In this guide we’ll take a look at the best sewing machines.
We’ve compared build quality, ease of use, features and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What Is The Best Sewing Machine?
More Detailed Sewing Machine Reviews
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Juki HZL-F600 Sewing Machine Review
Sewists of all skill levels can’t go wrong with Juki. The HZL-F600 model is an amazing all-purpose machine with countless built-in features, including 225 stitch options, 4 unique fonts, and a large LCD display. You can sew at virtually any speed you wish; at low speed, the machine creates 80 stitches per minute, and at top speed, it creates 900 stitches per minute.
The machine comes with 10 snap-on presser feet, including standard, overcasting, blind hem, auto buttonhole, manual buttonhole, patchwork, open toe, Teflon, edge/joining, zipper, and walking feet. The automatic needle threader and thread trimmer are two of my favorite features, as is the large, wide work table. If you’re a quilter, I highly recommend this model. It accommodates large projects with ease. I particularly enjoy free motion quilting on my HZL-F600. It also handles heavier fabrics and multiple layers well.
I can carry this machine with no problem; it weighs just 21.6lbs and comes with a hard shell case. In addition to the machine itself, Juki includes tons of accessories, including extra bobbins and needles, a seam ripper, knee lifter lever, eyelet punch, and spool caps in three sizes.
Most modern sewing machines come with built-in LED lights, but Juki has included two lights with this model: one above the needle and one over the bed. I absolutely love the dual light feature!
Although the HZL-F600 is excellent for sewing pros, I would also recommend it for intermediate sewists, as it’s easy to use and will grow with you as you develop new skills and learn new techniques.
There are very few drawbacks when it comes to this Juki machine. As mentioned previously, the company doesn’t make warranty information readily available. To contact Juki directly, call 800-442-8227. This Japan-based company does stand behind its products.
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Juki TL-2010Q Sewing Machine Review
Known for producing high-quality sewing machines that can be passed down through generations, Juki is one of the most-loved manufacturers in the sewing world. Whether the TL-2010Q is your introduction to Juki, or you have owned multiple models, this machine is sure to surpass your expectations.
If you are looking to create even stitches, the TL-2010Q delivers. I love that I’m able to control the speed, and although I have never been a particularly fast sewist, it’s nice to know that this machine is capable of producing an astonishing 1500, 6mm stitches per minute. With that being said, the speed control is amazing! I feel completely in control while sitting at this machine. I also love that I can adjust the tension of the thread for specific projects.
The included auxiliary table is quite large, which comes in handy for free-motion quilting and loftier projects. And while the machine doesn’t come with an abundance of fancy attachments, its features are pure perfection. This machine winds bobbins quickly and evenly. It also cuts thread with ease, and because the throat area is so wide, it can accommodate even the bulkiest of projects. It also has a bright LED light that helps me see even the tiniest of details.
As with any product, there are a couple of minor drawbacks with this machine. At 38lbs, I’m not fond of carrying it from place to place, though it is marketed as being portable. It’s not a great option for sewists who don’t have a dedicated sewing space and keep their machines tucked away in a closet when not in use.
This Juki model is also not inexpensive. It is undoubtedly a considerable investment, but after several months of use, I’d highly recommend it to any serious sewist.
Juki’s instruction manual is minimally helpful. You can view a digital copy here.
While Juki does stand behind its products, the company doesn’t make warranty information readily available on its website. Sewists needing their machines serviced can contact Juki directly at 800-442-8227. You can also use this number to ask any questions you may have before purchasing any Juki machine.
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Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 Sewing Machine Review
If you adore creating garments as much as I do, you can’t go wrong with the Singer Quantum Stylist. This impressive machine is built to last. It comes with 600 built-in stitches, as well as five unique fonts to explore and create a variety of customized projects.
This machine is perfect if you enjoy free motion quilting or applique. Best of all, completing projects is quick and easy, as the 9960 has a top sewing speed of 850 stitches per minute. Choose from the all-purpose foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, blind hem foot, satin stitch foot, overcasting foot, open toe foot, darning and embroidery foot, and rolled hem foot, among others. There’s no limit to the projects you can create with this all-purpose machine.
