A sewing machine can give you the freedom to make your own projects, from clothing to crafts. When you’re just getting started, however, a standard machine can be a bit overwhelming. What’s more, you probably don’t need all of the stitch variations and other bells and whistles. That’s why a beginner-friendly machine is a great idea.
These sewing machines have fewer options and easy controls, so you can master them quickly. As a bonus, they’re usually more affordable than higher-level machines — a great advantage when you’re just getting started. Naturally, beginning sewers come at all levels. The best machine for you depends on what you want to accomplish and what experience you already have.
If you simply want to make clothing, all you need is a few simple stitches, plus the ability to make buttonholes and zippers. If you want to get a little fancier, you might look for a wider stitch variety. The controls of the sewing machine also have a big impact on its usability. As you search, look for machines with clear, easy-to-understand labels. It’s also helpful to choose models that come with manuals or instructional DVDs.
To help you make sense of the sea of sewing machines that’s available, we’ve selected our five favorite models.
Top 5: Sewing Machines for Beginners Review
Product Image & Rating (Out Of 10)
The Brother XM2701 is a simple, versatile sewing machine that’s perfect for beginners. It’s also lightweight and compact, so it makes an ideal solution if you want to tackle sewing projects while you’re away from home. The machine comes with a handy instructional DVD that gives you visual guidance as you learn to use the different functions.
This machine comes with 27 different stitches. You can use the simple straight stitch for standard seams. For knits, the machine has a zigzag and stretch stitch. It also offers options for blind hems, which is handy if you’re planning to make clothing. If you want to branch out into crafts, the machine has a few decorative stitch options to give you greater creative flexibility.
When you need to change the foot on the sewing machine, a quick-change mechanism makes the task a breeze. With the six included feet, you can make buttonholes, zippers, blind stitches, narrow hems, and more. This bundle gives you the ability to tackle a huge range of clothing and other sewing projects, right out of the box. An onboard LED illuminates your work area and makes it easy to change the feet.
If you’re new to sewing, bobbins can be a source of frustration. This Brother machine eliminates that risk with a jam-resistant bobbin. The drop-in system makes loading new bobbins a breeze.
With just six built-in stitches, the Singer Start 1304 is a great choice for absolute beginners. Even with its limited stitch count, you can still achieve a great deal with this powerful machine; it includes straight and zigzag stitches, as well as blind hem and scallop options, giving you everything you need to sew woven and stretch fabrics. Plus, with the four-step buttonhole option, you can create professional-looking finishings.
Operating the Start 1304 is a breeze. Each stitch is printed on a front dial — to select a stitch, simply rotate the dial. There are also convenient threading diagrams printed directly on the sewing machine, so it’s easy to load in a new spool. A second spool pin allows you to sew with a double needle. Need to make a hem? The built-in free arm allows you to move the fabric easily under the needle.
This sewing machine is small and easy to lift, so it works well if you don’t have a dedicated sewing area. Simply pack it up between uses and store it on a shelf or in a closet. A flip-up top handle makes it a breeze to carry.
Whether you’re a beginning sewer or you are simply working with a small sewing space, the Varmax Mini is a convenient option. This model is affordable, so it’s a great way to test the waters when it comes to sewing.
The biggest draw of this Varmax model is its size. It weighs just 2.8 pounds, so it’s small enough to take with you on vacation. If you live in a small apartment, this tiny machine allows you to get started with sewing, all without taking up valuable space.
When it comes to controls, this sewing machine is easy to operate. The ultra-simple controls are accessible for sewers of any level. That doesn’t mean you’ll sacrifice performance — this machine has a cuff slot, so it handles sleeves and pant cuffs. Plus, the large extension arm provides extra support for larger garments while you sew. You can also choose from two speeds or use double threads.
This tiny Best Choice Products Sewing Machine offers a convenient blend of function and size. It comes with 12 different stitch patterns, giving you plenty of options for clothing and craft projects. We love that the stitch patterns are printed on the front of the machine, taking away the guesswork while you sew. Plus, with a variety of options, you have enough stitches to tackle most beginner and intermediate sewing projects.
When you start sewing, the high-speed needle action can be intimidating. This machine helps by offering two different speeds. You can use the low speed as you learn; later, it’s useful for tricky stitching areas. The machine has a foot pedal and a hand switch to operate the needle.
