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While I’m firmly in the computerized camp, I do understand the point of view of all you technophobes out there…after all, I have a father who is still baffled by a fax machine!
So, it’s from his point of view that I am writing this post. Yep, today I’m going to find you guys the best mechanical sewing machine on the market…with not a single screen anywhere.
(Well, apart from the one you’re reading this article on, but we’ll gloss over that!)
Let’s get started, shall we?
Best mechanical sewing machine reviews
While there are still a number of non-computerized contraptions on the market today, the good ones are becoming somewhat of a rarity. Many of them are little more than toys and, while they may be inexpensive, a complete waste of money.
At the other end of the spectrum you have a plethora of really good commercial devices, but who wants one of those beasts in their home?
So, finding out which are the best mechanical sewing machines has become a bit of a wheat from the chaff process. Hopefully, I’ve succeeded in doing much of the donkeywork for you with the upcoming reviews.
Bernette 35 (b35)
What better place to start than with the Swiss designed Bernette 35 (AKA b35).
First off, in my opinion, this beauty ticks all of the aesthetic boxes: look at it! All of the Bernette range features the dark gray, red, and white colorway, and they work fantastically well together. It’s a stunning looking thing.
Looks, however, are not what we’re here for (although they help if you have no room in cupboards and have to stare at your machine all day long!) So, does the Bernette 35 perform as well as it pleases the eye?
Thankfully, yes it does.
Despite being an entirely mechanical sewing machine, the Bernette 35 is surprisingly versatile. Capable of handling a wide range of fabrics, including thick and awkward materials like denim or layered textiles, it will suit anyone from crafters to quilters to dressmakers.
The b35 has a decent enough 23 built-in stitches that will cover most basic tasks for the home sewer, including a one-step buttonhole. No more lifting the needle and changing the setting, which is just one of the timesaving features you’ll find on this appliance.
As one would expect from a mechanical sewing machine, dials play a big part in the b35’s operation. Unlike the smaller (yet still excellent) Bernette 33 that only has two, you have three main dials on this model to choose the pattern you desire and control stitch width and length.
To say it’s user-friendly would be an understatement of dramatic proportions, but you will need to give the enclosed user manual a good read before using it if you want to get the most from the device and avoid some of the common pitfalls. This is standard advice applicable to every appliance…but you’d be surprised how many people choose to ignore it.
Speed-wise, the Bernette 35 will zip along at a perfectly respectable 860 stitches per minute. As mentioned above, it also handles heavyweight fabrics surprisingly well and the motor has fairly decent torque, allowing the user to punch through webbing and canvas without too much difficulty.
In general, this appliance is built solidly and makes the user feel confident when sitting in front of it. As Bernette is effectively the domestic arm of the extremely reputable Bernina, this should come as no surprise. You will, however, find that you’ll have to pay a little more for this brand, but it’s well worth it in this case.
The Bernette 35 is, quite simply, a joy to use. Smooth and effortless, this is one mechanical sewing machine that’s well worth putting on your shortlist.
- Beautifully designed
- Suitable for a wide range of users
- Decent speed (860SPM)
- Solid and sturdy build
- Lovely to use
- A little bit pricey for a mechanical appliance
Janome Magnolia 7318 package
Next up, we have the oddly named, yet perfectly capable, Janome Magnolia 7318.
Like the Bernette 35 above, the Janome Magnolia 7318 is an ideal choice for anyone up to intermediate level. Beginners will find it easy enough to operate, while those with a few year’s experience under their belts will appreciate the Janome Magnolia 7318’s ability to keep pace with their increasing skills and knowledge.
That said, the Janome Magnolia 7318 doesn’t come cheap, and price will obviously play a role in people’s decision making process, especially those just starting out. As one would expect from Janome, though, the performance does warrant the extra outlay and the 7318 is widely regarded as being a sound buy by the majority of owners.
What’s so good about it? Well, for starters, at 17.6lbs, it’s light enough to be considered easy to move, yet it’s sufficiently weighted to remain stable when pushed to the limit. That limit, however, isn’t as high as some of the other mechanical sewing machines reviewed here, but, at 830 stitches per minute, most won’t be too bothered by that.
The stitch library is limited to just 18 built-in stitches, so five less than the Bernette 35, but those selected will likely suit most domestic users needs. It is, however, well worth checking out the stitch card before you buy to ensure that all the stitches you need are included.
