Sewing is more than just a rewarding craft: it’s a means to help you fix or repurpose old clothes with minimal investment on your behalf. For generations, women have sewn fabrics to make new clothes or fixed torn pieces of clothing in an effort to save money they would have spent on purchasing new items. Today, sewing has become more of a hobby, but one that’s slowly reviving as people are finding joy in fixing things rather than throwing them away.
5 Best Inexpensive Sewing Machines for Beginners
SINGER | Start 1304
Sewing Machine Features Explained
Since this is an article for beginners, we felt the need to explain some of the most common features and terminology that you’ll most likely come across in your quest of finding a machine that’s right for you. By knowing the following, you can paint of picture of what you’d like your best starter sewing machine to have:
- Automated needle threader: Compared to mechanical needle threaders, automated ones are a much better option for beginners. These are a system made from a hook and a spring that makes it easier to guide the thread through the needle’s eye. This feature will help you avoid eye strain and will help you get the machine ready for sewing faster.
- Presser foot: These are accessories that will help you hold the fabric against feed dogs. Most machines will come with a multi-purpose foot, but you can also acquire new ones separately if need be. To avoid any additional hassle, look for a machine that comes with at least one multi-purpose foot, one buttonhole foot, and one zipper foot.
- Free arm: This refers to a cylindrical arm that makes it easier for you to sew legs and sleeves. In most cases, the free arm is hidden in the machine, and the user manual of a machine with a free arm should tell you exactly where it’s concealed. Some sewing machines for quilting have a long arm feature. To know more about long arm, click here.
- Automatic buttonholer: This feature is great for sewing button holes without having to operate dials or having to interrupt the actual sewing process. Depending on the model that you purchase, your sewing machine might have a special slot located on its foot designed to fit a button.
- Automatic thread tension adjustment: As a beginner, you will have some things to learn about the correct thread tension. But, for the time being, you might want to look for machines that have the automatic thread tension adjustment, which basically means that the device will calculate the correct thread tension. This is one feature that even experts use because it helps save time.
- Integrated dual-feed: When you want to sew two pieces of fabric together, this feature will be priceless. It’s really awesome for quilting because it makes sure that both pieces of fabric you use will run smoothly across the sewing plate.
- Stitch selector: The name of this feature is pretty suggestive. The stitch selector is a feature that allows you to shuffle between the different stitching patterns that a machine has to offer. On standard models, this feature is a rotary dial placed on the side of the machine. Computerized machines, on the other hand, will allow you to select the pattern by visualizing it on a small digital display.
- Lock stitch option: When you’re done sewing, machines that feature a lock stitch will perform a reverse stitch with no effort on your behalf, making sure the seam is durable.
Is a Cheap Machine a Bad Idea?
The answer is: it depends on your sewing needs. If you consider any sewing machine under $100 cheap, then it’s safe to say that you can buy a cheap and reliable product. Cheap sewing machines are normally associated with the expertise level of the one “wielding” them. If you are a professional and sew for a living, then a cheap sewing machine won’t cut it, but if you’re just getting started, and you’re looking for the best value, here is what you should look for, even in “cheap” products:
- You want a product with an intuitive design. When you’re a beginner, you don’t want to force yourself in always trying to keep a record of what each button does and where it’s located. To avoid the hassle, pay close attention to the design of the machine, but also to the number of features it comes with. More features will more likely mean more buttons and external components that you’ll have to learn to work with.
- Cheap doesn’t mean that it should have no accessories, so opt for a machine that offers plenty of them. You want one with at least a couple of different needles, maybe a few bobbins, but also a brush for cleaning your machine. If there are some extra presser feet in there, even better.
- Since you’re a beginner, there are a couple of features that you want your machine to have because it will just make your life easier if it does. For example, it is way easier for you to own a machine that comes with adjustable width and length of the stitches. This will help you tune the seams for different projects. You also want a machine with a reverse stitch, as this feature will be useful in finishing off projects. And if your machine has an automatic threading feature, even better.
