When it comes to picking a sewing machine, buyers should consider their skills, potential projects, and budget. Beginners will want an inexpensive machine that will help them learn the basics, while advanced sewers might want to spend a little more on a durable machine with fewer plastic parts and more specialized features. For instance, some machines are much better tailored to quilting, embroidery, and serging seams than their more basic counterparts.
Experts generally recommend prioritizing... ease of use—features such as adjustable sewing speed, one-step buttonholes, and automatic threaders—over how many stitches a sewing machine boasts. Presser feet that can tackle a variety of sewing techniques are also helpful. And consumers can help do their part by using quality thread and sharp needles that are suited for the fabric they’re working on.
Here are some of our favorite sewing machines for a variety of needs.
01 of 07
Buyers looking for a sewing machine that can do it all at a reasonable price should consider the Singer 7258. Available in either 70- or 100-stitch versions, this computerized machine offers the basics (straight stitches and zigzags) as well as decorative stitches, quilting and heirloom stitches, and seven kinds of one-step buttonholes. Ten metal presser feet are included with the machine.
Reviewers rave about the Singer 7258 when it comes to ease of use. Features include an automatic needle... threader, top-loading bobbin, an LED-illuminated sewing surface, speed control, and a needle that can be programmed to stop in the up or down positions. Users say it’s easy to switch between stitches with built-in arrow buttons, and they also love how quiet the machine is while it’s sewing. A few warn that a heavy-duty machine might be a better choice for projects involving thicker fabric, though.
The Singer 7258 is backed by a 25-year limited warranty. Singer touts the machine’s “heavy-duty metal frame,” but some reviewers say they are disappointed that crucial parts such as the pedal and bobbin cover are made of plastic.
02 of 07
While it isn’t as feature-packed as its pricier competitors, users say the non-computerized Brother XL2600i still offers a lot of sewing machine for the price. There are 25 stitches, including all the basics for garment construction, as well as a few decorative, quilting, and heirloom stitches. It also includes a one-step buttonhole setting and five presser feet.
Users like the machine’s simple dial stitch selector, and they appreciate the top-loading bobbin and automatic needle threader. There... is also a built-in thread cutter and automatic bobbin winding. However, some say they miss having speed control, and others report issues with the thread tension. Thicker fabrics may also overwhelm this machine, users warn.
The Brother XL2600i comes with a 25-year limited warranty. While most reviewers are pleased with durability, especially for the price, some are skeptical that the plastic frame and parts will hold up year after year.
03 of 07
Intermediate and advanced sewers with a bit more money to spend give the feature-packed Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist high marks. This computerized sewing machine boasts a staggering 600 types of stitches, including 13 one-step buttonholes and five fonts for embroidering letters and numbers. It also includes 18 presser feet.
The Singer 9960 has the ease-of-use features most sewers would expect from a pricier, more powerful machine: There’s an automatic needle threader, automatic thread trimmer,... speed control, top-loading bobbin, and a large sewing surface with an extension table. An “auto-pilot” function lets sewers take their foot off the pedal without missing a beat, and the needle can stop in up or down positions. An LCD screen shows users which stitch they’ve selected, stitch length and width, and the recommended presser foot. Reviewers enthusiastically embrace all these features, and they say the machine is smooth and quiet.
The interior frame of the Singer 9960 is metal, and the machine comes with a limited 25-year warranty. While most users say it’s high-quality, there’s also more that can go wrong with more complicated sewing machines—there are scattered reports of thread jamming and other issues.
04 of 07
Beginners who can overlook the flowery case will find plenty to like about the Janome Magnolia 7318. Experts say it does a great job balancing value, features, and ease of use. This non-computerized sewing machine offers 18 decorative and utility stitches and a four-step buttonhole. It comes with three presser feet.
The Janome Magnolia 7318’s features include a top-loading bobbin, large sewing surface and adjustable needle position. The machine has easy-to-use dials that control the stitch... selection and width. While the sewing speed is controlled with the foot pedal. This model also gets praise for its smooth and consistent stitching. Reviewers like that the presser foot can be lifted quite high to accommodate thicker fabric.
Some users say they wish the machine were quieter, and while some note it doesn’t include many presser feet, they say they are cheap and readily available. Janome backs the Magnolia 7318 with a 15-year limited warranty.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Quilters who want a reasonably priced, mid-range machine that can help speed along their work should opt for the Brother PQ1500SL, which can blaze through up to 1,500 stitches a minute. This is a straight-stitch-only machine—preferred by most quilters because they are simple and more powerful—and it comes with seven presser feet.
One of quilters’ biggest demands is a roomy sewing area, which the Brother PQ1500SL has, especially with the included 12-by-18-inch extension table. It also has an... automatic thread trimmer, needle positioner, and needle threader. Reviewers particularly love the four feed dog settings that allow them to evenly sew just about any kind of fabric, thick or thin, but say they’re easy to raise for free-motion quilting, too. They also love the knee lifter, which lets them raise or lower the presser foot while keeping their hands on their fabric instead. However, setting the thread tension can be tricky, some say.
The Brother PQ1500SL comes with a limited 25-year warranty. Reviewers are pleased that there are very few plastic parts, and there are few durability complaints.
06 of 07
The Brother SE400 is a fully featured sewing machine that offers a lot of specialized additions for anyone who loves embroidery. It has 67 built-in stitches (including 10 one-step buttonholes) as well as 70 embroidery designs, five fonts, and 120 frame pattern combinations. An embroidery arm and 4-by-4-inch embroidery hoop are included along with seven presser feet.
Special features on the Brother SE400 include LED touch-screen controls, an automatic needle threader, and a top-loading bobbin.... Some reviewers say the included embroidery designs are boring, but they also say it’s very easy to add new ones. Users can add designs by buying new patterns from Brother and loading them in a card-reader slot, but tech-savvy sewers appreciate being able to import designs they download on their computer by connecting the machine using an included USB cable. All in all, reviewers say this machine is just plain fun, and their only other major critique is wishing for a bigger embroidery hoop to allow larger projects.
The Brother SE400 has a 25-year limited warranty. There is a metal frame, but as reviewers note, many of the other parts are plastic, and there are some durability complaints.
07 of 07
Advanced sewers who want fast, clean seams often add a serger to their repertoire, and reviewers say the Juki MO644D is one of the best. Users can sew seven types of stitches with two, three or four threads. The machine comes with a multi-purpose presser foot that can handle tape and elastic, and it is compatible with other Juki presser feet.
The Juki MO644D has features including a differential feed, a color-coded threading guide, dial-adjusted thread tension, a built-in heavy-duty fabric knife,... automatic rolled hemming and adjustable stitch length and width. Though Juki recommends this machine for light- to medium-weight fabrics, reviewers say it’s still powerful enough for many thicker fabrics including denim, fleece, and multi-layered wool. They also say it’s quite stable while working, and they like the machine’s relatively small footprint. The five-year warranty is shorter than many, but there are very few durability complaints.