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No matter if you’re just learning to sew or an experienced crafter, buying a sewing machine can be a tricky task—there are hundreds of options to choose from with a wide variety of features and accessories to consider. As you shop, reliability and quality should be your top considerations: “It would be better to buy a less-equipped but higher quality machine than a machine with a lot of extra goodies of lesser quality,” recommends Marissa Lakir of Stitch Clinic.
Our top pick, the SINGER 7258, is ideal for sewists of all skill levels, as it comes from a well-respected brand and offers 100 stitches, several button-hole styles, and an expansive accessories kit.
Here are the best sewing machines.
Best Overall : Singer Stylist 7258 Sewing Machine
100 stitch options, including 6 buttonholes
Automatically adjusts stitch settings
Easy stitch selection
Includes online owner’s course
No hard cover
The Singer 7258 is a mid-tier sewing machine that’s ideal for both beginners and more advanced sewists. The computerized model, which is made by one of the most trusted sewing machine brands, features 100 different stitches, ranging from basics like zigzag to intricate decorative stitches that will add pizazz to your projects. During testing, we loved that this sewing machine automatically adjusts the stitch length, width, and tension to match the stitch, but you can also manually adjust these settings as needed.
This Singer sewing machine comes with a variety of accessories, including eight different presser feet—you’ll get the general purpose foot, zipper foot, blind hem foot, buttonhole foot, and more. Speaking of buttonholes, the machine can help you make six different styles, such as the basic bartack style, round end, and keyhole. Our tester noted that it’s extremely easy to select the type of buttonhole desired and change to the necessary presser foot, and the brand also offers online video resources, as well as an owner’s class, to walk you through the machine’s various functions.
There are plenty of other noteworthy features, as well. The Singer 7258 has a built-in needle threader, a programmable needle—you can choose if it stops in the up or down position—a free arm, and mechanical speed control. Our only real complaint is that the machine solely comes with a plastic dust cover, so if you want a hard cover to protect your investment, it needs to be purchased separately. Besides that, this machine is a reliable and well-priced option that can handle a wide variety of sewing tasks and is sure to please both novice and expert crafters alike.
Best Budget: Janome Easy to Use Sewing Machine
Several color options
15 basic stitches and one buttonhole
Accommodates all thread types
Detailed bobbin-loading guide right on machine
Manual needle threading
No thread cutter
The Janome Easy to Use Sewing Machine is a budget-friendly option for novice crafters or anyone who just needs basic functionality. The machine features 15 different stitch options and one four-step buttonhole, and you can manually adjust the stitch length and tension via dials on the front of the machine. Oh, and did we mention that it comes in several bright, cheery colors? It’s sure to be a vibrant addition to your sewing space.
The Janome Sewing Machine has two retractable spool pins on top, and it can accommodate all thread types, including large thread cones. It has a front-loading bobbin system, and there’s a step-by-step loading guide right in the bobbin area—a useful detail for beginners. A removable storage compartment gives you access to a free arm, and the machine comes with four different presser feet, including ones for zippers and blind gems. Other accessories include bobbins, needles, a seam ripper, and a darning plate, but it’s worth mentioning that there’s no automatic needle threader or thread cutter—you’ll have to do both the old-fashioned way.
Best Splurge: Bernette B77 Sewing and Quilting Machine
500 stitches, including 17 buttonholes, 133 decorative and 35 quilting options
Dual fabric feed for layered projects
Deep throat for bulky projects
Only 2-year warranty on electrical components
If you’re an advanced sewist looking to upgrade to a better machine, the Bernette B77 is a worthwhile splurge. This high-end machine boasts 500 different stitches, which you can select via its touchscreen display, and it includes a whopping 17 buttonhole options, 133 decorative stitches, and 35 quilting stitches, as well as a deep throat that can accommodate bulky projects. Whether you’re making clothing, quilting, or craft projects, this machine can handle anything you throw at it.
While using this sewing machine, you can select and optimize stitches on the 5-inch color touchscreen, but you can also change the stitch length and width via knobs on the front of the machine. It has an integrated dual feed, also known as a walking foot, that ensures your material is being fed evenly from above and below. This feature is ideal for sewing several layers of fabric or fine materials, as it helps to prevent puckering. Other noteworthy features include an automatic tie-off and thread cutter, a semi-automatic needle threader, and programmable foot control with a back-kick function.
The main painpoint of this sewing machine is its electrical components—while the brand offers a 10-year warranty on the machine’s materials and workmanship, the electrical parts are only covered by a 2-year warranty. Additionally, the high-tech nature of the touchscreen makes it signficantly more expensive to repair.
