something that’s a little lighter, such as our "best overall" recommendation, the Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine. In addition, you may want to find a machine with a handle or that comes with a hard or soft case for easy transportation.


Durability doesn’t equate to how well your machine will hold up if it falls, though that is something worth looking into. Rather, it means how well your machine will hold up against various fabrics like denim or leather.

Consider the projects you want to pursue before making your purchase. Will you be working mostly with cotton, silk, and linen? If so, most machines can handle the job. If you want to upholster fabric, make something with leather, design your own denim jeans, or create a thick quilt, then you’ll need a machine that can handle thicker fabrics or comes with the foot options to make that possible. Our "best for quilting" pick, the Brother HC1850 Sewing and Quilting Machine, is a computerized model loaded with tons of features to ensure quilting and other detailed projects are a breeze.

Local Servicing 

If your sewing machine needs a little maintenance or a major repair, you want to be able to drop it off rather than shipping it away. Local servicing allows you to learn more about your new machine from a local pro. Qualified repair experts can teach you everything from how to fix minor issues to how to maintain your machine over time. As an added bonus, local quilt shops and dealers may offer classes and retreats to help you meet fellow crafters and improve your skills. 

Since very few brands, if any, have storefronts, you will want to see what brand of sewing machines your local quilt, sewing, and craft stores sell. Though they may be able to fix a jammed bobbin on any machine, large problems may require more knowledge of the brand and be a bigger lift than they can take on.

Standout Features

Automatic Needle Threader

One of the most essential steps of sewing is getting the thread to pass through the eye of the needle. This often requires using a needle threader, which is a tool that looks like a coin attached to a very thin paper clip, as well as a lot of patience and precision. It can take some time, especially if you are new to sewing, and threading the needle incorrectly can result in messy stitches. Fortunately, many machines sold today come with an automatic needle threader that couldn’t be easier to use. On most machines, this means pulling down a lever that reveals a tiny hook, which you then wrap your thread around. Then with a pull and push, you’re ready to stitch. 

Extension Table

Once you’ve mastered the basics of sewing, you may want to tackle projects that require more skills and more space. This is where a detachable table comes in handy. Also known as an extension table, this add-on feature gives you room to work with larger, bulkier fabrics. This addition is rarely sold with the machine and is specifically designed for your machine, meaning you can’t purchase any detachable table. Make sure to check your machine’s manual to find out which table to get. Our "best splurge" pick, the Janome 4120QDC Computerized Sewing Machine, comes with an extension table (as well as many other features) that makes it ideal for highly involved projects.

Built-In Thread Cutter

Similar to the automatic needle threader, a built-in thread cutter takes some of the stress and strain out of sewing. As the name implies, it cuts the thread when you’re done with a stitch, saving you the hassle of having to stop, cut, and re-thread. 

This is different from a manual thread cutter or, as noted on some machines, a thread cutter. With these features, there is a special knife edge cutter built into the machine, but you have to pull the thread above that cutter to cut it yourself. It’s still better than having to pull out scissors, but it does take time.

Unfortunately, built-in thread cutters aren’t included on most entry-level sewing machines, so make sure to inquire about it before purchasing if this feature feels important to you.

Hard Case

Even if you purchase a portable machine, you’ll want to invest in a case for carrying. After all, you want to protect your machine from any potential impact and keep all your accessories in one place. But, a case isn’t just good for toting your machine from craft corner to craft class. Putting a case over your machine when you’re not using it protects it from dust and other air particles that could affect function. 

Free Arm

A free arm is not a necessary feature, but it’s great to have if you’ll be doing a lot of work on or with clothes. Essentially, it is a work surface that is suspended in the air when other parts of the bed are removed. You then slide a tub of fabric, like a shirt sleeve or pant leg, over the arm, which makes it easier to guide the fabric under the needle and reduces the chances of catching other parts of the garment. This is a great feature for hemming, adding cuffs, or mending smaller articles of clothing.

  • What should I know about manual versus computerized sewing machines?

    Manual sewing machines (also known as mechanical) were the mainstay of the crafting world, but in recent years, electric (also known as computerized) machines have been increasingly popular 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, too. However, computerized machines may shorten the learning curve for some new sewers since choosing stitches and settings only require the push of a button. 

  • What type of maintenance do sewing machines need?

    The best sewing machines of today 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 Leah Rocketto, who's been a lifestyle writer and editor for a decade, and has written for other publications like INSIDER, Romper, Bustle,, and POPSUGAR. To select the best picks for your consideration, she evaluated testing feedback from our product testers and sorted through dozens of customer and third-party website reviews. She considered stitch options, durability, and features when selecting the final picks.

Rocketto also consulted Kristine Frailing and Callie Marsch for more insight on what you need to look for in a beginner sewing machine. A womenswear fashion designer and sewing instructor, Frailing is the founder and creative director of The New York Sewing Center, which teaches sewing to people of all levels. Marsch represents JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores and has become knowledgeable on all sewing products available at the retailer.

Emma Phelps, an associate commerce editor for The Spruce and avid seamstress in her free time, updated this roundup to include additional shopping context for beginner sewing machines.