As a beginner, it’s easy to overwhelmed by the shear amount of stitch settings and sewing accessories, not to mention complicated setup procedures. What you need is a simple, no-fuss sewing machine for beginners that does what it must and does it well, without being complicated.
Over a span of 4 years, I’ve tested a ton of sewing machines and what I found was quite surprising!
Most people quickly get a grip on their own machine and it makes a lot of sense to buy something that won’t need replacing too soon. This is why it’s almost always suggested to buy a starter sewing machine that’s just a little more than you need at first. With some practice, you’ll master your machine quickly and be using most of it’s features with ease.
I’ve put together a list of what I believe are the very best sewing machines for beginners that won’t break the bank but also won’t leave you wanting more. You don’t want to waste your money replacing machines every year, believe me! (Also see our review of the best sewing machines overall.)
Best Basic Sewing Machine for First Time Users
1. Best Beginner Sewing Machine – Brother CS7000X
The Brother CS7000x is a fantastic beginner sewing machine for people who do not want to be limited in the future. It’s easy master but it will also serve as a highly functional sewing machine for many years to come. You may never need anything more.
It’s by far the best value, even though it’s a little pricey, since replacing it won’t be necessary for a very long time. It has computerized functionality and LCD Display, and Quilting work is made easier thanks to the wide table attachment included.
- Excellent Quality
- Push Button Controls
- 70 Stitches
- Computerized / LCD Screen
- Auto Needle Threader
- 10 Sewing Feet Included
- Pricier but Absolutely Worth It
2. Easiest Sewing Machine for Beginners – Singer Start 1304
The Singer Start is a perfect first time sewing machine due it’s incredibly simple operation. A single dial handles all the stitch options while a single reverse button handles direction.
It does have some limitations, especially given the price, but it still qualifies as a good beginner option.
- Incredibly Simple
- Lightweight & Portable
- 3 Presser Feet Included
- 6 Stiches+
- 4 Step Button Hole
- Quite Pricey
3. Best First Sewing Machine – Singer Heavy Duty 4423
The very popular Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine, is another excellent option for people who don’t want to be limited by their machine in the future. It’s extremely well priced for the quality and built-in functionality you’ll be getting.
- 23 Built In stitches
- Automatic Needle Threading
- Fast and Powerful
- Sews Thicker Fabric Easily
- Tough Quality
- 4 Presser Feet Included
- 1 Step Button Hole
- Nothing Negative
4. Upgraded Beginner Sewing Machine – Singer M3500
The Singer M3500 is a standard sewing machine with 110 stitch applications & built-in needle threader and made it comfortably onto this list thanks to it’s easy operation.
- 4 Presser Feet Included
- One Step Button Hole
- Many Accessories
- Claims to Stitch Thicker Fabric
- 110 Stitch “Applications”
- Better Singers Are Available At Lower Prices
5. Affordable Entry Level Sewing Machine – Brother LX3817A Aqua
The Brother LX3817A has a beautiful aqua colored design with decorative floral patterns. Teenage girls should love this elegant theme and it makes for a really pretty sewing corner in a girl’s bedroom.
It has 17 stitch patterns including 6 straight and 4 zig-zag stiches as well as 2 blind hem, elastic, double action and overedge.
- Well Priced
- Beautiful Design
- All the Basics
- Doesn’t Sew Buttonholes
6. Small and Cheap Beginner Sewing Machine – Donyer Power
The cheaper, lesser known Donyer sewing machine has started to become more popular among beginners for it’s low price and push button functionality. It’s a sweet little entry level option that will not break the bank. Unfortunately, it probably won’t last your entire sewing journey.
- Easy to Learn On
- 12 Stitches
- Push Button Operation
- Very Affordable
- Quality is just OK
What to Look for in a Simple Starter Sewing Machine
Picking the Right Brand from the Start
Like with most tech products, there’s a learning curve to the specific brand. Once you’ve mastered a basic Singer sewing machine, you’ll find that the more advanced models in the Singer range have a similar, albeit more complex operating procedure.
The icons and menu items are similar and in roughly the same places so you don’t find yourself flailing around each time you get a new machine.
This is why it makes a lot of sense to pick a brand that you think you might stick with for the long run, even if you’ll be replacing the machine in a year or two.
Some parts and accessories are also compatible across different models of the same brand. This makes it even easier to upgrade from a starter sewing machine to another, more advanced model.
You Don’t Need Too Many Stich Patterns
As a beginner, you absolutely don’t need a long list of fancy decorative stitch patterns.
The only two stitch patterns you need is the “straight stitch” and the “zig-zag stitch”. The other stiches are merely decorative and are hardly ever used in basic sewing.
When making clothes, the straight stitch is the perfect choice and the zig-zag helps when a straight stitch isn’t strong enough like on stretchy fabric and to finish raw edges of seams.
If you see yourself getting a little fancy with decorative seems around cushions and other items, you can get a sewing machine with a couple of more stitch options in it’s arsenal, but don’t think you need to overdo it.
