Best Beginner Sewing Machine Of The Year
You're shopping for the best beginner sewing machine because your daughter learned to sew in her parenting class at school. She really liked it. But you've seen this before. Soccer gear, softball gear, Tai Kwon Do gear, three band instruments, and enough art supplies to supply a small school. Parenting can be expensive.
How do you encourage your daughter without breaking your wallet? And can you do it while providing her with a machine that will grow with her abilities? The answer is a resounding "YES!" to both questions. Sewing machine manufacturers missed the whole disposable electronics trend. They continue to produce machines that are well-designed and deliver quality and durability for decades.
Checking Out the Best Beginner Sewing Machine
The best beginner sewing machine will be a full-sized sewing machine with all the capabilities of an advanced machine minus a few bells and whistles. They can be manual or computerized and usually include several accessories. These might include additional presser feet, seam rippers, and other handy-dandy little doodads that are useful.
What features should be included?
With the many available features, we narrowed this list to only essential things that the best beginner sewing machine should have. Those are:
- A variety of different stitches
- Stitch length adjustment
- Tension adjustment
- Reverse button/lever
- LED or bright work lamp
Stitch count is the number of different stitches a machine is capable of producing. The most basic machines produce at least four different stitches. Some of the more advanced sewing machines offer more than 100 different stitches.
Having a stitch length adjustment is a great feature. The longer the stitch, the fewer stitches per inch. Longer stitches are great for some projects, while other projects require a tighter stitch length.
The tension adjustment allows the user to set a specific thread tension for the finished product. Different types of thread react differently, so tension adjustment is a necessary feature.
A reverse button or lever allows the user to make the machine sew backward. The backstitch is how you create a lock-stitch, which keeps your seam from unraveling. Without a reverse setting, the user can manually create a lock-stitch. That requires turning the fabric under the needle and is a cumbersome process.
Having a well-lit workspace is essential. Most machines have a light mounted that illuminates the sewing deck.
Manual or computer controlled?
The most significant difference between manual and computerized machines is how stitch selections, tensioning, and other features are incorporated. They are both very functional and practical at the beginner machine level. There is also very little cost difference between manual and basic computerized machines.
A manual machine has click-stop selectors or simple buttons to change the settings. The user selects the stitch style, size, and adjusts tensioning which makes these a more hands-on machine.
A computerized machine has a touchpad to select different features. The user pushes buttons on the keypad to select stitch style and stitch length. Many have automatic tensioning adjustments, although a few still include this as a manual feature. Computerized machines are available from beginner level all the way up to highly sophisticated programmable quilting and embroidery machines.
Who sells the best beginner sewing machine?
Many companies cater to beginner sewing enthusiasts. A quick search on Google, Amazon, or Overstock will reveal a lengthy list of machines that are suitable for every level of sewing enthusiast. Visiting local sewing centers is also an option. They often have machines set up that can be tested to see how a potential buyer likes the way they operate.
How We Reviewed the Best Beginner Sewing Machine
We created our list of the best beginner sewing machine choices based on many factors. Those included available features, ease of use, stitch selections, and customer reviews. We considered pricing and value for the dollar in our analysis. Finally, we read many commercial reviews. We weighed our findings extensively before making our final selections.
Price Range for Beginner Sewing Machines
Manual machines start around $ and can range up to and beyond $$. These machines will have features that allow for a wealth of different projects.
Basic computerized machines are available starting at around $ to $$ and can cost as much as $$$ and more. Maintaining affordability is an essential factor in finding the best beginner sewing machine. Only one computerized machine made our list.
Comparing the Top Contenders
As a person that loves sewing, I do have my favorite, 30-year-old die-hard machine. I have been reconsidering my loyalty to that old friend as I was reviewing these new contenders. There are so many features and enhancements that weren't even on the drawing board when my old workhorse was new.
Janome 2206 Sewing Machine
Janome offers three machines in the same general model, the Janome 2206, Janome 2212, and Janome 2222. Aside from slight styling differences and stitch counts, these three models are similar in features. All have manual stitch selection dials, reverse levers, and free-arm options. The 2206 and 2212 models have a 4-step buttonhole feature, while the 2222 model has a 1-step buttonhole feature.
