The best sewing machines can help you make your own clothes and repair everyday apparel, if you own one you can save money on wear and tear. Sewing and crafting has never been more popular, which means a sewing machine can also enable you to sell projects online or at craft markets.
If you're new to sewing machines it can be daunting, as there are specialist machines and accessories as well as excellent entry level sewing machines. While some are expensive, my guide below shows how a good starter machine or all-round top sewing machine isn't as expensive as you'd think. And as mentioned, you can earn from your sewing – read our guide to how to sell on Etsy for more.
A good sewing machine is a much-needed companion to the best Cricut machines, as you can cut your cloth accurately and speedily and then begin stitching. Brother not only make great sewing machines (there a some in my list below) but the company also manufacturers one of the best craft machines, read our Brother ScanNCut review.
I've gathered these sewing machines together under budget constraints. I begin with the budget sewing machines, move onto mid-price sewing machines and then finish on the expensive sewing machines. Jump to the sewing machines thats suit you and your needs; generally if you're new to sewing the budget machines are a good place to start. If you need more info read our guide to how we test craft and sewing machines.
A top sewing machine can be mechanical, electronic or computerised, and as you would expect the better the technology the greater the price. When choosing one of our best sewing machines are right for you ask yourself these questions:
The best sewing machines: what to look for
1. What do you ultimately need the sewing machine to do?
There’s no point splashing out on a computerised machine with a hundred embroidery stitch options if you are predominantly going to sew curtains.
2. What fabrics will you be sewing with?
If you sew with heavyweight fabrics on a regular basis a £100 machine just isn’t going to cut it. If you’re going to sew sports and swimwear, you’ll need a machine with suitable stitches for dealing with stretch fabrics. The finest sewing machines are great, but you do need to consider how you will use one.
3. What will the sewing machine be used for?
Someone sewing once in a while doesn’t need to be spending as much on a sewing machine as the person sewing every day. Establish your needs and budget and let our guide to the best sewing machines help you find the best machine in your price range.
If you need more info jump to our frequent questions section. If you'd like to read more about how our reviewers work and test each sewing machine then take look at our How we test craft and sewing machines explainer, where we outline the process. Generally our reviewers will use a sewing machine for up to four weeks and create projects to test the key features.
Now you've had a chance to get your ideas together – the why and how you will use a sewing machine – let's get stuck into our list. We've divided these sewing machines into price ranges – budget, mid-priced and expensive – and within each we suggest what they're best used for. As prices increase the machines will move from mechanical, to electronic, and finally high-end computerised systems.
The best sewing machines: budget
The Janome 2200XT is a simple manual sewing machine at a reasonable price ($299 / £169), which makes it ideal for beginners as well as occasional sewists. What our reviewer loved about this machine is its compact and light design, making it a perfect sewing machine to take to classes.
In our Janome 2200XT review our writer found this machine has enough functions to perform a range of different sewing tasks, so while basic it can actually do a lot. Best of all you can use this machine for a variety of projects and not feel overwhelmed by buttons, lights and switches.
The Janome 2200XT is easy to set up and use straight out of the box, and you can be up and running in no time at all. This is thanks in part to a straightforward front-loading bobbin that makes using this machine very easy. As the price suggests, this is a starter machine so seasoned sewists may want to scroll down this list. As you sew more you may also outlive the Janome 2200XT quickly, but as a beginner, for this price, it's easily one of the best sewing machines you can buy.
The Brother L14S is a great beginner's sewing machine. Brother has been manufacturing competitively priced sewing machines since 1908, when the company was called Yasui Sewing Machine Co. With over 100 years experience in the sewing machine business, the electrical equipment giants certainly know what they are doing.
The brand is known for the number of features it includes on its most basic machines. The Brother L14S is an impressively priced basic mechanical machine with 14 stitch options, making it the ideal machine for beginners or the occasional sewer. It’s great to see a three year warranty included for this price, too.
The top loading bobbin and included instructional DVD will help you to have the machine up and running in no time. For the price, and as a starter machine, the Brother L14S has solid features and is very approachable.
The Janome 219S is a great machine for newcomers who want to make their own clothes. Janome machines are considered quiet and easy-to-use, combine this with the fact that the company provides an excellent after-sales service and you’ll feel in safe hands with a Janome for your first machine. While most machines come with five-year warranties, this can stretch to 25 years for parts.
The Janome 219S is an affordable quality starter machine that has all the built-in features required for a beginner or occasional sewer. The 14 stitch options include an easy four-step buttonhole and a stretch and overlock stitch. The stitch length and width can be adjusted and you can sew with bulky fabric thanks to the extra height foot lifter. Everything is here to start you sewing the clothes of your choice.
