** This post was updated on: October 2, 2018 ***
I remember when I got my first sewing machine. We had just moved from a one bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom house. Money was tight so I had to get creative when it came to turning our house into a home. Curtains were the first thing I needed to make. Lots and lots of curtains. (fabrics from the sale bins are perfect for this!)
Though my experience was limited, I knew that I wanted a sewing machine that would tackle the simple projects, but grow with me as my tasks became more adventurous.
I ultimately settled on a high quality hand-me-down (hey, it was FREE). That said, there are a number of features I discovered when I eventually upgraded that I would have LOVED back when I first started sewing.
In this article, I'm comparing the best beginner sewing machines. Whether you are buying for yourself or trying to find the best model for a child, each of these machines offer basic functionality, reasonable stitch speeds, and a variety of different built-in stitches.
Some will be durable, long-term machines and a couple offer more bells and whistles but are intended for those just starting out.
** This post was updated on: October 2, 2018 ***
I Review the Best Sewing Machines for Beginners
Any of the machines listed below will make a wonderful beginner sewing machine if you are just learning how to sew. They're basic to operate, can perform all the necessary task of someone just starting with sewing, and they're VERY reasonably priced.
The biggest differences between the sewing machines in this comparison have to do with durability (metal vs plastic construction), weight, included accessories, stitch speed, and number of stitches.
Some machines have feed dogs that can be lowered, allowing for them to be used for free-motion quilting and darning.
#1. Singer 4423 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine Review
Our top 2 spots go to Singer sewing machines. Who doesn’t love Singer? They're inexpensive, easy to use, and durable as heck!
Having been in the market since 1851, the Singer name is synonymous with quality and longevity. This is why they are one of the best selling sewing machine brands ever.
My grandmother had a Singer, my mother had a Singer, and now I have two hand-me-down Singers that still purr after almost 70 years!
Many of the machines made these days are not nearly as durable as their ancestors. They use plastic instead of metal.
They work well for a while and then break down. Both the Singer 4411 and the 4423 offer solid construction, metal frames, and good functionality.
Solid Construction & Useful Features
The Singer 4423 is virtually identical to the 4411, but boasts a few additional bells and whistles, including more built-in stitches, an automatic needle threader, and a one-step buttonholer. All of these are great features for beginners.
Like the Singer 4411, the Singer 4423 offers speeds of 1100 stitches per minute and a sturdy metal interior frame with mechanical dial stitch selection.
One of the biggest pluses about the 4423 (and the 4411 below), is that it offers presser foot pressure adjustment.
The 4423 also comes with the following accessories; a general purpose foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, edge/quilting guide, pack of needles, bobbins, spool caps, auxiliary spool pin, spool pin felt, screwdriver, seam ripper/lint brush, and a soft dust cover.
What I Like About the 4423
The Singer 4423 includes 23 built-in stitches, which will be great fun when it comes time to embellish your projects. A single-step buttonhole function makes clothing quick and painless, and a built-in needle threader will ease some of the frustration of sewing and save your eyesight!
What I Don't Like
At 14.6 pounds, the Singer 4423 is the heaviest machine in this comparison. Additionally, the machine only comes with 4 feet: a general purpose foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, and button sewing foot. However, the lack of variety of included feet is not a huge problem, as you can always purchase project-specific snap-on feet as needed.
Why It's My #1 Pick
For a VERY reasonable price the Singer 4423 offers A LOT. It's metal frame will give your hundreds and hundreds of hours of smooth performance.
The powerful motor gives you the flexibility to work on a wide variety of projects from beginner to more advanced. It includes adjustable presser foot pressure meaning you can use it on very thin, slippery fabrics as well as thicker materials like denim and even leather. All this makes it my favorite model for beginners.
It edges out the 4411 because of the automatic needle threader. If you want to save a bit go with the 4411, but it's a nice feature to have.
#2. Review: Singer 4411 Basic & Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
Just like the 4423 this Singer provides tons of value at a cheap price point. This basic machine will create buttonholes for clothes easily and beautifully in four steps.