At 20lbs, this machine is slightly heavier than most of the other machines I’ve reviewed. However, it’s lightweight enough to carry. I do appreciate the fact that this machine doesn’t tend to move when I’m working on bulkier projects, and the large table offers plenty of space for sizable projects, such as quilts and blankets. The table is also well built and incredibly sturdy.
If you’d like to see this machine in action, Singer has created a virtual tour that I’d recommend watching before attempting your first project. In the video, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the machine, including a sneak peek at the underside of the lid, which highlights all of the stitches you can create with this model.
No sewing machine is perfect, but the 9960 is as close as it gets. I do admit that the machine is louder than I expected, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker. I’d recommend this model to any experienced sewist who is looking for a top-notch machine that will last for years to come.
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Brother CS6000i Sewing and Quilting Machine Review
Brother is a trusted name throughout the sewing community, and the CS6000i is a perfect example of the superior craftsmanship this manufacturer offers.
Brand new sewists will appreciate the step-by-step instruction guide and DVD and access to telephone and online tech support. And at just 13 pounds, this machine is perfectly portable, making it ideal for toting to sewing lessons. Plus, it comes with a handy durable hard case, making it easy to carry.
Don’t let the incredibly low price point fool you… This is a top-quality machine that you will use and enjoy for years to come. While this model is great for beginners, it is sophisticated enough to grow with you as you gain skills and knowledge. It includes 60 built-in sewing stitches and 9 presser feet, including specialized feet for buttonholes, overcasting, zippers, monogramming, zigzag stitches, blind stitches, button fitting, and walking stitches, as well as a spring action foot for quilting.
One of my favorite features Brother includes is the generously sized detachable table. If you plan to work on larger projects, this oversized table is invaluable. I’m also a massive fan of the backlit LCD display, automatic needle threader, and adjustable sewing speed. This feature is particularly important for beginners and for folks intent on creating intricate projects. On the other hand, this machine sews up to 850 stitches per minute, so it will easily adapt if you become a speedy sewist.
Another notable feature is the built-in free arm. I regularly use this arm when sewing sleeves and pant legs. And because this machine is surprisingly quiet, I can sew to my heart’s content, even when my little ones are fast asleep.
After years of sewing with Brother machines, I can say with certainty that this company stands behind its products. In addition to offering lifetime tech support, each CS6000i machine comes with a one-year warranty covering parts, labor, and accessories, along with a two-year warranty for electronic components. Also included is a 25-year limited warranty for the Chassis casting. Be sure to hang onto your original receipt for warranty purposes, and have your machine maintenance regularly. I highlight some valuable maintenance tips below in my comprehensive buyer’s guide.
As with every sewing machine I’ve ever used, there’s a bit of a learning curve with the CS6000i. Getting the tension just right takes some time. I recommend starting out with some practice pieces before attempting your first project. This helpful hint goes for any new-to-you machine.
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Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine Review
If you’re in the market for a multipurpose machine, you can’t go wrong with the Singer Heavy Duty 4423. Capable of piercing just about any fabric, this budget-friendly machine weighs in at just 14.5lbs, making it a great portable option.
Multi-craftual sewists, including myself, appreciate the versatility this machine offers. There are 23 built-in stitches and an automatic needle threader. The machine is perfect for quick projects, as it tops out at 1100 stitches per minute.
Singer has equipped the 4423 with an impressively powerful motor. The machine’s head is included in the 25-year limited warranty, along with any replacement parts necessary to correct manufacturer defects. Singer also includes a 2-year limited warranty covering the motor, light assembly, wiring, speed control, and electronic components. An additional 90-day limited warranty covers adjustments, belts, bulbs, rings, and attachments. There’s no question that Singer offers one of the best warrant plans among sewing machine manufacturers.
If I haven’t convinced you that this machine is worth its weight in gold, the included accessories may just persuade you. I’ve found the all-purpose foot to be incredibly useful. You’ll also receive a zipper foot, a buttonhole foot, a button sewing foot, a seam ripper, extra needles and bobbins, as well as a soft dustcover for storage.
