All the products we feature on Gathered have been chosen independently by our editorial team. We may get a small commission if you click on any products you see on this page. Learn more.

Best sewing machines for beginners 2022

Searching for your first sewing machine? We're here to help! We've put together this round-up of the top machines to get you started, including some handy tips for what to look for when buying sewing machines.

Best sewing machines for beginners
Published: March 1, 2022 at 8:00 am
loading...
Try 6 issues of Simply Sewing magazine for £9.99

When you first start out making your own clothes, choosing a sewing machine can be a daunting task. What do all the knobs and settings do? What's the difference between 50 stitch settings and two?

Advertisement

Don't buy the first sewing machine you see on offer. If you do your research, you'll find a sewing machine that suits your needs.

When you're shopping for a sewing machine, it can be hard to know which brands and models to buy. We've researched the best sewing machines for beginners to learn the ropes on for you below.

In this guide, we'll help you find the best starter sewing machines to buy, based on the types of sewing projects you enjoy and your level of experience.

If you're a beginner, you need to buy a reliable sewing machine with limited features. If you buy a sewing machine with too many features, you'll just end up feeling overwhelmed.

A basic sewing machine might meet your needs at first, but if you get into dressmaking you'll need an upgrade.

Or if you're keen on making quilts, you'll need a machine which can fit universal quilting foots and can be adjusted to sew larger items. It'll make your life a lot easier down the line.

If you're just starting out, we've also added some beginner's guides to help you get to know your new machine. Head to our beginner tutorials for How to use a sewing machine or stock up on threads with our Beginner's guide to sewing machine threads.

Whether you're an absolute beginner or simply looking to upgrade your sewing machine, read on to discover our pick of the best sewing machines for beginners. Many of the sewing machines in this guide have been reviewed by our team of experienced crafters, so make sure you read the full reviews to help you make your decision. Find out how we test, review and feature products on Gathered.

If you're a Great British Sewing Bee fan, you might also like our guide to What sewing machines are used on the Sewing Bee?. If you're ready to invest in your next machine, check out our guide to the Best Overlockers for 2022.

How to choose a sewing machine

The sewing machine you opt for should give you the tools to make the projects you want to. Plus, it must support you as your skills grow and your projects become more ambitious.

There's a huge range of easy sewing machines out there so you may not need an advanced machine – a simple one will help you learn basic sewing skills.

Here are some things you should bear in mind when choosing a sewing machine:

  • Pick a brand you trust. There are lots of cheap sewing machines out there made by brands you've never heard of, but choosing one from an unknown brand could make it harder for you to get started. Not only are they unlikely to give the best online support, they may also be unable to offer you advice if you have any problems with your new machine. Most sewing machines made by well-known manufacturers have YouTube videos and guides available which can help when you get stuck! Another advantage to choosing a machine from a big brand is that you’ll be able to get accessories to extend its functionality. These are guaranteed to fit without any guesswork or fiddling. There are also a range of universal accessories (for example needles and specialist feet) which are created to fit all the big main brands. Brands to look out for are Singer, Janome, Brother, Bernina, Pfaff and Toyota.
  • Does it have a top loading drop-in bobbin? This makes it easy to load and see how much thread you have left on your bobbin reel.
  • Does it have snap-on feet? You’ll need to change the ‘foot’ you sew with depending on what you are doing. So if you're sewing a zip you will usually use a zipper foot, or if you're making a quilt you'd use a quilting foot. Having snap on feet makes it quick to change between them, and you won't need to fiddle around with a screwdriver.
  • Does it offer stretch stitches? If you want to make clothes, at some point you'll probably want to try sewing with jersey and fabrics that have some stretch to them. A simple zig zag stitch will let you do this as the stitches can stretch when the fabric does.
  • Can you adjust the base to reveal the free arm? You might be asking what this means? On many machines, you can remove part of the base of the sewing machine so you can fit items like sleeves and cuffs under the needle more easily.
  • How heavy is it? Choose a lighter machine if you're planning to take it with you to sewing classes.
  • How loud is it? Cheaper sewing machines tend to be more noisy which might be something to consider if you are going to be sewing in a shared space. See if you can try out a couple of friends' machines before you buy or read the online reviews to find out what other makers say about your chosen machine.

Best sewing machine for beginners 2022: at a glance

Best rated sewing machines for beginners in 2022, under £100

There are lots of great sewing machines on the market which cost less than £100. These affordable sewing machines are perfect for beginners on a tight budget.

1. Brother L14S

  • Best for: best value
  • Best qualities: lightweight, easy to use, LED sewing light, 3 year warranty

The Brother L14S really easy to use and has just the one dial so you're not overwhelmed with options. The L14s is ideal for beginners and is the perfect choice for basic alterations and repairs.