Although it’s small, this sewing machine has everything you need to complete basic projects. An integrated thread cutter makes it easy to cut off the excess length at the end of the seam, and the integrated light illuminates the seam. With the tension dial, you can adjust the tension of each stitch to suit your fabric. On the base, a small compartment holds your small supplies in easy reach.
This Janome Sewing Machine is designed specifically for new sewers. Plus, with its reasonable price, this machine gives you a chance to experience the legendary Janome quality without the high cost of the brand’s higher-end machines.
Learning to use this machine is easy, thanks to the clear labels. For each of the built-in stitches, there’s an image that shows the stitch pattern, so you can always visualize what the final product will look like. Select the stitch using a simple knob. Another knob allows you to set the stitch length, which is crucial for gathering and working with stretch fabric.
Our favorite part of this sewing machine is that it allows you to progress through the learning process without the need to upgrade too quickly. When you’re ready to tackle button plackets, for example, the four-step buttonhole system enables you to create a professional finish. Since this model has a durable metal interior, it stands up to high-volume sewing.
On the base of the machine, a three-piece feed dog moves your fabric easily. Two spool pins enable double-needle sewing. With the included presser feet, you can tackle a range of projects. If you get lost, the instructional manual can help you get back on the right track.
When you’re just starting out, all of these sewing machines can help you learn the craft. Our top recommendation, however, is the Brother XM2701. With its wide variety of stitches and easy-to-use controls, this machine will carry you through the beginner stage and into more advanced sewing.
Order the Brother XM2701 today, and get started on your sewing adventure.
best beginner sewing machine - Buying Guide
For many beginning sewers, a sewing machine is an investment. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to pick a machine that’s easy to use, but also complex enough so you can get your money’s worth as you progress. In some cases, you can also use these user-friendly machines for kids. If you’re an experienced sewer, you might want to buy a beginner machine as an affordable backup or to handle simple projects. As you consider your options, here are some things to look for:
Most sewing machines come with preset stitch patterns, such as straight, zigzag, and blind hem. When you select a stitch, the machine automatically follows that pattern. If you’re sewing clothing, you’ll probably only use a few stitches. If you want to do basic embroidery or decorative sewing, however, you might want more flexible options.
By buying a machine with more stitch options, you give yourself room to grow. If you’re buying a machine for kids, or if budget is very important, limited options can give you the power to make a wide range of projects without the higher price tag.
The number of stitches are only part of the equation; next, you should look at the ways you can customize the stitches. Can you adjust the tension? Can you choose the stitch length? If not, you may find yourself extremely limited when it comes to working with different fabrics. It’s always a good idea to choose a machine that has basic adjustment options.
Ease of Use
When you’re just getting started, a sewing machine can seem intimidating; that might motivate you to buy a simple machine. However, the learning curve is short, so don’t let a more complex system deter you. As long as the machine comes with an instructional booklet or DVD, you can learn quickly.
The exception? If you’re purchasing a machine for kids. For little ones, you’re probably better served by buying a machine with highly simplified controls. That way, your children can sew safely and independently.
Size is a key consideration when you’re buying a beginner sewing machine — especially if you have limited space to work with. Don’t worry if you don’t have a dedicated desk or room for your sewing; many people simply use any open space, and then store their machine between uses. If that’s the case for you, you may want to look for a sewing machine that’s small.
It’s also a good idea to check how much the machine weighs. That way, you can be confident that you can lift it to and from your sewing space. Other features, like a built-in handle, also make this process easier.
Commonly Asked Questions
Are sewing machines easy to use?
Some sewing machines are easy to use, while other options can be more complex. Choosing a model geared towards beginners can help you learn more easily since you won't be as overwhelmed with different options and features that you aren't ready for yet.
What are the different parts of a sewing machine?
While different sewing machines are pretty similar, each model has its own features and settings. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your machine or the manual before getting started with sewing.
First, you'll need to attach the power cord to the foot pedal and place it on the floor where you'll be able to reach it easily. Next, you'll need to select the stitch type you want and how close together or far apart you'd like the stitches to be. These options will usually be on a knob or dial along the front of the machine.
