Cheap Sewing Machine Review: Which Budget Option Is Best?

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BEST BUDGET OPTION
Spiegel Sewing Machine
JOINT MID-RANGE PICK
SINGER 7258 100-Stitch Computerized 76 Decorative Stitches, Automatic Needle...
JOINT MID-RANGE PICK
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-in Stitches, 2.0" LCD...
JOINT HIGH-END CHOICE
EverSewn Charlotte: 80-Stitch Computerized, Professional Quilting & Free Motion...
JOINT HIGH-END CHOICE
Janome JW8100 Fully-Featured Computerized Sewing Machine with 100 Stitches, 7...
BEST MECHANICAL DEVICE
Bernette 33 Swiss Design Sewing Machine
Spiegel Sewing Machine
SINGER 7258 100-Stitch Computerized 76 Decorative Stitches, Automatic Needle...
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-in Stitches, 2.0" LCD...
EverSewn Charlotte: 80-Stitch Computerized, Professional Quilting & Free Motion...
Janome JW8100 Fully-Featured Computerized Sewing Machine with 100 Stitches, 7...
Bernette 33 Swiss Design Sewing Machine
BEST BUDGET OPTION
Spiegel Sewing Machine
Spiegel Sewing Machine
JOINT MID-RANGE PICK
SINGER 7258 100-Stitch Computerized 76 Decorative Stitches, Automatic Needle...
SINGER 7258 100-Stitch Computerized 76 Decorative Stitches, Automatic Needle...
JOINT MID-RANGE PICK
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-in Stitches, 2.0" LCD...
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-in Stitches, 2.0" LCD...
JOINT HIGH-END CHOICE
EverSewn Charlotte: 80-Stitch Computerized, Professional Quilting & Free Motion...
EverSewn Charlotte: 80-Stitch Computerized, Professional Quilting & Free Motion...
JOINT HIGH-END CHOICE
Janome JW8100 Fully-Featured Computerized Sewing Machine with 100 Stitches, 7...
Janome JW8100 Fully-Featured Computerized Sewing Machine with 100 Stitches, 7...
BEST MECHANICAL DEVICE
Bernette 33 Swiss Design Sewing Machine
Bernette 33 Swiss Design Sewing Machine

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There are a number of reasons why you may be searching for the best cheap sewing machine on the market today. Maybe you’re on the lookout for a gift for a newcomer to the world of sewing or maybe you’re excited to try out this wonderful hobby for yourself.

You could be thinking of upgrading an old machine that’s had its day or be in need of a second, less expensive machine that you can take to classes or sewing circles. 

Some of you may already love sewing, but aren’t yet at the stage where laying out the best part of four figures for a machine is anywhere near feasible…or you could think that doing so would be a complete waste of money, regardless of how important the craft is to you.

The reasons are endless, and you’ll have your own cause for landing on this page (Hello, by the way!). 

Whatever motivation brought you here, I have good news…there are lots of inexpensive devices to choose from. However, the question remains: which is the best cheap sewing machine on the market today? I hope to give you some guidance on this with my reviews below.

First, though, let’s get a few things out of the way.

What is “cheap” exactly?

We will all have our own personal idea of what constitutes a cheap sewing machine. 

Some will regard a $2,000 appliance as a bargain if it’s going to be used for a business venture that will return many multiples of that over time, while others will want to buy a sewing machine under $100. 

Cheap is, after all, a very subjective and broad term.

For the purpose of this article, however, I’m going to take what I expect to be the majority view and stick with the lower end of the sewing machine market’s price range. 

I’m sure that many of you will still regard some of the tools listed here as expensive, but I’m going to do my best to introduce you to a range of options, so you can hopefully find something within your own personal budget.

So, what do I mean when I say best cheap sewing machine?

Put simply, no device reviewed here will cost you more than $300 to buy. This is correct at the time of writing, and will be checked frequently, but prices can go up and down…so don’t scream at me!

Quite a few sewing machines under $100 make the list, too, so most of you should find something suitable here.

Why a really cheap sewing machine could actually cost you more

burning money

It won’t take long for you to see that you can go really bargain basement when shopping for a cheap sewing machine. A quick search online will turn up numerous tools and devices, some of which fall well below $50.

The problem with the vast majority of these is that they are about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Sure, you might not spend much, but you won’t get much either. 

That’s not to say that upping your price range automatically ensures you’ll get value for money – it doesn’t. There are some shockingly bad appliances out there with mid-three figure price tags, too.

