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If you're interested in sewing, you'll need a machine that can whizz through seams, bind together fabric in a flash, and produce uniform, even stitches. But a quick scan will reveal that there are tons of options, making it confusing to figure out which machine is right for you.
Finding the perfect sewing machine comes down to a few main factors: price, weight, features, and more. There are lightweight, portable machines that are great if you tend to sew in different locations, as well as bulky, heavy-duty options that are best for pros who have a designated sewing area. Each machine comes with its own range of features too, with some geared more towards beginners and others made with professional seamstresses in mind.
To help you make the right decision, these are the best beginner sewing machines on the market.
Best Overall: SINGER M1500 Mechanical Sewing Machine
Dimensions: 14.57 x 7.12 x 11.34 inches | Weight: 12.4 pounds | Material: Metal | Stitch Applications: 57
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.
Best Budget: Haitral HT-CS141WPU Mini Portable Sewing Machine
Dimensions: 7 x 8.5 x 3.5 inches | Weight: 2 pounds | Material: Metal | Stitch Applications: 1, Basic
When you first start a hobby, it can be hard to know just how invested you should get when it comes to buying supplies—what if this hobby doesn’t last for months and months? Or what if you want a machine for very occasional projects and not everyday use? In those scenarios, it makes sense to start with an option that doesn’t break the bank.
But of course, that doesn’t mean you want something disposable or poorly made. That’s where the HAITRAL Mini Sewing Machine comes in. It’s petite and lightweight, but durable too. And, 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 Splurge: Brother CS6000i Sewing and Quilting Machine
Dimensions: 16 x 6.7 x 11.4 inches | Weight: 13 pounds | Material: Plastic | Stitch Applications: 60
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 at needing to read through a thick manual. It's a good mid-size and weighs 13 pounds, so it can stay out without being an eyesore, but can also be moved if needed.
"Simply put, the Brother CS6000i is a workhorse...We tried out a few simple projects on this machine, one being a throw pillow with decorative stitching. The sewing process proved easy and the end result was great."—Rebekah Joan, Product Tester
Best for Quilting: Brother XR3774 Sewing and Quilting Machine
Dimensions: 15.3 x 5.8 x 12 inches | Weight: 15.87 pounds | Material: Metal | Stitch Applications: 37
Quilters have specific needs when it comes to sewing, and this 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
Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.7 x 11.3 inches | Weight: 24.3 pounds | Material: Metal | Stitch Applications: 70
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 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 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
Dimensions: 13 x 7 x 11.5 inches | Weight: 10 pounds | Material: Metal, Plastic | Stitch Applications: 6
Looking for a gift? Gifting a sewing machine early on can lead to a lifelong habit that’s incredibly useful. Of course, any young sewer will need supervision (needles can be sharp, and a real sewing machine is not a toy).
This Singer 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 Manual: Janome 2212 Sewing Machine
Dimensions: 17 x 9 x 13.5 inches | Weight: 15.6 pounds | Material: Metal | Stitch Applications: 12
Looking for a simple option that's still incredibly durable? A manual sewing machine fits the bill. No, you won’t get the on-screen options and settings that come with a computerized version. Still, if you’re sick of looking at screens all day (your phone, the TV, the washing machine, and so on), you'll appreciate the simplicity of the 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
Dimensions: 12 x 11 x 9.5 inches | Weight: 3.65 pounds | Material: Metal | Stitch Applications: 1, Basic
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’s got beginner-friendly features, like an easy threading option, and weighs just under four pounds. You can plug it in, or power it with batteries (handy if you’re in a location that doesn’t have outlets available).
You can't go wrong with the Singer M1500 Sewing Machine (view at Amazon), which is lightweight, portable, and equipped with everything a beginner might need (from a seam ripper to dozens of stitch patterns). If you're looking for a more robust machine, check out the Brother CS6000i Computerized Sewing Machine, which gets high marks from our tester for its ease of use and advanced capabilities.
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 three 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 button hole 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.