In terms of stitch quality, the Janome Magnolia 7318 performs admirably with a range of different types of fabrics and thicknesses. Really delicate materials may prove difficult, as will very thick, slippery stuff like leather, but on the whole the 7318 will sew “ordinary” stuff pretty well, be it upholstery fabric or material for garments.
With regard to accessories, you don’t get a great deal with the 7318 considering the price. However, you can find bundles online that up the extras somewhat (the link above will take you to such a package).
Standard accessories include a needle set, bobbin, and four extra presser feet – blind hem, zig-zag, zipper, and buttonhole – so you can see why an offer like the one above that comes with more bits and bobs without costing all that much more is attractive. Be warned, too, that some packages come with no spare feet at all!
All in all, the Janome Magnolia 7318 is a pretty decent mechanical sewing machine, albeit one that is a little on the pricey side. The only issue I’ve come across is that the feed dogs can get stuck in the downward position, which makes them seemingly impossible to raise. If your 7318 has this problem, there is a fix that works in most instances.
The trick is to remove the needle plate and lift the dogs up manually whilst rolling the hand wheel gently. This will raise the feed dogs back to their proper position where they will remain until you want, or need, to drop them again.
While this is obviously far from ideal when you’re looking at shelling out this kind of money, it naturally won’t affect those who rarely drop the dogs, so it’s something that’ll be more pertinent to some rather than others. Personally, although I like the model, I’d probably look elsewhere if I were shopping for a new machine.
That issue aside, the Janome Magnolia 7318 is a decent enough piece of kit. If you want a basic machine that concentrates on doing a few things to a high standard, this model could be worth a look.
- Produces wonderfully balanced stitches
- Feels well constructed when in use
- Feed dogs may get stuck when lowered
- Stitch library is somewhat limited
EverSewn Sparrow 15
On to the next appliance in the best mechanical sewing machine reviews – it’s the EverSewn Sparrow 15.
A more neat and tidy little sewing machine you’re unlikely to meet, the EverSewn Sparrow 15 is pretty gorgeous to look at and small enough to stow away in between sew sessions. This is one natty piece of mechanical apparatus!
While it may appear to have very little going on when you first cast your eye across it, the EverSewn Sparrow 15 actually has a fair amount under the hood. There are 32 different stitches to choose from in the pattern library and, as usual, these are easily accessed via dials.
Both width and length can be adjusted in the same way, although you’ll find the width dial up top rather than on the front of the machine with the length and stitch selector. It also has an manual threader and bobbin winder, reverse sewing lever, manual thread cutter, and a handy ruler printed bottom left. This is a very well thought out device, especially for an entry level machine.
Speed-wise, the EverSewn Sparrow 15 is a little on the slow side, but that will suit those who are sitting in front of a sewing machine for the first time just fine. At 750 stitches per minute, it’s no slouch, but it is firmly at the lower end of the speed spectrum when compared to the other appliances reviewed here.
In terms of stitch quality, this little EverSewn lives up to its bigger siblings’ reputation. All stitches are balanced and fabrics feeds through the machine effortlessly, making it a delight to operate.
The Sparrow 15 ships with four extra presser feet soles – zipper, blind hem, zig-zag, and buttonhole – along with a brush / seam ripper, right seam guide, bobbins, needle set, small and large spool holders, spool pin and felt, darning plate, oiler, screwdriver, and dust cover, which isn’t a bad package, given the price.
All in all, the EverSewn Sparrow 15 is well worthy of your consideration if you’re looking to buy a mechanical sewing machine for your first foray into the wonderful world of sewing or if you’d like a lightweight spare for your sewing room.
- Great looks
- Neat stitches
- Ideal for beginners
- Comes with 32 built-in stitches
- A bit slow (750SPM)
SINGER Simple 3232
Time for a machine from the brand that everyone associates with sewing, it’s the SINGER Simple 3232.
No doubt the name itself will appeal to many sewists searching for the best mechanical sewing machine in their price range. After all, simplicity is often cited as the key reason for eschewing the microchips and plumping for a more manual way of stitching, but does it live up to its moniker?
In the sense that it’s a fairly basic machine, yes it does. The SINGER Simple 3232 is indeed, simple, which will tick the boxes of many who may be considering purchasing such an appliance. It’s not, however, without niggles. So while it may be simple, it might also prove to be frustrating as well.
