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- 1 Sewing Machine beginners: overview of the main parts
- 2 Features all the best beginner sewing machines have
- 3 Nice extras to look out for
- 4 Questions to ask yourself before buying your first sewing machine
- 5 Selecting the best sewing machine for beginners
- 6 Trustworthy sewing machine brands for beginners
- 7 best beginner’s sewing machine reviews
- 7.1 Brother Sewing Machine, XM2701
- 7.2 Janome Arctic Crystal Easy-to-Use Sewing Machine
- 7.3 SINGER Start 1234
- 7.4 Spiegel SP3201 Sewing Machine
- 7.5 Brother Quilting and Sewing Machine, CS6000i
- 7.6 Janome MOD-19 Easy-to-Use Sewing Machine
- 7.7 SINGER 7258 Stylist
- 7.8 Brother Computerized Quilting and Sewing Machine, HC1850
- 7.9 SINGER Tradition 2277 Sewing Machine
- 7.10 Janome 2212 Sewing Machine
- 8 What is the best sewing machine for beginners?
- 9 want more sewing machine reviews?
When you’re brand new to the craft, finding the best sewing machine for beginners can be a daunting task. You like the idea of taking up the hobby (maybe you’ve even been hand sewing for a while), but where do you start when it comes to buying your first gadget?
The answer, friends, is right here!
In this post, I’ll go through all of the basic sewing machine parts beginners need to know about and a few starter questions you should ask yourself before parting with your hard earned cash.
I’ll also cover the essential features all the best beginner sewing machines will come with, as well as a few “nice-to-have” attributes to look out for, too. Then I’ll review my favorites and give you my top pick for the best simple sewing machine on the market.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
Sewing Machine beginners: overview of the main parts
For the sewing newbie, working out what’s what when it comes to the parts found on even the most simple sewing machine can be a job in itself. Some are self-explanatory, while others are downright confusing!
Here I’ll break down the jargon so you can buy with confidence:
Let’s ease ourselves in with something straightforward, shall we? A needle is a needle, right? Well, kind of.
Sewing machine needles are very different from those you’ll be used to if you’ve been sewing by hand. As with their hand sewing cousins, machine needles come in different sizes, but their look and makeup are entirely different.
Choosing the right needle for the task at hand is essential, so you’ll want a decent selection, even as a beginner. Some fabrics (think leather and denim, especially) require different needles, as do certain techniques, but one thing is universal…they need to be sharp!
Replace regularly, as a dull needle can cause damage to your machine.
The presser foot
Presser feet come in a number of different shapes and sizes, all of which are designed to make a specific sewing task simpler. In short, they broaden the functionality of your sewing machine and your repertoire as a sewer.
The list of available presser feet is way beyond the scope of this overview, but some of the most popular include the zip foot, buttonhole foot, blind hem foot, and the odd-looking walking foot.
The feed dogs
Feed dogs, or sometimes dog feeds, are essentially teeth that grasp the fabric as you sew, helping it along its way in order to keep the stitching nice and even.
This sounds like an essential component, and it is, but some sewing calls for the feed dogs to be lowered so you can go freehand…if you dare!
The bobbin (probably the nicest word in sewing!) is basically a small wheel or reel-like device that holds the thread that’s found beneath the needle. This thread is fed upwards through the throat plate (see below), connecting with the upper thread to create a nice robust stitch.
Bobbins can either be made of plastic, metal, or, in increasingly rare instances these days, wood. It’s absolutely vital to know which material is suitable for your machine, as using the wrong type can cause you to have stitching problems.
The throat plate (AKA stitching plate or needle plate)
At first glance, the throat plate looks to be simply a cover for the area where the bobbin is located, but it’s actually more than just that.
Situated below the needle and presser foot, the throat plate allows both the needle and the feed dogs to do their thing while also providing a smooth surface that helps the fabric glide through whilst being stitched.
There are also grid-like guides on the throat plate that help you stitch seams at various widths. Clever stuff!
The tension dial
The tension dial allows you to, somewhat unsurprisingly, adjust the tension of the thread so that you produce nice balanced stitches. For beginner machine sewists, tension can be cause for, erm, tension, but it’s an important skill to master.
For those machines with numbers, the lower ones on the dial mean loose, whereas the higher numbers will apply more tension, making it tighter.
Play around with your machine using pieces of scrap fabric so you can find out how it performs at different tensions. As well as using scraps to try out on, load your machine up with two different color threads, top and bottom. This way you’ll know whether to loosen off or tighten up.
The balance wheel
The balance wheel is exposed so that we can lift and lower the needle manually.
Located on the right-hand side of the machine, this wheel can be turned by hand to adjust the needle height without the motor running.
The foot pedal
While many of the best sewing machines now allow you to sew without a foot pedal, they are still provided for those who prefer to use them.
Foot pedals are used to start the sewing machine in motion, giving you control of the speed whilst keeping both hands free to guide the fabric. Some people are unable to use a foot pedal or simply don’t get on with them, and they can take a bit of getting used to.
