Best Sewing Machine
Every seamstress and tailor knows the importance of having a sewing machine that works with their wants and needs. A lot of this depends on the features the machine offers as well as their construction and the reputation of the manufacturer. Modern sewing machines each have their own unique features and capabilities, so doing a side-by-side comparison between your favorites is advised. Whether you're an expert quilter, embroiderer, or designer of special evening apparel, one of these machines are sure to fit your style and become your next favorite sewing machine. For additional assistance in your search, we’ve also provided a helpful sewing machine buyer’s guide listed below which covers all the basics.
Best Sewing Machine Overall:
Sewing machines were invented in the Mid-1800's, and have truly come a long way, progressing from heavy, straight-stitch-only models to lightweight, computerized modern wonders that can do the latest in embroidery stitches.
Although this list is going to be objective in its ratings, you'll have to be subjective in your decision on which one best suits your needs. The latest and greatest embroidery stitching machine won't matter to someone who just needs to mend socks or blue jeans. Conversely, if you’re artistic and want to express your sewing acumen at its finest, than an embroidery capable machine might be the only type you'll settle for.
These models were selected to represent a variety of styles and skill levels. Above all else, ease of use will be paramount, meaning these picks features easy to thread or one-touch sewing. Their functions and features are also easy to access since an overly complicated sewing machine may be more of a headache to use; if it sits in your closet all day it won't be worth the price no matter what it cost.
Perhaps the most important criteria for selecting these sewing machine was their fun factor which is what sewing should be all about. If you can begin laying down stitches with a minimum of effort, and come out beautifully on that first or second try, you'll have a winner.
The Pfaff Creative Sensation Pro Sewing Machine features pre-programmed 169 stitches that can be modified as you go. It has a stitch shape creator, an integrated dual feed tension adjustment for the perfect tension every time, and you can even map out your stitches before they are sewn. It comes with a 5 year warranty and is tops on this list. Read Full Review
The Bernina 880 Quilting and Embroidery Sewing Machine is virtually automatic in every function It features push-button needle threading, raises and lowers the needle when needed, and it will cut the thread at the end of a stitch. It allows you to create stitches and patterns, and once programmed just turn this baby on and let it sew. It comes with a 25 year warranty and a 5 year computer warranty. Read Full Review
The Husqvarna Viking Designer Topaz 40 Sewing Machine is made for beginners but it has advanced features even the most experienced sewers would love. The color touch screen allows you to navigate and select stitches in addition to 200 built in stitches and 100 stitching designs available. The material placement function makes sure you will always be stitching in the right place yet it’s so easy that you can literally push just one button and begin sewing. Read Full Review
The Brother XL2600I Sew Advance Sew Affordable 25-Stitch Free-Arm Sewing Machine does basic sewing the old fashioned way, and that means it is simple and easy to use. No bells and whistles here, no computer screen, just a dial to select the stitches you want to sew with. Manual threading and bobbin winding, and it comes with a 25 year limited warranty. Read Full Review
The SINGER 4411 Heavy Duty Extra-High Sewing Speed Sewing Machine with Metal Frame and Stainless Steel Bedplate is made to sew through denim, quilting and suede leather. It has 11 built in essential stitches and even has a button hole feature. Nothing fancy here, just a metal chassis promising toughness and durability. Read Full Review
Best Sewing Machine for Quilting:
Quilting requires working through multiple layers of fabric and often a heavy duty sewing machine wilol work just as well as a dedicated quilting machine. As good as these machines are for quilting, they’re equally heavy duty enough for stitching denim and even canvas. These selections are all practical choices for the quilting hobbyist. Each of these best sewing machines for quilting were chosen based on overall operational effectiveness with large work surfaces for quilting, ease of use such as only having a straight stitch capability, as well as a simple, straightforward controls and displays.