For the price, the Singer 4432 is at the top-end for a mechanical machine but not without good reason. With an integrated motor 60% stronger than standard sewing machines, It is a heavy-duty sewing machine that can tackle a wide range of fabrics, including stretch and denim.
In our Singer 4423 review we loved that this sewing machine has over 32 stitch options, including a one-step buttonhole function, it has everything you need to complete all dressmaking tasks. Not only is this machine robust, it's also fast; the metal frame has rigid support to hold all the mechanisms in perfect alignment for skip-free sewing and it includes an extra high sewing speed. You’ll be stitching up a new pair of jeans in a flash.
The best sewing machines: mid-price
The Janome 5270QDC (known as the Janome 5300QDC-T in the US) is a good and compact sewing machine with enough features – 270 built-in stitches, auto-thread cutter, 1/4" Foot and automatic buttonhole feet – to ensure you can tackle most projects. The price, size and functions mean this is a sewing machine for experienced sewists and beginners looking to expand their creative capabilities.
In our Janome 5270QDC review, our writer comments on how she found this to be a solid and dependable machine. It's easy to use but has enough features and accessories to tackle complex projects, including garment patterns and quilting.
In fact, if you're not a quilter you may find it over-delivers – whether you’ll use half the 270 stitches or need the 11x16 inch extension table is debatable. But the level of functionality offered ensures you've always got something new it can do, for example being able to stitch so many types of buttonhole automatically will ensure most dressmakers are happy with a Janome 5270QDC.
If you are looking for a machine that does it all at an affordable price, the Brother FS70WTX has you covered. With 70 in-built stitches and seven feet included, the model has everything you need for dressmaking, quilting, embroidery and home furnishings projects.
The Brother FS70WTX also a great choice for anyone who wants to do free motion embroidery, as it comes with an extra wide table and one of the included feet is a free motion embroidery foot.
This feature packed sewing machine has time saving elements too, such as a needle threader and a quick set drop-in bobbin and bobbin winder. The inclusion of an LED light, which won’t need replacing, avoids thread discolouration from a bulb. The Brother FS70WTX is a great machine whether you are new to sewing or a more advanced sewer.
The Brother FS100WT electronic sewing and quilting machine has all the features of the Brother FS70WTX (above) as well as an extra 30 stitches. These extra stitches include more decorative stitches for embellishing, including one lettering style to personalise your projects.
The 100 stitches and their length and width are easy to select on the LCD display, which also helpfully indicates which foot you should use for the stitch. This additional screen is great for anyone new to sewing machines.
Another useful feature, particularly for new sewers, is the semi-automatic needle threader which saves needle threading frustration. Whilst there’s enough here for the advanced sewer, the Brother FS100WT is also a great choice for a beginner looking for a model that’s easy to navigate and won’t need upgrading in the near future.
Whilst the Singer Patchwork 7285Q would still be a great machine for dressmakers (the model has six fully automatic one-step buttonholes), the inclusion of four quilting presser feet and a good sized extension table to manage large projects make this machine ideal for quilters.
Further features that make the Singer Patchwork 7285Q appealing to the quilter are the 15 quilting stitches included in the 100 built-in stitches, providing plenty of opportunities for creative topstitching and quilting for the advanced sewer. Solidly built and easy to operate, the Singer Patchwork 7285Q would also be an ideal machine for a new sewer. You won’t outgrow this model.
The best sewing machines: expensive
The Janome Continental M7 Professional is expensive but it's also a beautifully designed and well-built sewing machine that will last a long, long time. It's been designed for quilters with height to see the material clearly, and a large extension table enables you to work on big projects with ease. The Continental M7 has plenty of customisable stitches (400) and alphabets (5) to give any quilter options.
But, in our Janome Continental M7 Professional review our tester discovered a machine that can be turned to near enough any sewing project. It's a large and complex computerised machine but comes with an LCD screen and menu system that is approachable and easy to use. The free QR code-enabled app takes you directly to tutorials, too.
This is an expensive sewing machine but it can do everything and anything, meaning it will last you through your sewing journey. The real ace in Janome's deck is the Continental M7 is so easy to use; you can be up and running in minutes and the app and LCD screen and computer inside enables a constant and elegant learning curve. If you can afford it, and if you're quilting every day professionally, then this is one of the best sewing machines on the market.