The main gripe is really with the SINGER Simple 3232’s ability to occasionally jam and nest for seemingly no reason. It’s not a frequent occurrence by any means, but to omit it from a review would be misleading. Look, I get it, this is a very inexpensive piece of equipment, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing (or frustrating) when it happens.
When, however, the 3232 is happily jogging along, it’s a fairly nice machine to use. Again, thanks to the low price point, you can tell that you’re not sitting in front of a world beater, but for those who sew infrequently and are looking to buy a more affordable appliance, this model from SINGER would do the trick.
That being said, it’s not the best cheap mechanical sewing machine out there, and a bit more shopping around (and further reading of these reviews) would turn up better machines for around the same money or less. So, while the SINGER 3232 isn’t terrible, you could do better.
- Good value for money
- Snap on presser feet work well
- Good range of preprogrammed stitch patterns
- Basic tasks only
- A little wobbly at times
- Can be a little hit or miss, performance wise
Time to jump back up the price range for a moment, this time for a review of the Janome HD1000.
This model from the famous Japanese manufacturer is one of those that divides opinion: some gush about it, while others abhor it. There isn’t much in the way of middle ground where the HD1000 is concerned.
In my opinion, it’s overpriced and disappointing for a Janome. This is the polar opposite of what you’d expect from a good mechanical sewing machine, especially in terms of durability.
The copy associated with the Janome HD1000’s sales gumpth would lead one to believe that this is a heavyweight. It’s not. It’s also far from easy to use, which basically means that two of the main reasons for buying a non-computerized sewing machine have been given the thumbs down.
Not the best of starts.
It also only comes with 14 built-in stitches and the buttonhole is a four step process rather than a much more convenient one-step affair, so no Brownie points there, either. The feed system, an area where Janome usually excels, is okay, but nothing more. It’s only a three-dog feed, which is odd given the price you’re expected to pay for the contraption.
The Janome HD1000, therefore, gets a resounding “NO” from me…but then, going by the split that this device makes between sewists, you might just find yourself in the “YES” camp.
- Marketing is a little misleading
- Difficult to get to grips with
- Poor range of stitches
Back down to the best budget mechanical sewing machines now with the Spiegel SP3201.
This is one of those rare items that exceeds expectations in spades. Don’t get me wrong, this is no match for the likes of the Bernette 35, but then this machine from Spiegel costs around 3.5 times less. For the money, there are few better than this little beauty.
Granted, you don’t get much in the way of accessories with the Spiegel SP3201, but that’s okay, as the machine itself is worth every cent of what you’ll spend. You do get a couple of presser feet – button and zipper – along with some needles, bobbins, and a dust cover, but that’s about your lot.
As for the machine, you get a top loading bobbin, which is great, and a bobbin winder that works equally well. The stitch library is up there with the best as well, with a very decent 32 different patterns to choose from, and the quality of the stitches produced is fantastic for such a no-frills device.
When it comes to speed, the Spiegel SP3201 does fall towards the tortoise side of things. At 700 stitches per minute, those who are used to sewing on other machines will notice the difference, but if you’re just starting out, or are returning to the craft after a lengthy layoff, this won’t make too much of a difference.
Other features on the Spiegel SP3201 include a really decent needle threader that will prove invaluable to newbies and those whose eyes are on the wane (yep, I’m referring to myself here!).
The handy threading diagram that is printed on the top of the machine will undoubtedly be referred to regularly by beginners and is a nice touch that shows the designers of the Spiegel SP3201 have really thought about their target market.
Another thing that stands out when using this bit of kit is how quiet it is. Now, I’m not saying it’s silent, no sewing machine is, but for the money you’d expect a lot more rattles and clunks.
So, for those who are in the market for a great mechanical sewing machine that won’t break the bank, you can do a whole lot worse than to pick yourself up a Spiegel SP3201.
- Incredible value for money
- Perfect for small repair jobs
- Ridiculously easy to operate
- Some nice features not expected from such a budget option
- Accessory pack could be better
Next up we have a domestic machine from JUKI, a brand more commonly associated with some of the best factory devices around, the HZL-355ZW.
First impressions of this machine are that it’s a rather swoon-worthy little thing. Nice clean lines and just the right amount of color make it a very attractive appliance to look at…but how does it sew? That’s really what we’re here to find out.