The Husqvarna Platinum 16 Quilting Machine features a 16-inch throat space to make moving your material around easy and it will stitch 1500 stitches per minute. It comes with a full service one year warranty, with alternate warranty plans also available. Read Full Review
The Janome New Home Memory Craft 7700 QCP lays down 1000 stitches per minute on a illuminated, shadow-free bed. It has an 11 inch throat space and the computerized touch screen allows easy stitch selection every time. Read Full Review
The straightforward Brother PQ1500S High Speed Quilting and Sewing Machine is a straight stitch-only machine, but it lays down 1500 stitches per minute. With the add-on extension table, you'll have about 15 inches of usable bed space to lay out your quilt. Read Full Review
The Pfaff Powerquilter p3 comes with a unique sewing table made specifically for this machine. The bed size will let you lay out almost an entire quilt, and you can control every function via an LED screen. Guide your work with twin U-shaped control handles as this unit lays down 3000 stitches per minute. Read Full Review
The Singer 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine has a cool retro look and is the easiest to use machine on this list. It will lay down 1100 stitches per minute and converts to a free arm machine when needed. Read Full Review
Best Embroidery Machine:
Embroidery machines are an advanced style of sewing machine. In addition to featuring a few basic stitches essential for most sewing projects, some machines offer no limit to the designs, styles, and stitches available for embroidery projects. On higher end models, if you can think of a stitch and program it into the onboard computer, the machine will sew it for you.
Exceptional embroidery machines can be found in a variety of price ranges and you can use this list to choose one that fits your budget and your experience. Each machine was selected for the number of built-in stitches and patterns offered, the accuracy and variety of its stitching options as well as their ease of use.
Most of these best embroidery machines carry a high price tag and aren’t for beginners. However, we’ll be featuring a best bang for the buck model that’s easy to use and tailored more to individuals just starting to do embroidery stitching.
The Bernina 880 Sterling Edition has an onboard computer which allows you to design any stitch or shape before stitching it onto the material of your choice. You can even attend a free 3 day class given by Bernina, to learn about all of the functions it’s capable of. Read Full Review
The Pfaff Creative Sensation Pro features a shape and stitch creator allowing you to make virtually any stitch imaginable while automatically adjusting for any type of thread. It can embroider 30 percent faster than other machines and comes with a five year warranty. Read Full Review
The Brother PE770 5x7 Inch Embroidery-Only Machine is the best bang for the buck machine on this list. It features 136 embroidery stitch designs which can be expanded on by using the optional Brother memory cards or downloading stitches onto USB memory sticks. It has a built-in back lit touch screen allowing you to select and see what the finished stitches will look like. Read Full Review
The Husqvarna Viking Emerald 122 is the perfect retro embroidery and decorative stitch sewing machine available. Choose from 70 built-in stitches using a selector dial, adjust the width and length, and start sewing. It comes with a one year full service warranty, with optional plans available. Read Full Review
The SINGER 7258 Stylist 100-Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine is the most affordable computerized embroidery and decorative stitch sewing machine available offering 100 total stitches. Select and adjust each stitch on the computer, then sew onto the material of your choice. Read Full Review
Sewing Machine Buyer's Guide
Before sewing machines came into use, every piece of clothing had to be hand stitched and even a simple pair of pants would take up to a day or two to make instead of only a couple of hours on a sewing machine. Early sewing machines were strictly straight-stitch models, which were only capable of very basic seams. Regardless, they offered the convenience of quickly straight stitching the basic article of clothing with decorative stitching added in afterwards by hand. Modern sewing machines can now create almost any stitch you need with some models designed specifically for quilting and embroidery work.
The simplest thing to remember about any sewing machine is the easier they are for you to use, the more you’ll end up using one. You may fawn over the latest and the greatest electronic offering, but if it’s too complex, your new sewing machine will end up sitting in a corner as little more than an expensive piece of furniture.
If you get a sewing machine that’s easy for you to use and does what you need it to do, it will be a joy to use every time you need it for something. Ultimately, that's what having a sewing machine all is about. This buyer’s guide will give you a little insight into the types of sewing machine that will fit your needs, as well as what to expect features and extras to look for.
Sewing Machine Types
The type of sewing machine familiar to most people are the manual types which involve turning dials or pressing levers to access stitching functions; this type of stitch access has been used on sewing machines for over 100 years.
The main advantage manual models offer are their intuitive controls since virtually anyone with sewing knowledge can use one of these machines. Because of their mechanical simplicity they’re easily repaired at a fraction of the cost versus more advanced machines.
Typically costing less than 500 dollars, a general purpose sewing machine lets you create and mend clothing, take on basic quilting projects, as well as providing dozens of embroidery and decorative stitches to experiment with. They’ll also teach you the basics of needle threading, bobbin winding, tension setting, and other essential skills.