It's lightweight and portable for easy storage with a strong metal chassis, easy operation and smooth quiet sewing (handy if you're working in a room with family members who want to watch the TV!). It comes with 14 stitches, an LED Sewing light, top loading bobbin and a 3 year warranty.

Brother L14S sewing machine

2. Liheya Portable Household Sewing Machine

  • Best for: price
  • Best qualities: handheld, 2 speeds, very small and light

This handheld sewing machine will still offer you a fair few features for the price – choose between two speeds and 12 built-in stitches. At 2.7kg it's lightweight, portable and space-saving.

It comes with 4 needles, 1 needle threader, 4 bobbins, a foot pedal, and a buttonhole presser.

Liheya Portable Household Sewing Machine

3. Silver 12 Stitch Mini Sewing Machine

  • Best for: mini size
  • Best qualities: Affordable, small, 12 stitch options, buttonhole function
  • Buy now from Abkhan (£49)

Completely new to sewing and want to have a dabble without committing major funds? Go for a mini machine! This is a nifty little starter machine and comes with a couple of thread spools, bobbins, needle threader and needle.

It's not suitable for heavyweight dressmaking, but you can use it to sew lightweight fabrics and it comes with 12 stitch options (including embroidery), a reverse button for strengthening your stitches, electric foot speed control and an automatic buttonhole function. It's got enough features so you can learn the basics.

Plus it's small size and lightweight mean you can keep it as a travel machine if you catch the bug and decide to treat yourself to a more heavyweight model!

Silver 12 Stitch Mini Sewing Machine

Best rated sewing machines for beginners, under £200

4. Janome 219 S

  • Best for: value for money on a small budget
  • Best qualities: Good manual machine, front-loading bobbin, great value for money

The Janome 219 S is a seriously handy machine that's perfect for beginners. It's a good all-rounder making it ideal for a variety of sewing projects – you can confidently tackle an array of makes using this machine from quilts to simple garments. It's much less intimidating for beginners than many of the sewing machines on the market, with lots of great features that make it easy to use. There's a front-loading bobbin, which is easy to load, threading is a breeze and you can adjust the lengths and tension using the dials at the front.

There are a few disadvantages with the Janome 219 S that you should consider before you buy: you can't lower the feed dogs, there is no needle cutter and only a basic cover. That said, this is good manual machine for new sewers that won't break the bank.

Read our full Janome 219 S review to learn more about this machine's pros and cons.

Janome 219 S

5. Singer Start 1306

  • Best for: easy to use
  • Best qualities: simple to use, basic features, designed for beginners

The Singer 1306 has been designed for beginners. It is very simple, so don't expect it to jump for joy at heavyweight fabrics and intensive sewing sessions, but it has all the basic features you need to begin sewing. It comes with 6 built in stitches plus a four-step buttonhole.

This machine is a good choice if you want to dabble with some simple sewing and have a tight budget. The controls are clear and simple so it's a welcoming option if you're not confident about where to begin.

Singer Start 1306 sewing machine

Best rated sewing machines for beginners, under £300

6. Husqvarna H Class E20

  • Best for: beginners who aren't tech-savvy
  • Best qualities: easy to set up, good selection of functions, 32 stitches

The Husqvarna H Class E20 is a very accessible machine for sewing novices who struggle with technology. It's very simple to set up, sturdy and lightweight enough to take out and about with you (for example, if you want to go to a sewing class). There are 32 stitches available, plus a one-step buttonhole feature, adjustable foot pressure, built-in needle threader, twin needle sewing and more.

This is a good option for absolute beginners, but you may wish to upgrade to a new sewing machine when you become more proficient. Read our full Husqvarna H Class E20 review to find out more.

Husqvarna H Class E20 sewing machine

7. Pfaff Smarter 160S

  • Best for: quality entry-level machine
  • Best qualities: stylish, very quiet to use, 22 stitch settings

The Pfaff Smarter 160S is a stylish machine for beginners – it's straightforward to use and will bring a pop of colour to your crafting space. Unlike many sewing machines, it's nice and quiet – so it's ideal for anyone wants to sew in a communal area without disturbing those around them. It sews quickly and the dials make very simple to use.

There are 22 stitch settings to explore and this sewing machine includes a built-in needle threader and thread cutter. We found that the needle threading snagged a little for us, so you'll need to pay attention to your tension when using this machine. This is a great machine for beginners, but you may need to upgrade to a more sophisticated sewing machine as you become more experienced. Read our full Pfaff Smarter 160S review.