The Brother Innovis NV1800Q can do just about everything you'd ask of it, and comes with some eye-catching features you'd not usually find on a machine in this price range ($1,799 / £1,499), such as sideways sewing.
In our Brother Innovis NV1800Q review, our writer loved the sideways sewing feature that enables you to stitch continuously without needing to raise the sewing foot and move your material 90 degrees. Obviously, this is great for quilting large, heavy material but also handy for sewing patches and badges.
This is a sewing machine crammed with features and an accessible LCD touchscreen to help you get around. It's also a machine that can grow with you, its My Custom Stitch function enables you to design and program your own stitches.
If you're not a quilter then you may find much of what this machine does surplus, and you could also find it too large and heavy for everyday clothes alterations. But if you do quilt and sew large projects, you'll find the Brother Innovis NV1800Q excellent value for money.
The sleek appearance of the Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 may lead you to think that this machine has minimal features. However, we all know looks can be deceiving, this model boasts an impressive selection of 201 stitches. All these stitches, along with all the sewing information you need, can be found on the easy-to-use high-resolution colour touch screen.
The automatic thread cutter is a useful addition and dressmakers will appreciate the button sewing feature. Quilters will benefit from the 200mm sewing area to the right of the needle but this is also beneficial for anyone working on large sewing projects such as coats and curtains. Pfaff Quilt Ambition 630 is a stylish and feature-packed machine for pro sewers, but it comes at a price.
The computerised Husqvarna Opal 650 features a large graphic display, plenty of memory for stored projects, programming functions, and best of all the 'sewing advisor'. Not only will the built-in sewing advisor recommend the best stitch, stitch width and length and needle size for your selected fabric but also which presser foot. With more than 160 utility and decorative stitches to choose from, this advice could certainly be useful.
All the stitches can be mirrored and are displayed in real-size settings on the graphic display. With 29 needle positions you can be sure to achieve precise positioning for edge stitching, topstitching and quilting. Dressmakers needn’t fear projects with buttonholes as there’s an impressive choice of seven one-step button styles and a sew on button program. Patterns with multiple buttons will never be overlooked again.
The Janome 5270QDC is one of the more complete machines around, but it comes at a price. So, what do you get once you start spending over $1,000 / £1,000 on a sewing machine? Let’s start with your own stitch composer to design your own stitches, should the 240 built-in stitches not cover exactly what you need. In our Janome 5270QDC review we found this to be a fantastic all-round sewing machine.
You can make pivoting around corners and applique work super quick and easy by programming the machine to keep the needle down and lift the presser foot automatically when you stop sewing. You can even use the knee lift – a V-shaped leaver that plugs into the front of the machine – to raise and lower the presser foot with your knee or thigh. If seven buttonhole styles isn’t enough for you, the Atelier 7 can provide you with eleven.
If you’re seriously into your embroidery, the Brother Innovis V3 might just tempt you to part with over £2,000 / £2,000. Here’s why: you can preview your projects on the full colour LCD touch screen display where you can select from over 200 built-in embroidery designs, add lettering from 17 fonts, edit patterns and adjust stitches all at the touch of a button.
The Brother Innovis V3's on-screen editing system allows you to drag and drop patterns into various positions, enlarge, reduce, rotate and create mirror images and create customised designs. You can also import designs using the built-in USB port.
Having decided on your design after all those customisation options, the included thread charts can display thread colour match options from leading thread brands on the touch screen. At its highest speed the Innovis V3 can then create your design at 1,050 stitches per minute. This specialist embroidery machine has everything to keep the dedicated embroiderer creating limitless designs with speed and ease.
Best sewing machines: frequent questions
How long can I expect a sewing machine to last?
If you buy the right machine for your needs, treat it well and get it serviced, your machine will serve you for a very long time.
What do I do if I have problems with my machine?
Most brands offer an after-sales service which you can call for replacement parts and problem shooting.
I want to sew clothes, how many stitch options does my sewing machine need?
Really not very many. A straight stitch, buttonhole and a zigzag stitch will get you through most projects.
Do I need a coverstitch machine?
Only if you are going to be sewing lots of sportswear and t-shirts that require a professional hemmed finish.
What does an overlocker do differently to a sewing machine?
An overlocker (or serger) finishes the edges of fabric with an overlocking stitch whilst also cutting off the seam allowance as it sews.
Where can I buy a sewing machine?
You can buy sewing machines from Amazon and leading stores in your country, for example John Lewis in the UK and Walmart in the US. We would also advice you find your local Brother or Janome dealer as they can offer good advice and unique repair deals.