Sewing Machines We Like


We get lots of emails asking us to recommend sewing machines, so here goes. The first thing to know is that there are three basic types of sewing machine: Mechanical (uses knobs and levers), Electronic (more precise sewing), and Computerized (fancy-schmancy stitches and such). All are good, but they do get increasingly expensive.  Depending on how much you think you will love sewing and how much you want it to be able to grow with you as you learn more, you can decide how much you want to spend.  A good machine can last twenty years, you just want to try to get one that has enough features and stitches that you won’t outgrow it too soon.

Just so you know, we don’t get paid by any of these people to recommend their machines, and we haven’t tried every machine out there, so I’m sure there are others that are awesome. Let us know if you have a favorite machine in the comments and it could win you the Heather Ross double gauze up there on the left. Get our sewing machine recommendations after the jump…

Sewing Machines We Like

Mechanical

For $89 you can get started sewing and make all the basics. Get it here:Brother XL2600I 25-Stitch Free-Arm Sewing Machine with Multiple Stitch Functions

Electronic

This one is confusing because the name says computerized but it’s not a true computerized machine.  No matter, it is the best reviewed machine on Wal Mart and Amazon and I always see it recommended. Get it here: Brother CS6000I 60-Stitch Computerized Free-Arm Sewing Machine with Multiple Stitch Functions. The list price is $449 but it’s only $147.50 on Amazon right now.

Computerized

I use a version of this machine and I love it.  It’s a basic computerized machine, they get alot fancier from here but then you just stop being Prudent at all (though at $480 it’s not exactly cheap).  Get it here: Brother PC-420 PRW Limited Edition Project Runway Sewing Machine.

Note:  I own the Brother Innov-is 40 which was named best machine in it’s price range by Consumer Reports and is only available through sewing machine dealers. I got mine at the awesome Sew Joe Stitch Lounge from super-helpful proprietor Jeanie.

I’ve also heard non stop positivity on the Janome Sew Precise.  Just wanted to add that because I considered it and heard wonderful things.  While you can get a great machine online, it really is a wonderful experience to go into a dealer and speak with them about what you want to do right away with your machine, and what you hope to eventually do as you learn more.  Usually the shop will also offer you classes to get to know your machine.  Oh, and prices are usually very negotiable in a shop.

Now carve out some space and get to sewing!

Let us know what you think and if you have a favorite machine in the comments, it could win you the Heather Ross double gauze up there on the left.  If you’re all good with sewing machines, maybe it’s time for a serger.

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87 Comments

Monica

I have a singer from many years ago and I love it, I gave never used a serger but would live to own one and learn how to use it.

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Ellabel

I have a Bernina 930. It is AMAZING. The same machine I learned to sew on, but my mom refused to relinquish hers, finding ones for me and my sister on ebay instead. Solid as a rock (and built like one – it weighs a ton), it runs well despite being 30 years old. Somewhat hysterically, the motherboard melted the first time I used it because it hadn't been cleaned. Oops. (I called my mom and told her, "the sewing machine is on fire!") Thankfully the lovely repairman at the Bernina store repaired it in a week, and now it's speeding along nicely. Let that be a lesson – I don't know about the newer ones, but keep those older machines maintained! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Amy L

I love my Kenmore 19233! I was previously using my mom's Singer from the 1960's, so features like a needle threader, drop in bobbin, and automatic needle up/down have changed my (sewing) life. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Courtney

My parents bought me a basic singer for about $100 at Walmart after watching me painstakingly sew the top of a patch work quilt by hand when I was 18! Now (14 years later) I use it to sew clothes for my kids & window treatments & pillows for me. I feel like as my sewing has advanced, I ought to get something fancier, but – hey it is so dependable! I've never even had it serviced, just keep it oiled!

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Cole and Mindy Smith

I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE my sewing machine! Seriously, I didn't know how good it was until I tried a few others. I have the Project Runway Computerized one as well, and it seriously is the BEST! It has a bazillion stitches- more than I could ever use- but I give it a run for it's money! I have had it for almost 3 years now, and have only broken 2 needles (all on one horribly hard project- so it's my own fault!) I clean it every now and then- in fact- I'm probably good for a clean right about now. I think it was a bit pricey- it was a gift, so I am not too sure how much it cost- but I love love love it! I want a surger like I want another arm! Wouldn't it come in handy!

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Jessibee08

just when I think i have contentment….now i am thinking 20 years! In 20 years surely I will be better than my "Singer Simple"!!!! Looks like I may need an upgrade from Santa-umm, or the Fall version of Santa, like I can wait until Christmas!