Pfaff Smarter 160s sewing machine review

8. Brother Innovis Electronic Sewing Machine

  • Best for: budget computerised
  • Best qualities: beginner-friendly, LCD screen, professional results

This beginner-friendly computerised sewing machine won't overwhelm you with options but also introduces you to home sewing with a few chances to level up once you've gained your confidence. It comes with 16 stitches, an LCD screen so you can see your stitch length and width, easy automatic threading and lots of extra functionality.

Enjoy the chance to practise 3 different eyelets for professional results, speedy project work with the automatic threader and automatic reinforcement stitch.

Brother Innovis Electronic Sewing Machine

9. Singer 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

  • Best for sewing thicker fabrics
  • Best qualities: sturdy build, fast stitching, perfect for dressmaking

The Singer 4411 is a heavy duty sewing machine which is capable of sewing through multiple layers of fabrics, or thicker fabrics like denim or even leather. This is thanks to its strong motor and extra foot height option. It has 11 stitch patterns plus a 4-step buttonhole, and with a potential stitch speed of over 1100 stitches per minute, this should help you speed up your sewing and avoid those 2am sewing sessions!

This is a great beginner machine if you have plans of doing a lot of garment sewing and have dreams of making your own jeans or bags. It is also suitable mending or altering clothes you already have. So if you are trying to buy less and make the most of what you already have, this could be the sewing machine for you.

Singer 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

Best rated sewing machines for beginners, under £400

10. Janome 230DC

  • Best for: portability
  • Best qualities: lightweight, 30 stitches, top-loading bobbin, lots of extras!

This fabulous sewing machine may be a lightweight (it weighs just 6kg), but it certainly punches above its weight with an array of brilliant features. It has 30 stitches with adjustable length and width, a top-loading bobbin and lots of features and accessories. It also includes a powerful light, which can be really useful if you have poor sight or need to sew in a dimly lit room.

Its compact size and light weight makes this one of the most portable machines we've come across – it's easy to store and can be easily transported if you want to take it anywhere. This handy sewing machine has few downsides, but we found it was fairly noisy and it only has a small harp space. Read our Janome 230DC sewing machine review to find out more.

Janome 230DC Sewing machine

11. Elna Experience 450

  • Best for: small projects
  • Best qualities: simple, sturdy, ideal for occasional sewers
  • Buy now from Sew Street (£309)

This is a simple machine that's suitable for most sewing projects. It has 30 stitches (including three buttonholes) and is a sturdy machine. This capable machine is perfect for occasional sewers, but may be too basic for more ambitious crafters.

There are other brands with a similar price range that may offer you greater functionality, but this is a great introductory sewing machine for those taking their first steps into dressmaking.

Read our Elna Experience 450 review to find out more about the pros and cons of this sewing machine.

Elna Experience 450 review

12. Janome J423-S

  • Best for: quality
  • Best qualities: 24 stitch options, reliable, good for freehand embroidery
  • Buy now from Amazon (£319)

Stretch your skills with this trusted Janome sewing machine. The Janome J423-S comes with 24 built-in stitch choices, automatic 1-step buttonhole, variable stitch width & length and a robust metal body and hard cover.

When you're ready to try new things, you can play around with the drop feed for freehand embroidery.

Janome J423-S sewing machine

13. Brother FS70WT

  • Best for: quilting
  • Best qualities: advanced features, 70 stitches, speed control

This is a feature-packed electronic sewing and quilting machine, which has way more functionality than you need as a beginner, but will give you lots of options as you tackle different sewing projects. It’s particularly suited for quilters as it comes with an extension table, which makes sewing larger projects like quilts easier as the fabric sits flatter on the larger surface area.

There are a whopping 70 different stitches that can be changed at the touch of a button using the electronic controls (no need to turn dials like on the mechanical sewing machines). As an added bonus, it has an integrated needle threader.

This machine has a speed control, which is perfect for beginners as you can set it to go slower, then increase the speed as you become more confident.

Brother FS70WT sewing machine

14. Janome 7025

  • Best for: easy to set up
  • Best qualities: reasonably priced, reliable, doesn't vibrate!

Looking for a reliable sewing machine? The Janome 7025 is sturdy, dependable and reasonably priced. It's very easy to set up (so it's perfect for beginners!) with a good selection of 24 stitches to choose from. It won't vibrate while you're stitching, which is always a bonus! This is a great machine to buy for home décor projects, quilting and for making your own clothes.

However, we did find that the sewing machine could be noisy at times and the needle can sometimes unthread when you start sewing. Read our full Janome 7025 review to learn more.

Janome 7025 Sewing machine review

Best rated sewing machines for beginners, treat yourself

15. Brother Innov-is A60SE

  • Best for: high quality features
  • Best qualities: compact, portable, 60 stitches, ideal for small projects

The Brother Innov-is A60SE has lots of impressive features including 60 built-in stitches, six buttonhole styles, an ergonomic jog dial, lockstitch function and much more.