Well, I’m delighted to report that the JUKI HZL-355ZW-A is more than just a pretty case…it’s a fine mechanical sewing machine, too!
Again, this is a pretty basic machine, but you’ll pay up for the peace of mind associated with owning a JUKI. It’s solidly constructed and will last a lot longer than some of the less expensive models you’ll come across during your search for the best mechanical sewing machine.
That being said, while this is indeed a solid and well-built appliance, that doesn’t mean it’s a heavy-duty sewing machine by any stretch of the imagination. It isn’t, and you’d be advised not to do anything more than the occasional repair job on materials such as leather or denim if you want to prolong the lifespan of your new device. The product description may say otherwise, but I’d steer clear of very thick fabrics with this one.
If, however, you are looking for a mechanical sewing machine that will sew light- to medium-weight fabrics effortlessly, the JUKI HZL-355ZW-A would be a great addition to your sewing room. It’s really easy to use and will suit both beginners and upgraders alike.
The range of stitch patterns falls somewhere in the middle, at 26, but these have been well chosen and will suit most domestic sewing needs. The max stitch width goes up to a decent 7mm, while length can be adjusted to 4mm when required. In terms of speed, the JUKI HZL-355ZW-A isn’t the fastest at 750 stitches per minute, but it will reward you with beautifully balanced stitches every time you sit in front of it.
Accessories are fairly standard, and with only three additional presser feet – zipper, buttonhole, and button sewing foot – to go with the standard presser foot you might feel a little disappointed when you unbox your new machine.
Other bits and bobs include a pack of needles, a few bobbins, seam ripper / lint brush, quilt guide, spool cap, spool pin felt, and a screwdriver. One accessory that truly is excellent is the hard case you get with the JUKI HZL-355ZW-A; it is superb. Why more manufacturers don’t include proper carrying cases like this one more often is beyond me, especially with machines designed for portability.
Without doubt, if you’re willing to spend a bit extra, the JUKI HZL-355ZW-A is definitely a machine worth considering.
- Stitches like a dream
- Simple to use
- Great design
- Comes with an excellent hard dust case
- You’ll pay for the JUKI name
- Accessory pack is basic
- Slow (750SPM)
On to another Janome now, this time it’s the turn of the HD3000.
The first thing you notice when you sit in front of the Janome HD3000 is just how bare and stripped back it feels. There’s not a lot going on in terms of design here, but that’s a good thing in my opinion.
Less is more, after all.
Clean lines and lack of color make this look like an extremely basic machine and, to all intents and purposes, it is…albeit a quite expensive one. The Janome HD3000 is, in fact, the most costly mechanical sewing machine reviewed here (at the time of writing), so I guess the question is, does the HD3000 live up to the price it commands?
Well, yes and no.
True, this is a decent enough machine when all is running smoothly, but there have been a worrying number of complaints associated with this particular model. Many of which have been about part failures, which is both concerning and somewhat confusing, as the HD3000 feels and acts pretty solidly when in use.
Despite its solid feel and appearance, this appliance does have an air of being overpriced. The controls feel stiff and the sewing can sound clunky at times, almost harking back to the days when all mechanical sewing machines felt the same way. It’s like it hasn’t moved on and grown up!
As much as I hate to do it, I’d suggest you consider taking out an extended warranty with the Janome HD3000 if you do decide to go with this model, just to be on the safe side.
After that start, you’d be forgiven for writing off the Janome HD3000 altogether, but as in life generally, things are not that straightforward. This is actually a really good machine, but it’s one that has issues, that’s all.
This machine does surprisingly well with heavy, awkward materials. I know it’s marketed as a heavy-duty device, but come on, we’ve all heard that one before, right? The HD3000 actually lives up to the billing and will handle almost everything you put through it.
Obviously, it’s no match for machines that are purpose made for the task of punching through heavy fabrics for hours on end, but it’ll cope okay with garment leather and such. Things like upholstery work and even marine vinyls will be stitched perfectly well by the Janome HD3000, too.
Stitch quality remains great throughout a range of materials, providing the necessary attention to the settings is given. The motor is powerful, but only delivers 860 stitches per minute at full pelt, as the energy is used more for punch than speed. The HD3000’s sturdy 18lb frame helps keep the machine steady when in use.
Fabric feeds through the machine really well and the dogs can be dropped without any drama. You have 18 built-in stitches to play with and you’ll find five extra presser feet in the box as well (zig-zag, blind hem, rolled hem, overedge, and a buttonhole).