If you feel like you might struggle to control a machine by foot or have a disability that prevents you from using one, look out for an appliance that has a start/stop button with speed control as well as pedal functionality.
Features all the best beginner sewing machines have
Now you know the main parts that make up any simple sewing machine, it’s time to look at what features you can expect to find on your new device:
A broad stitch library
While you won’t need hundreds of elaborate, decorative stitching options when you first start out, it’s nice to have a good range to ensure your machine will keep up with you as you learn.
Decent sewing speed
A high-speed machine may be a little scary at first, but opting for a machine with a decent upper end will allow you to grow into the appliance and prolong its usefulness as you progress along your sewing path.
Some of the best sewing machines for beginners have adjustable speeds, which can help prevent them running away with you when you first start out. Variable speed control is going to cost a little more, but I’d strongly advise you to consider it as it really is handy.
I’d even advise intermediates and above to go down the variable route, as the increased control can make a big difference to your enjoyment levels, which is why most of us sew, right?
Let’s face it, squinting and swearing every time you need to thread your needle isn’t going to make your hobby more enjoyable, is it? The good news is that many sewing machines now come complete with a needle threader, so it’s a far easier task to complete than it used to be.
Whether it’s a fully automatic threader or a separate tool, make sure your new appliance comes with a needle threader.
Range of presser feet
As we touched upon above, presser feet are an essential piece of kit if you want to make the most of your gadget, which is why all the best starter starter sewing machines come with more than one.
Having a range of presser feet at your disposal opens up a world of possibilities. Sure, you can buy each presser foot individually but, when you’re laying out a substantial amount on your new machine, it’s always nice to have a few to get you started.
If you plan to make clothes with your appliance (and let’s face it, who can resist?), then you’re likely going to want to make your own buttonholes at some point.
Automatic buttonhole feet are a hassle-free way to do what has always been a tricky job, so look out for these in particular.
Adjustable feed dogs
Being able to lower the feed dogs is a must if you want to try your hand at freehand sewing. Thankfully, most of the newer machines on the market have a little switch that allows you to do just that.
Older machines used to utilize a plate which served as a cover for the dog feed, but this was often fiddly and cumbersome. Being able to physically lower them is a far better option, in my opinion.
Hassle-free, quick-start operation
Last but not least, the best beginner sewing machine should be easy to use almost straight out of the box.
Lengthy setup times and hard to understand instructions are, frankly, boring – you want to get sewing, after all – so all the best ones will be simple to use, even if they are tough to master!
Nice extras to look out for
Although, going for all the bells and whistles is tempting, sometimes a simple sewing machine is best when you’re new to the craft. That said, there are a few things that can be taken into consideration, providing they fall within your budget.
With this in mind, what you’ll find below are a couple of things that are definitely nice to have, but non-essential when you’re starting out.
Let’s take a look!
This is a bit of a controversial one. Many old-school seamstresses will shake their heads at the mere sight of such an abomination, but I LOVE the fact that even beginner sewing machines are starting to become computerized and feature digital displays.
Why am I so enamoured by them? Well, for beginners especially, setting up a sewing machine correctly can often be a tricky and laborious affair, and having a display built in allows you to customize your controls and stitches with ease…which is vital when your stitch library starts to hit three figures!
They are a boon, in my opinion.
Naturally, however, these are only found on computerized devices, but if you’re in the market for a mechanical machine it’s highly likely a LCD screen won’t be high on your feature list anyway.
An even more comprehensive stitch library
If you want to future-proof yourself somewhat, you might want to go for an appliance with a broader range of stitches built into the machine. This will, again, allow you to grow into it, while remaining easy to use in the early days.
Some of the newer, computerized machines have the capability to update designs via a USB connection, which is very state-of-the-art, but possibly overkill for the complete novice. Instead, look for a solid starter sewing machine with a good pre-programmed stitch library…unless you really want to splash out, of course!
Questions to ask yourself before buying your first sewing machine
Right, I’m going to put you on the spot with a few questions. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to tell me your answers, but you should have a few things clear in your mind before you make your final decision.
What’s my budget?
This is important…especially if you’re a bit of an impulsive purchaser, like me! Knowing your budget and sticking to it will lessen the chances of experiencing buyer remorse and keep your bank manager (or significant other) happy.
I know it can be tempting to go for the most expensive model available, but for most people starting out on their sewing journey it simply isn’t necessary. Often, the best sewing machine for beginners is one they can comfortably afford and not regret buying in the first place.
What am I going to be sewing?
This is an important one, too. Knowing what you’ll be using the machine for will inform your choice and ensure your new gadget fits your needs.
Are you going to be sewing leather, denim, or heavy upholstery items? If so, you’re going to need something that stands up to the demands these fabrics make on the machine. Equally, if you are going to use it for quilting or embroidery, buying a beginner’s sewing machine that is purpose built will serve you well here.
