- High-quality sewing machines are pleasant to use for long periods of time, have stitches for whatever projects you want to work on, and can handle a broad range of fabrics.
- The Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine is our top pick because it’s ideal for beginners, it’s inexpensive and can reach speeds of up to 1,100 stitches per minute.
With the easy accessibility of cheap clothing, linens, and other fabric products just a click away, the sewing machine has lost its once prominent place in American homes. However, for people who like completing projects on their own and reducing their consumption, sewing machines are an indispensable part of the household. Plus, these units serve as an excellent way to bond with youngsters and nurture their self-sufficiency.
For the most part, the sewing machine industry is dominated by Singer, Janome, and Brother. Singer is the top brand with almost half of sewing machine sales. The company offers features and styles that are designed for all skill levels. Brother holds a quarter of the market share and focuses on balancing easy usability with advanced technology and functions for a variety of experience levels and budgets. Lastly, Janome is known for its more expensive and advanced computerized machines.
The two main factors you should consider when purchasing a new sewing machine are your skill level and your budget. In our guide, we note which experience levels will benefit most from each machine, including which ones will continue to serve you well as you develop your abilities.
If you have a limited budget, you need to pay closer attention to the features and extras that you really need. For the most part, added functionality comes with a price, but there are deals to be found if you are willing to live without some accessories. For example, some of the more affordable units don’t come with carrying cases and have limited stitch options. This might be fine if you have a dedicated space for your machine and are not interested in monogramming or embroidery.
While researching the best sewing machines, we read through hundreds of buyer and expert ratings and reviews of dozens of models. Our guide features machines that have a track record or performance, durability, and versatility.
Here are the best sewing machines you can buy:
- Best sewing machine overall: Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine
- Best beginner sewing machine: Singer Start 1304 Sewing Machine
- Best computerized sewing machine: Janome 7330 Magnolia Computerized Sewing Machine
- Best quilting sewing machine: Brother CS6000i Sewing and Quilting Machine
- Best luxury sewing machine: Janome DC5100 Computerized Sewing Machine
- Best portable sewing machine: Brother HC1850 Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine
Updated on 12/19/2019 by Jen Gushue: Added pick for the best beginner sewing machine, updated prices, links, and formatting.
The best sewing machine overall
The Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine is designed with the beginner in mind with its intuitive interface, ability to handle all types of fabrics, and one-step buttonholes.
The Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine only has 23 stitches – six basic, 12 decorative, four stretch, and a one-step buttonhole – but it’s a workhorse with its heavy-duty mechanical design.
It has the ability to make 1,100 stitches per minute so you can complete your projects faster. The top drop-in bobbin is easy to insert, and the clear cover allows you to monitor how much thread is left. The built-in needle threader is also convenient for effortless threading with minimal frustration.
The kit comes with a soft-sided dust cover, auxiliary spool pin, spool pin felt, screwdriver, bobbins, needles, quilting guide, seam ripper/lint brush, and all-purpose, zipper, buttonhole, and button sewing feet – all at a relatively affordable price.
Wirecutter also recommends the Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine for beginners and casual sewers because it’s affordable, can handle an array of fabrics, and is easy to use. It found that a beginner could sit down and use this machine without spending much time reading the manual. It also makes excellent buttonholes perfectly sized for your button. However, the reviewer points out that there only appear to be two speeds, fast and slow. And, the machine gets quite noisy.
Pros: Achieves up to 1,100 stitches per minutes, handles heavy-duty fabrics, easy to use, makes great buttonholes, affordable
Cons: Only two speeds and 23 stitches
The best beginner sewing machine
The Singer Start 1304 Sewing Machine is great for beginners thanks to its six built-in stitch options, preset stitch length and width, and quick threading, so you can start on your projects right away.
While our top overall pick is a great machine to grow with, if you’re looking for something even simpler that can get you sewing right away with no stress, we recommend the Singer Start 1304.
With just six stitches to choose from – straight, zig-zag, satin (a.k.a. tight zig-zag), scallop for decorative trim, blind hem, and four-step buttonhole – it’s incredibly basic, and for someone who’s never touched a sewing machine before, that’s a good thing. You won’t have to spend hours reading manuals and how-to guides. You can simply thread your bobbin, choose a stitch, and begin sewing.
The Singer Start 1304 is also already pre-set with an average stitch width and length that will work for a wide variety of fabrics. Experienced sewers may find this lack of control frustrating, but newbies will appreciate another variable being removed as they get their feet wet.
We included the Singer Start 1304 in our guide for best sewing supplies – a guide focused on helping beginner sewers stock their supply closet with the best basic gear they can find.
Pros: Its simple settings get you sewing right away
Cons: More experienced sewers may be frustrated by the lack of customizability
The best computerized sewing machine
If you are looking for a sewing machine that will keep pace with your improving abilities, the Janome 7330 Magnolia Computerized Sewing Machine is a smart choice with its computerized stitch selection and durable design.
