A sewing machine is a sewing machine, right? Turns out, not so much. And if you’re just learning how to sew, there are some that are going to make your first few stitches much easier (and much neater). The best beginner sewing machine is uncomplicated and easy to use because it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a higher-level model. So, where to start? We suggest with one of these eight easy-to-use beginner sewing machines.

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The Best Sewing Machines for Beginners

Baby Lock

1. Baby Lock Zest Sewing Machine

Best for Kids

If you’re looking for a beginner sewing machine for children, this is an excellent choice because of its thorough safety features. This simple model has slow speed options and 15 simple stitches, including a four-step buttonhole. It’s designed to be portable, (it weighs 13 pounds) meaning you or your kid can carry it to and from a sewing class with ease. Ask any advanced sewer in your life and they’ll likely list Baby Lock as a respected brand for higher-end machines, so you know even the beginner models are high quality. Plus, the Baby Lock website has lots of instructional videos tailored to each model, if you’re more of a visual learner.

Buy it ($99)

Amazon

2. Janome MOD-19 Sewing Machine

Simplest Settings

One of the absolute best things about the Janome MOD-19 is the crystal-clear dials and buttons. They might have a bit of a retro vibe, but they make it incredibly easy to select exactly which settings you want to use. As you might have surmised from its name, this machine has 19 stitch options, including stretch-stitch settings for knits or spandex. There’s also a built-in needle threader, four presser feet and four-step buttonhole capabilities. It also comes with a 25-year limited warranty so you can enjoy this easy-to-use machine for decades to come (and maybe even pass it along to another beginner, once it’s time for you to upgrade).

$329 at Amazon

Amazon

3. Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine

Best for Quilts and Thicker Materials

Despite its name, the Singer Heavy Duty 4423 works for all types of projects, not just quilting or notoriously tricky materials like denim and leather. There are 23 stitches for a variety of fabrics, a top drop-in bobbin, a one-step buttonhole and four presser feet. Although it does have the ability to move at extra-high sewing speeds (ideal for heavier fabrics), the foot pressure is totally adjustable so you can start off nice and slow before you work your way up to trickier projects.

$265 at Amazon

Singer

4. Singer Promise II 1512 Sewing Machine

Most Portable

Coming in at just under 11 pounds, this lightweight machine is phenomenal for mastering the basics. The dials are very clearly marked for stitch type, width and length selection, and it’s even capable of sewing in reverse (great for professional looking finishes on seams). There are 13 stitches to choose from, including a four-step buttonhole, and while it’s best for those looking to sew at slower speeds, it does have a high-speed capability for tackling projects with canvas or denim. It also comes with four presser feet to get you started.

Buy it ($99)

Amazon

5. Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i

Best Computerized Option

Computerized sewing machines are almost always more expensive than non-digital versions, but this particular model has a bunch of features that beginners who are really committed to getting their money’s worth (or who have the spare cash to spend) can really benefit from. There are 60 stitches to choose from, including a whopping seven different types of one-step buttonholes, and it uses an automatic needle threading system. It also comes with nine presser feet and a slew of easy-to-follow threading diagrams to help you out. The machine’s buttons are super-easy to use, and the LCD screen used to select stitches is clear and simple (although some may prefer the ability to see all their options at once, as you would with a dial).

$340 at Amazon

Brother

6. Brother XM2701 Lightweight Sewing Machine

Best for Embroidery

If you’re interested in trying your hand at embroidery on a machine, this is a great place to start. With 27 stitch options built in and the inclusion of an instructional DVD, you can hop right in and attempt adding flowers, inspirational phrases or dirty limericks to your T-shirts. It comes with six presser feet and features an automatic needle threading system, a top drop-in bobbin and, of course, those easy-to-read dials we love so much.

Buy it ($233)

Singer

7. Singer 7363 Confidence Sewing Machine

Most Comprehensive User Guide

A drop-in bobbin makes threading this machine an absolute cinch. The speed is adjustable, so you can start off super slow and then increase as you get the hang of things. There’s also a start/stop button so you can halt the machine if you make a mistake and five presser foot options included. In addition to six one-step buttonhole options, there are 30 stitches (with variations on the zig-zag and straight stitches) that you can select with the touch of a button and the option to program the machine to either bring the needle up when you stop or leave it down, so you can pivot whatever fabric you’re working on. Plus, with the Singer Sewing Assistant App you’ll have access to videos and guides to every part of your specific machine (this goes for all Singer machines, by the way).

Buy it ($300)

Amazon

8. Varmax Sewing Machine with Extension Table and Sewing Kit

Best for Small Spaces

Sewing machines can take up a lot of space, especially the kinds with all the bells and whistles, but not this one. It's specifically designed to help you save space, and it's even small enough to carry on the go. Oh, and don't let its small size fool you. It has the same features as any other good sewing machine, including a large extension table for smooth and stable sewing, a two-speed control, a built-in lamp, a thread cutter and a cuff slot. It also comes with a great beginner's sewing kit, including 32 bobbins, five needles, a threader, thimble, scissors and seam ripper.

$30 At Amazon

What do you need to consider before buying a beginner sewing machine?

You might think investing in a high-quality, Jack-of-all-trades sewing machine right off the bat is the way to go. But all those extra knick-knacks, settings and abilities will make it overly complicated to learn the basics. There are only a few things you absolutely need in a beginner sewing machine, as well as some thoughts to consider before you choose one.

  • First, there are really only two stitches you’ll need to get started, straight and zig-zag, although you can certainly vary the length and width of both stitches (hence why you’ll see numbers closer to 12 on the below models, rather than two). Leave the fancy detailing and advanced stitches for later, when you’ve really mastered the basics.

  • The dials and buttons should be easy to read and use so you won’t have to go searching for the owner’s manual every five minutes. Most of these suggested machines have apps and advice platforms available, in addition to the user manual, so you can feel confident in your abilities no matter your learning style.

  • Look for a machine that comes with a variety of presser feet or one for which you can purchase additional presser feet (especially if they don’t need to be the exact same brand to be compatible). A presser foot is an attachment that goes around the needle to hold fabric flat as it moves through the machine, and different presser feet can make learning new skills much easier. (For example, you would use one type of presser foot specifically for adding in a zipper while you’d opt for clear plastic for quilting and patchwork.)

  • What types of projects do you want to attempt? Are you looking to make some lightweight curtains, hem a pair of jeans or make a quilt? Heavier duty projects, like stitching together a quilt, require heavier duty machines, while repairing a kitchen apron doesn’t need as much horsepower. If you think you’ll be using your sewing machine primarily for one task or the other, be sure it’s compatible with your plans. Luckily, most of the machines on this list can help you tackle both types of projects.

  • Other requirements are a bright built-in light to illuminate your working surface, a built-in needle threader (important for those with poor eyesight) and an automatic buttonholer. Buttonholes are notoriously difficult to sew so opt for a machine with either a four-step option or, if you’re lucky, a one-step option so you don’t drive yourself crazy working over this tiny detail.

  • One of the best things you can do to determine which sewing machine is best for you—based on your skill level, the types of projects you want to attempt, your budget, etc.—is to go into a store and talk to a dealer or someone with advanced knowledge on all the intricate details of sewing machines for all levels.

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