When you are ready to try your hand at free motion quilting, the feed dogs can be dropped.
The included zipper foot will assist in installing zippers perfectly. With a maximum stitch width of 6mm, it sits right in the middle among the machines in this comparison.
If you value sturdiness and basic functionality over bells and whistles, the Singer 4411 is a great bargain!
This machine will complete all of your home sewing jobs quickly and will last a long time.
This machine might not be ideal for teaching children to sew, as it does go very fast when the pedal is pressed all the way down.
What I Like About the 4411
This machine is fast! The Singer 4411 Heavy Duty sewing machine will reach a maximum speed of 1100 stitches per minute. The metal interior frame and mechanical dials will help the machine last longer than a computerized machine with a plastic frame.
Backtacking at the end of stitches is easy with the reverse lever, as opposed to a button that many machines feature. This machine also allows the user to adjust the pressure of the presser feet.
The Singer 4411 comes with a free arm that also serves as storage for the included accessories: a general purpose foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, edge/quilting guide, pack of needles, transparent bobbins, spool caps, auxiliary spool pin, spool pin felt, screwdriver, seam ripper/lint brush and soft dust cover.
What I Don't Like
At 14 pounds, the Singer 4411 sewing machine is the second heaviest machine on this list, due in part to the sturdy metal interior frame. For those who wish to play with built-in stitches, this machine offers only eleven.
This is not an issue for me personally, but many people really enjoy embellishing their projects with these specialty stitches. Finally, this particular machine only comes with 4 feet. This won’t be an issue for the bulk of beginner projects, but as you grow as a sewist, you may wish to purchase more specialized snap-on feet.
Why It's My #2 Pick
The 4411 is essentially the same machine as the 4423. The only thing missing is the auto-needle thread. It uses the same sturdy frame. powerful motor, and presser foot pressure adjustments. Also a great machine for beginners!
#3. Review: Janome MOD-19
I love Janome sewing machines! My first serger was a Janome, and it has gotten me through a ton of projects, both personal and commercial. Janome sewing machines are just as wonderful to work with.
For sewing clothes, the Janome MOD-19 includes one four-step buttonholer with buttonhole foot. Nineteen built-in stitches will allow you to add a little bit of extra flair and detail.
A free arm will help make sewing collars and cuffs easy while doubling as presser foot storage.
The Janome MOD-19 is a great value for those who want a lightweight, portable machine that is simple enough to learn on, but that is sturdy and has enough functionality to see your through a variety household projects.
If you are looking for a machine to do any kind of production work, monogramming, or quilting, you may become frustrated with this machine as it is somewhat slow and small for larger-sized pieces.
What I Like About the MOD-19
At 11.7 pounds, this particular model is the lightest of the starter sewing machines that we have compared and is a great option if you are looking for a small sewing machine.
It's ideal for someone who's planning to do the majority of their work in a shared area, such as the dining room table.
Surprisingly even though it has a metal frame, it still comes in as the lightest in this comparison. Additionally, the machine is mechanical, not computerized.
This is evident in the dial stitch selection, which I personally prefer over LEDs, because it feels sturdier and less like a toy. The Janome MOD-19 includes a buttonhole foot, an overedge foot, set of needles, seam ripper, open toe satin stitch foot, and a zipper foot.
What I Don't Like
At 750 stitches per minute (SPM), the Janome is the slowest of the machines that we compared. It also offers the smallest stitch width at 5mm and fewer built-in stitches at 19.
These aren't deal-breakers for a beginner since you don't want your machine to be so fast that it runs away from you. And few beginner sewing projects require larger stitch widths and a vast array of stitches.
Removable Free Arm on Janome's MOD-19
Where it DOES become important is if you continue sewing for a while. As your skills improve you'll eventually want a faster machine.
Finally, this machine offers the least in terms of included accessories. Where the other machines offer a bunch of extra feet, this one only includes the basics.