The Janome 7330 Magnolia Computerized Sewing Machine features a small backlit LCD screen that lets you choose from 30 stitches, including 6 one-step buttonholes. Using the touch buttons, you can also see what stitch length and width you’ve selected. There are convenient buttons for tying off the end of the thread, reversing direction, and starting/stopping.
This machine comes as part of six different kits, and the price is currently the same for all of them. So, before buying, take a moment to find the kit that is best for your needs. For instance, I would recommend going with one of the bundles that has a tote case if you plan on moving your 7330 around regularly.
The Janome 7330 is one of the most highly rated machines on the comprehensive expert site Erin Says Sew. The reviewer appreciates that the bobbin is jam-proof and top-loading. Also, she was impressed with how one can start and stop sewing with the push of a button, rather than relying exclusively on the foot pedal. However, she would have preferred more decorative stitches, a dust cover, and adjustable presser foot pressure.
Grandma Likes to Sew found that this is a terrific unit for sewers of all levels. The reviewer liked the superior stitch-work and how durable and reliable the 7330 is.
Pros: Useful for sewers of any skill level, runs quietly, durable, automatic button sewing
Cons: Only 30 stitches
The best quilting sewing machine
The Brother CS6000i Sewing and Quilting Machine comes with a variety of extras that make quilting convenient, including an oversized table attachment.
What makes the Brother CS6000i Sewing and Quilting Machine special is the extras and the number of stitches it can handle.
First of all, the oversized table attachment is designed for quilting and other larger projects. There are also eight quilting feet to choose from. There are 60 stitches to choose from on the LCD screen, including 7 buttonholes. You can store your CS6000i in the included hard protective case. Brother backs the quality of this unit with a 25-year limited warranty.
On the sewing blogs, Grandma Likes to Sew recommends this unit as one of the best values for your money. The reviewer noted that the auto-threading, pedal-free sewing, and speed control were easy enough for beginners to use. Sewing from Home suggests buying the CS6000i for quilting projects because the foot holder quilt guide, wide table, and the spring-action quilting foot all lent themselves well to quilting projects.
Many buyers were impressed with the number of stitch options they get with such an affordable machine. Another popular feature is the effortless threading of the bobbin and needle. The only common complaint was that the highest speed is not particularly fast.
Pros: 60 stitches, comes with a wide table attachment, easy threading of the needle and bobbin, 25-year limited warranty
Cons: Some complaints about the tension
The best luxury sewing machine
If you are an experienced sewer who needs a unit for daily use and you have a little extra money to spend, the Janome DC5100 Computerized Sewing Machine is your best bet.
The Janome DC5100 Computerized Sewing Machine is great because it has 167 stitches that you can select and edit on the control panel. Among the stitches are five one-step buttonholes and every letter of the alphabet.
This computerized machine also has enough memory to store up to 50 patterns so you can easily duplicate a project. The kit comes with 11 presser feet, extra needles and bobbins, and a carrying case with a handle so you will have everything you need to get started out of the box. You just need to buy some thread.
Wirecutter also recommends the Janome DC5100 – it tops their list of the best sewing machines for intermediate sewers. The reviewer found that it can handle everything from delicate clothing projects to heavy curtains and quilts.
Of the dozens of units that the Erin Says Sew blog tested, this machine is one of only three to receive a perfect 5-star rating. She recommends this unit because she found the motor to be incredibly powerful and the array of stitches to be unique and helpful. The only negative she noted is that there is only one font for monogramming, and it isn’t particularly exciting.
Pros: 167 stitches, powerful motor, handles a broad array of fabrics, well-written user manual
Cons: Expensive, unimpressive and non-adjustable font
The best portable sewing machine
The Brother HC1850 Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine only weighs about 10 pounds, which makes it ideal for bringing along to sewing circles and classes.
For its price, the Brother HC1850 Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine has an impressive selection of features. You can use this unit to monogram letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and even some non-standard characters. The stitches include eight auto-buttonhole styles, 12 heirloom stitches, 94 decorative stitches, 14 quilting stitches, and 42 garment construction stitches.
Like the Brother CS6000i, the HC1850 is great for quilting and comes with a spring-action quilting foot, detachable wide table, and the ability to do free-motion quilting. Plus, the kit includes bobbins, needles, spool caps, a seam ripper, instructional DVD, eight presser feet, and more.
Quilter’s Review recommended this unit because it balances affordability and features quite nicely. The reviewer was impressed with how simple it is to thread the needle, but she warned against using it for serious quilting because of the small neck. The presser feet also don’t rise enough for thicker quilts.
Pros: Only weighs about 10 pounds, 130 built-in stitches, comes with an instructional DVD
Cons: Runs slow, misleading warranty, doesn’t come with a case or cover