Basic computerized machines have a small, built-in monitor which display the stitches available for selection at the press of a button. More complex systems will highlight the correct needle and thread to use for the type of material you’re working with thus eliminating any unnecessary guesswork. You can also program in different stitches and tell your machine the exact point where to begin sewing.
The most advanced models are able to thread the needle before you begin stitching, automatically sew programmed stitching patterns, and cut the thread when the stitch is complete. All these functions and more can be accessed on a large computer screen ready for your commands.
Computerized sewing machines are extremely complex in form and function; for example, finding the right stitch or programming your own patterns/stitches can be daunting especially with the more advanced interfaces. The included instruction manuals are also closer to actual books than a simple how-to guide; a beginner trying to sew on one of these advanced machines would likely be overwhelmed.
In the event of mechanical issues, you'll need to have a computerized sewing machine repaired by a factory trained technician; many times you'll need to travel a substantial distance to find one, or arranging to have your machine shipped to an appropriate repair center. Repairs for these units will not be cheap and it may be less expensive to just replace the defective unit entirely.
Sewing Machines for Quilting
These are special purpose machines made to sew through multiple layers of fabric and filler material inside. As such, sewing machines for quilting are stoutly built, have a higher amperage motor, and in some cases have a free arm extending over a sewing large table; in fact, the larger the table, the easier you can maneuver the quilt while you’re sewing. Some of these models are also programmable, so once the quilt and batting are placed beneath the needle, the sewing machine will feed in the material automatically while stitching it to your
These are the most complex, computer-controlled sewing machines available with most offering hundreds of decorative, pre-programmed embroidery stitches. The best of these machines allow you to program and size designer stitching for projects such as logos, symbols, emblems, and other customized designs. Many also offer a monogram feature for stitching letters and words onto items including shirts, hats, jeans, jackets, and more.
Feed Dog Switch
Depending upon the machine, this can be either a manual lever or an electronic switch. When activated, it drops the feed dogs down so you can freehand the material beneath the needle.
This can either be a separate attachment or it can be built-in to the bobbin case. Thread is wound from the spool onto the bobbin, the winder is engaged either manually or electronically, and the sewing machines pedal is depressed to wind the thread onto the bobbin. On higher end machines, you simply insert the bobbing into the case and press a switch which automatically winds the bobbin for you.
Dual Feed Dogs
These grasp the material from above and below, precisely moving it beneath the needle for near perfect stitching. Unlike single feed dogs, dual feed dogs prevent the fabric from stretching, overlapping and loss of alignment between the top and bottom pieces of material.
Most machines will have a knob or a lever to choose a specific type of stitch as well as a length adjustment knob or lever to make the stitch longer or shorter. More advanced features might include the ability to select dozens of advanced stitches which are accessed by turning a dial, pushing a lever, or selecting one from a display screen.
This feature is available in two types, either manual or fully automatic. The manual types work by pulling down a spring loaded hook, inserting it into the eye of the needle and then pulling a thread through. Automatic types work on a similar principle except they’re accessed by pushing a button and the machine simply does all of the work.
Automatic Thread Cutter
Usually found on the most advanced sewing machines, an auto thread cutter severs the thread when the stitch is complete.
Once you’ve laid out your material underneath the needle, a machine with pre-programming does all of the sewing with the push of a button without further input from an operator. Simply enter the stitch type on the onboard computer, program where it will go on the material, and activate the sewing cycle. This feature is an especially helpful convenience if you’re sewing long runs of material like quilts, tablecloths and blankets.
Higher end sewing machines typically feature stronger motors, metal gearing at crucial areas, roller bearings and oil absorbing felt pads will be placed over joints to keep them steadily lubricated. Conversely, the more plastic on the interior of a machine, including the gears and pivot points, the less reliable it will operate in the long run. Always look at the warranty information which will give you a good idea of how reliable a sewing machine will be.
As a general rule of thumb, the more you pay, the better the machine you’ll have. Look to brand names like Bernina, Pfaff, Viking, and Brother who manufacture some of the sturdiest, most reliable machines on the market. Granted, you'll pay for the quality, but if you want your machine to last, stay within the realm of these big brand names and you won't go wrong.