But again, depending on your sewing needs, this might not even be important and you can always buy feet as you need them.
The biggest missing feature on the Janome MOD-19 is presser foot pressure adjustment (say that five times fast). This will cause you fits if you are planning to work with either lightweight fabrics or heavier, thicker fabrics. When working with sheer fabrics, you'll want to be able to increase the foot pressure, and with thicker fabrics you'll want less pressure.
That said, the Janome is a high quality machine with no bells or whistles. It is great for basic at-home jobs, such as simple clothing and home décor. It is lightweight enough to be stowed away and brought out as needed, and sturdy enough to last for many years.
The MOD-19 is an all around great machine for those just starting out sewing. It takes the 3rd spot ahead of the Brother only because of the metal internal frame. This is a BIG plus as many plastic based machines just don't hold up as well.
The dials allow for faster adjustments and stitch changes than navigating through an LED menu and they have a nice solid feel to them. While it maxes out at only 750 SPM this is not a big deal for someone who's just learning their way around a sewing machine.
#4. Brother C6000i
Brother machines are some of the most popular sewing machines on the market, offering a nice balance between price and quality. The C6000i is one of their most popular models.
This Brother machine offers a bit more than the Brother XM 2071 (below) when it comes to speed, stitch width, built-in stitches, and included feet.
These additional features will help you create a wider variety of projects. Zippers, buttonholes, basic monogramming, overcasting, and quilting can be done straight out of the box without purchasing any additional feet!
This is a great machine for those who wish to make adorable homemade clothing for themselves and for their children, and for customizing projects with fun stitch designs.
However, if you are looking for a budget machine that will last for years and years and survive heavy use, you may want to go with a sturdier, mechanical machine.
The Brother C6000i offers five different needle positions, allowing for more versatility when sewing zippers.
What I Like About the C6000si
At 850 stitches per minute, this is the second third fastest machine that we have compared in this article, behind the two super-fast Singer machines.
850 SPM is a nice compromise, as it isn’t so fast that your projects will fly away from you, but it isn’t so slow that you’ll fall asleep while making pillow covers. However, is 850 turns out to be too fast for you, have no fear: this machine offers adjustable speed controls!
A maximum stitch width of 7mm is the highest of the machines that we have compared, which will come in handy when doing monogramming and other decorative type of stitching.
Flexabilty & Fun
Speaking of decorative stitching, this machine also boasts 60 built-in stitches and seven 1-step buttonholes. The feed dogs can be dropped, allowing for darning and free motion quilting. As a beginner you'll want to experiment with different techniques and this machine allows for pretty decent flexibility.
The machine includes a free arm that doubles as storage for the nine included snap-on feey. Finally, it includes a hard cover for safe stowing.
This machine comes complete with an accessory pouch with needle set, twin needle, spool pin, three bobbins, cleaning brush, seam ripper, screwdriver, eyelet punch, power cord, operation manual, hard protective case, oversized table, buttonhole foot, overcasting foot, monogramming foot, zipper foot, zigzag foot, blind stitch foot, button fitting foot, walking foot, spring action quilting foot.
What I Don't Like
With all of the bonuses, there are of course some downfalls. At 13 pounds, this is one of the heavier machines in the comparison. And the weight is not a result of the frame construction, as the internal frame is made of plastic.
Though most new sewing machines contain some kind of computer system, I tend to trust the more mechanical machines. This is a computerized machine, with LED-menu stitch selection instead of dials. In my experience dials are easier and faster. Plus if if the electronic menu ever fails you're stuck.
My main gripe is the lack of presser foot pressure adjustment. With so many feet for so many different projects, the lack of presser foot adjustment seems to be a bit of an oversight by Brother.
#5. Review: Brother XM 2701
The Brother XM 2071 is another popular beginner model and is competitively priced to the other machines in this category.
Though it is the most simple sewing machine on this list, it will accomplish a variety of basic tasks, including zippers and buttonholes, and features a free arm that doubles as accessory storage.