- If your room is poorly lit, you’re going to have a hard time seeing what’s going on in the needle area. The good news is that even cheaper machines now feature LED lights in the working area, which means that you will always have a clear view of the fabric being stitched
Tips for Sewing with Kids
With kids, it’s usually monkey-see-monkey-do. So, if you’re always at your sewing machine and your child sees that they’re eventually going to want to try it for themselves. Sewing can be a fun and easy hobby to learn at a young age and, if you’re patient enough, teaching kids can be fun, too! Here’s some tips to make things easier.
I think this goes without saying, but we’re saying it anyway. When teaching kids anything new, it’s always important to remember to show patience. Not only will this give them the space they need to gain confidence in sewing, but it also shows them a great example of an adult using patience.
Depending on your kid’s age, you should start with a smaller project. Instead of starting off with an actual project like making a quilt or something, just teach them all the different aspects of the sewing machine. Then let them get used to actually using the sewing machine parts such as the foot pedal and getting a feel for speed control. Have them practice stitches and make a pattern with a scrap piece of fabric.
Use Proper Tools
Don’t skimp out on the tools just because they’re kids. Use proper, good quality thread, needles, and fabric. It will eliminate the risk of issues and help the kids have a smoother experience while learning.
Kind of a no-brainer, but needs to be mentioned. Control and safety with anything when dealing with kids is important. Show them where to put their hands and fingers at all times, teach them proper safety when using a sewing machine.
Don’t Let Them Get Bored
Kid’s get bored FAST. That means, if you’re planning to teach them how to sew using a sewing machine, then expect them to get overwhelmed fast and lose interest just as quick. Start off with small sessions of maybe 20 minutes and go from there, depending on your child’s attention span.
Top 5 Beginner Sewing Machine Reviews
Those of you interested in buying a sewing machine for the start of the journey will be happy to know that we’ve discovered which sewing machine is good for beginners, and which will give you the best value in terms of features compared to price.
- Product dimensions: 9.1 x 3.2 x 2 inches
- Weight: 9.3 ounces
- Warranty: 1 year
If you’re really into sewing, a handheld machine may not be enough, but it is definitely something that should be in the portfolio of every beginner. It has a good-looking compact design, measuring 9.1 x 3.2 x 2 inches and weighing in at only 9.3 ounces. So, what can you possibly expect from a small and lightweight sewing machine?
Since beginners will probably tackle with simple sewing projects and experiment with crafts, this device is perfect for maneuvering and working with fabrics that range from denim to wool. It has a maximum sewing thickness of 1.8 mm, so keep that in mind before you start working on a particular project.
It takes its power from 4 x AA batteries, but can also be used with a power adapter which is not included in the original package. It has a simplistic component list compared to larger sewing machines, so you can expect to get the basics: rotary wheel, bobbin, fastening plate, needle arm, and tension control.
Who Should Purchase This?
If you want to work on sewing projects and crafts that require more mobility on your behalf, this machine is perfect for tricky positions.
- Compact and easy to maneuver.
- Good for crafting projects.
- Works with plenty of fabrics.
- Batteries and adapter not included.
- Product dimensions: 8.6 x 3.5 x 6.9 inches
- Weight: 2.85 pounds
- Warranty: 3 months
Right between a handheld and a full-sized sewing machine lies this KPCB Tech model. It is designed to be portable, thanks to its 2.85 pounds in weight. But don’t be fooled by the size and pounds, it is perfectly capable of being one of the best sewing machines for intermediate sewers.
It includes all the items you might need from a starter kit, and it can see through fabrics such as wool, silk, denim, linen, or even cotton. It features automatic bobbin rewinding, which is one more automated process that you won’t have to worry about. The built-in thread cutter is perfect for streamlining your sewing process.
It can be operated in multiple ways, as it has a power adapter, a battery, a foot pedal, and an on/off button when using the pedal requires too much effort. The machine comes with its own extension table, good for working on larger projects that imply sewing large pieces of fabric.
Who Should Purchase This?
If it’s portability you’re after, but want something mode advances than a handheld sewing machine, the KPCB Tech could prove to be a worthy candidate.
- Multiple power options.
- Foot pedal included.
- Extension table included.
- Built-in winding pole.
- Two speeds.
- Built-in thread cutter.
- Not long-lasting.