However, the really cheap sewing machines out there are worth disregarding en masse…there really aren’t any good ones to speak of. You’ll pick up some very decent sewing machines under $100, but go below $50 and you can forget it.

These sub-$50 devices are little more than toys, and bad ones at that. Buying one of these will cost you more in a number of ways.

Not only will you have to one day accept that you made a mistake and go out and buy a better machine (thus rendering your initial outlay money down the drain), you’ll likely lose money along the way as well.

Broken needles, ruined fabric, wasted thread…the list goes on. 

The biggest cost for many, though, is that they grow to hate sewing simply because they skimped on price and bought a machine that isn’t fit for purpose. Don’t be that person.

Shell out a little bit more (not a lot) at the start and you’ll likely save the difference over time.

Think inexpensive, not cheap

I know, I know, the title of this post is best cheap sewing machine, but really you should be thinking more in terms of inexpensive rather than cheap. Again, the term inexpensive is relative when it comes to actually placing a figure on it, but the meaning is somewhat different. 

While cheap and inexpensive are synonyms of each other, cheap will often be used to refer to an item’s quality as well as how much it costs. Inexpensive, on the other hand, refers solely to price.

So, go for the best inexpensive sewing machine you can afford, not the cheapest.

Working out your budget

piggy bank surrounded by seamstress measuring tape

Before you think about adding the best budget sewing machine to your basket, you need to work out what your own personal budget actually is. This is especially important if, like me, you’re prone to a little impulse shopping.

Once you know how much you can afford to comfortably lay out on a new tool, you can make a decision based on that rather than the emotional pull of shiny object syndrome. 

You will, however, need to exercise some self-discipline and stick to your budget, but that’s a whole lot easier to do when you actually know what that figure is.

Selecting the best inexpensive sewing machine for your needs 

Once you have a budget in place, your next job is to select the best budget sewing machine that meets the figure you’ve arrived at and fulfills the requirements you have of it. It’s no good buying a device that neatly matches your price range if it doesn’t meet your needs!

Think about what you are going to be using the machine for. 

Will you just have it on standby to carry out repairs as and when they arise, or will you be using it daily? Are you going to be using it for quilting or another sub-niche of the sewing world? What kind of fabrics will you be working with? Will you need an all-rounder or something more specific?

The more questions you ask yourself (and answer), the better, as this will give you a clearer picture of the type of sewing machine you really need. Buying something suitable will always beat buying something fast.

Things to look out for when buying a budget sewing machine

WOMAN READING CHEAP SEWING MACHINE REVIEWS

While the above depends upon your own personal requirements, there are a few universal features we should all be on the lookout for when shopping for a budget sewing machine. 

Here’s my top five:

Build quality 

Naturally, when you’re shopping for value, you need to be ultra-aware of how the product in question is made and to what standard of quality control the item has been subjected to. 

I’d love to be able to tell you that simply sticking with the big name brands would negate this but, unfortunately, that simply isn’t the case. There are, in fact, some awfully bad products available from some of the biggest names in the business.

Do your homework by reading reviews (as you’re about to do below!), take heed of word-of-mouth recommendations (and critical comments), and adhere to the old adage that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Warranty

This is somewhat of a follow up to the previous point, but it’s something that’s worthy of a section in its own right. As before, when shopping within this range, it’s important to be cautious. 

Buying a sewing machine with a decent warranty can help tip a tough decision between two devices, or can simply give you peace of mind when you’re unsure about laying out what, for most, will be a decent chunk of change.

Be sure to dig deeper than face value where warranties are concerned, though. Many manufacturers and retailers will emblazon their products with “25 YEAR WARRANTY” or similar, but this isn’t always what you think it is.

Sewing machine warranties are often broken down into sections. The chassis, for example, may indeed be covered for 25 years, but the motor might only be under warranty for two…and other parts even less. Read the small print.

Sewing speed 

The thought of operating a fast sewing machine may conjure up feelings of trepidation, but ensuring that your new purchase has a decent upper stitch per minute is essential if you want a machine that’ll allow you to grow into it as your skill levels progress. 

There’s not much point to saving money by buying the best cheap sewing machine now if, after six to 12 months, you start to feel limited by what you can do with it. So many fall foul here and end up buying a more expensive machine that they could have bought in the first instance…and, thus, save themselves the expense of the first purchase.

For those who are really anxious about sewing at speed, remember that many machines now come with sliding settings to help control the stitches per minute the device is capable of producing. 

