We updated this guide in November 2021 to ensure all products tested and vetted by the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab were in stock and reflected current prices. We also added new picks, including Brother HC1850, Singer MX231 and Brother CS7000i.
Finishing your own sewing projects is a huge accomplishment, but you need the right sewing machine for the job. As a beginner, extra features and fancy additions can be more of a hinder than help. The best beginner sewing machines are easy to operate and durable, while producing excellent stitch quality. The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab found the best sewing machines for beginners from brands with top performance, rave reviews or features that make sewing a bit easier.
When shopping for a beginner sewing machine, you will need to determine what features are most important and what type of projects you will use the machine for, such as embroidery, quilting and making clothes. Here is what to look for in a new sewing machine:
- Number of stitches: When first learning to sew, you really only need two stitches: straight and zig zag. But as you advance, you will want more stitch options and decorative stitches.
- Weight: If you plan on bringing your sewing machine to classes or sewing groups, make sure you pick a portable option. Look for a lightweight sewing machine with a handle for easy toting.
- Ease of use: For your first sewing machine, simple is better. Beginner sewing machines should still have a durable, metal frame and helpful tools, but avoid machines with features you won’t use. These can just get in the way and make it a more challenging machine to master.
Great to learn how to sew on, these machines will also grow with you as you advance to more challenging projects. Here are the best sewing machines for beginners to buy in 2021:
This Brother sewing machine is perfect for the beginner sewer with ambitions for more advanced projects. For easier threading, there's a drop in bobbin instead of the standard style. Beginners will appreciate that the speed is adjustable to avoid going too fast when learning; there is also a start/stop button to stop suddenly if you made a mistake. As you advance, this machine has 130 stitches, six buttonhole options, a built in needle threader and programmable needle up/down. These features are great for making clothes, quilts and everything in between.
- Drop in bobbin
- 130 built-in stitches
- Great for sewing clothes and quilting too
- Some reviewers found that it offered too many features that they didn't use
If you are looking for the simplest, streamlined sewing machine, look no further. This pick is a fully-functioning sewing machine for $25! Smaller than an issue of Good Housekeeping, this sewing machine weighs under three pounds for easy carrying. Perfect for small, simple sewing projects with one stitch, this machine has added ease of use features like a side thread cutter, removable extension table and built-in lamp. Note that this machine has no back stitch: To enforce your stitches, it is recommended to sew over the ends again.
- Super lightweight
- Great for kids
- Not designed to be long lasting
- No backstitch
This simple machine impressed our experts for having easy to follow controls with an accessible back stitch. At just seven pounds, this machine is easily portable and perfect for small spaces. We love that it includes multiple bobbins, presser feet and needles too. Plus, it has over 5,800 rave reviews on Amazon with reviewers saying it's "perfect for beginners" and an "excellent investment."
- Smallest machine from a durable brand
- Simple knobs and controls
- Easily portable and great for small spaces
- Reviewers wish the included manual was more user friendly
If you are hoping to master quilting, you will need to start with the right machine. Janome JW8100 has features excellent for quilting projects with 120 built in stitches available, many designed specifically for quilting. There are three convenient buttons for extra ease: start/stop button allows greater precision when doing detail work, easy reverse button backstitches to keep seams secure and locking stitch button ties off the end of the thread so you do not have to backstitch on decorative stitches. The feed can be lowered, so this machine is the best pick for free motion quilting. Plus, there are multiple presser feet included specifically for quilting and a removable table to support bigger projects.
- Locking stitch button
- Specific quilting stitches built in
- Free motion quilting
- Most expensive pick in the round-up
When making your own clothes, you will need a sewing machine with multiple capabilities, but is not too confusing to navigate. The Brother CS7000i model has features great for beginners, like adjustable stitch speed, drop in bobbin, automatic needle threader and an easy to read LCD screen. This machine also has features that will come in handy as you advance such as multiple one-step buttonholes, 10 included presser feet and a free arm. As a heavy duty machine with 70 stitches, it's great to grow with you from novice to expert.
- Over 19,000 rave Amazon reviews
- Adjustable stitch speed
- 10 included presser feet
- Reviewers recommend paying attention to the tension for best results when sewing with different fabrics
Sewing machines with embroidery capabilities can get very advanced and expensive, with the popular Brother SE625 as one of the most affordable. With a 4” x 4” embroidery field (loop, embroidery arm and foot are included), you can see all designs in full color on the LCD display, making easy work of adjustments like changing thread color. Coming with 103 stitches and 80 embroidery designs, there is also a USB port to upload your own embroidery designs or thousands of options from Brother online. Plus, this is also a fully functioning sewing machine when the embroidery arm is removed. There are multiple ease of use features like an automatic needle threader, LED lit work area, free arm and a drop in bobbin to avoid jams.
- 80 built-in embroidery designs
- USB port to upload custom designs
- LED lit work area
- Smaller embroidery area compared to pricier models
When small children are learning how to sew, sewing safety is of the highest priority. This sewing machine from Magicfly has a finger guard to prevent any injuries. It also features slow speed options, 15 simple stitches and tons of included accessories for easy learning. This lightweight sewing machine is an easily portable option. Plus, it's under $50!
- Finger guard for safety
- 15 stitches built-in
- Easily portable
- Not designed to last long term
This basic sewing machine from Baby Lock offers slow speed options and simple stitches, ideal for beginners. Baby Lock is a popular brand for higher end sewing machines, so this is a great deal for a top brand machine at just $150. This purchase includes free 60-day access to Baby Lock's library of online sewing classes — the perfect place to start learning!
- Free online sewing classes
- Top brand sewing machine under $150
- Slow speed options
- Fewer features
A classic model, the Singer Heavy Duty 4423 sewing machine has been popular for sewing heavy fabrics like denim and leather for quite a while. With a powerful motor, this machine can stitch 1,100 stitches per minute, speeding through your sewing projects. Its strong motor can handle thick seams with ease. This machine offers 32 different stitches and multiple buttonhole options, providing variety, but not too overwhelming. Reviewers recommend only using plastic bobbins by Singer for this machine.
- Designed specifically for denim and leather
- 1,100 stitches per minute
- Over 5,800 rave Amazon reviews
- Only use plastic Singer bobbins, according to reviewers
If all the controls and features are too overwhelming, this super simple machine from Singer is perfect. Affordable at just $140, this machine has over 4,000 rave Amazon reviews for being easy to set up and get started. With 23 unique stitches, needle threader and adjustable presser foot pressure, this machine can handle basic crafts and then more advanced projects as you learn. Many reviewers say this is a great gift for tweens and teens who want to learn to sew too.
- Over 4,000 rave Amazon reviews
- Small size, easily portable
- Easy threading
- Some reviewers received machines without manuals
Sewing machines can nearly complete a project, but a serger will finish the job. A serger cuts a clean edge on the fabric then wraps threads around the raw edge to prevent fraying. The final seam has a cleaner, more professional look.
This small Juki M0654DE serger is ideal for beginners, as it has the basics for a serger like 2, 3, 4 thread options for finishing edges and automatic rolled hem capabilities. Once you’re more advanced, this machine has a maximum speed of 1,500 stitches per minute. Reviewers love how powerful the serger is while not being too noisy.
- Brand popular for durability
- Affordable price for a serger
- Maximum speed of 1,500 stitches per minute
- Challenging to thread at first, according to reviewers