How often will I use my new sewing machine
The penultimate question you need to consider is how often you’ll be using your new gadget. It’s important to be honest with yourself here: are you the sort of person who obsesses about something something for a month or two, only to drop it once the novelty wears off?
If you are, you might want to opt for a machine at the cheaper end of the market to ensure this is a hobby that’s going to stick this time around. While I’m a keen advocate for spending as much as you can possibly afford in order to future-proof yourself and prevent unnecessary consumption, I’d also hate for you to waste your money. These items aren’t cheap, even at the beginner end of the spectrum.
Will I need a computerized or mechanical sewing machine?
Our final question is a big one: should you choose a mechanical or computerized sewing machine? This really is a personal call and you’ll see differing trains of thought in sewing magazines and blogs across the globe.
Ultimately, I think the answers you have given above will be your best guide here. Your budget, usage, and styles of sewing will point you in the right direction. If you are going to be using your new appliance often, have a chunk of change to spend, and need it to be able to handle tasks like buttonhole sewing, computerized is the way to go.
On the other hand, if you’re more inclined to use it infrequently, are operating on a budget, and will only be doing light sewing tasks, then a mechanical beginners sewing machine would be best.
One final thing to bear in mind is how comfortable you are with technology. If you often find yourself swearing at your TV’s remote control, a computerized sewing machine probably isn’t for you!
Selecting the best sewing machine for beginners
Before we dive into my reviews, I thought you might be interested in the criteria I used to finally arrive at the best sewing machine for beginners.
While I looked at everything I would like to see if I were in the market for an entry-level sewing machine, I concentrated mainly on six key areas when reviewing each of the models below. These, I believe, are the most important for those starting out:
Ease of use
Naturally, this is going to be a big one for any newcomer, and it was paramount in my review selection. Many machines on the market today frankly overcomplicate things and I could easily see those products being left under the stairs, slowly gathering dust.
We don’t want that!
My selections are all straightforward to use and offer a gentle introduction to the craft any novice sewer would appreciate. That said, I’ve also tried to avoid the super-basic models, as many of these simply don’t offer enough flexibility or value for money (more on these in a bit!).
To be honest, if you stick with the known brand names, most beginner sewing machines are made to an exceptionally high standard.
While it’s true that a well looked after 100 year old hand-driven machine can work as well as it did on day one and the newfangled computerized products have far more to go wrong, you’ll still easily get a good 15 to 20 years out of these new kids on the block. More, probably.
The key reason why people often get rid of their sewing machines these days is simply to upgrade, rather than through a mechanical failure. That said, there are still a few “lemons” on the market that use flimsy parts, so I’ve taken this into consideration, too.
As mentioned above, I’m keen on buying a sewing machine suitable for a beginner, yet able to please the intermediate sewer too. This, to me, is important because you’ll want a machine that will allow you to grow and improve, broadening your skills over the months and years.
We’re all guilty of contributing to the throwaway society to a greater or lesser extent, so being mindful of such things is a positive step. It’ll also bring you a greater amount of satisfaction and pleasure as your skillset develops and your new toy turns into a trusted friend.
Not many people consider this when looking for the best starter sewing machine, but it’s an important factor, I think. Let’s face it, if you’re a rookie, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have an entire room dedicated to sewing just yet, which means you’re going to have to move this beast around…and they can be heavy!
The thing is, heavy can be good, too. You’ll want something with enough weight so it doesn’t move and wobble when you sew, but you also want it to be light enough to move easily and safely; it’s all about balance, and I’ve taken this into account with these best sewing machine for beginner reviews.
Value for money
As I’m sure you’re already aware, the cheapest doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best value for money, nor does the dearest mean it’s the best. This is another balancing act, and I’ve tried to look at overall performance in relation to the product’s RRP to decide if each item does indeed offer good value for money.
Obviously, the amount each of us is willing to spend on any given thing is an individual concern, but I’ve tried to be fair here and give a range of products that all work well and justify their price tag.
Warranty and ease of repair
Finally, I’ve taken the length of warranty and how easy the machine would be to repair into account as well. These are probably more important to a newbie than anyone (although I’d certainly still check them out myself), as accidents can happen when you first start out.
Knowing that parts are easy to come by and the manufacturer is helpful can bring great peace of mind, so this made it into my criteria shortlist!
Trustworthy sewing machine brands for beginners
I touched on this in the build quality section above – if you stick with the big names, you’ll likely be in good shape. Brands like Singer and Brother are household names everyone has heard of, and there’s a good reason for that – their stuff works well, and has done for years – but there are other trustworthy brands out there that a newcomer to sewing may not have heard of.
Janome is one that’s very reliable and highly regarded throughout the industry. While the three that I review below ranged across the spectrum of hit and miss, this is largely because I was looking for the best simple sewing machine for beginners to get to grips with.
A similar fate befell another great brand, Juki. These machines are fantastic, but you can go into four figure prices when looking at these, so hardly something a beginner should be entertaining. The same can be said for Bernina, who manufacture the wonderful Bernette range for the domestic market.