As with many instruction manuals, the guide included with the Singer 4423 leaves a lot to be desired. YouTube videos helped me get acquainted with this machine, and I’d like to recommend some tutorials to help you navigate the process. Firstly, this demonstration video by Sew Genius shows the machine’s speed compared to conventional machines. I also love this video by Sewing Mastery, which demonstrates the many decorative stitches the 4423 is capable of creating.
The one drawback I feel compelled to mention is the fact that this machine is so lightweight that it has moved on me unexpectedly while sewing heavier fabrics. Overall, however, I give this machine five glowing stars. I simply love it!
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Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine Review
If you’re under the impression that sewing is an expensive hobby, rest assured that this hobby can fit into any crafter’s budget. Brother’s XM2701 machine is versatile and durable without the hefty price tag. It includes 27 built-in stitches, 6 quick-change sewing feet, a jam-resistant bobbin, brightly lit work area, 63 unique stitch functions, and comes with Brother’s 25-year limited warranty.
The machine is extremely lightweight at only 12.6lbs, so it’s easy to tote and perfect for on-the-go sewing adventures. And while it’s my top pick among budget machines, I’d also recommend this model for complete beginners, as it’s easy to navigate and fun to use. Brother includes an instructional DVD, which is quite helpful, and as always, I watched a few YouTube videos to get me acquainted with the machine.
I mentioned above that this machine is ideal for just about any project. I should mention that it’s not my first choice for large projects, such as quilts. The XM2701 is a step above basic sewing machines, though it does have its limits. With that being said, I don’t hesitate to rate this machine highly.
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Singer Start 1304 Sewing Machine Review
Machine sewing isn’t just for adults… It’s an excellent intergenerational activity! Singer’s 1304 model is the perfect introduction to the wonderful world of machine sewing. It’s reasonably priced and weighs just 11.5lbs, making it completely portable. Best of all, Singer has included pre-set stitches and thread tension to simplify the process. Young sewists can choose from six basic stitches and start sewing immediately! It sews smoothly and doesn’t require a large surface space, as its quite compact.
The machine includes an automatic bobbin winder that stops when it’s filled. As with all Singer machines, the 1304 comes with a wide array of accessories. You’ll receive an all-purpose foot, a zipper foot, and a buttonhole foot, along with a darning plate, extra needles and bobbins, a seam ripper, a power line cord, and a foot control. Plus, the company includes its generous 25-year limited warranty, which I’ve highlighted above.
The removable extension table and free arm make this machine incredibly versatile. I do recommend using caution when it comes to speed, as this beginner machine sews rather quickly. There is a built-in thread cutter, which comes in handy.
Although the machine does come with extra needles, it’s important to choose needles that will work with the fabrics you intend to sew. Heavier fabrics like denim or fleece require heavy-duty needles. You should be able to find a variety of needles at your local craft store.
The machine does come with an instruction guide, but if you’re a visual learner, I highly recommend utilizing YouTube for tutorials. From threading the machine to a comprehensive beginner’s guide to the basics, Singer has created a variety of videos to help you navigate your new machine.
My number one tip for children and beginner sewists is to ask for help when you need it! Whether it’s talking to a fellow sewist or finding video tutorials online, you never have to go it alone. There are endless resources, and I’ve learned through the years that the sewing community is warm, welcoming, and inclusive.
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Varmax Mini Sewing Machine Review
When Varmax designed this miniature sewing machine model, they covered the basics and skipped the unnecessary frills. This machine is perfect for basic projects, such as hemming pants or curtains. If your crafting space is limited, you’ll appreciate the compact design.
At just 3lbs, this mini machine is a great solution for sewing on the go. With electric and battery operated options, you can sew virtually anywhere. There’s even a built-in lamp.
The machine comes with a built-in thread cutter, convenient extension table, power adaptor, and foot pedal. You’ll also receive bobbins, along with a needle and needle threader. I do recommend purchasing extra bobbins and needles to ensure you never run out.
While this tiny machine is capable of producing straight stitches, keep in mind that it doesn’t include additional stitches, and it has no reverse function. Although it’s compact and lightweight enough to easily tote, it doesn’t include a cover for carrying.
Varmax includes a 3-month warranty and customer support via email. The machine comes with an instruction manual, and there are many tutorials on YouTube to help you get started. I found a particularly helpful demonstration video that covers each component of the machine along with tips on how to get started.