To be honest, if I were shopping for a new mechanical sewing machine, I’d probably leave the Janome HD3000 on the shelf. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good machine, but it’s really not worth the hefty price tag.
- Balanced, even stitches
- Can handle relatively heavy fabrics
- Remains steady and stable at all times
- Feed system is superb
- Can be clunky to operate
- Too few built-in stitches
Time for the first review of a mechanical Brother sewing machine with the hugely popular XM2701.
If you’re looking for a true entry-level appliance, then the Brother XM2701 is a great option. This is a very basic machine, but it does what it does with a surprising amount of finesse and simplicity, which makes it a great option if you’re just starting out.
Considering the bargain basement pricing, the Brother XM2701 ships with a surprising amount of goodies, both in terms of features and accessories. For starters, the stitch library is decent with 27 patterns built into the device and the selection will be enough to cover most eventualities.
You also get a needle threader and six additional presser feet – buttonhole, button sewing, narrow hemmer, zipper, blind stitch, and zig-zag – with the XM2701, which is great for the money you’re asked to lay out. Alongside the presser feet, you’ll also get an accessory bag with bobbins, needles, an extra spool pin, and screwdriver included.
The user manual and instructional DVD that ship with the Brother XM2701 are also surprisingly good. Even someone who has never sat in front of a sewing machine before will be up and running in no time whatsoever, putting a further tick in the beginner box.
There are, however, a few downsides, too.
Perhaps most important is the bobbin. Though touted as a jam-resistant system, user experience suggests otherwise. Tangles and stuck thread is not altogether uncommon with this model. The issue seems to be mainly due to the casing, which is made of fairly low quality plastic.
Getting the tension right is also a bit of a mission with the Brother XM2701. It’s not impossible to get the device running sweetly, but it does require a bit of patience and knowledge of how tension works on a sewing machine to get it set up properly. Not very beginner-friendly, in other words.
Lastly, the foot pedal isn’t the best. Probably the thing I miss most when comparing computerized machines to mechanical ones is the speed control, and the Brother XM2701 is a case in point. The foot pedal just isn’t receptive enough. You know you’re pressing it, but nothing’s happening, then…OFF YOU GO! Straight up to 800 stitches per minute. Not much of a problem for those with a little experience, but for the novice I could see this being intimidating.
Naturally, a lot can be forgiven when you’re talking about a sub $100 appliance, but the XM2701 is definitely not without faults. That said, if you’re looking to buy a mechanical sewing machine for the occasional piece of repair work or suchlike, it could still be an option worth considering.
- Easy to use
- Excellent DVD and manual supplied
- Great range of accessories
- Bobbin casing can cause problems
- Tension needs regular adjustment
Next we have another heavy-duty machine for you, this time it’s the turn of the SINGER 4432.
This range of mechanical sewing machines from which the 4432 comes has been extremely popular for SINGER as a brand. Customers love the extra oomph that you get from them and they’re all very competitively priced. This particular model is the pick of the bunch, in my opinion.
The SINGER 4432 performs incredibly well for the price. It may not be the king of the heavies available but, for the money, it does an admirable job and serves the market it is aimed perfectly. Essentially, this is a domestic device that packs a little bit more punch, which is ideal for those who like to dabble with heavier materials like upholstery fabrics, for example.
Performance is great with the 4432 and you don’t ever feel as though you’re losing any finesse or touch despite its more industrial appearance. Speed-wise, this model is a bit of a demon, as it will zoom along at a frankly astonishing 1,100 stitches per minute when taken to the max. For a machine that is currently available for under $200, this is phenomenal.
The speed and power naturally stem from the motor, and SINGER make it clear that they’ve housed a bit of a beast underneath that battleship gray case. They claim that it’s 60% stronger than other motors fitted to their standard range of appliances, and the performance bears testament to their assertions.
Presser foot pressure is easily adjusted to accommodate a range of different material weights and the extra high lift gives the user ample room to sew through thick or layered cloth without any issues. It will, however, turn its nose up at really thick stuff like multiple layers of denim or certain weights of leather and canvas, but you’ve got to expect that from an appliance in this price bracket.