Best Heavy-Duty: Sailrite Ultrafeed LS-1 BASIC Walking Foot Sewing Machine
Able to sew thick fabrics like canvas, denim, leather, and more
Dual feed system
Spring-loaded lever for switching directions
Includes wooden base
Learning curve on tension adjustment
Only one stitch
For heavy-duty applications, you’re going to need a sewing machine like the Sailrite Ultrafeed LS-1. This unit is designed to tackle thick, heavy fabric, such as canvas, denim, leather, and upholstery fabrics, but it only offers a single straight stitch—if you want the ability to create zigzag stitches, you can upgrade to the Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1. Despite its basic design, this sewing machine is unmatched in terms of durability, and it can stitch through up to 10 layers of canvas at once.
The Sailrite Sewing Machine has a mechanical walking presser foot that feeds fabric through at a consistent speed for even stitching, and its spring-loaded lever makes it quick and easy to switch stitching directions. Plus, the presser foot features a built-in welting tunnel for sewing piping and its needle is offset, allowing you to sew zippers without changing the foot. The machine comes with a wooden base to provide stability as you work, as well as a thread stand, bobbins, and other necessary accessories.
Because this sewing machine must be manually adjusted, it can take some time to get used to the tension setting. You can increase the versatility of the machine by purchasing additional accessories—such as a binder attachment or alternative presser feet—but many of these tools are fairly expensive.
Best Portable: Magicfly Portable Sewing Machine
Compact and lightweight
Two power source options
Not good for thin fabrics
Doesn’t feed fabric
You can take your crafting on the go with the Magicfly Portable Sewing Machine. Not only is this sewing machine compact and extremely lightweight, making it ideal for travel, but it offers dual power options, allowing you to plug it into a standard outlet or use four AA batteries. If you’ve ever wanted (or needed) to sew while off-the-grid, this is definitely the option for you!
Overall, the Magicfly’s design is quite simple, offering 12 basic stitches and three presser feet that allow you to sew buttons and zippers. It comes with three needles for fabrics of various thicknesses—though, the manufacturer warns that the machine doesn’t perform well on thin or soft fabric—as well as an extension kit to expand your work area. The machine has a threading guide printed right onto the body, which is helpful for beginners, but keep in mind that it doesn’t feed the fabric through the machine, so you’ll need to advance the material manually.
Best for Quilting: Singer 7285Q Patchwork Quilting Machine
100 stitches, plus six buttonholes
Includes multiple presser feet for quilting
Extension table included
Light isn’t bright enough
Throat could be wider
There are several special features that you should look for in a sewing machine if you plan on using it for quilting—adjustable stitch settings, multiple presser feet, and a large throat that can fit bulky projects, just to name a few. The Singer 7285Q Patchwork Quilting Machine checks all these boxes and more, as it’s designed specifically with quilters in mind. It offers 100 different stitches and an extra-high presser foot lifter to accommodate thick fabrics, and it comes with 11 presser feet, including a quarter-inch foot, walking foot, satin stitch foot, and darning/embroidery foot.
You can make your stitch selection on the machine’s LCD screen, adjusting the stitch length and width, and there's even an option to set the maximum sewing speed. The needle can be programmed to stop in the up or down position, and the machine also comes with an extension table to help support large projects. Plus, when you’re working on other sewing projects, the Singer 7285Q has six buttonhole options, as well as a tie-off button and high-speed stitching up to 750 stitches per minute.
While this Singer sewing machine is a great value and has many features for quilters, it does have a few shortcomings. Its built-in light isn’t the best, and you’ll likely need a supplementary light source as you work. Additionally, the throat is 5.5 inches wide, which is good for most projects but might be a little tight when you’re working on large quilts.
Best for Making Clothes: Janome 4120QDC Computerized Sewing Machine
120 stitch options, plus seven buttonhole styles
Easy-to-read LCD screen
Free arm for small openings
Seven presser feet included
Able to remember stitch patterns
Manual thread tension control
For those who like to make their own clothing, the Janome 4120QDC offers an unbeatable combination of versatility, precision, and power. It offers 120 different stitches, including alphabet fonts in American, European, and Cyrillic, and it comes with seven presser feet, including a zigzag foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, blind hemming foot, and more—basically, everything you need to create beautiful handmade garments.
This sewing machine is controlled by an easy-to-read LCD screen with a touchpad on the side for easy navigation. It has a removable storage compartment that turns the machine into a free arm for those times you need to stitch small openings, and its Superior Plus Feed system delivers more even stitching. The machine can even remember stitch patterns, as well as whether you want the needle to stop in the up or down position. The one major downside is that the machine doesn’t automatically adjust tension when you switch stitches—depending on your skill level, this might not be a big deal, though.
