A specialized LCD screen has built-in to allows users to choose from over 165 built-in stitches depending on personal preference and style. Computerized settings include 110 decorative stitches, 8 styles of buttonholes and more. Automatic needle threader resists jamming and catching on fabric. Supports both sewing and quilting mechanisms. Full kit comes with an instruction DVD for straightforward operation.
Some users had issues with the self-threading needle.
Switch between the 6 types of stitches to sew different types of fabric and materials. Integrated dial fine-tunes the tension of the thread, so sewers can personalize the stitch to individual projects. Solid construct stays sturdily on flat surfaces. Package comes with several accessories, including three types of Foot, a pack of needles, a lint brush, screwdriver and a removable compartment to store them all.
May not run as smoothly as some of the pricier products.
External loopers can be colour-coded for different projects or user preferences. Durable aluminum alloy material protects against wear and long-term use. Combination of knife and motor makes for a powerful machine that users can operate by plugging it into an outlet. Comes with an automatic Safety Switch to protect both the sewer and the materials. Available with several accessories, including thread, feet, and tweezers.
Can be a bit more time-consuming than other models.
Package comes with the Singer Sewing Assistant app that can be used for a variety of questions, techniques, and tutorials. Drop-in bobbin comes with a clear top, making it easy to replace and maintain the thread. Heavy-duty flame ensures lasting quality and protection. Integrates 32 built-in stitches as well as other accessories for straightforward operation.
Can be confusing to work with, especially for beginners.
Instructional DVD includes a thorough guide on how to operate the machine and start working on a project. Online and technical support is also included if users have further confusion. Integrated LED light will illuminate the working area at all times of the day. Machine composes of several user-friendly features, including an automatic needle threader, dial to switch between stitches and a drop-in bobbin.
Instructional DVD is only available in English or Spanish.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Mending clothes and tailoring outfits for a better fit used to be tasks that were left to a member of the household who had developed exceptional sewing skills. Today, a sewing machine is a complex tech device that can help even a novice execute complicated stitchery. Despite the user-friendly nature of many of today’s high-quality sewing machines, it's become increasingly difficult to know what features the best sewing machines should have.
Even if you're an experienced tailor, at the very least, you want a sewing machine that features a wide assortment of pre-programmed stitches, a variety of feet, an automatic threader, and a drop-in bobbin. A programmable Wi-Fi sewing machine that is able to load patterns from your computer is recommended for the most creative individuals.
If you want to learn more about the different stitches and receive an assortment of sewing tips and techniques, continue reading. However, if you're ready to purchase a sewing machine, consider one of our favorites that we've mentioned elsewhere in this article.
Mechanical sewing machines have manual controls for functions such as setting the thread tension and adjusting the length of stitches. Push buttons and/or rotary dials are found on these machines, and for some people, there is no substitute for the feel of these controls under their fingers. However, it should be noted that mechanical machines are bulkier than the other types.
An electronic machine runs on electricity and has the ability to execute a number of stitches, usually many more than a mechanical machine. If you are looking for more options in stitch width and style, this is the place to start looking. The interface is more sophisticated, activating features with the help of electronic switches (or sometimes an LCD display). Electronic machines tend to cost more than mechanical ones, too.
Notably, there is some overlap among the categories. A computerized sewing machine is a type of electronic sewing machine. Read on for more information.
Although these are also electronic machines, some key differences exist between the two. One of the primary differences is that a computerized machine can be connected to a computer via USB. With an internet connection, sewists can download stitch patterns and transfer them to their computerized sewing machines. For tech-savvy consumers, this type of machine opens a world of convenience and possibilities, including the ability to do embroidery. For someone who is not familiar with newer technology, however, this may seem overwhelming. Further, if a computerized sewing machine needs repairs, it may cost more than a fix for a mechanical or even an electronic machine.
A serger is more sophisticated than a sewing machine in some ways. For example, it can manipulate two to four threads at once, creating heavy-duty overlock stitches that do not tug at the material. In fact, a serger is sometimes called an “overlock machine.” However, a serger is not a good substitute for a sewing machine because there are some tasks you simply cannot do with a serger, like top-stitching.
Let’s face it: Sewing can require meticulous attention to detail. Machines that are easy to use can cut down on sewing time and reduce stress by eliminating machine-caused errors. Winding and loading the bobbin can be a common source of frustration. Elements that make your tasks easier include:
If you find that your needles break frequently, you have several options. You could purchase a new set of sewing needles from a different manufacturer to see if it’s a quality issue. If the new needles also break prematurely, you may be looking at a size issue. For example, a thinner size 9 needle is not designed to handle a heavy material like denim. Try using a larger size needle to reduce the chance of breakage.