This is regardless of how hard you put your foot down, the machine simply won’t go above the speed you’ve set it at. Those who have little experience with foot to hand coordination can also benefit from the speed control feature, although you’ll usually find it only on the more expensive models, unfortunately.

Stitch library 

Having a broad range of stitches to choose from will be seen as an unnecessary luxury by some, but others will welcome the choice; it largely depends upon what you are going to be using the appliance for.

For me, I’d rather have something that I don’t use regularly, but on occasion might want to, rather than go without altogether. Built-in stitches don’t always affect the price that much anyway, so it’s worth keeping in mind.

Most sewers won’t need hundreds and hundreds, but having a good library of stitches to select from will allow you to do more should the need arise.

Accessories 

Opting for an appliance that ships with a wide range of accessories can be a good idea if you’re working on budget. Things like presser feet and bobbins may not seem all that expensive when you look at them individually, but the cost can mount up over time, so get them with the machine if you can.

A word of caution here, though. Some poor machines hide behind the fact that they come complete with a huge array of accessories. It can be easy to see a huge bundle as better value, but if the most expensive part of the deal isn’t up to much, you’ll be left feeling shortchanged.

As with the appliance itself, it’s also important to do your homework on not only what you get, but the quality of the accessories in question, too.

Best cheap sewing machine reviews

So, here we are then, my best cheap sewing machine reviews. As mentioned above, all of these were listed below $300 at the time of writing, with a few sewing machines under $100 included. 

Hopefully, this will allow all budgets to enjoy this wonderful craft to the fullest.

Let’s get to it!

Brother XM2701

Brother XM2701

First up is an entry-level device from Brother – a great pick for anyone who is working on a budget and looking for a basic sewing machine that’ll handle simple tasks that need to be done infrequently. It is not, however, the best option for those who want to use their machines for more difficult work, or intend to use it any more than once in a blue moon, as it’s not without its problems.

This model ships with six presser feet and 27 built-in stitches, which will be enough for most who want to have a tool on hand for basic repairs and occasional forays into more creative work. It also has an automatic needle threader, which is great to see on a budget sewing machine, and it works pretty well. A timesaver, for sure.

However, the Brother XM2701 can have tension issues (which, in turn, will lead to you having tension issues, too!) and the bobbin can be troublesome as well. Those who know their way around a sewing machine will be able to fiddle with the tension settings and get things just so, but anyone coming to the craft green will find the process frustrating.

In terms of the bobbin, it’s really the casing that’s the main problem. Tangles and catches are not uncommon, so if you’re using the XM2701 a lot you could be left feeling a little exasperated with the stop / starting when things go awry. 

All that is not to say that the Brother XM2701 is a terrible machine; it really isn’t, but it’s not the best cheap sewing machine out there either. If you are in the market for an inexpensive model for occasional use, you could do worse…but you could do better, too.

LIKES
  • Very inexpensive
  • Easy to figure out
  • Automatic needle threader included
DISLIKES
  • For very basic tasks only
  • Tension issues are annoying
  • Bobbin casing could be better
  • Prone to tangles
  • Can be frustrating to operate

SINGER 7258 Stylist

SINGER 7258

On to the SINGER 7258 Stylist then, possibly the most popular inexpensive sewing machine on the market today.

The reason why that’s the case becomes obvious once you’ve sat behind one for an hour or two…this machine really is very good, and for the money it’s exceptional. Built with garment work and crafting in mind, the SINGER 7258 is going to suit most sewing needs, whether you’re looking for your first machine or have been stitching for a while.

Despite the incredibly reasonable price tag, this model from the best known brand in sewing creates beautifully balanced stitches consistently across all speed settings. 

Yep, you read that right. Although the 7258 is very competitively priced, it comes with a sliding speed control that allows you to slow things right down when required. You can also set your speed and make use of the start / stop button found above-right of the needle shaft if you’d rather sew pedal-free. A feature many fall in love with, even after years of using their feet to control their machines.

The SINGER 7258 Stylist excels in terms of accessories, too. With 10 different presser feet to be found inside the box and a wealth of other bits and bobs such as needles, bobbins (class 15J), seam ripper, spool pin felts, darning plate and more, this model is ideal for those looking for a one-stop shop.

The goodies continue when you look through the features list, too. We’ve already mentioned the sliding speed control and the ability to sew on “autopilot”, but there’s even more to the 7258. This appliance also comes with 100 built-in stitches to choose from, giving you a library that will cover most eventualities for the home sewer, and other features commonly found on more expensive devices.