Hence, not one Juki or Bernina made my list, despite their excellence.
best beginner’s sewing machine reviews
Now you’re fully briefed, it’s time to dive into the reviews…
Brother Sewing Machine, XM2701
Let’s kick off our best sewing machine for beginners reviews with the Brother XM2701. This is a great starting point for any newcomer and, if you expect that your sewing won’t go far beyond the basics, this entry-level machine may be perfect for your needs.
For a simple starter sewing machine, on paper the XM2701 packs quite a punch…all at a very reasonable price. Six feet are included, along with 27 pre-programmed stitches, so you’ll be able to handle plenty of everyday sewing tasks without needing to upgrade or buy additional accessories any time soon.
The inclusion of features like the automatic needle threader is extremely handy and very welcome on a machine in this price bracket. More standard is the LED lighting that illuminates the work area, but this could do with being a little brighter if I were to be super critical.
As we’re talking about the best starter sewing machines, it’s worth mentioning that the Brother XM2701 is really simple to use and comes with an instructional DVD that lays out all the basics to get you up and running in no time…and it is excellent. Even an absolute novice will be able to whizz through their first stitches within an hour of taking the machine out of the box.
So, after reading the above, you should stop reading this post and go order this one, right?
Not so fast.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place to start, and the price at the moment is extremely reasonable, but it’s not without issues.
First up, the tension system isn’t great and thread can get tangled or stuck fairly easily. This is annoying, to say the least, and I could easily see this being an even bigger problem for those new to sewing machines. Tension settings can be confusing at the best of times, and if they cause too many issues when first starting out it would be easy to give up on sewing altogether.
Second, the bobbin is not without problems. It can get tangled and stuck, mainly to the casing, and is generally of a poor standard. The overall build quality of the entire machine could be better as well. Sure, it’s at the lower end of the beginner sewing machine price range, but I’d expect better from Brother.
Finally, and possibly most important for the beginner, is the speed control. If you’re not used to using your feet and hands together (hello, non-drivers!) then this machine could cause problems for you.
As with all foot pedal speed controlled machines, more pressure means more speed, but the XM2701 seems to jump from barely moving to the full 800 stitches per minute without much in between. This IS controllable if you’re a seasoned sewing machine user, but for the complete beginner, it will take a bit of practice to get used to it.
- Good value for money
- Easy to use, and comes with a great manual
- Nice range of features, given the price tag
- Decent accessory pack included
- For basic tasks only
- Tension system is a bit hit or miss
- Tangles easily
- Build quality isn’t the best
- Mechanical, so no sliding speed control
- Jumpy foot pedal
Janome Arctic Crystal Easy-to-Use Sewing Machine
For those who think plain white appliances are dull, the Janome Arctic Crystal (and other models in the range: the Blue Couture and Pink Sorbet) is here to save the day! Built for beginners, this sewing machine is certain to attract admiring glances from the youthful end of the market, but should we all sit up and pay attention? Let’s take a look.
To start with, the Janome Arctic Crystal comes with four presser feet (so, basically three extra feet along with the general purpose one that’s already on the machine when you unbox) and 15 built-in stitches. This is just about enough to keep things interesting as you move from beginner to intermediate level, but only just. The other accessories included are welcome, albeit pretty basic and would be relatively inexpensive to buy separately if you had to.
Starting out with the Janome Arctic Crystal is about as simple as it can be, thanks to Janome’s excellent series of videos that have been produced just for this product. This is especially handy as the product’s manual leaves a lot to be desired.
While it’s easy to read and understand, it doesn’t go into much detail, which is weird for a machine “made with beginners in mind.” Thankfully, everything from changing the presser foot and needle through to threading the machine and winding the bobbin are covered in the video series, making it really simple to get to grips with, even if you’re a total newbie.
Fabric feeds through the machine nicely and the stitches are balanced and even. While I wouldn’t recommend putting anything too heavy through it, the machine is well made and I can see it lasting those who are intent on using it for lightweight sewing tasks.
Another plus for the Janome is the weight. While it’s certainly sturdy and definitely wobble-free, it’s not overly heavy (in fact, it’s quite lightweight) which makes moving it around the home and lifting it up onto a tabletop relatively easy.
Downsides? There aren’t many, to be honest. Some other users have had issues with the bobbin, but not many. All in all, if you’re looking for a beginner sewing machine that won’t break the bank and your sewing tasks will be infrequent and lightweight, you could do a lot worse than this colorful starter range from Janome.
- Fresh looking design
- Simple to use, with great instructional videos available
- Good feed system
- Stitches come out even and balanced
- Lightweight, yet stable
- Some reports of bobbin problems
- Range of accessories could be better
- Foot pedal only
SINGER Start 1234
To the first SINGER product on our list, then.
The SINGER Start 1234 is one of the famous company’s basic entry-level models, and it really is very basic. That isn’t a criticism (we’ll get to those later), just a fact, as it’s apparent even to the uninitiated that this beginners sewing machine has fewer bells and whistles than others in the same price bracket or below.
