Updated January 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Best of the Best
Singer 7258 100-Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine
7258 100-Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine
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Trusted Brand
Bottom Line

A versatile 100-stitch machine that is suitable for intermediate sewing enthusiasts.


Has plenty of convenient features like a drop-in bobble and automatic threader. Sewing buttonholes is quick and easy. Stitch selection is nicely displayed on the side and settings are easy to select. Has a programmable needle up/down option for applique work.


Outer shell feels somewhat flimsy with plastic construction.

Best Bang for the Buck
Brother CS7000X Computerized Sewing Machine
CS7000X Computerized Sewing Machine
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Great Introductory Model
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An affordable yet capable introductory sewing machine made by a much-loved brand.


Has 70 built-in stitches and 7 1-step buttonhole settings. Comes with a wide table to accommodate large projects like quilting or curtain-making. Settings screen is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. Manages medium-weight projects better than expected.


Occasional quirks with tension. Not ideal if you want to sew heavyweight materials.

JUKI Portable Serger Sewing Machine
Portable Serger Sewing Machine
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Lightweight Structure
Bottom Line

Silent and simple, this is an excellent option for those searching to sew at quieter times of the day.


External loopers can be color-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.


Can be a bit more time-consuming than other models.

Brother HC1850 Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine
HC1850 Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine
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Most Versatile
Bottom Line

Whether you're new to sewing or a seasoned pro, this versatile machine has plenty of great features.


Simple to use. Features 130 built-in stitches and a handy automatic needle threader. Wide table is perfect for big projects. Easy-to-read LCD screen. LED light helps you see every detail. Includes instructional DVD and manual to get you started. Popular for quilting.


Some reported issues with the bobbin jamming.

Singer 4411 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine
4411 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine
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Best for Beginners
Bottom Line

A heavy-duty Singer sewing machine for beginners that's loaded with premium features.


It has 6 basic stitches, 4 decorative stitches, and 1 built-in buttonhole. The needle can be adjusted in 3 positions, and the foot pressure can be adjusted for sewing lightweight or thick fabrics. It can sew up to 1,100 stitches per minute and has a heavy-duty interior metal frame.


It doesn't have an automatic needle threader.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best sewing machines

Mending clothes and tailoring outfits for a better fit used to be tasks that families left to a member of the household who had developed exceptional sewing skills. Today, sewing machines are complex tech devices that can help even a novice execute complicated stitchery. Despite the user-friendly nature of many of today’s high-quality sewing machines, knowing what features the best sewing machines should have has become increasingly difficult.

Even if you're an experienced tailor, you will at least 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 can load patterns from your computer is recommended for the most creative individuals.

To ensure your thread passes easily through the needle, cut it first with a pair of sharp scissors. The sharp cut creates a clean edge that’s easy to manipulate.

Key considerations

Machine type

Mechanical: 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.

Electronic: 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.

Computerized: 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.

Serger vs. sewing 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.

Ease of use

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:

  • Drop-in bobbin
  • Automatic bobbin threading
  • Clear cover plate
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Simple needle replacement
  • Speed button that sets speed independent of foot pedal



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)

  • Adjustable tension

  • Stitch length and width adjustment

These features will allow you to handle the most basic sewing projects.

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.



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 as buttonhole, zipper, and blind hem

  • Automatic speed setting (sets speed either in conjunction with or instead of using the pedal)

  • Needle threader


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

Person sewing emblem on material
Did You Know?
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.

Sewing machine prices

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.

Basic sewing machine stitches

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.

Zigzag stitch

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.

Straight stitch

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.

Lock stitch

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.

Buttonhole stitch

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.

Overlock stitch

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.

Decorative and embroidery stitches

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.

Sewing machine needle
Did you know?
Most sewing machines come with an automatic needle threader. This time-saving tool isn't something to go without.

Common sewing machine mistakes

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:

Assuming basic measurement techniques are easy

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.

Taking on larger projects too soon

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.

Disregarding or reworking sewing pattern instructions

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.

Pulling the material too hard

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.

Person changing sewing machine needle
Staff Tip
To prevent metal fatigue and keep your sewing machine running smoothly, experts recommend replacing the needle after 16 hours of use.

Tips and tricks

  • When turning a corner, use the wheel to keep the needle plunged through the material. This provides a pivot point for the turn without risk of separation.
  • Remember that various parts of the machine can be removed in order to perform a challenging stitch, like blind hemming. You do not have to force the material to fit the sewing machine.
  • Avoid using the needle itself as a guide for straight stitching. It will confuse your eyes and create unnecessary adjustments. Use another point of reference, such as a pattern in the material or a chalk line.
  • Try going barefoot — or at least shoeless — when using the pedal. Hard-soled shoes can decrease sensitivity and cause you to go too fast. In sewing, there is rarely a need to put the pedal to the metal.
  • The thread in the bobbin and the thread in the spool do not have to match color, but they should hail from the same group of materials. For example, you could pair a cotton thread with another cotton thread – but you should avoid combining polyester and cotton threads.
  • You can use small paper binder clips to hold materials together while sewing. This is a particularly useful hack for those who dread the idea of tacking with sharp needles.
  • Spraying the end of the thread with hairspray can make it easier to thread through the needle.
  • Inspect new sewing needles for any rough or unfinished spots in the eye. These imperfections can weaken the thread and cause unexpected breaks.
  • Keep a lint roller and a large magnet in your sewing kit. The lint roller will easily pick up any tiny threads created by the sewing process, and the magnet will pick up any needles before your bare foot does.
  • Many professionals do not use pins when cutting patterns, as pins can cause the fabric to pucker. Try using pattern weights instead.
  • Online tutorials are available for many popular brands. You can find many comprehensive tutorials for Singer sewing machines and Brother sewing machines, to name just a few.

Sewing machine safety

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.

Turn it off

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

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.

Regular service

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.

Types of sewing stitches infographic


Q. I love my new sewing machine, but I don’t love buying replacement needles all the time. Why do my needles break so often?

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.

Q. My spouse wants to make costumes for their theater group, but they are a beginner. Should I buy the most expensive machine in the store or start out with a basic model?

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.

Q. My child likes to watch me sew. Would it be safe for me to let them use a real sewing machine if I supervise?

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.


4 features of a sewing machine that will make you give up sewing by hand

Threading your needle takes less than five seconds thanks to an automatic needle threader.
Swap out different feet to go from typical sewing to sewing button holes in no time.
Forget about thread length and let the spool mount and bobbin do all the work.
Choose between hundreds of stitches, including decorative and quilting, and let the machine help you make beautiful, professional looking projects.
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