Most notable of these, perhaps, is the programmable needle, which allows you to control the position of the needle whenever you stop sewing. This is great for applique work, free-motion sewing, or simply changing the direction in which you are stitching, as leaving the needle down will enable you to adjust the material you’re working with without losing your position.

On top of this, the 7258 also has a decent bobbin loading system that takes much of the hassle away, and a winder with auto-stop which enables you to fill your bobbins correctly without fear of overfilling. There’s also an automatic needle threader and a handy LCD screen to help you get to your desired stitch selection fast…vital when you’ve got 100 to choose from!

Possibly the only gripe one could have about the SINGER 7258 is the top speed. At a mere 750 stitches per minute, it’s not the quickest, but for many this won’t be an issue. Other than that, this is one of the best cheap sewing machines out there.

LIKES
  • Incredible value for money
  • Stitches beautifully well
  • Speed control option
  • Bobbin system works great
  • Programmable needle
  • Broad stitch library
  • Decent accessory pack
DISLIKES
  • Stitch speed is at the lower end

EverSewn Charlotte

Eversewn Charlotte

If you need your affordable sewing machine to be easy on the eye, the EverSewn Charlotte will please you greatly; it’s a thing of beauty. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, the design is very much in the Jony Ive style, and I love it!

Naturally, all that minimalistic polish will be for nought if the EverSewn Charlotte didn’t perform well in the sewing stakes, but thankfully it excels here, too. 

Speedwise, this model is up there when compared to others on this list of the best inexpensive sewing machines currently available. At 850 stitches per minute, almost all but those who sew for a living will be happy with the output. 

Conversely, as the EverSewn Charlotte is computerized, there’s no need to be put off by the extra oomph it brings either, as the sliding speed control allows you to slow things right down if need be. There’s also the option to go pedal-free if using your feet to power the machine isn’t your thing.

A decent enough 80 stitch library comes pre-programmed into this device and the discreet LED display makes selection simple. In order to keep the minimalist look as clean as possible, the stitch list is kept tucked away on a pullout card beneath the right hand side of the machine. Much nicer than the usual squiggly diagrams emblazoned on the casing itself.

Accessories are plentiful with this model, as you’ll get seven presser feet ship with this device – general-purpose, satin stitch, overcasting, blind hem, zipper, buttonhole, and button sewing – as well as an array of other items such as bobbins, three machine needles, brush/seam ripper, a large spool holder, small spool holder, edge/quilting guide, second spool pin, spool pin felt, and a large and small screwdriver set.

The only thing that could cause you to fall out of love with the EverSewn Charlotte is the automatic needle threader…it’s far from brilliant, to be honest. Way too fiddly and awkward to use, most will probably revert to doing the task manually, which is unfortunate as a good auto threader can be a huge timesaving feature.

Obviously, as this is at the upper end of the preselected price range I’ve stuck to throughout these affordable sewing machine reviews, the EverSewn Charlotte won’t be for everyone. However, you do get a lot of machine for the money and sewing on it produces such great results that it had to go in. 

Oh, and those looks…don’t forget those! If your appliance is going to be on show all the time, you’ll be as thankful to the designers who made the EverSewn Charlotte look like a work of art as the engineers who made it sew as well as it does.

LIKES
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Sliding speed control
  • Stitch library is well thought out
  • Good range of accessories
  • Solid feel when stitching
DISLIKES
  • Auto needle threader needs improving
  • Not the cheapest of cheap sewing machines

Spiegel SP3201

Spiegel SP3201

Next up we have the Spiegel SP3201, a cheap sewing machine from a lesser-known name. Don’t let that put you off, though. If you’re looking for a basic appliance that will handle general run-of-the-mill sewing tasks around the home, this is a pretty capable device for the money.

While one would expect a basic, budget sewing machine to be easy to use, that isn’t always the case. The Spiegel SP3201, however, doesn’t disappoint. It’s a stunningly simple machine, something that will be welcomed by those starting out on their sewing journey and any self-confessed technophobes out there. 

If you use a sewing machine infrequently or are just learning the ropes, you’ll appreciate the handy diagrams found on top of the machine’s casing. These unobtrusive drawings show you exactly how to thread the bobbin and needle, which means you won’t have to reach for the instruction manual every time you need to perform the task. A simple detail that is very handy indeed.

As with the SINGER 7258 reviewed above, the Spiegel SP3201 comes with some surprising features that one wouldn’t necessarily expect to see on such a low-priced sewing machine. 