Included with the SINGER 4432 are four presser feet – all-purpose, zipper, buttonhole, and button sewing – and most of the usual accessories, including a seam ripper / lint brush, spare bobbins, needles, spool pin and felt, quilting guide, screwdriver, and a soft-sided dust cover. Again, for the money, this stands up brilliantly against the competition.
The SINGER 4432 is by no means a tank, so don’t expect it to plow through saddles and harnesses, but if you’re looking for an inexpensive device for work on cushions, curtains, and the like, then this is a very capable machine.
- Good value
- Solid, impressive motor
- Very fast (1,100SPM)
- Can handle a range of fabrics
- Nothing much
Janome Arctic Crystal / Blue Crystal / Pink Sorbet
Need a bit of color in your life? This range of mechanical sewing machines from Janome could be just what you’ve been looking for!
Made with beginners in mind, these colorful additions to the Janome stable have proved to be a firm favorite with children just starting to sew, but all ages will get along with these budget devices from the Japanese giant.
Despite the relatively low price tag, these appliances are pretty sturdy and will last a while providing they are both looked after and used for the correct type of sewing. These are not heavy hitters by any means, but they are ideal for lightweight sewing tasks.
Performance is decent enough, with nice balanced stitches and no skipping, and fabric feeds over the plate without issue. Janome really have mastered the art of feed, and that shows even at the lower end of their product range.
Features are fairly limited across the range, though, and you’ll only get 15 built-in stitches if you buy one of these bright gadgets. This will be enough for some, but others will need more. Buttonhole is also four-step as opposed to one, so this will get this range marked down a point or two as well.
Making your stitch selection is done in the typically mechanical fashion: by way of a dial. These are well positioned on the machine and feel solid enough to withstand a little manhandling from an impatient youngster.
At 13lbs, these are fairly lightweight sewing machines, but they remain pretty stable when in operation. The fact that they are so light will be another bonus for those who are looking to buy one for a child, as it’s likely they’ll get moved from pillar to post. We all know just how much children like to do things for themselves…when they want to, of course…so being able to lift their own sewing machine will be welcomed by child and parent alike.
In the box you’ll find an accessory pack that includes three extra presser feet to go along with the general-purpose foot found attached to the machine. These are zipper, sliding buttonhole, and zig-zag and they’re all nice and simple to change, with an easy snap-on motion. With the feet come the usual suspects such as needles, bobbins, darning plate, seam ripper, etc. but don’t expect a bumper haul; it’s pretty limited.
The limited accessories shouldn’t put you off, though, especially if you’re looking to buy a mechanical sewing machine for a child. These are a really good entry point into the world of sewing and are an affordable option for those working on a budget.
- Nice color range
- Simple to setup and operate
- Perfect for youngsters and newcomers
- Video tutorials are superb
- Lightweight, yet feels solid and stable when in use
- Accessories are basic
SINGER Tradition 2277
Another budget option for you now, this time it’s from SINGER – the Tradition 2277.
Mechanical sewing machines are, by definition, a lot more basic than their computerized cousins. Add to that a price tag such as the one the SINGER Tradition 2277 carries, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you might as well opt for a needle and thread. Thankfully, however, in this instance the opposite is true…you get quite a bit for your money with this device.
Granted, the SINGER Tradition 2277 isn’t going to be a match for the more expensive models reviewed here, but for an appliance currently listed at under $100, this is a bit of a steal. It looks good, too!
Performance is perfectly adequate for most lightweight sewing tasks and the 23 built-in stitches will serve the infrequent sewer well enough. You even get a one-step buttonhole and the ever-popular needle threader, too. Both of which are always welcome sights on any sewing machine.
The SINGER Tradition 2277 is fairly easy to use, but those who have sat in front of a sewing machine before will likely appreciate it more than absolute beginners. It’s not overly complicated, but a bit of previous knowledge will definitely help as it’s not the most intuitive machine out there.
This is another relatively lightweight machine, weighing in at 13lbs, so if portability is a major concern the SINGER Tradition 2277 will tick that box. Dimension-wise, it’s fairly compact, which makes it easy to stow away in between uses if you don’t want to look at it all day. (Although, you could…this is definitely one of the prettier appliances on the market.)
Four presser feet ship with this model – zipper, buttonhole, button sewing, and all-purpose – and other accessories include bobbins, needles, lint brush/seam ripper, darning plate, thread spool cap holders, screwdriver, and an edge/quilting guide, so you get a decent enough pack with the 2277.