Something you’ll be doing quite a bit, even as a beginner, is changing needles. Singer, Brother and Janome all have convenient designs which allow for easy switching but some of the more entry-level machines make this common task a little harder. Try not to go “too basic” as you’ll find that you end up working harder than if you had a good simple sewing machine.
One Step Button Hole Function
Creating button holes is a little more of an advanced technique and you may not need to use it in your first year of sewing. That being said, if you do intend to keep the machine and have it be something you can use for a longer time, a “one-step” button hole feature is a great thing to have.
Some cheaper beginner machines don’t have the feature at all and other might have a “three-step” button hole function which requires you to move the fabric around to complete stitching the button hole. This can be annoying and leads to a little more frustration than is necessary.
It’s my opinion that you should definitely try to find a sewing machine that has a “one-step” button hole, even if you won’t need it at first.
Choose the Right Price Without Compromising
This is another important decision in buying a first time sewing machine. You may want to save some money buying a really basic model but I can assure you, if you go too cheap, you’ll end up replacing it too soon or worse, giving up on sewing altogether!
We want to find a model that fits at the top end of our available budget. After all, you’ve got some sewing to do and you don’t want to be held back by the limitations of the machine. As time goes on, you’ll quickly learn the extra strengths and features of the machine.
Read how much is a sewing machine and how to get the best value.
Some of the cheaper models may do a pretty good job but the quality of the machine will soon become a problem for you and rob you of the enjoyment of sewing.
Thankfully the well known brands like Singer and Brother (listed above) make really good quality products and their cheaper, entry-level models offer a great starting point.
Buying New or Second Hand?
As a beginner, buying a vintage second hand sewing machine might be a great way to get a quality machine at a great price. Just make sure you have someone a little more experienced helping you decide. It’s should be easy for them to see if the machine is in fact a decent purchase and if all the parts are working properly. Even though older machines can be a little noisier, they tend to be pretty good build quality and can make the perfect starter sewing machine as you decide how much you like to sew.
Weight and Build Quality
Cheaper, entry-level sewing machines make use of plastic parts to save on manufacturing costs. This makes the a little flimsy and weak. You’ll even find that, as you work with them, the machine keeps wobbling and moving around.
What you want is a simple sewing machine that has enough metal parts (or a decent metal casing) that it adds some weight and stability to the machine.
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to sew a prom dress while the entire table you’re working on feels like it’s falling apart under your hands. This is especially true then you start to speed up in your sewing. Something that will happen automatically over time and with enough practice.
Smooth Feel While Feeding the Fabric
This is a little trickier than the other considerations. Even though you’re buying a basic sewing machine, you need to make sure it has a smooth, even feel as you feed the fabric through. Sewing must feel natural and easy, and a machine that’s too basic will not feel right. For some reason, the fabric will feel like it’s clumping up when you turn it, the machine won’t pull the fabric through evenly and it will just be an unpleasant experience overall.
This will suck the fun right out of sewing!
Thankfully the models, and especially the Singer and Brother machines, are all known for their smoothness and ease of operation.
Ability to Control the Tension
A proper starter machine will still allow you to adjust the tension which will help you set the machine to run smoothly. Without this feature you will be at the mercy of the manufacturer and, depending on the thickness of the fabric, might run constantly into trouble with tension levels.
Make sure whatever you choose allows you to adjust the tension to your desired level quickly and easily.
Don’t “cut back” so much that your sewing machine can’t get through the fabric. If you intend to work on some corduroy fabric or velvet with a backing, you might find it hard to get through two or three layers with a cheaper machine. This leaves you holding nothing more than a toy and you won’t be able to do any real sewing work.
Make Sure to Have a Good Returns Policy
Of course there’s know way of know with 100% certainty that the sewing machine you choose is the perfect choice. I can help you as much as I can, and the list above is filled with fantastic options from start to finish, but you’ll need a good returns policy to fall back on if you don’t like the machine. Not only do you need a decent returns policy, but it must be easy to invoke as well. There’s not use having to just through hoops just to get your money back!
If you buy from Amazon you automatically get a 30-day returns policy and some suppliers like Sewing Machine Plus have a 60-day returns policy! That’s more than enough time to be sure that the machine you bought is the right one for you.
If you’re looking for a few more models, here’s a great video…
As a beginner sewer, you don’t want to go all-in on the most expensive sewing machine with all the bells and whistles available on the market. That being said, if you purchase something that will limit you too early in your sewing journey, you’ll end up having to spend more money upgrading or worse, you may just lose interest all together!
In the list above, I’ve curated the best sewing machines for your to start with. At the very top, the price is fair but the quality and the performance is excellent. These machines have more of a traditional sewing machine “look” and that’s OK. It’s the “funkier” designs and bold colors that often have to compensate for lack of functionality. Don’t be fooled by the pretty decals and color themes.
And lastly, if you really want to get into sewing and are willing to invest in a good machine, you should strongly consider a beginner sewing course as well. The basics, like knowing which stitch to use when, are essential in succeeding at this long-term. You may even meet some new, like-minded friends along the way!