When deciding which features you want in a sewing machine, keep in mind what you plan to sew and how often you’ll use your sewing machine. A sewing machine for beginners will have the most basic features and often nothing more. Portable sewing machines designed for use “on the go” may also offer the basics only. Common basic features include:
Straight and zigzag stitch
Reverse button (for lock stitching)
Stitch length and width adjustment
These features will allow you to handle the most basic sewing projects.
If you’re looking to expand your abilities, there are more advanced features that aren’t necessary for most projects but can be nice to have when you need them.
One step buttonhole (there are four step buttonholes but they can be tricky)
A choice of feet such a: buttonhole, zipper, and blind hem
Automatic speed setting (sets speed either in conjunction with or instead of using the pedal)
For advanced sewists, the features list continues to grow. Some you may want to consider:
Free motion ability
Layered fabric feeding system
Touchscreen control panel
Large hoops for embroidery
Task lamp: OttLite Flex LED Floor Lamp
An LED light can illuminate your work area in a way that a traditional fluorescent light cannot. We like the simulated “natural daylight” of this LED light and the fact that you can use it for tasks like sewing as well as general home lighting.
Thread cutter: Singer ProSeries
Having an extra pair of snips on hand is helpful when sewing. This inexpensive pair from Singer can be used to snip away unwanted fabric and also as a thread cutter.
In the sewing world, a 'notion' is any small item that you buy to help you with a project. This may include decorative buttons or zippers, but it also includes basic tools like seam rippers and pin cushions.
In general, the cost of a sewing machine is influenced by its type — mechanical (manual dial) or computerized. Even then, there are no hard and fast rules on price because the number of extra stitches and features varies widely.
Small, inexpensive mechanical sewing machines can be found in the $30 to $50 range. This type of machine may run on batteries or electrical power and may only sew very basic stitches. As the price goes up, more stitch options become available.
In the $60 to $100 range are mechanical sewing machines with decorative stitches and the ability to adjust stitch length, width, and tension. Some will also come with a buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, and zipper foot for more complex projects.
Between $100 to $300 are many well-built mechanical and computerized sewing machines with impressive features such as 50 or more stitches, quilting stitches (who says you need to purchase a separate quilting machine?), easy bobbin winding, and automatic needle threading. Some may even have free arm and basic embroidery capabilities. In this range, you’ll find excellent quality machines that work for most beginning and intermediate sewists.
At $300 and above, you’ll find computerized sewing machines with wide tables, embroidery capabilities, and even more stitch options. They often have increased motor power and sturdier construction. These are for advanced sewists who use their machines often and regularly use the extra features.
Every sewing machine model offers its own variety of standard, decorative, and advanced stitches, but there are some basic stitches every machine should offer. You should be able to adjust the width, length, and tension of the stitches for the best results. In addition, look for these essential stitches when shopping for an entry-level or mid-range sewing machine.
This is the other foundational stitch you must have. You’ll need it for fabrics that have any kind of stretch; it allows the fabric to stretch without popping the stitches. You can adjust the height and length of the stitch according to the amount of stretch in the fabric being sewn.
The straight stitch is the workhorse of the sewing world. The needle and thread move forward in a straight line while the machine feeds material toward the user. The result: two pieces of fabric joined by a seam. You must be able to adjust the tension on this stitch to account for heavy fabrics and fabrics of different thicknesses. Most machines will allow you to adjust the length of this stitch for the same reason.
Sewing machines handle the lock stitch in one of two ways. The first is to sew backward over an existing line of stitches, creating a backstitch at the beginning and end of a seam. If this is not automatically done by the machine, a manual button or lever can be held down when you want to sew backward. When it is released, the machine will sew forward again. The other type of lock stitch creates a nearly invisible knot at the beginning and end of the seam.
Sewing buttonholes is considered one of the most difficult stitches for traditional hand sewists. The top, bottom, and sides must be reinforced to prevent rips and tears. Accurate placement is also important. An automatic buttonhole option and foot removes much of the guesswork from the process by performing a pre-programmed series of reinforced stitches.