- Product dimensions: 12.1 x 5.9 x 15.3 inches
- Weight: 15.75 pounds
- Warranty: 25 years
The Brother XM2701 is one of our favorites. It comes with 27 stitching patterns that may be a little too much for a beginner, but it will give you the chance to tackle more diversified projects before you feel the need to upgrade to a more high-end machine.
It features a rotary dial that allows you to select between the available stitching patterns. The drop-in bobbin makes it easy to sew without any difficulties, thus improving your speed and technique without encountering the issue of a jammed bobbin. The threading system features an automatic needle threader, which is one less configuration step for you to worry about.
The sewing machine comes with six different feet for you to work with, including narrow hem, zigzag, blind stitch, zipper, buttonhole, and button sewing. From the get-go, this gives you the opportunity to use this machine for multiple types of projects, from super-easy to more complicated ones.
Who Should Purchase This?
The Brother XM2701 is a sewing machine designed for any novice sewers who are looking to invest in a more qualitative product, made by a brand with plenty of experience in this niche.
- 27 stitching patterns.
- Jam resistant drop-in bobbin.
- Six feet included.
- LED backed sewing area.
- Instruction DVD included.
- Includes automatic needle threader.
- Rotary dial for stitch selection.
- Complicated speed control.
SINGER | Start 1304
- Product dimensions: 13 x 7 x 11.5 inches
- Weight: 12.7 pounds
- Warranty: 25 years
Are you looking for a good sewing machine that is also cheap and budget friendly? Then allow us to introduce the Start 1304: a sewing machine created by Singer for beginners. The machine is low cost and made by one of the best brands. It is equipped with six built-in stitches for plenty of project diversity: buttonhole, scallop, blind hem, zigzag, satin, and straight.
It features a heavy-duty metal frame that promises durability and extended use. It comes with three pressed feet: one for all purposes, one buttonhole foot, plus one zipper foot. The Start 1304 also features an automatic reverse button to make reverse sewing much easier.
It takes six seconds for you to thread the entire machine that, by the way, comes with a bunch of accessories like bobbins, lint brush, foot control, spool pin felts, pack of needles, extra feet, and others.
Who Should Purchase This?
If you’re looking for a standard sewing machine for beginners that’s very cost-effective and gives you a bang for your buck, the SINGER Start 1304 should be in your top 5 most wanted.
- 4-step buttonhole.
- Dual spool pins.
- Dial for stitch selection.
- Three presser feet included.
- Heavy-duty metal frame.
- Plenty of included accessories.
- Best used with lightweight fabrics.
- Product dimensions: 15 x 6.2 x 11.8 inches
- Weight: 15.76 pounds
- Warranty: 25 years (for the chassis).
Is your child showing an interest in sewing crafts? Then how about making a low investment on a decent machine that could teach them the basics of the craft? The Spiegel SP3201 is such a device, one with a convenient price and all the right features that a child might need at the time being.
So, what exactly does this machine have to offer? First off, it comes with 32 stitches, which is more than you could hope for in an entry level or beginner’s sewing machine. It allows your child to adjust the thread tension, stitch length and width, which teaches them right from the start what a good machine can do. This provides more versatility in terms of what they can sew with their machine.
The sewing area is powered by a LED light, which makes it easy for both children and adults to see what they’re doing regardless of poor room lighting or shadows that might get in the way of good visibility. The automatic needle threader means that your child will find it easier to have the machine ready for actual work.
Who Should Purchase This?
If you want to buy a sewing machine for children, handheld machines aren’t the best idea, not is it wise to invest in something very expensive. What you want is a machine like the Spiegel SP3201: budget-friendly, with all the basic features needed, and one that can accommodate children who are at the beginning of their sewing exploration journey, making mini crafts and easy projects.
- One-step automatic buttonhole.
- Automatic needle threader.
- LED light feature.
- 32 stitching patterns.
- Removable accessory tray.
- Thread cutter.
- Adjustable thread tension, stitch width and length.
- Not the best for lightweight fabrics.
When you’re just beginning your adventure in Sewland, it’s best to stay informed on what are the basic features you need for your projects. For the time being, you won’t need a high-end machine because it has a lot of features that will confuse you.
What you need is a machine with basic features that can help you get started on your journey. This way, you will avoid spending money on features that you’re not sure how to use yet, and might even get in the way of you completing your first projects.