Best for Beginners: Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine
27 basic stitch options
Lightweight and portable
Free arm for smaller projects
Accessories fall out of storage compartment
Not ideal for large projects
For your first sewing machine, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Brother XM2701. While it’s not the cheapest product available, it’s ideal for beginners thanks to its modest stitch selection, intuitive operation, and overall versatility. During testing, we liked that this machine was easy to operate, even for those who are new to sewing, and it has useful features such as a jam-resistant bobbin, automatic needle threader, and an auto-size buttonhole.
You can adjust the stitch setting on this machine via the front dial, and a numbered threading diagram right on the machine guides you through the setup process. There are dials on top of the machine to adjust the stitch length and tension, and there’s a removable storage compartment that allows you to access a free arm, which is ideal for sewing small openings, such as a shirt sleeve or pant cuff. Because this sewing machine is compact, it’s not the best choice for large projects, such as bulky quilts, and our tester did note that the accessories often fall out of the storage compartment.
Best for Embroidery: Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Machine
138 embroidery designs and 11 fonts
5 x 7” embroidery field
Touchscreen provides color preview of designs
My Custom Stitch feature
Not all flash drives are compatible
The Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Machine isn’t cheap, but it’s one of the top options for anyone who wants to be able to create stunning embroidered creations. This machine has a spacious 5 x 7” embroidery field, and it comes programmed with 138 embroidery designs, as well as 11 fonts. It has a built-in memory that allows you to import additional designs, and you can adjust the size, colors, and orientation of your motifs using the unit’s touchscreen.
In addition to its embroidery capabilities, this sewing machine has 240 stitches and comes with eight presser feet, including ones for buttonholes, zippers, overcasting, blind stitching, monogramming, and more. The machine has an automatic needle threader and lets you create your own custom sewing stitches, if desired, and it even comes with a knee lifter to keep your hands free as you work. One quirk to be aware of is the machine doesn’t like certain flash drives, forcing you to reformat them. However, once you find a device that’s compatible with the machine, you shouldn’t have any issues.
Best Serger: Brother Serger 1034D Heavy-Duty Metal Frame Overlock Machine
22 stitch functions
Color-coded threading guides
Uses standard sewing machine needles
Includes free arm
Hard case not included
No thread cutter
The Brother 1034D Serger will make quick work of the seams on your sewing projects thanks to its fast speeds of up to 1,300 stitches per minute. With its three included presser feet, this machine is able to create 3- or 4-thread overlock stitches, as well as rolled, ribbon lock, or narrow hems, and if you purchase additional feet, it can also do blind hemming, pin tucks, and flat lock hems.
This serger has a durable metal frame, and it can handle multiple layers of denim or other heavy fabrics. It has a color-coded upper thread guide that makes it easier to set up, and you can adjust the stitch width and thread tension to suit your project. There’s even a removable free arm for sewing cuffs, and the machine uses standard sewing machine needles, so you don’t have to buy specialty ones. As for the negatives, the serger doesn’t come with a hard case—you’ll have to purchase one separately—and doesn’t have a built-in thread cutter, so keep your scissors nearby.
No matter your skill level, the SINGER 7258 Sewing & Quilting Machine is an unbeatable choice for your sewing needs. It offers 100 stitches, six buttonhole options, and eight presser feet, as well as lots of useful features like a built-in needle threader, free arm, and automatic stitch adjustment. All that and it’s reasonably priced, to boot. If you’re looking for a simple, inexpensive option for basic sewing tasks, the Janome Easy to Use Sewing Machine (view at Joann) comes with 15 basic stitches and one buttonhole option, and you can choose from several bright colors, as well.
What to Look for in a Sewing Machine
One of the key factors to consider when purchasing a sewing machine is how many stitches it offers. Basic machines may just have one or two simple stitches, while high-end models often offer hundreds of decorative stitches.
When you’re first starting out, an entry-level model with a few simple stitches will likely be enough: “A basic sewing machine for a sewist or quilter needs just a few functions—a straight stitch, zigzag stitch and the ability to reverse stitch. Any other features are a bonus,” says Lakir. Once you’ve moved on to more intricate projects, you may want to look for a sewing machine that has decorative stitches, multiple buttonhole options, and even embroidery capabilities.
Similarly, most sewing machines comes with multiple presser feet, and these attachments allow you to complete different sewing tasks. Most machines have separate feet for general sewing, buttonholes, zippers, and blind hems, and more advanced models may also come with specialty feet, such as options for darning, overstitching, and more.
Consider the types of projects you plan to do while looking at different presser feet: “ Don't buy a machine based on the number of features 'just because,'” says Lakir. “Figure out your sewing project goals and buy accordingly.”