Maybe that brand name is worth a few bucks on its own?!
What comes in the SINGER Start 1234 box? Not much, really. Two additional presser feet, along with the general purpose foot, and a few accessories, including a pack of needles, a seam ripper, bobbins, and other odds and ends. There are only six built-in stitches, which is enough to get you started, but isn’t really enough to take you to the next level or keep you excited.
At a mere seven pounds in weight, the SINGER Start 1234 is very lightweight, yet it manages to remain stable when in use remarkably well. As with the Janome Easy-To-Use range, SINGER have produced some great tutorial videos to get you started, which not only include basic machine-related topics such as getting to know your machine, needle changing, and threading, but also short videos on techniques like buttonholing and adding zippers.
So, how does this simple sewing machine stack up in our reviews? Well, unfortunately, the basic aspect does not end at the included accessories and stitch count. The machine itself is, frankly, not good enough. Again, this is a beginners sewing machine at the lower end of the pricing spectrum, but it’s far from the cheapest and definitely isn’t the best.
Build quality isn’t what you would expect from one of the leading names in the industry. Some parts appear to be very cheaply made and look like they will be prone to breaking even when you very first unbox the item, which is disappointing.
The usual suspects are at play when it comes to negative reactions from purchasers, namely bobbin and timing problems, both of which are prevalent issues in these entry-level, beginner sewing machines. The foot pedal also seems to be unreliable, too, so this particular model isn’t going to make the grade in this list of the best starter sewing machine reviews.
- Very lightweight and compact
- Good range of accompanying videos
- Not very sturdy
- Cheap feel and parts look ready to break right out the box
- Timing issues
- Unresponsive foot pedal
- A bit too basic, even for beginners
Spiegel SP3201 Sewing Machine
Onto the only machine not manufactured by the “Big Three”, the Spiegel SP3201.
This basic starter machine comes with very few accessories (you do get a couple of extra presser feet – zipper and button – some bobbins, needles, and a cover, which is great), but what it lacks in extras, it makes up for in the machine itself. For the money, this is a brilliant way to get started with sewing.
What do you get, exactly? Well, for starters, this model comes with stuff others of a higher price are lacking, such as a thread cutter and an automatic needle threader. On the more straightforward side of things, the Spiegel SP3201 also comes with LED lighting and a top loading bobbin and a bobbin winder. Very handy.
While it’s just under double the weight of the SINGER Start 1234 at around 13 pounds, it’s still not that cumbersome. In fact, some would argue that the extra weight adds to the feel of sturdiness and quality…it’ll certainly help keep your machine stable in use!
On the topside of the outer casing you’ll find some very handy diagrams that explain exactly what you need to do to get the bobbin and needle threaded properly, which is awesome for beginners. No need to keep opening up that manual, as the step by step diagrams printed directly onto the machine have your back.
In terms of built-in stitches, the Spiegel comes with an impressive range of 32 to choose from, which is a great improvement on what we’ve already seen from the SINGER Start 1234 at six and the Janome Arctic Crystal at 15. While 32 isn’t a mind-blowing amount, it’s enough to allow the beginner sewist to learn and move into the intermediate stage over time.
Perhaps the biggest plus the Spiegel SP3201 has going for it, though, is affordability. It is extremely competitively priced and worth every penny of it. My only real gripe is that it can’t handle frequent stitching of heavy materials, but if you’re not going to be sewing denim or leather all that often, the Spiegel SP3201 is a fantastic introduction into the world of machine sewing.
- Very inexpensive, yet capable
- Some nice features, usually found on more expensive devices
- Easy to follow diagrams on the casing
- Nice amount of built-in stitches
- Accessory pack could be better
- For light work only
Brother Quilting and Sewing Machine, CS6000i
Next is the Brother CS6000i. This machine is a step up in terms of features and the tasks it can handle, but does all this make it the best sewing machine for beginners? Let’s find out!
For starters, the CS6000i’s basic outer shell will appeal to those who prefer a more minimalist look, as there’s little going on bar the almost ubiquitous stitch pattern key on the right-hand side of the machine.
A quick glance at this will show you that we have a lot more stitches to choose from here than with the other models we’ve already covered – 60 in total – and stitch selection is a breeze thanks to the LCD screen found in the middle of the machine’s body. This works really well and will certainly be a positive for the beginner who likes their gadgets to be, well, gadgety!
The Brother CS6000i also comes with a fine selection of presser feet: eight extra, to give you nine in total. These include the usual zipper and button feet, but there are also some nice extras such as an overcasting foot and a monogramming foot for those who want to up their game somewhat.
The LED light isn’t exactly blinding, but then I generally find the built-in lights of all machines to be sub par (I’m an advocate for extra lighting on my sewing table), so don’t read too much into that. The automatic needle threader, on the other hand, is brilliant.