Both an automatic threader and thread cutter are present on this model and they work really well (which isn’t always the case, especially in the needle threading department). There’s also a bobbin winder on the SP3201 and the top loading bobbin system works well, too. 

In terms of accessories, things are rather basic. The Spiegel SP3201 ships with only a couple of extra presser feet – button and zipper – and other goodies are limited, too. You do get needles, bobbins, and a cover, but that’s about it. That being said, we are looking at a very affordable sewing machine here, so this is to be expected.

Thirty-two built-in stitches are programmed into the Spiegel SP3201, which will cover most tasks encountered by the home sewist which, again, is pretty impressive when you take the price into account. By no means the most, but perfectly respectable for such a low-priced sewing machine.

Performance is also surprisingly good, too. Sure, it’s not going to compete with the heavyweights, but that’s not what we are looking at here. If you are looking for a competitively priced sewing machine for those odd jobs around the house, the Spiegel SP3201 should be on your shortlist.

LIKES
  • Extremely well priced
  • Very easy to use
  • Great for small jobs
  • Thread cutter and auto threader included
  • Bobbin system is surprisingly good
  • Basic, but capable
DISLIKES
  • Accessories are few and far between

Janome JW8100

Janome JW8100

Moving back up the price range a bit, it’s time to take a look at my Janome JW8100 review.

This is the first Janome model on our list of the best cheap sewing machines currently available, and it’s a decent entry from the Japanese giant. A quick word of caution, though…this is not as straightforward as, say, the SINGER 7258, so beginners would be well advised to look elsewhere.

That’s not to say that the Janome JW8100 is awkward or difficult to use, it’s not, but it does have a steeper learning curve, which is something that could frustrate those new to the craft. It’s also something that can be avoided by opting for another machine, so I thought it worth pointing out.

Like the aforementioned SINGER 7258, the Janome JW8100 comes with 100 built-in preprogrammed stitches, so the home sewist can purchase this product knowing that the library will cover pretty much every task required of a relatively basic sewing machine. The stitch quality is good across the board, too.

Feed-wise, the Janome JW8100 excels. The seven-piece feed dog system works really well, drawing fabric across the plate effortlessly and smoothly, regardless of the material used. Freehanders will be pleased to hear that those dogs can be easily dropped as well, so you ability to get creative isn’t going to be restricted with the JW8100. 

This model also ships with an extra-wide extension table, too, so you’ll be able to support larger products as you work – something that is particularly welcome when handling large quilts. There’s also an extra high presser foot lift as well, so quilters are well catered for here.

Speed controls are a feature of the JW8100 and they’re accompanied by a nicely responsive foot pedal. The choice to go pedal-free is also available thanks to the stop / start button, which is nicely placed.

Where the Janome JW8100 falls down is that it’s just a little bit touchy. Tension needs to be set just so and the needle threader is more finicky than it needs to be. These are not problems that are difficult to overcome and get used to, but they are minor annoyances that Janome could have possibly addressed in house before release.

The accessory pack is decent enough, though, and you’ll get six presser feet as well as all of the other usual suspects (needles, bobbins, seam ripper, screwdriver, lint brush, etc.). One very welcome addition is the pin cushion that you can attach to the machine itself; it’s surprising how convenient this is and it would be nice to see other manufacturers take note. 

The dust cover, on the other hand, is pretty hopeless thanks to a gaping hole for the handle on the top of the machine to fit through. Unsurprisingly, dust can also get through that as well!

All in all, the Janome JW8100 is a very good machine, but it does have its foibles…and they are probably enough to prevent a solid recommendation when compared to the other cheap sewing machines reviewed in this post.

LIKES
  • Stitch quality is fantastic
  • 100 built-in stitches to choose from
  • Feeds fabric excellently
  • Extra-wide extension table included
  • Extra high presser foot lift
DISLIKES
  • Bit more complicated than others listed here
  • Tension needs regular adjustment
  • Needle threader is very fiddly to use
  • At the higher end of the price range

Brother HC1850 

Brother HC1850

Time for another Brother – the HC1850.

Similar to the Janome JW8100 reviewed above, the Brother HC1850 is aimed at home sewers and amatuer quilters. It’s pretty much billed as a combination machine and it performs reasonably well in both regards.

It looks a bit plasticky and dated, but underneath that rather dull exterior you’ll find a decent chassis that offers good stability and durability to the user, which is somewhat surprising as the Brother HC1850 only weighs in at just over 10 pounds. 

The bobbin has been known to cause users issues, with nesting and jamming reported as problems, but these appear to be infrequent moans which may actually stem from poor shipping rather than a manufacturing concern. 