While Janome includes all their models on their website, they refer customers to local dealers. These models are also available at various online outlets, including Amazon, JoAnn Fabrics (online only), and local retailers like Walmart.
Reviews on all three versions of this machine are high. For the Janome model 2206 at both Amazon and Walmart, the rating was 4.0 out of 5 stars. The Janome model 2212 received 4.4 out of 5 stars at Amazon. The Janome model 2222 fared even better at 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. While customer reviews on sites other than Amazon were few on the 12- and 22-stitch models, all three models received excellent professional reviews from several independent sources.
Janome 128 Sewing Machine
- Janome easy-to-use basic sewing machine with 8 stitches including 1 four-step buttonhole
- Vertical oscillating bobbin system, preset stitch length and width, single dial of stitches
- Interior metal frame, adjustable thread tension, auto bobbin declutch
The Janome 128 is a very basic manual beginner sewing machine. Janome also offers an almost identical machine under model 3128. It has a different color scheme and a higher MSRP of $$, but the same features. Both are available at various online vendors including Overstock, Amazon, JoAnn Fabrics, and Walmart.
Although it only has eight built-in stitches, this machine carries a lot of features. It includes a 4-step buttonhole, free arm ability, and can sew up to 650 stitches per minute. It ships with accessories for zigzag stitching, buttonholes, and a includes a 1/4-inch seam foot.
Stitch selection is via a manual dial on the front of the machine. The largest detractor for this unit is that it does not include a reverse sewing feature. To make a lockstitch, the operator must turn the fabric under the needle then oversew and lock the thread.
The model 128 was very highly rated by customers at Overstock, with an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. At Walmart, it received a 5.0 out of 5 stars, but Amazon customers only gave it 3.9 out of 5 stars. The model 3128 received 4.7 out of 5 stars at Amazon, so that edge might make it worth the extra 10 dollars.
Singer Heavy Duty 44S Sewing Machine
- SINGER HEAVY DUTY SEWING MACHINE: It has 11 Built-in Stitches- 6 Basic Stitches, 4 Decorative Stitches, 1 Built-in...
- ADJUSTABLE NEEDLE POSITION: The needle can be changed to any of the three available positions to add zippers or a...
- HIGH-QUALITY SEWING MACHINE: The heavy-duty metal frame adds stability, and with a strong motor, sewing a higher...
The entire 44-series are some of our favorite Singer models. The series includes several models, with varying stitch counts. The available models and ratings from the Singer website are:
Available at Walmart, the 44S rates at 4.5 out of 5 stars. Amazon offers several of the models and all rate at 4.2 out of 5 stars or higher.
This series of machines has many great features. All models except the 4411 have automatic needle threading. They all have reverse levers, easy access bobbin compartments, variable needle positioning, and a free arm option. Depending on the model, a 1- to 4- step buttonhole feature is included.
It ships with several accessories including extra presser feet, bobbins, a seam ripper, dust cover, and more.
Singer Talent 3323 Portable Sewing Machine
- Limited 90-DAY Warranty for Adjustments, Belts, Rings, Bulbs, Attachments; Limited 2-Year Warranty for Motors, Light...
- SINGER SEWING MACHINE: The SINGER Talent 3323S portable sewing machine features 23 built-in stitches, a built-in 1-step...
- AUTOMATIC NEEDLE THREADER: Threading the machine is so easy that you can have the entire machine threaded, from the...
The Singer Talent line currently has two options for beginners. The Talent 3321 is a 21-stitch machine, and the Talent 3323 is a 23-stitch machine. Both of these manual machines have the same basic features. While they both received favorable customer feedback, the 3323 rated slightly higher based on reliability.
With 21 or 23 built-in stitches these machines will work with most fabrics. The 3321 includes a 4-step buttonhole while the 3323 has an automatic 1-step buttonhole. Both have a built-in needle threader and drop-in top-loading bobbins. Stitch length and width adjustments are standard features on both models. The accessory package includes several different presser feet, additional needles, bobbins, and more.
Averaging all the customer reviews across various retail sites, the model 3323 is the clear winner at 4.4 out of 5 stars on overall approval. The 3321 only rated an average of 3.8 out of 5 stars. Both models are available at many online outlets including Amazon, Overstock, JoAnn Fabrics, and Home Depot. They are also available in local retail establishments including JoAnn Fabrics, Walmart, Home Depot, and many independent distributors.