This machine is ideal for those who want a basic machine for household projects. It's simplicity and value also make it a perfect machine for teaching children how to sew!
Though it is great machine for learning and for occasional chores, it is not ideal for more complicated projects like quilting. If you're looking for a machine to grow into, you'll be better off looking at one of the above models.
What I Like About the XM 2701
First of all, the price on this sewing machine is VERY reasonable! And at 12.6 pounds it is on the lighter end of the models we are comparing.
This machine features dials for selecting stitches, which to me is a pro. I always prefer mechanical machines to computerized machines.
Finally, it comes with a large variety of snap-on feet and accessories, including a buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, narrow hemmer foot, zipper foot, blind stitch foot, zigzag foot, darning plate, accessory bag with needle pack, twin needle, screwdriver, extra spool pin, bobbins (3), power cord, instructional DVD and operation manual.
What I Don't Like
Unlike the Janome MOD-19, this lightweight machine features a plastic interior frame. In the end, metal will always last longer than plastic.
And at 800 stitches per minute, it offers reasonable speed for those just learning to sew, but for anyone who sticks with it they'll eventually want more speed.
The Brother XM2071 has a max stitch width of 5mm which, though less versatile, will probably not be an issue for most basic sewing projects.
Two different needle positions will allow for zipper installation and zigzag stitching, but you won’t have a whole lot of flexibility in where the needle actually lands.
While it's very reasonably priced the Brother lacks both foot pressure adjustment and the ability to drop the feed dogs. Both of these are great features on a beginners machine. Free-motion quilting or darning requires inserting a special darning plate (which is included). The plastic frame means it's very lightweight, but it can also cause durability issues.
Finally (and this is not a crucial gripe,) this is the only machine in our list that does not come with some kind of a cover. Even a utilitarian, super-basic dust cover would be preferable to none at all.
How to Choose a Good Starter Sewing Machine
When starting your search it's best to ask yourself a few important questions.
- Does this need to be a machine you can grow into or is it more of a test to see if you like sewing? (no judging either way 🙂
- How portable does it need to be?
- Will you setup a permanent or will you be working during spare time on the dining room table?
- What's your budget?
- Will you be making clothes?
These machines are designed for those just beginning to sew. They're great for occasional use on personal items, not necessarily for running a cottage business. If you are looking to work with thicker material such as leather or quilting, check out our quilting machine reviews.
Learning to Use a Sewing Machine
If you are brand new to sewing: you HAVE to read this book!
I found The Sewing Bible to be incredibly helpful for many of my projects. It covers both the basics of sewing and a broad variety of topics, from basic tools to different stitch types, and includes some fun and useful projects that really help to demystify sewing for beginners.
If you are wondering how to learn to sew, I believe that it is best to just dive in!
The products we covered are some of the best inexpensive sewing machines on the market! Some are a little less expensive than others, but overall they are a great value for the features that they all offer, including:
- Suitable for zippers, and include at least one buttonhole.
- Basic sewing stitches, including straight and zig zag.
- Easy reverse button or lever. This is important for finishing stitches securely.
- Free arm, which is important for sewing cuffs and collars. The arms pull double-duty as storage for accessories
- Snap-on feet make changing easy peasy!
- Guide that will teach you how to use your new sewing machine.
- These are all relatively compact sewing machines, perfect for making clothes at home!
Of these machines, my opinion is that the Singer 4423 is the best sewing machine for beginners and is the best for the money. For a relatively small premium, you gain a bunch of extras that will assist you in your beginner sewing machine projects.
This seemingly basic sewing machine is not only cheap, but it will grow with you as you slowly stitch your first project, up until you are quickly working through a pile of pillow covers.
With adjustable foot pressure, it is a great beginners sewing machine for clothing. You will be able to easily work with sheer or heavy duty fabrics. You will enjoy tinkering with the 23 built-in stitches and quickly making beautiful button holes on your first clothing projects.
Other Sewing Resources
Check Out Our Serger Reviews here