You’ve decided to take up sewing, or maybe you want to teach your kids how to sew. Either way, you need a beginner sewing machine – one that’s easy to use. Buying a sewing machine isn’t easy, even for advanced users. There are so many features, brands and price ranges, looking through each and every one can give you a headache.
We have quite a bit of sewing experience, and think we know a thing or two about what makes a good sewing machine. For beginners, there are a number of things to think about that experienced users may overlook.
A Buyer’s Guide for the Best Beginner Sewing Machine
We’ve heard of sewing machines compared to cars, and we would have to agree. While they all do the same thing, they are different underneath the hood. When you purchase a sewing machine for a beginner, it’s important to look for features that make it easy to get started. Here are some things to consider when buying the best sewing machine for beginners:
When you’re just getting started with sewing, threading the machine can be a tedious and frustrating task. A machine that has an automatic threader will eliminate this frustration, making it easier for you to get started on your project.
If you have never used a sewing machine or have limited experience with one, you still have no idea whether you’ll actually enjoy sewing. Not until after you get through your first few projects will you really know if you like sewing. For this reason, it only makes sense to buy the most affordable, quality machine you can find.
Sure, you can spend hundreds (or thousands) on the best machine on the market, but if you wind up hating sewing, you’ll have wasted your money.
While high-end machines are top-of-the-line, they’re best suited for experienced seamstresses.
How many stitches do you really need? Some machines have hundreds, while others have 10-20. The stitches you’ll need will largely depend on what types of projects you plan on sewing.
For basic sewing, you’ll probably only need a handful of stitches. Decorative stitches are nice to have and many basic machines include a few, but they aren’t necessary. If you’re quilting or doing embroidery, you may need a larger selection. Although for embroidery, I would recommend going with a machine designed just for that.
Mechanical or Computerized?
There are two main types of sewing machines: mechanical and computerized. Mechanical machines are great for occasional sewers who are on a tighter budget. You’ll have to manipulate most of the controls by hand, but these machines can handle just about any project you throw at it.
A computerized model isn’t always the best option for beginners, although there are certainly exceptions. But if you plan on sewing frequently, a computerized machine may be the better option for you. These tend to have touchpad controls, LCD screens and a wide range of pressor feet to help you tackle challenging tasks, like topstitching and piping. These machines tend to have hundreds of stitches, so you’ll have a variety to choose from.
Weight, Ergonomics and Speed Control
Three other important things to think about are ergonomics, weight and sewing speed control. If the machine is uncomfortable to use, it will probably wind up collecting dust in the closet. Many users prefer using machines that have more room on the right side of the needle. This gives you more space for your fabric and your hands.
If you plan on moving your machine often – say, out of a closet – look for a machine that’s light in weight.
Finally, you want to look for machines that give you control over the sewing speed. This will allow you to feed the fabric through the machine at a steady, consistent pace, rather than having to constantly start and stop your sewing.
My Recommendations for Beginner Sewing Machines
Some beginners prefer a computerized machine, while others like the simplicity of a mechanical machine. I’ve had the pleasure of testing many models, and I can confidently recommend one machine that falls into each category: the Singer 3232 and the Singer 7258.
1. Singer 3232 Simple Sewing Machine
Perhaps the one feature that sets this model apart from other basic mechanical sewing machines is that it has an automatic threader. As a beginner, this feature will save you so much time and allow you to get a jumpstart on your projects.
Here’s a quick rundown of this model’s features:
- Adjustable stitch width and length
- 32 stitches: 6 basic stitches, 19 decorative, 6 stretch stitches; 1 buttonhole
- Automatic needle threader
- Metal frame is highly durable and prevents skipping when you’re sewing
- Free arm
- 4 snap-on presser feet
- Accessory storage
The Singer 3232 sews smoothly and quietly, and it’s backed by the durability and quality you would expect from Singer. With a low price point of just over $100, this is the ideal machine for beginners.
The only complaint I had with this machine was the tension. You need to adjust it carefully as thread can easily break if you have too much tension. After fiddling with a few practice pieces of fabric, I finally found a setting that worked well for most projects.
Aside from this slight issue, the 3232 is the ideal sewing machine for anyone who is just getting started and is looking for a reliable, mechanical machine. You can read our full review of the Singer 3232 here.
2. Singer 7258 Computerized Sewing Machine
If you have a larger budget and prefer a computerized sewing machine, the 7258 from Singer is an excellent choice. It offers stitches than the 3232 and a few other extra features that make sewing easier.
Here’s a quick look at the 7258’s features:
- 100 stitches
- 10 presser feet for sewing, crafting and quilting
- Top drop-in bobbin system
- LED display
- Automatic stitch width and length
- Electronic auto pilot
- Automatic needle threader
- LED light illuminates workspace
- 7 automatic buttonholes
- Programmable needle up/down
- Speed control
As you can see, this machine has a lot more features. But it comes at a price that’s much higher than my previous pick (about $165).
With that said, the extra features it offers is worth the extra cost. And if you like quilting, the inclusion of various presser feet will make it easy to get started on new quilting projects.
The LED display allows for easy stitch selection. All of the stitches are listed on the front of the machine, so you can quickly select the one you want.
The drop-in bobbin system is easy to load and features a clear cover, so you can see what you’re doing. It also has an automatic threader, so you never have to waste time trying to thread the needle by hand.
I highly recommend the Singer 7258 if you have a bigger budget and want a machine that offers more convenient features.
While both of these machines are excellent in their own right, the Singer 3232 is the best option for those on a tight budget who want a mechanical machine. For beginners who want a computerized machine, the Singer 7258 is the right choice. You can read our full review of it here.