Spiegel SP3201 Sewing Machine
While Spiegel isn't the most well-known sewing machine manufacturer, they bring the knowledge of 150 years of fashion design to the table. This basic sewing machine comes from the master of women's fashion. Spiegel had the beginner in mind and brought a wealth of features. When it came to narrowing our list of the best beginner sewing machine, this model earned its place.
Delivering 32 stitches, it includes all the standard stitch variations and several embellishment stitches. It has an easy-loading drop-in bobbin and a 1-step buttonhole. Even though this is a manual machine, thread tensioning is automatic. Stitch length and width are adjustable. It has free arm capability, and the feed dogs can be released to allow for hand-feed sewing. The LED light gives the user a brightly lit work area.
While this machine isn't designed to manage much beyond an intermediate skill level, the price is perfect for a starter machine.
Spiegel has limited the authorized sellers to Walmart and Amazon. Reviews from Walmart rate this as their best beginner sewing machine. Their customers gave it an overall rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Amazon customers were equally satisfied, giving it 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Bernette 33 Swiss Design Sewing Machine
bernette is a brand belonging to the Bernina Textile Group. Bringing the expertise of Swiss machinery and design is a plus for the modern market. The affordable beginner models, the bernette 33 (b33) and bernette 35 (b35) are both high-quality machines with excellent features. Both have needle threaders, reverse sewing levers, and are perfect for beginners.
The b33 offers 15 stitches with buttonholes and includes five snap-on presser feet. Stitch selection is made using the two knobs on the front of the machine. Tension adjustments are easy with a wheel along the thread path. Differences in the b35 are that it includes 23 stitches. A 1-step buttonhole and decorative stitches add to the functionality of this model. The b35 includes seven snap-on presser feet. Three knobs on the front of the machine allow stitch selection, stitch length, and width adjustments. Tensioning adjustments are simple with a wheel next to the thread path.
These machines are fairly easy to find in the marketplace. They are available through the bernette website, on Amazon, Overstock, other online retailers, and Walmart. Both machines received very high ratings across all sellers. The average rating for the b33 was 4.4 out of 5 stars. The b35 model ranked slightly higher on average, coming in at 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Brother CS7130 Computerized Sewing Machine
- 130 built-in stitches, including 8 one-step auto-size buttonhole styles
- Large backlit LCD display for easy viewing in low light
- Brightly Lit LED Work Area
This final contender from Brother seems to have all the bells and whistles. This machine boasts 8 styles of 1-step buttonhole settings and 130 built-in stitches. Eight accessory presser foot attachments mean this machine can take on any sewing task. The design includes a needle threading system, Quick-Set drop-in top-loading bobbin, adjustable speed control, and free arm ability. With the LCD, which is backlit for easy reading, and an LED-lit work area, this little workhorse is easy on the eyes.
This machine is the most widely available model in our lineup. Online, it is available through Amazon, Wayfair, JoAnn Fabrics, Michael's, Overstock, and Home Depot. You can check the Brother retail store locator for a brick and mortar retailer near you. Just click on the "Where to Buy" button to find the nearest Home Depot, JoAnn Fabrics, and Exchange locations.
Although many retailers did not display any reviews, the ones we found were almost all 5-star ratings. On Wayfair, the overall rating was 4.7 out of 5 stars.
And the Best Beginner Sewing Machine for Your Money Is...
By far, the best beginner sewing machine for budget-conscious shoppers is the Spiegel SP3201. This machine has a low price, positive ratings from customers and reviewers alike, and a lot of features. Pair that with the reliability that stands behind the Spiegel name and the choice is simple.
In a middle-of-the-road manual machine, the Singer 44S (series) wins our approval as reliable machines that will grow with a young sewist. The stability and reliability of the Singer brand, coupled with the ease of use are great. Pricing places these models squarely in the affordable range for most budgets. The availability of several models in this line means that sewists at every level of ability will be pleased.
If you absolutely must have a computerized machine, the Brother CS7130 will not let you down. When it came to rating the best beginner sewing machine, this was the only computerized machine we felt comfortable with. Even though it has all the bells and whistles, it maintains the out-of-the-box usability needed with beginner sewists.
Featured image via Amazon