There should be a lever on the side of the machine that will let you sew in reverse. Be sure to locate this lever before getting started using your machine, since you'll need to know where it is when you are working.
Another part of the sewing machine you need to be familiar with is the presser foot. This is the metal foot that holds the needle where you sew. It can be raised or lowered to make it easy to put the fabric you'll be sewing on the machine and get the needle down and ready to work.
How do you thread a sewing machine?
Again, every machine is different, so the way you need to thread your machine may be slightly different from what we're sharing.
Begin by placing the thread you wish to use on the spindle on top of the sewing machine. Attach the spool holder to make sure the spool of thread stays on the spindle.
Next, you should see a guide on your machine to help you identify where to place the thread. The guide should help you route the thread through the correct path to the needle. Since you'll need to do this any time you want to change the color of your thread, you'll want to practice threading your machine a few times so it becomes second nature.
How do you thread a bobbin?
Before threading your sewing machine, you will want to thread the bobbin. Threading a bobbin will look slightly different on different machines, but you will need to put the thread on the spindle, wrap the thread around a hook/guide, and then through the correct hole in your bobbin cartridge. Then, you'll want to place the empty bobbin cartridge on the correct spot on your machine and press down on the foot pedal to wind the bobbin.
Once your bobbin has been threaded, remove the machine's bobbin cover and place the bobbin into the machine. This step will likely look pretty different for different machines, so be sure to consult your user's manual if you aren't sure what to do.
Can you use a sewing machine without a bobbin?
No, you will need to have the bobbin in the machine and properly threaded in order for your machine to work properly. Sewing machines need two spools of thread, so without the bobbin, your machine will not work correctly.
What supplies do I need for sewing?
If you're looking to start sewing, there are several essential supplies you'll need, in addition to the sewing machine. These include:
- Measuring tape
- Seam ripper
- Fabric scissors
- Chalk pencils
- Bias tape
How can I learn how to sew?
If you don't know how to sew, but would like to learn, there are a few different options for you to consider. If you have friends or family members who know how to sew, they can be a great resource to help you learn the basics and get started. You can reach out to them and see if they'd be willing to spend some time sitting down with you at your machine.
If you don't have friends or family members who sew, or they aren't local, you can look for sewing classes. A sewing class can give your hands-on experience with the guidance of an expert. They'll be able to help you learn how to use your machine and answer any questions you may have.
Finally, there are also lots of online videos and classes available that can be very helpful. While you won't have someone sitting right next to you to provide assistance and guidance, you can still learn a lot of tips and techniques from these courses and videos.
Where can you find sewing patterns?
If you have something in mind that you'd like to make, finding a pattern is a great way to ensure your finished product turns out as desired. Fabric and craft stores are a great place to purchase patterns. They should have a good selection for you to choose from to help you find just what you're looking for.
Patterns can also be purchased online. You can find some good options on craft store websites, Amazon.com, and many other online stores. Searching on sites like Etsy will also bring up numerous results for you to choose from.
If you're looking for free patterns, there are also numerous options for those online as well. A simple search for free sewing patterns or free patterns for dresses (or whatever item you'd like to sell), will yield many results for you to look through.
What is the easiest thing to sew for beginners?
If you're just starting sewing, looking at complex patterns can feel very overwhelming. To help you get more comfortable with your machine and get some experience using it, choosing a project geared towards beginners is a good idea. These projects are simpler and easier to follow to help you gain confidence and experience.
Below are a few ideas that you may want to start with as a beginner:
- Tablet case
- Tote bag
- Pajama pants
- Receiving blanket
- Reversible scarf
- Pin cushion
- Strip quilt
- Throw pillow cover
How long does it take to sew a dress?
Since everyone's skills are different, the amount of time it will take to sew a dress will vary from person to person. Experiences seamstresses can make a dress in abut 30 or 40 minutes. If you're just getting started with sewing, expect it to take you a good deal longer.
How long does it take to sew a quilt?
Making a quilt is a pretty complex project. You need to design, cut out, and layout the squares. You'll then need to quilt all the squares together and bind the quilt. In all, making a quilt can take at least 15 hours, and often times will take significantly longer.
A beginner-friendly sewing machine is a great way to try out a new hobby without breaking the bank. When you have a general idea of your space and your planned sewing projects, it’s easier to choose a machine that meets your needs.