So, what about the performance? Are all the accessories and features there just for show, or does the machine itself warrant the mid-range price tag in our best sewing machine for beginners list? Happily, it does. This machine is brilliant and certainly worthy of attention from anyone who has a little extra to spend and wants to start sewing with ease.
The CS6000i is very user-friendly and can handle most tasks you’ll throw at it as a newbie. The killer feature that sets it apart from the cheaper models on our list is the speed control, something I’d advise anyone starting out to invest in, as it just makes learning so much simpler and more enjoyable. This model goes at a decent lick when at full pelt (850 stitches per minute), so the chance to slow things down will be welcomed by new sewers, I’m sure.
Like the Spiegel, threading is made easy thanks to handy diagrams printed directly onto the machine. There’s another for bobbin winding, too. For those who want to get a little more adventurous, quilting is advertised as being “easy” with the CS6000i, but not everyone agrees on that front.
While it is billed as a quilting and sewing machine and has a nice wide table to help accommodate such tasks, it does tend to struggle with fabric that is either too thick to start off with or those that have been layered too heavily. This is slightly disappointing, but mainly because of the word quilting being present in the title and promotional material. At this price point, I wouldn’t really expect too much in the way of heavy-duty work, so it’s a minor complaint.
The warranty is 25 years, but be warned – that only really applies to the chassis. Accessories and any parts and labor charges are good for a year, with the electronics and circuit boards good for two. Brother also provide online tech support and have a free customer service number that can be called throughout the life of the product should you find yourself stuck or in need of help.
All in all, this beginner sewing machine is a fabulous way to get started on your sewing journey.
- Nicely selected stitch library
- Good range of accessories included
- Really good auto threader
- Beginner-friendly, but will also allow skills to develop
- Speed control
- Decent stitch per minute count (850)
- Quilting promises may be a little ambitious
Janome MOD-19 Easy-to-Use Sewing Machine
Another one from Janome now, and it’s a lot less garish than the previously reviewed Arctic Crystal!
The Janome MOD-19 is at the upper end of the simple sewing machine market and doesn’t come with anywhere near as many accessories as the Brother CS6000i. It also has fewer built-in stitches, a slower top speed, and a plastic general purpose presser foot! So, why the high price? Let’s take a look.
First off, let’s discuss what comes out of the box when you first receive your Janome MOD-19. As one might expect thanks to the name, the MOD-19 comes with 19 built-in stitches, which puts it around the lower-middle in terms of the others that make up our best beginner sewing machine reviews.
The extra presser feet fall into that same band, too, with only three extra being supplied. The promotional material states that four are supplied, which they are, but one is the all-purpose foot that is already attached, so not really an extra despite being made to sound like one.
Other accessories include some bobbins, a seam ripper, needles, and a screwdriver…so far, so standard! Where does that price tag come from?
Well, let’s start with ease of use. In some regards, it’s a cinch to operate as it has a built-in needle threader and an incredibly simple, jam-proof, top loading bobbin system. The dog feed is great too, and new users will appreciate the effortlessness with which fabric glides through the machine. Not too much snagging here!
Stitches can be adjusted by both length and width and free motion sewing is available thanks to the droppable feed dogs, which is operated simply by moving a lever…couldn’t be simpler. There’s also a reverse lever, too, which, again is welcome.
As with all the starter sewing machines thus far, the Janome MOD-19 falls down when presented with thick fabric. It’s not surprising, given the price bracket we’re looking at here, but it is important for you to know if you have your heart set on doing lots of denim or leather work.
The biggest concern with this machine is the presser feet. Plastic is never going to outlast metal, so why Janome decided to go down this route is a mystery. They are also incredibly awkward to change and you’ll constantly being in fear of breaking something whilst switching them over. Suffice to say, that’s not great for beginners.
To sum up, there are better options out there for the newcomer looking to select the best starter sewing machine…especially if they are willing to fork out the cash necessary to purchase a MOD-19.
- Easy to use bobbin system
- Excellent feed
- Stitches nicely
- Not much else in the box
- Presser feet are awkward to change
- Stitch library could be expanded
- Relatively expensive
SINGER 7258 Stylist
Time for another SINGER…the 7258 Stylist, to be precise!
If you’ve had a scout around online or in your local sewing store, it’s likely you would have already come across the SINGER 7258 as it is one of the most popular beginner sewing machines on the market.
What makes this particular model so attractive? Well, for starters, it is aimed at both big sewing markets: clothes and crafts. This machine is built with stylists in mind (hence the name), but it also works incredibly well for a number of craft-related tasks, too. Be warned, though, it’s another machine that won’t fair too well if you intend to frequently work with really heavy-duty fabrics.
What do you get when you unbox your new SINGER 7258? Both extra presser feet and built-in stitch count are well represented here, with 10 and 100 included respectively. Yep, with the 7258 you get 10 different presser feet and 100 built-in stitches to play around with. If you haven’t already gathered, that’s a lot of sewing options right there!