There are two main styles of sewing machines available today: computerized (or electronic) options and mechanical/manual machines. “Computerized models set stitch tension automatically and stitch settings are also preset,” explains Cheryl Hoffman, Manager of Product Education for Brother. “When using a mechanical machine, each of these settings must be adjusted manually with each stitch selection. With a computerized model, you spend your time sewing rather than focusing on setting up the machine.” However, keep in mind that computerized models have more advanced inner workings, which often makes them more costly to repair.
Compact sewing machines may weigh as little as 10 pounds (sometimes even less), while heavy-duty machines can be 25 pounds or more. If you’re planning on taking your sewing machine to classes or sewing retreats, you’ll likely want a lightweight model that’s easy to carry. The same holds true if you don’t have a designated workstation for your sewing machine—a lighter model will be easier to pack up and store after you’re done using it.
If you’re planning on working with heavy fabrics or completing bulky projects, you’re going to need a more durable sewing machine. Applications like quilting and upholstery require more power and thicker needles—without them, you may end up breaking your machine’s needles or having uneven stitching.
Like a car, sewing machines require regular servicing for optimal performance, so you’ll want to see if there’s an authorized service facility nearby. “Higher quality brands have their own dealer stores with better maintenance and repair options,” explains Lakir. “Check your local area for a dealer near you, they often have used models for sale and many include sewing lessons in your purchase.”
Automatic needle threader
The eye of a sewing machine needle is typically quite small, which is why many people prefer sewing machines with automatic (or at least semi-automatic) needle threaders. This feature saves you the trouble of painstakingly guiding a thread through the machine’s needle by hand—instead, you simply put the thread into the correct position and the machine takes care of the rest.
Built-in thread cutter
Another popular feature on modern sewing machines is a built-in thread cutter. As its name suggests, a thread cutter makes it easy to quickly cut off threads as you work. Some thread cutters are simply a small blade where you can slice threads manually, which certain high-end sewing machines cut the threads for you with the push of a button. Either way, it saves you from having to keep a pair of scissors on hand as you sew.
Most sewing machines come with some type of storage case, which keep dust and dirt off your appliance. However, a hard case offers more protection than a dust bag or soft-sided case. With a hard case, you’ll be able to store or transport your sewing machine more easily without worrying about it being banged around.
How do you thread a sewing machine?
Threading a sewing machine can seem like a complicated task, but once you get the hang of it, the process will become second nature to you. First, you’ll need to wind a bobbin—that small spool of yarn that goes underneath the presser foot—and insert it into the compartment. There should be arrows showing you which direction the bobbin thread should go.
Next, place a spool of thread onto your machine’s thread pin and guide it through the thread guide on the left. From here, the thread typically needs to go around the U-shaped guide then through the take-up lever. Once that’s done, you can pull the thread down to the needle, where it can be threaded through the eye. Finally, use the needle position knob or button to lower the needle all the way down and back up again to catch the bobbin thread.
What is a serger sewing machine?
Sergers are a type of specialty sewing machine that create a professional-grade binding for fabric using an overlock stitch, and they’re beneficial for sewists who make lots of clothing or other projects that need sturdy seams. These machines typically use between two and five threads to create durable seams, cutting off excess fabric as they go. It’s important to note that sergers are only able to sew seams and are not a replacement for a standard sewing machine.
Can you embroider with a sewing machine?
Certain sewing machines have embroidery capabilities, allowing you to create intricate designs and monograms on your projects. However, it is possible to do embroidery on a regular sewing machine, especially if your machine has lots of decorative stitches. To do this, you’ll want to transfer a template onto the fabric and use a piece of iron-on stabilizer (view at Amazon) to hold the fabric steady as you work.
How do you maintain a sewing machine?
Sewing machines require regular maintenance if you want them to last as long as possible. This includes cleaning out dust and lint, as well as regularly oiling the inner workings. “Be sure to clean under the needle plate to clear any lint and threads with a soft brush or vacuum to ensure good stitching, change your needle often, and use the correct needle for the project,” recommends Hoffman. “It is also a great idea to take your machine to an authorized dealer for an annual checkup to keep your machine running smoothly.”
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. She learned to sew when she was a teenager and furthered her skills while studying fashion during college. Today, she uses a hand-me-down Janome sewing machine to make reusable tote bags—sadly, the exact model has been discontinued, but it’s still going strong 15+ years later.
While researching sewing machines, she spoke with several experts, including sewing expert Marissa Lakir of Stitch Clinic, Cheryl Hoffman, Manager of Product Education for Brother, and her close friend Kate Ellsworth, a hobbyist quilter with several years of experience. Following their guidance, she selected sewing machines from well-respected brands, looking for models that offered a range of stitch options, accessories, and additional features.