Even if you’re an experienced sewist, I’d recommend purchasing this machine for travel, quick mends, and basic projects.
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Sewing Machine Buyer’s Guide
Shopping for a sewing machine can be downright daunting. The industry is quite competitive, and with so many options on the market, narrowing the field is difficult even for the most seasoned of sewists.
Many people don’t realize that each sewing machine model serves a unique purpose. An experienced quilter wouldn’t benefit from a machine designed for a beginner, just as a dressmaker is unlikely to produce professional grade garments on a child-friendly machine.
In this guide, I’ll highlight the best brands to consider, features to look for and how to look after your machine. But first, check out this interesting video of how a sewing machine actually works!
How Does a Sewing Machine Actually Work?!
What are the Different Types of Sewing Machines?
There are three main types of sewing machines, all of which I adore for different reasons.
Mechanical Sewing Machines: These “old school” models are a great introduction to machine sewing. Many folks, including myself, are the proud owners of mechanical sewing machines that have been passed down through generations. Mechanical machines are generally more budget-friendly than electronic models. They are ideal for the occasional crafter and for folks who prefer to hem their own garments and create simple projects. Some experienced sewists prefer sewing on a mechanical machine.
Electronic Sewing Machines: Ideal for serious sewists and crafters looking to enhance their sewing skills, electronic sewing machines provide endless project possibilities. While they’re typically pricier than mechanical models, these machines are high-tech and produce beautiful projects. The majority of these modern machines feature touchscreens, a variety of feet, and numerous stitch options.
Sewing-Embroidery Machines: As a lifelong crafter, I’ve enjoyed dabbling in a variety of different crafts, including embroidery. Hand-embroidery can be time consuming, so I love the fact that some sewing machines also embroider. These versatile machines have the capability of producing any design in any combination of colors. They’ll even let you know when to switch colors. While these machines tend to be pricey, they allow sewists to create complex designs and explore new avenues.
What are the Best Sewing Machine Brands?
Two sewing machine brands have become globally known for producing top-notch machines: Brother and Singer. Brother launched back in 1908 and has some of the best sewing machines on the market. Singer began much earlier, in 1851, and produced the very first practical sewing machine designed for domestic use. Their machines continue to be popular among crafty consumers.
Juki and Janome have become Brother and Singer’s top competitors, first introducing their high-quality machines in 1945 and 1950, respectively. Both companies produce heavy duty machines that are intuitive and versatile. They may be sold at a higher price point, but they are truly built to last.
Common Sewing Machine Features
I’m not a finicky sewist, but I sure do appreciate sewing machine functions that make the process easier. Below I list some must-have features, as well as a few that are nice to have, but not completely necessary.
Easy-to-use controls: When it comes to sewing via machine, consistency is important. The controls should be user-friendly. There is nothing more frustrating than a sewing machine foot you can’t count on to get the job done. If at all possible, try out machines before making your purchase to ensure you’re happy with the functionality and consistency.
Presser feet: Some sewing machines only come with feet for basic stitches, while others include lots of feet for a wide variety of projects. Along with straight and zigzag feet, I’d recommend purchasing a machine that comes with a buttonhole foot and a zipper foot. Based on your sewing skill level and goals, you may want to invest in a machine that comes with several specialty feet.
Automatic needle threader: To some, an automatic needle threader is optional, but I consider this feature a necessity. To avoid wasting time hand threading your needle, choose a machine that will thread your needle for you.
Power button: I want to be able to power my machine down when it’s not in use, so I prefer machines with a power switch or button. The majority of modern machines include this feature.
Speed control: If you’re anything like me, you prefer a machine that runs smoothly and allows you to work at your own speed. Look for a machine with speed control options. This is especially important for intricate projects.
Weight: Many folks aren’t lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing space where they can proudly display their machine 24/7. If you keep your machine stowed away until you need it, or if you plan to travel with it, choosing a lightweight machine with a handle and/or carrying case is essential.
Buttonhole maker: Among other impressive features, many high-tech, modern sewing machines sew buttonholes automatically. If you plan to sew garments, this feature is a must!
Easy-to-read display: Computerized machines typically have a well-lit display screen that’s easy to read.
