There’s something that’s just so satisfying about making something with your own two hands. Whether you’re a crafting guru who relishes in crafting your own clothes and furnishings or you’ve simply got a mind to become one, finding the best sewing machine for your needs is a great first step to becoming the DIY master you’ve always wanted to be. Keep reading to learn more about them — and how to perfect the art of sewing — below.
How do sewing machines work?
Sewing machines have come a long way since the days of yore, when bulky, intimidating appliances were prevalent in the world of seaming. Nowadays, these handy inventions are far more user-friendly. In fact, there’s even models that are especially made for beginners.
Unlike manual sewing, which sees artisans pulling a needle of thread through a piece of material, repositioning it to form a stitch, then pulling it back through the other side, sewing machines use two totally separate threads — one of which is fed from above and another that’s fed from a “bobbin” reel below —to thread items in a process known as lock stitching.
The Best Sewing Machine for You
Not all sewing machines are created equally. In fact, there are several different sewing machines for various needs. If you’ll be working with accessories, such as bags and belts, for instance, it would be best to look for a machine that’s made specifically for thick fabrics, such a leather and denim. Alternately, if you want to make soft furnishings, like sheets, throws, and pillows, a sewing machine with a long arm would be helpful for navigating the longer fabrics involved for this work.
Some models feature specific embroidering functions, while others are ideal for quilting. If it’s stress-free sewing you’re after, a multi-purpose, computerized sewing machine will make the job as simple as selecting the correct setting.
We’ve rounded up a varied selection of the top nine best sewing machines currently on the market to best fit your sewing needs. Keep scrolling for FIRST for Women’s picks for the best sewing machines of 2021.
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Best Sewing Machine for Beginners
Where to buy: $82.99 (Originally $119.99), Amazon
Founded in 1851, Singer, aka one of the most popular sewing machine brands in history, is a pioneer in stitching, with many innovations credited to its name, including the first zigzag-stitching sewing machine. The company also has the ideal contraption for beginners in its budget-friendly Singer Start 304. This device comes with its stitch length and widths preset, making it a breeze to setup for even a novice. What's more, easy-to-us features, like a unique element that allows you to add buttonholes to pillows, clothing, and more in four simple steps. There's also a removable extension for hemming pants or sleeves, and a choice of six basic stitches.
“This is the best beginner's sewing machine out there!" reported one Amazon customer. "I'm in my 30s and have never used a sewing machine once before the Singer Start. ... This is super easy and basic!"
Best Mini Sewing Machine
Handheld Cordless Sewing Machine
Where to buy: $14.99, Amazon
If you’re not planning on undertaking any large and complicated sewing jobs any time soon, but would still like a machine for basic alterations and repairs, this cordless, lightweight, and portable little fella is perfect. Don’t let its small size and low price fool you! This 9.4-ounce appliance alters everything from curtains and clothes to handkerchiefs and aprons — just to name a few.
One of the best things about this Amazon choice product? It allows you to make alterations to items right where they are — i.e. a pair of curtains that are still hanging up, or a pair of pants that are being worn — which is something a traditional sewing machines can't quite manage.
Best Industrial Sewing Machine
Where to buy: $179.12 (Originally $269.99), Amazon
As Amazon choice for best heavy-duty sewing machine, the Singer 4432 is described as a “true workhorse” that can “sew through just about anything you throw at it.” Its 32 built-in stitch modes, powerful motor (which is touted to be 60 percent stronger than other standard machines), extra-high sewing speed (1,100 stitches per minute), and adjustable foot pressure-control presser make it an extra-versatile piece of equipment. In addition, it’s sturdy, stable, and built to last.
Customers report that the 4432 can hold its own against even pricier, store-quality industrial machines. “I sew a lot,” wrote one retired seamstress. “[I] was accustomed to using $5000+ machines with fabulous options. Having a tune up on a fancy computerized sewing machine costs MORE than this new machine costs … Overall I’m loving the versatility and stitch quality .... I’d highly recommend this machine.”