While all these additional options may be overwhelming and even a little daunting at first, don’t worry, the 7258 fairs admirably in the hands of both beginners and experts alike. The pricing falls towards the upper end of the beginner market, but the flexibility offered here makes it a worthwhile investment if you intend to keep on sewing for years to come.
Perhaps the biggest pull for those who are just starting to learn to sew is the autopilot feature. We touched briefly on this in our admittedly lengthy introduction, but I’ll go over the basics here again in case you missed it.
In short, the autopilot feature allows you to sew without the use of a foot pedal, which is obviously great for those who are unable to control a machine with their feet, but it’s also brilliant for beginners who may find achieving the correct amount of pressure challenging. All you need to do is manually select the sewing speed at which you’d like to sew, then hit the stop/start button to…stop and start!
Unsurprisingly, the 7258 comes with an automatic needle threader and a LCD stitch selection screen, which makes choosing the right stitch from the vast library a whole lot easier than having to fit that lot onto a dial! There’s also a very convenient bobbin loading system on this machine that will be mastered in minutes and a bobbin winder with auto-stop, so you won’t have to worry about overfilling your bobbins with thread.
This SINGER sewing machine for beginners also comes with more intermediate features like the programmable needle, which allows you to control where the needle stops when the machine comes to a halt. While you can certainly do without it when starting out, having it there will make it hard to revert back to a machine without it. It’s especially handy when you need all the room you can get, such as when you are putting together a quilt pattern, for example.
The performance is great, too. While it’s by no means the fastest machine out there, it sews beautifully, giving even, balanced stitches effortlessly. It’s also quiet as well, which is a bonus few consider but live to regret if they spend hours at their sewing table.
Put simply, I love this sewing machine!
- You get a lot for your money with the 7258
- Capable of seeing you well past the beginner stage
- Stop / start button with sliding speed control
- Great stitch library and accessory pack
- Stitches beautifully well
- Programmable needle included
- Reliable and quiet to use
- Could do with being a little quicker
Brother Computerized Quilting and Sewing Machine, HC1850
Another quilting and sewing combo from Brother, this time it’s the turn of the HC1850. How does it stack up against what we’ve seen thus far?
Pretty well, actually!
First things first, I’m not overly keen on the design. It looks old and tired, but aesthetics can be forgiven if it performs…and, in general, the Brother HC1850 does a pretty good job, both at all-purpose sewing and light quilting.
It comes with a highly respectable eight presser feet and a chart-topping 130 different stitches to choose from – even monogramming is covered here, albeit only with very basic designs, but still! The additional wide table is also useful for those bigger tasks and the LCD backlit display is clear and easy to read.
For the sewing beginner, our friend the adjustable speed feature is present and works well, ensuring that your machine will work with you, not against you. It’s also got the autopilot feature, too, which is great to see. Just having the choice available allows you to try both pedal and auto methods to find out which one suits you best.
In terms of accessories, there’s a fair amount to keep you going and all are presented in an accessory pouch, which helps keep them altogether. As well as the usual bobbins and needles, you’ll also get an eyelet punch and a cleaning brush that’ll keep your Brother HC1850 in tip-top condition. The included instructional DVD and manual are easy to follow, too.
The feed system is possibly the star of the show here, though. It’s incredibly user-friendly and all ability-levels will be able to sew straight and true, regardless of the fabric. Layers, too, are sewn together well (which is obviously important when quilting), and even light denim can be sewn with ease. It truly handles pretty much anything you throw at it with aplomb…providing your needle is nice and sharp, of course.
While we’re on the subject of quilting and the feed system, it’s worth pointing out the drop feed, too. As we’ve already gone over, having the ability to drop the feed dogs is vital for free-motion sewing, and especially handy for quilting. This is definitely a more advanced technique but, again, it’s always nice to have it there waiting for when your skillset catches up.
In terms of size and weight, considering the feature packed nature of the Brother HC1850, it’s relatively compact and not too heavy to lift, either. At just over 10 pounds, this could easily accompany you to sewing classes or be moved around the home without any trouble at all.
So, all good for this particular Brother, then? Not quite.
As has been seen with other machines on the list, the bobbin area can cause problems, either jamming or nesting the thread, which causes the machine to freeze. These issues seem to be relatively rare, but the root cause of the problem looks like it’s caused by the quality of the parts involved in this area of the machine.
Overall, I’d be willing to take a chance on the HC1850 as it’s such a good machine, bar the potential bobbin issue. In my opinion, if the appliance ships with misaligned casing or flimsy parts, problems will show up well within the warranty period, which is one year for such parts.
- Good range of stitch patterns to choose from
- Nice accessory pack included
- Easy to use, with a good accompanying manual & DVD
- Feed system is superb
- Design needs revamping
- Jamming and nesting can occur
- Some parts appear to be cheaply made
SINGER Tradition 2277 Sewing Machine
Time to switch back to something a little simpler. Next up, the SINGER Tradition 2277 Sewing Machine.
After all those bells and whistles featured on the above machines, the SINGER 2277 might look a little bit low key. Looks, however, can be deceptive…as can price tags!