Tension adjustment: Your sewing machine should allow you to adjust the tension with ease. Most modern machines adjust tension automatically, while older machines typically require manual tension adjustment. Auto tension is a nice feature, because you won’t need to fiddle with the tension unless you’re working on various projects that require different tensions. I’ve used both types of machines and have adapted easily to both manual and auto tension.
Drop-in bobbin: Unlike outdated front-loading bobbins, drop-in bobbin systems allow sewists to quickly and easily change bobbins. Because they often have a clear cover, you’ll know when it’s time to change your bobbin.
Ease of Use
It’s incredibly important for beginner sewists to invest in a machine that’s easy to use, but what about experienced sewists? After years of sewing, I can honestly say that ease of use may be the single most important consideration when purchasing a sewing machine. Whether you’re splurging on a high-end machine or buying an entry-level model, opting for an intuitive machine will make your sewing time much more enjoyable.
Stitches per Minute
The majority of sewing machine manufacturers will highlight the stitches per minute the machine produces in the product guide. While a machine that pumps out 5,000 stitches per minute is certainly impressive, the truth is, most non-professional sewists don’t require a machine that produces this many stitches.
Adjustable Stitch Length and Width
Most modern sewing machines allow you to adjust your stitch length and width with the turn of a dial, giving you complete control over the appearance of your stitches.
Automatic Thread Cutter
One of my favorite sewing machine features is the auto thread cutter. With the press of a button, the machine cuts the thread, so there’s no need to grab your scissors.
Warranty and Repairs
When choosing a sewing machine, be sure to look at the warranty information. Repairs can be pricey. Luckily, the top brands offer generous warranty plans. In fact, Singer, Brother, and Janome all offer 25-year limited warranties on their machines. If you purchase a machine from a dealer rather than a chain store, you may also receive a warranty through the dealer. Regardless of where you buy your machine, be sure to keep your receipt, the original packaging, and all included accessories in a safe place for warranty purposes.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to take proper care of your sewing machine. It may sew like a beast, but it takes lots of TLC to keep a sewing machine running smoothly. You can maintain your machine as you sew by using high-quality needles and thread.
Find a trusted sewing machine repair person, and have your machine maintenanced regularly, approximately every two years. If something goes awry with your machine, you’ll be thankful to have an expert who has already worked on your machine. Because most sewing machine experts specialize in working on specific brands, I highly recommend scoping out experts in your area and finding out which brands they service.
The following tips will keep your machine in tiptop shape and extend its lifespan:
- Clean your machine often. Use a nylon brush, making sure to clean every crevice.
- Avoid using canned air for cleaning. This highly pressurized air could damage your machine by blowing debris into the mechanisms.
- Oil your machine as directed. This video by Leah Day (below) is an excellent resource for cleaning and oiling your machine. Like Leah, I recommend printing out the page of your manual that highlights where your machine should be oiled, as you’ll be using this section regularly.
I’d be remiss not to mention two final factors to consider before purchasing a sewing machine. What is your current sewing skill level, and what are your sewing goals?
If you’re just starting out on your sewing journey, I’d recommend a beginner-friendly machine, such as the Brother CS6000i. With that being said, I wouldn’t warn against purchasing a machine with more features, as you can start with the basics and try out more complex features and functions as you learn.
Do you hope to make an heirloom quilt for every member of your family, or do you plan to sew your own garments? If your goal is simply to hem pants or sew pillows, a beginner machine will do the trick. If you dream of venturing into free motion quilting or sewing your own wardrobe, however, I’d steer you toward a higher-end model with more features.
A Word on Price
There are sewing machines available to fit virtually any budget. Generally speaking, higher priced models include advanced functions and extra features, while budget-friendly machines tend to cover the basics and skip the bells and whistles.
In addition to these tips, consider taking a sewing class at your local sewing or craft store. While I can recommend my favorite machines, there’s nothing quite like trying them out for yourself.
I’ve had the pleasure of testing and owning many sewing machines since I began my sewing journey more than a decade ago. While I could sing the praises of many other machines on the market, the ones listed above are my absolute favorites.
No matter which sewing machine you choose, I hope you find the hobby as therapeutic, fun, and rewarding as I do.