An overlock may be a little advanced for beginners, but it doesn’t take much time to master and is a useful stitch to use. The exposed edge of the fabric on the inside of a seam can fray if not finished properly. A zigzag stitch or pinking shears can be used. But for those wanting a more finished look, an overlock stitch secures loose seams and creates a more professional finish.
One of the joys of a sewing machine is the ability to create decorative and functional stitches. Many sewing machines — even those at the entry-level price range — offer a selection of freehand and embroidery stitches for creative projects. Adding a personalized initial or floral pattern to a pillow case is easy to do with the right sewing machine and some practice. A few decorative stitches you may want to look for:
Crescent stitch: Can be used on the border of a tablecloth, pillowcase, collar, or skirt hem.
Darning stitch: Makes darning socks simple.
Tacking/Utility stitch: A quick stitch to hold everything together before sewing the seam.
Ric rac stitch: Used for attaching decorative ric rac.
Notably, unless you are an adventurous sewist, you won’t need most of the extra stitches mentioned above.
Most sewing machines require a balancing act between tension and release, along with careful attention to detail and a mastery of complex gears and controls. It’s not an easy process to learn, and mistakes are part of the journey toward becoming a skilled sewist.
Here are some common mistakes both beginners and experts have made:
Measuring 18 inches of cotton fabric with a tape measure or estimating the location of buttons and buttonholes with a ruler may seem simple, but when it comes to sewing, very few tasks are as simple as they appear. The final piece may be 18 inches in length, but the actual size to measure is often different. There are seam allowances to consider, as well as the nature of the fabric itself. Beginners should not rely strictly on linear measurements when cutting material.
Sometimes the owner of a new sewing machine can become the “tailor for the band” (or school or theater group) before they are fully prepared to take on the responsibility.
Creating one costume for a dance team member is completely different from agreeing to finish 30 identical costumes by Friday.
While many beginners are eager to take on “real world” projects for worthy causes, taking on an advanced sewing project with a strict deadline can be stressful.
Some beginning sewists decide to “improvise” or rework existing instructions in a sewing pattern. More often than not, this ends in disaster. Try not to make the mistake of second-guessing the pattern creators or looking for shortcuts.
Some new users pull firmly on the material in order to ensure a straight seam. This tension actually creates more problems, because the metal teeth that pull the material through the machine cannot grip it properly. It’s better to let the machine do most of the work with minimal interference.
Getting a sewing needle through your finger is an unpleasant experience that can require a trip to the doctor. As with other kinds of machinery, it’s best to take a few extra precautions to prevent injury.
If you step away from your home sewing for more than a few moments, turn the machine off. Foot pedals, needles, and the buttons on a sewing machine are tempting for children and pets alike. Turning the machine off prevents them from potential harm or ruining fabric.
Remove pins before sewing. Sewing over a pin can bend the needle, throwing off the timing of the sewing machine. Worst-case scenario, the needle breaks and shards could potentially get in your eyes.
Have your machine serviced regularly at least once every two years or more often if you sew frequently. This keeps your machine running smooth and removes any potential danger from wiring or electrical damage.
A. There are a number of reasons why sewing needles fail.
Quality varies widely among brands. An inexpensive needle might not last as long as a high-grade needle. Buying needles from a reputable company may solve the problem.
Sometimes, the needle a user installs is not the right needle for the task. Size matters, as does the nature of the material to be sewn. A heavier material could cause a weaker needle to snap.
If you don’t replace your needle soon enough, it will fatigue and break. Some experts recommend replacing a sewing needle after 16 hours of service.
A. It’s rarely a good idea for a beginner to start with a machine for advanced sewers. These models are designed primarily for experienced sewist or commercial applications, and they arrive with a learning curve.
That said, your spouse's goal of making costumes for a group of people may necessitate a mid-level machine with some computerized features. Entry-level sewing machines do not always offer the kinds of stitch patterns and decorative options a costume designer needs.
A. The answer depends on the child’s level of respect for the machine. Some parents allow older children to use a sewing machine manually. The power cord is unplugged, and stitches are performed by turning the wheel. Supervision and training are always advised.
Other children may respond well to a toy sewing machine with safety features. Hand-sewing small craft projects may also be a safer alternative to using an adult-level machine.
A. Understanding the warranty on your sewing machine could save you cash down the road should your machine need repairs. First, note that you will likely need to register your machine to take advantage of a warranty. Second, some manufacturers only honor warranties for products purchased from a licensed seller. Further, note that the warranty may be voided if you do not seek repairs from an authorized repair person.