Best Sewing Machine for Kids
KPCB Tech 505
Where to buy: $53.99, Amazon
A great little learner machine for the younger set at an affordable price point comes in the form of this 505 KPCB Tech machine. Its petite sizing makes it suitable for children, while its straight-line stitch type, which has 12 pattern settings, make it a breeze to learn on. There's also a cuff slot for sewing sleeves or pant legs.
One of its many glowing reviews reads, “Bought it for my 12-year-old niece. I wanted something she could use easily. This works great. Also since it isn't very expensive; if she breaks it, it's no big deal."
Best Computerized Sewing Machine
Singer Quantum Stylist 9960
Where to buy: $349.99 (Originally $699.99), Amazon
The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 can do it all. From classic tailoring and decorative stitching, to buttonholes and quilting, it’s everything you’ll ever need in a computerized sewing machine and more. But that’s not why we're obsessed with it. We’re sold on one feature in particular: Its five alphanumeric fonts, which allow you to personalize your items!
One happy Amazon buyer describes some of this machine's perks in comparison to others in its class: “Easier threading, thread cutter, better LED lights, a much nicer interface, a much nicer LCD screen, a better cover, an extended tray, a more neutral aesthetic design, a more modern design, more accessories, more online tutorials, and YouTube support … It's also nice that you can store it with thread inside and it still closes, which is great for quick fixes.”
Best Sewing Machine for Quilting
Where to buy: $156.66, Amazon
Calling all patchwork lovers! For just over 150 bucks, ladies who quilt can have their very own Brother machine — another sewing machine giant in the tailoring world — to stitch to their heart's content. The Brother CS6000i is an easy-to-use model that was made especially for use with larger items, such as quilts. Just a couple of its handy features include an extra-wide table to comfortably rest fabric upon, a built-in free arm, an LCD display, and an automatic needle threader.
One of the almost 9,000 (!) reviews reads, “I do most of my quilts by hand but this machine made the sewing part of it so quick and easy that I can't wait to make another one."
Best Serger Sewing Machine
Where to buy: $203.99 (Originally $349.00), Walmart
In case you don’t know, a serger sewing machine is one that provides an overlock stitch (a stitch that sews over the edges of cloth) and cuts the fabric as it stitches — for instance, if you have a large piece of material that you want to make into several tea towels, you wouldn't have to pre-cut the material, as the machine simultaneously cuts and stitches, reducing your amount of work by at least 50 percent.
“I really love this Serger,” raved one satisfied customer of Brother's 1034D. “It is easy to use and to thread. I also own another Serger that cost a few thousand [dollars], which is currently getting repaired. ... I like this one so much ... I may get a second one! Sews like a dream through thick and thin fabrics.”
Best Top Rated Sewing Machine
Singer Quantum Stylist 7258
Where to buy: $199.99 (Originally $449.99), JOANN Fabrics
Singer does it again with this top-rated computerized machine. An array of features, including a StayBright LED light, on-board storage, and 100 built-in stitches — yes, you read that right! — give a pretty good indicator of why you'll love this little beauty. Everything you need to start your next sewing project is set up automatically via the built-in computer (length, width, tension, ect), but you also have the option to customize the settings depending on your project. Better yet, this machine comes with a 25-year warranty.
"This machine has all the features that I used the most often on my old machine plus a few more," one Amazon reviewer gushed, with another adding, "This is the sewing machine that rekindled my love of sewing. My husband bought it for me in 2014 (hence, I’m writing this review under his account) and I’ve been sewing several times a week, and sometimes daily, ever since."
Best Leather Sewing Machine
Rex Portable Walking Foot
Where to buy: From $327.49, Amazon
If leather and other thick fabrics are what you’re into creating with, a non-industrial grade machine just won’t cut it. Rex's RX-607 cast-iron metal appliance is a great classic, heavy-duty, non-computerized sewing machine that's able to glide through leather with ease.
“I got more than I expected, and love it,” wrote one buyer. “It handles eight layers of marine-grade vinyl with no issues... One more night of practice and I am ready to tackle my boat seats.”
“This machine is fantastic for the price,” reads another 5-star review. “I've already sewn through two layers of thick, hair-on sheepskin, and several layers of cotton webbing. I also tested it out on two layers of 3-ounce tooling leather, and it handled it well.”