This machine is at the cheaper end of the market, but it performs well enough considering you could pay double for some of the other machines on our list. Don’t misunderstand me here, it’s not without problems, but for the money, it’s worthy of a review.
The SINGER 2277 comes with four feet – zipper, buttonhole, button sewing, and all-purpose – and has a very reasonable 23 stitches built in. The frame is good and remains stable whilst sewing and stitch selection couldn’t be simpler, just turn that big dial!
Somewhat surprisingly for a machine in this price bracket, the 2277 comes with an automatic needle threader, adjustable stitch length and width, and a fully automatic 1-step buttonhole to make life easier and increase the versatility of your machine.
Threading the SINGER 2277 isn’t too much of a drama – both top thread and bobbin are very straightforward – and once it’s done, you’re off to the races! SINGER have made setup very simple and uncomplicated, which will undoubtedly be welcomed by all sewers, not just beginners.
When it comes to weight, it’s not too bad at 13 pounds. Sure, we’ve had lighter, but we’ve had heavier, too. The size is pretty compact as well, so it’ll store away easily if you don’t intend to leave it out, which you may want to do as it’s one of the prettier machines on our list of reviews.
With all that said, in this price range you will likely get issues, and three culprits seem to surface regularly with this particular model from SINGER, namely thread jams, problems with the bobbin, and our old favorite, an inability to handle heavy-duty fabrics consistently well.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you do generally get what you pay for and this is an extremely well-priced machine in terms of what it can do for the money. However, if you’re working on a budget and opt for the SINGER 2277 as your first machine, be aware that you might run into a few problems along the way.
- Good, solid chassis
- Some nice features for the price point
- Simple to get to grips with
- Easy to stow away
- Can jam easily
- Bobbin can throw a nest without warning
Janome 2212 Sewing Machine
Last up on this list of the best sewing machines for beginners is the Janome 2212. Let’s see what it can do, shall we?
First off, this (so-called) basic beginner sewing machine comes with three extra presser feet – zig-zag, blind hem, and a sliding buttonhole – and has 12 stitches built-in. When you compare prices against the others on the list and look at what comes with this model from Janome, you’ll likely be a little confused.
It’s not exactly in the basic bracket in that regard!
Let’s not allow that to distract us from what we’re here for, though. Is this the best sewing machine for beginners? Well, it’s certainly not the worst, but for the novice it’s not worth that price tag, either.
Not having adjustable speed could see this powerful mechanical machine running away with inexperienced sewers, which could easily lead to frustration on their part. It’s quick, which is fantastic once you know what you’re doing, but until then a little control would be welcome.
Regular work with thick, heavy fabrics could potentially be a problem, but that should come as no surprise by now. Only one of the machines on this list coped consistently well with things like light denim and leather (the Brother HC1850), so hardly newsworthy, but the price of this machine is getting very close to the range where it should be able to maybe do a little better.
It can certainly handle the odd job where jeans need to be altered or curtains made (and does so well), but if you’re planning on using this for everyday layered denim or leatherwork, you could run into difficulties. Personally, I’d much rather invest in a good quality heavy-duty sewing machine if that were the case but, for beginners, this is likely a step too far for now.
Stitch width is also restricted to 5mm, which isn’t too big of a deal, but not having a needle threader got a big thumbs down from me. Another thing that lets this machine down is the manual: it’s not great and could easily be confusing, especially for novices.
Please don’t get me wrong when reading the above, the Janome 2212 is a really great machine…just not the best sewing machine for beginners…which, after all, is what we’re here for.
- Feeds fabric well
- Produces nice, balanced stitches
- Solid and sturdy
- Good speed (860 SPM)
- Too expensive
- May be too powerful for beginners
- Poor manual
- Lacks features, given the price
What is the best sewing machine for beginners?
The reviews are done and the time has come to announce the winner…woohoo!
Actually, after going through this list, I have a couple of recommendations for the best beginners sewing machine, which I’ve split into two categories: Overall Winner and Best Budget.
For my money, the SINGER 7258 Stylist is the best starter sewing machine out there. This machine ships with enough spare feet (10 in total) and stitches (100) to make it not only great to learn on, but also brilliant to grow with.
It sews beautifully (and quietly), it’s easy to use, and also has the additional pull of the autopilot system and simple stitch selection going for it. I honestly believe you can’t go wrong if you make this your very first sewing machine.
While the SINGER 7258 Stylist gets my vote as best in show, I appreciate that not every beginner will want to invest that much money in their first machine. For those of you that just want to give sewing a go without laying out three figures, give the Spiegel SP3201 a try.
For the money, this little machine from the relatively unknown brand performs admirably. While it’s by no means going to take you into sewing superstardom, the Spiegel is a great machine for those who are working on a budget or simply want to give the craft a spin before moving up to the next level.
All that remains now is to wish you all the best on your sewing journey. Be sure to bookmark our homepage and check in with us from time to time.
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