As one would expect with a machine in this price range, it’s not perfect, but it will suit a lot of you out there who are looking to pick up a decent enough machine without spending an absolute fortune. You may experience the odd jam or two, but if you’re willing to put up with that in return for an inexpensive stitching solution, then the SINGER Tradition 2277 could be the right mechanical sewing machine for you.
- Ideal for occasional users
- Easy to use
- Good features for the money
- Can jam without warning
- Thread can nest easily
It’s time for another Brother – the XR3774, to be precise. This model makes it three in a row for budget options, and it’s a cracker.
Of course, this is another basic mechanical sewing machine, but the XR3774 does have an air of being in a class above its price range. First off, it’s surprisingly sturdy. Sure, it’s still plasticky (what isn’t these days?), but it does feel a lot more solid than many of its competitors in and around the $100 mark.
It’s also nice and easy to use, which is a bonus that will naturally be appreciated by anyone starting out or returning to sewing after a spell away from the craft. The inclusion of handy features like the excellent needle threader and drop-in bobbin make setup simple and stress-free, which is more than can be said for some other devices out there.
Possibly the biggest attraction of the Brother XR3774 is the fact that it is marketed as a sewing machine for quilters. As I’m sure you’re already aware, quilting machines can be pricey, so to see an appliance in this price range that is capable of handling quilts will be a boon to many.
Unsurprisingly, given the market it aims to serve, the Brother XR3774 comes with an extension table to give you more room to maneuver large swathes of fabric. You’ll also find a quilting foot and a walking foot in the box, too, along with a quilting guide. Actually, you get quite an array of accessories with this model.
Not only do you get those two feet, you’ll also receive a blindstich foot, buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, narrow hemmer foot, zigzag foot, and a zipper foot, so eight additional feet in total. Add to that the darning plate, twin needle, four bobbins, extra spool pin, and screwdriver and you have a very handsome package indeed.
You also get an astonishing 37 built-in stitch patterns to choose from as well, which is a lot for any mechanical machine, but at this price it’s amazing. Oh, and it’s got a one-step buttonhole as well…just in case you were wondering.
While it’s certainly not flawless, the Brother XR3774 does offer extremely good value for money and should be placed on your shortlist, especially if you’re looking for an inexpensive quilting device.
- Great value for money
- Incredible accessory pack
- Impressive stitch library
- Simple to use
- Surprisingly sturdy
- Decent features
- Nothing much!
Yet another Janome for you now, it’s the MOD-19.
This basic mechanical sewing machine from Janome is, perhaps unsurprisingly, equipped with 19 built-in stitch patterns, putting it firmly in the mid-range of what we’ve looked at here in these reviews.
Touted as being easy to use, the Janome MOD-19 lives up to the marketing material in almost every way. The only thing that lets it down is the snap-on presser feet, which are awkward to switch over when they should be anything but. Other than that, this is a pretty straightforward piece of kit.
You won’t be breaking any speed records with the Janome MOD-19, as at full pelt it’ll only churn out 750 stitches per minute. Fast enough for most, I’m sure, but when you compare it to the lightening fast SINGER 4432 reviewed above, which isn’t that much more expensive, it’s a little on the slow side.
Accessories are a little thin on the ground as well, with just three extra presser feet included (zipper, blind hemming, and a sliding buttonhole). These are accompanied by a pack of needles, some class 15 bobbins, a seam ripper, screwdriver, spool pin, and spool holders. That’s your lot.
Stitch quality is good, though, and the instruction manual is clear and simple to follow. As with almost all Janomes, the feed system is excellent, which makes sewing on their machines that much more enjoyable.
Would I recommend it? Probably not. There’s so much choice in the sub $200 price bracket and I think you could get a better machine for less. That’s not to say that the Janome MOD-19 is a bad machine, it’s not, but competition is fierce in that range and there are more versatile options out there.
- Nicely balanced stitches
- Bobbin system works great
- Easy enough to use
- Feeds fabric wonderfully
- Quite pricey
- Presser feet can be problematic to switch
- Stitch library is limited
- Basic accessory pack
The third and final Brother mechanical sewing machine on our list is the GX37.
This device is about as basic as it gets, which will no doubt suit some of you down to the ground. It’s simple, straightforward, and will knock out most lightweight sewing tasks without too much trouble.