In any case, the problems stated by users should surface within the warranty period granted by Brother (one year for these parts in particular), so I’d be willing to take a chance. Although I hate to say it, there’s also a chance that the issues raised could have been due to user error, as bobbins are notoriously problematic for those who refuse to read the manual. Just saying!

Moving on to the positive aspects of the Brother HC1850, then, and I’m pleased to report that there are many. The stitch library is comprehensive, with 130 built-in stitches to choose from, and there’s even monogramming patterns available. These are pretty basic designs, but many will enjoy playing around with these, I’m sure.

Accessories are plentiful, too. Eight extra presser feet join the all-purpose foot attached to the machine – zigzag, overcasting, monogramming, zipper, blind stitch, buttonhole, button sewing, and a spring action quilting foot – along with the usual bobbins, needles, cleaning brush, spool caps, seam ripper, and other bits and bobs. The included DVD is helpful, too.

Features such as speed control and autopilot pedal-free sewing are present as well, but it’s the feed system that really stands out on the Brother HC1850. Even layered fabric is fed through with ease and the dogs can be dropped to allow free-motion sewing, which intermediate sewers will appreciate.

While the Brother HC1850 sits comfortably in the middle of the price range we’re looking at here, it does offer a lot for what you’ll pay. The biggest problem it has is the competition at this price point. Is it better than the SINGER 7258? 

It’s a tough shout, but the aforementioned bobbin issues might be just enough to sway you away from the Brother when making your final decision.

LIKES
  • Very stable
  • Huge 130 stitches built in, including monograms
  • Nice accessory pack full of useful items
  • Great feed system
  • Affordable
  • Speed control
DISLIKES
  • Horrible to look at
  • Feels “plasticky”
  • Has a tendency to jam and nest

Bernette 33 (b33)

Bernette 33

Next up we have the Bernette 33, the baby of the range from the highly regarded Swiss designers.

This snazzy looking model will appeal to those who take aesthetics as seriously as performance; it is, quite frankly, a stunning looking sewing machine…something that is oddly (and sadly, in my opinion) overlooked by many other manufacturers.

All style and no substance isn’t going to cut it here, though. Luckily, the b33 performs well, too.

Despite being the entry model, and therefore the perfect choice for our list of the best affordable sewing machines, the Bernette sews beautifully. The smoothness with which it draws the fabric underneath the needle is sublime and the resulting stitches are balanced, even, and entirely free from bunching or skips.

The simplicity of the Bernette 33 will be appreciated by those who aren’t in the market for a computerized machine and the dials are easy to operate. There are only two, so it’s difficult to go wrong, which will comfort anyone who likes to keep things straightforward. 

There are 15 different stitches built into the Bernette 33 and the device ships with five additional presser feet – zipper, zigzag, buttonhole, button sewing, and blindstitch – all of which snap on easily, making switching hassle-free. Other accessories include bobbins, needles, and a seam ripper, but not much else. 

Speed is decent enough, at 860 stitches per minute, but, as this isn’t a computerized device, there’s no speed control unfortunately. The good news is that the foot pedal is responsive and gets going with the slightest touch. 

This is a definite positive. As anyone who has used a machine where the first bit of pressure isn’t registered will tell you, there’s not a lot worse than pressing down and feeling nothing…only for the machine to then go off like a rocket!

Other features include a semi-automatic needle threader and a manual thread cutter. While these won’t set the world alight, they’re handy to have, nonetheless.

All in all, the Bernette 33 is a solidly built machine that will please anyone who hasn’t got any cupboard space to hide their sewing machine away. It’s a beauty.

LIKES
  • Easy on the eye
  • Mechanical operation is simple and straightforward
  • Classy results; the b33 stitches wonderfully well
  • Solid construction
  • Foot pedal is very responsive
  • Very respectable 860 stitches per minute
DISLIKES
  • Accessory pack is pretty basic
  • Quite expensive for a mechanical machine

Janome MOD-100

Janome MOD-100

Time to take a look at another model from Janome – the MOD-100.

The Janome MOD-100 is getting up towards the upper limit we set on price, but it’s a worthy contender for the best inexpensive sewing machine crown, so it had to go in. Be warned, though, for whatever reason, the price of the MOD-100 fluctuates quite a bit, so if you click through to buy and it’s over the $300 mark it might be prudent to wait a while.

On to the Janome MOD-100 review, then. This is a great choice for pretty much everyone, if your budget allows it. Beginners, intermediates, those returning to sewing…all levels of home sewists will love this machine. 

