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Starting a new hobby is exciting, especially when that means buying new gadgets and tools! However, when you are new to sewing, searching for a beginner machine can be a bit overwhelming. A few helpful questions to ask yourself: What is my budget? How likely am I to stick to sewing? What kind of fabrics will I be sewing with? Will I need to move my machine around? And who will be using it? Our suggestions below are suitable for complete beginners and include both manual and computerized machines, at a range of price points.
Note that when buying a machine, you can buy online or through a dealer. Online you should be able to find better deals, which is great if you don’t mind learning new skills on your own through blogs, YouTube, and books. If you prefer to learn things in person, a dealer could be the way to go. Dealers usually offer classes, will help you set up your machine, and can troubleshoot any issues that come up along the way.
How we pick each product:
Our mission is to recommend the most appropriate artists’ tool or supply for your needs. Whether you are looking for top-of-the line equipment or beginners’ basics, we’ll make sure that you get good value for your money by doing the research for you. We scour the Internet for information on how art supplies are used and read customer reviews by real users; we ask experts for their advice; and of course, we rely on our own accumulated expertise as artists, teachers, and craftspeople.
If you’re looking for a very affordable and cute sewing machine, the Janome New Home is for you. As a beginner, you’ll want to start with a machine that sews smoothly and doesn’t leave you frustrated, and this adorable little machine fits the bill. It is compact and light—weighing only five pounds—so you can easily carry it around, and it sews well for its size. You can pick from a variety of bright color combinations too. It has 11 built-in stitches, but no buttonhole stitch. You wouldn’t want to start with a smaller machine than the New Home because the smaller or toy machines are actually harder to use.
The Brother CS5055 is great when sewing with children because in addition to a pedal, which children can have a hard time learning to use, it has a dial to control the speed. The dial allows you to set a maximum speed and then sew using the pedal as normal. It has an automatic needle position that guarantees the needle will always be in the right position, which makes it that much easier for beginners to keep their thread from coming out of the needle every time they start and stop. The Brother CS5055 also has 60 built-in stitches including 7 buttonhole stitches, automatic needle threading, and an LCD screen that displays the stitch selection. It should be noted that it is about twice the price of the Janome New Home—something to consider if you are trying to keep the cost down or just not certain how committed you are to your new hobby.
Bonus recommendation: For those who want to dabble in machine embroidery and add some lettering to their projects, the Brother XR9550 may be just the thing. It does everything the Brother CS5055 does but also includes 55 alphanumeric stitches and sews basic decorative embroidery stitches without a hoop. What’s more, it’s not as expensive as an actual dual-purpose machine.
The Singer Heavy Duty is for new sewers looking for an affordable workhorse. Priced about $30 higher than the Brother CS5055, this machine has a metal frame and is built to sew through thicker materials. It has 11 stitches, including a three-step buttonhole maker, and is the fastest machine in this roundup, able to deliver 1,100 stitches per minute (SPM). With its simpler design (there is no LCD screen) and limited stitch options, there are fewer things to learn about before getting started. One thing to keep in mind: It does not have a speed control dial, so I wouldn’t recommend this one for younger kids.
The Pfaff Passport 2.0 is a great machine to sew with, especially if you plan to use trickier fabrics like thin knits, lingerie materials, and silks. The Passport 2.0 comes with automatic tie-off, integrated dual feed, 70 stitches including buttonholes, automatic needle positioning, and a speed-control slider. It is a bit slower than the Singer Heavy Duty, but still fast for a home machine, sewing at 800 SPM. The Passport 2.0 is pricey compared with the first three machines, but it gives a smoother sewing experience. Pro tip: Pfaff runs promotions once in a while. If you can wait to buy a machine, you may save yourself a couple hundred dollars.
The final machine in our roundup is the Bernina 335. Those who sew with Bernina machines are fans for life and say the price tag is worth it for the quality. The machines are built to last and come with a 20-year warranty on parts. This is the kind of machine that you pass down to your children. The Bernina 335 is fast, sewing at 900 SPM, even though it’s one of the lowest-priced machines made by Bernina. It comes with all the features of the other machines and more, with semiautomatic needle threading, a speed control dial, automatic needle positioning, a hands-free presser foot, 221 stitch patterns including buttonholes, and an LCD screen.