You get a surprising amount of built-in stitches with the Brother GX37. (Well, surprising if you don’t put two and two together when you first read the model number, that is!) Yep, like that other Brother reviewed above, the XR3774, this little beauty comes with a very respectable 37 patterns to choose from.
Speed-wise, the Brother GX37 keeps pace with some of the more expensive mechanical sewing machines I’ve reviewed. At 850 stitches per minute, this model is capable of churning out a fair amount of work in no time, providing you don’t push your luck in terms of the materials you try to sew. A heavy-duty machine this is not.
Weighing in at just 10.14lbs, the Brother GX37 is great for those who may need to move their sewing machine around for one reason or another. Brother have done a great job in keeping everything relatively stable whilst in operation, too, despite this model’s lack of poundage.
What do you get in the box? Well, for starters, you get six additional presser feet – zipper, narrow hemmer, blind stitch, zigzag, buttonhole, and button sewing – as well as an accessory pack with four bobbins, needle set, ball point needle, twin needle, seam ripper, eyelet punch, cleaning brush, screwdriver, three spool caps, and an extra spool pin.
In short, Brother have come through again with another budget option that performs admirably given its price point. Obviously, this is not going to be found in many professional sewing rooms, but for the money it’s an absolute bargain.
- Lightweight, but solid
- Good beginner machine
- Decent range of stitches
- Nice accessory pack
- Good feature set, given the price
- Not be suitable for intermediates and above
To the final appliance in this best mechanical sewing machine review roundup then, and I’ve got another Janome for you. This time it’s the turn of the 2212.
Of all the Janome mechanical sewing machines I’ve reviewed here in this post, the 2212 is my favorite. While I wouldn’t particularly recommend it to someone who has never sat in front of a sewing machine before, for those with even a modicum of experience, this is a great device.
Solid, dependable, and not ridiculously priced, the Janome 2212 is a class act. Stitch quality is excellent, with balanced, neat, and even results produced every time you use it. You may only get 12 built-in stitches with this model, but each and every one of them are useful and the machine sews them wonderfully.
Unlike many of its competitors, the Janome 2212 can handle pretty thick fabric without any issues. Of course, as mentioned above, none of these mechanical machines are built for constant heavy work, but if you’re looking to sew light to medium leather, denim, or canvas, the 2212 won’t disappoint.
Both the tension controls and the feed system work brilliantly on the 2212, and you’ll get a decent 860 stitches per minute when going at full speed. The only complaint in terms of the machine itself is the absence of a needle threader, which is a real oversight that could have been easily rectified.
The Janome 2212 lets itself down a little when it comes to accessories, as many of its direct competitors offer far more, but you can forgive Janome for that when they produce such a decent machine. You’ll find three extra presser feet in the box – blind hem, zipper, and buttonhole – along with a seam ripper, bobbin, needle set, screwdriver, and a vinyl dust cover.
Although the Janome 2212 is marketed as a device for beginners, I think there are better options out there for you if that’s what you’re shopping for. However, for anyone who is upgrading or buying a second machine for their sewing room, the 2212 is an excellent choice.
- Produces brilliant results
- Solid and sturdy
- Relatively speedy (860SPM)
- Feed system is excellent
- Reliable and durable
- Good choice for experienced users
- User manual is poor
- Accessories and stitch library are limited
- No needle threader
So, what’s the best mechanical sewing machine on the market?
Now that you’ve read through all of the best mechanical sewing machine reviews, you’re probably wondering which one I’d pick if I were laying out some of my own hard earned cash.
As with so many things in life, a lot comes down to circumstances – especially financial – so I’ll split my picks into three ranges: High-End, Mid-Range, and Budget.
To be honest, this could be construed as somewhat of a misnomer, as none of the devices reviewed here are anywhere near the four-figure mark that their computerized cousins can reach.
That said, if we look at the top priced items in this roundup, there’s only one winner: the Bernette 35. This is a classy appliance in every way, and I’d happily recommend it to anyone looking to buy the best mechanical sewing machine.
Mid-range is a little trickier, with two contenders vying for my recommendation.
Another tough call here, probably the toughest of them all, as competition for this end of the market is ferocious.
Pick any from the following and you won’t go too far wrong:
So, that’s it! Hopefully this roundup review of the best mechanical sewing machines on the market has helped you make your final decision. All that remains now is for me to wish you good luck with your new appliance and happy sewing!
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