Even though it’s feature-rich, it’s just so simple and pleasurable to use. The seven-piece feed dog enables effortless sewing and the results that flow out of the other end of the needle are sublime. Perfectly balanced stitches on a range of fabrics, regardless of the speed setting you’re on. Although it is a bit more expensive than many of the machines listed here, you can see why when you’re sat in front of the Janome MOD-100.

As the name suggests, the Janome MOD-100 comes with, you guessed it, 100 built-in stitches, so you’ll have plenty to play with and explore when you first unbox your appliance. The range of stitches included in the library is well balanced and will suit pretty much all tasks a home sewer or hobbyist will want to undertake.

Although, it’s a reasonably light machine, weighing in at just 12.7 pounds, it’s very stable, even when you’re sewing at top speed. This is thanks not only to the metal frame, but also the engineering of its weight displacement. It really feels solid as you sew, yet moving it around the home or taking it to classes isn’t a problem.

On the subject of speed, the Janome MOD-100 is actually at the slower end of the market. Expect a maximum of 750 stitches per minute and no more. This is fine for most, but if you’re looking to buy a tool that’ll churn through jobs at a rate of knots, this isn’t the speediest.

Janome market the MOD-100 as having a jam-proof bobbin system, and I have to say that appears to be the case. The top drop-in style is always a welcome sight, but this one seems to work better than most. As one would expect, the cover is made of clear plastic that allows you to see just how much thread you have left as you sew.

As for accessories, the Janome MOD-100 ships with just four presser feet, including the general purpose foot you’ll find pre-attached to the machine. This is a lot fewer than many of the other machines and the choice of feet supplied – zipper, buttonhole, and satin stitch – could have done with a couple more thrown in, especially as the machine is capable of so much.

Other bits and bobs you’ll find in the box include assorted needle set, seam ripper / buttonhole opener, lint brush, spool holders, extra spool pin, bobbins (class 15), screwdriver, stitch card, instruction book, dust cover, and the foot control. 

The stitch card will either delight or annoy. Personally, I like the fact that it’s not printed onto the machine, but dislike having to attach it to the flimsy holder. Maybe I’m being too picky here, but if you’re going to omit the stitches in order to keep things looking sleek, sticking a big card on top isn’t the way to go. The EverSewn Charlotte makes a far better job of this, in my opinion. 

Perhaps the only real niggle, though, is the automatic needle threader. You’ll notice that the Janome MOD-100 product description makes a point of stating that this is a one-handed operation, but that may take a bit of practice to perfect. It’s not difficult, but it is still a little bit awkward nonetheless. 

LIKES
  • Suitable for all skill levels
  • Lightweight, yet stable
  • 7-piece feed dog system is fantastic
  • Drop feed is effortless
  • Jam-proof bobbin system works great
DISLIKES
  • Relatively pricey
  • Stitch card is annoying
  • Needle threader is awkward to use
  • Not many presser feet included
  • A little on the slow side

Brother CS6000i

Brother CS6000i

Last on this list of best cheap sewing machine reviews is the Brother CS6000i

Billed as a combo machine, capable of handling both basic sewing tasks and quilting jobs alike, the Brother CS6000i will no doubt attract attention from those who are looking for a sewing machine for craft work as well as general day-to-day sewing chores.

There’s a respectable 60 built-in stitches pre-programmed into the CS6000i’s library and the accessory pack is filled with everything you’d expect to get when shopping for a Brother. 

Eight extra presser feet are included – buttonhole, button fitting, overcasting, zigzag, blindstitch, monogramming, zipper, walking, and a spring-action quilting foot – alongside the usual bobbins, needles, and such. As this is billed as a quilting machine, there’s also an extra wide table attachment to give you much needed space when handling large swathes of fabric.

A word of warning here, though. If you are seriously looking for a quilting machine for big projects, the Brother CS6000i might disappoint. Sure, it can handle smaller quilting tasks, but don’t be surprised if you run into problems when trying to present it with really thick fabrics or too many layers. It does have a tendency to balk at anything too bulky.

That being said, there’s not a lot else wrong with the Brother CS6000i; it’s a very capable device, especially for the money. Brother have produced and sold literally thousands of this particular model since its release over a decade ago, so that should give you an idea as to the popularity of this affordable sewing machine.

Newbies and those returning to sewing after a while all tend to get on well with the CS6000i, which is a testament to its ease of use. Despite being in the mid to low range of our pricing spectrum, the Brother CS6000i caters for this market superbly with the inclusion of the much talked about speed control feature.