This sewing machine is both lightweight and portable. It weighs just 6.5kg, so it's an ideal machine to buy if you need to travel anywhere to craft (to a sewing class, for example). Its compact size makes it easy to store away – particularly if you don't have lots of storage space.

Be aware that this sewing machine is quite small, so it's unsuitable for making quilts or larger projects. In time, you may find that you outgrow it and need to upgrade your machine, but it is likely to suit your needs if you mostly work on smaller sewing projects.

Read our full Brother Innov-is A60SE review to learn more.

Brother Innov-is A60SE review

16. Pfaff Passport 3.0

  • Best for: stitch options
  • Best qualities: portable, amazing features, excellent lighting
  • Buy it now from Amazon (£559)

This compact machine is perfect if you only have a small sewing space or like to take your machine out and about with you to classes, groups or weekend sewing retreats. What it lacks in size it makes up for with features – including 100 stitches from the basics to buttonholes, decorative, quilt and and needlework stitches.

Press the start/stop button to sew without foot control, making sewing long seams, free-motion and buttonholes easy. The feed dog drop has been especially created for ease of stippling, free-motion embroidery or darning, while snazzy lighting means your sewing will be shadow-free all year round. If you're a quilter you can get an optional extension table to support larger projects and it comes with a zipper foot too.

If you're also in the market for some fabric markers check out our guide which will tell you which markers to use on which fabrics.

Pfaff Passport 3.0 sewing machine

17. Brother Innov-is F420

  • Best for: crafters of all abilities
  • Best qualities: advanced features, easy to use, create and save your own designs

This is a brilliant sewing machine for stitchers of all levels, from absolute beginners to experienced sewers. If you've got a bigger budget, this is an excellent machine to invest in because you're unlikely to outgrow it as you become more experienced. It has lots of advanced features with 140 stitches (including 10 buttonholes), five styles of lettering, an advanced needle threader and much more.

It has an easy-to-use interface and the My Custom Stitch software means that you can even create and save your own designs. The only real downside is that this is a heavy sewing machine weighing in at a hefty 8.5kg, so it's not very portable. Read our full Brother Innov-is F420 review.

Brother Innov-is F420 sewing machine

18. Husqvarna Opal 650

  • Best for: time-saving features
  • Best qualities: 160 stitches, handy graphic screen, comes with Sewing Advisor software

This fabulous sewing machine is packed with time-saving features to make your life easier! It has an impressive 160 stitches to explore, including three fonts and seven one-step buttonholes. It is suitable for a wide range of projects, so it's bound to suit your crafting needs.

It's intuitive to use with a handy graphic screen which you can use to set up the machine. However, if you're not particularly tech-savvy, you may find that this machine is challenging to use, but it's well-worth taking the time to familiarise yourself with this machine's brilliant features. For example, this machine comes preloaded with Husqvarna's Sewing Advisor software which selects an appropriate stitch for you to use based on the fabric and technique you're using.

Want to learn more about this sewing machine? Read the full Husqvarna Opal 650 review to find out more.

Husqvarna Opal 650 sewing machine review

Best second hand and vintage sewing machines

There are lots of second hand sewing machines on websites like eBay and Gumtree. They can be very cheap, or even free in some cases so it is worth having a look. You need to be cautious as sewing machines need to be maintained and serviced to keep them sewing well, so you could end up with a machine riddled with issues. If you do buy a second hand sewing machine, be prepared to have it serviced before you start using it, and ask to see it working before committing to buying.

Advertisement

Although they can be incredibly beautiful, vintage sewing machines often have problems that are expensive and difficult to fix. They also don’t have the same easy-to-use features as modern machines, for example: changing a bobbin can be quite fiddly, and the range of stitches they do can be limited. Getting parts like feet can also be difficult for older models so you might have a better time buying a new machine that comes with a manual, a guarantee and after sales support.

Authors

Zoe WilliamsEditor, Gathered.how

Zoe is Senior Editor of Gathered.how, with over a decade of craft publishing experience under her belt. She's a quilter and sewist who works with the UK’s best-selling craft magazines including Today’s Quilter, Love Patchwork & Quilting, Simply Sewing and The World of Cross Stitching. Zoe loves being immersed in Gathered’s quilting content, tweaking our tutorials and publishing new patterns. Zoe has previously written for radiotimes.com, Simply Knitting and The World of Cross Stitching and was previously Deputy Editor of Papercraft inspirations magazine. She has guest-lectured at Bath Spa University. She’s a keen quilter with 5 projects in progress at any one time and another 12 or so planned.

Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content