This, as you’ll no doubt by now be aware, is widely regarded as an essential element to any decent newcomer tool, but you’ll usually pay a little more than the Brother’s price tag before you see it. It’s the addition of this feature that has separated the Brother CS6000i from other inexpensive sewing machines over the years, in my opinion.

Other features such as an automatic needle threader and easy bobbin winding all contribute to this model’s allure, and the simple diagrams for threading (much like the Spiegel SP3201 reviewed above) keep the operating manual in the drawer after the initial read-through. 

The Brother CS6000i is not without competition at this price point, and many of them are very worthy opponents, but you won’t be disappointed if plump for this one over the rest.

LIKES
  • Great value for money
  • Simple and straightforward operation
  • Solid reputation
  • Auto needle threader and easy bobbin winder included
  • Ideal for newcomers
  • Speed control
  • Comes with an extra wide table
DISLIKES
  • Built for quilters, but won’t handle large projects

So, what’s the best affordable sewing machine on the market?

BEST BUDGET OPTION
Spiegel Sewing Machine
JOINT MID-RANGE PICK
SINGER 7258 100-Stitch Computerized 76 Decorative Stitches, Automatic Needle...
JOINT MID-RANGE PICK
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-in Stitches, 2.0" LCD...
JOINT HIGH-END CHOICE
EverSewn Charlotte: 80-Stitch Computerized, Professional Quilting & Free Motion...
JOINT HIGH-END CHOICE
Janome JW8100 Fully-Featured Computerized Sewing Machine with 100 Stitches, 7...
BEST MECHANICAL DEVICE
Bernette 33 Swiss Design Sewing Machine
Spiegel Sewing Machine
SINGER 7258 100-Stitch Computerized 76 Decorative Stitches, Automatic Needle...
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-in Stitches, 2.0" LCD...
EverSewn Charlotte: 80-Stitch Computerized, Professional Quilting & Free Motion...
Janome JW8100 Fully-Featured Computerized Sewing Machine with 100 Stitches, 7...
Bernette 33 Swiss Design Sewing Machine
BEST BUDGET OPTION
Spiegel Sewing Machine
Spiegel Sewing Machine
JOINT MID-RANGE PICK
SINGER 7258 100-Stitch Computerized 76 Decorative Stitches, Automatic Needle...
SINGER 7258 100-Stitch Computerized 76 Decorative Stitches, Automatic Needle...
JOINT MID-RANGE PICK
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-in Stitches, 2.0" LCD...
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-in Stitches, 2.0" LCD...
JOINT HIGH-END CHOICE
EverSewn Charlotte: 80-Stitch Computerized, Professional Quilting & Free Motion...
EverSewn Charlotte: 80-Stitch Computerized, Professional Quilting & Free Motion...
JOINT HIGH-END CHOICE
Janome JW8100 Fully-Featured Computerized Sewing Machine with 100 Stitches, 7...
Janome JW8100 Fully-Featured Computerized Sewing Machine with 100 Stitches, 7...
BEST MECHANICAL DEVICE
Bernette 33 Swiss Design Sewing Machine
Bernette 33 Swiss Design Sewing Machine

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This is a tough call.

All of the above machines would do the trick if you’re looking for a device to handle simple sewing tasks. Some, however, will undoubtedly outperform the others if you are going to be using your new appliance for a little more than infrequently repair work and the odd craft project.

Another thing to bear in mind here is the breadth of the price range (that I set…I know!) What will suit one sewers pocket may well not suit another, so it’s hard to give an outright winner that will neatly be the best cheap sewing machine for everyone.

Okay, so enough side-stepping. Here’s what I think…

If you’re working on a very tight budget, go for the Spiegel SP3201. For the money, it’s unbeatable. No, it’s not got many bells and whistles (although it’s certainly not as basic as other, more expensive, devices out there) and it may not last a lifetime, but for simple sewing tasks it will perform admirably.

For those with a bit more to spend, it’s a tussle between the SINGER 7258 and the Brother CS6000i. Both are very capable machines that have been bought, used, and enjoyed by thousands. You won’t go far wrong with either, but I’d opt for the SINGER if you really want my personal recommendation.

At the higher end of the inexpensive sewing machine market, either the EverSewn Charlotte or the Janome JW8100 get my vote, with the Bernette 33 well worth a look if you abhor all things computerized.

Hopefully this post has been helpful in your search for a good quality, yet affordable, sewing machine.

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