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Jennifer

HELP! I own a Babylock Quilter Choice. I bought it from a dealer last December and have since received another (in June) from the dealer because they couldn't get the tension to work correctly on the first one. My new one works much better but I still have issues with it.

Straight stitch- the top looks great but on the underside (bobbin side) you can see 'dots' of the upper thread in between the stitches

zig-zag- the top looks great but on the underside you can see the upper thread being pulled through making it not look nearly as 'zig zaggy'.

It also leaves loops of thread on top of the stitches on the bobbin side (underside of material)…which is bad because with clothes, home decor items the underneath part is the one you see.

Any ideas, adjusting the tension doesn't help At All. I don't know what to do with it…
Thank-you!

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Jamie

I use a Janome Magnolia 7318. It's pretty basic, but gets the job done. Someday I'll get a more computerized one. Right now, though I am definitely dreaming of a serger (hint, hint Santa Claus).

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melvo

I also have a Janome 7318 and love it. I'm just now starting to explore beyond hemming curtains, so it's a great basic machine for my needs. and, more importantly, has a drop in bobbin. Hello?!?! That was a total selling point for me as I've done battle with a bobbin in the past and it is no fun.

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Tanya

I use a 40+ year old Pfaff. Before that, I used a very basic Singer, that I got for a present from my mom. She is my sewing idol. Lol. I take it in for tune-ups every few years, but it runs like a champ. I borrowed my mom's serger, but don't find myself using it as much as I thought I would. Maybe I just need to take a class, so I know what all it can do. When people ask me about a starter machine, I tell them to look for a basic one to see how they like sewing and to see how often they will use it. Then they can watch CL, or put the word out with friends and family that they would like to upgrade. That is how I got my aunt's old machine from my cousin's wife. My mom taught me on my great grandma's kick pedal machine. Whatever works for your needs. : )

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EHC

I just purchased a Bernina Activa 240 machine and it's heaven. It's a good time to buy an Activa machine as Bernina has a new line coming out to replace it and dealers are looking to get rid of the old ones.

I call my new Bernina machine my "mistress" since we spend alot of late nights together. ๐Ÿ™‚

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A Playful Whimsy

Great Advice! Thanks!
I currently use my mothers Bernina 930 i LOVE IT. Its older but it works wonderfully! I purchases a Bernette a sister to the Bernina's about a year ago- i paid $190 for it on sale but it recently has been acting up and i'm back on the market again! I would lover a Bernina but they are quite spendy! I think i will be checking out the Brothers!

follow me! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mariel

I don't know too much about sewing machines. I'm a beginner and was looking for something that was good yet easy to handle. I was given an ancient dinosaur Singer sewing machine, which I was told worked perfectly well, but every time I looked at the T Rex of sewing machines I'd run and hide. My grandmother came to visit and tried to tame my fear but when she sat down to figure it out and couldn't it scared me even more. Anyway… I ended up with a Kenmore.

Kenmore Drop-In Bobbin Sewing Machine

It's pretty basic and I LOVE IT! I would recommend this machine to anybody looking for something cheaper, reliable and easy to use.

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carmel

im also thinking about getting a new sewing machine
i know all ready that sewing is a part of my life and it has been for the past 7 years
but im thinking of bernina sewing machine…
i herd that they and puff are the strongest componies…
hopefully ill find the money and get it soon
thanks for the top explnation that defined the tipes of sewing machins realy good

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Jaimie, Dustin, Logan and Holly

Great post! I have a Husqvarna Viking Emerald 203 and i like it! My mom bought it for me after having my son 2 years ago because she thought she was buying too many gifts for him and i needed something too! sewing has since then turned into my favorite thing to do for business (etsy) and fun and my machine gets a few hours of use everyday!

I really have nothing to compare it to though as the machine i got to take when i moved out of the house when i got married only decided to work somethings and was soo frustrating i didn't even want to touch it!

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rads

Nice post. I wanted to buy a sewing machine but didnt know which one to buy and now i do! I think i'll go with the Brother CS6000i. But i am not sure what accesories i need with it. event basic stuff .. i used to sew a while back. Now its been over 7 yrs and i havent stitched on a machine. What sewing accessories would you recommend to buy along?

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The Periwinkle Piggy

Thank you so much for this post! I was just telling my wonderful husband that I want a new machine for the next gift-giving opportunity.

Right now I sew on a 5-year-old Brother that I found collecting dust in my mom's closet. It was great to learn on but isn't the best for keeping up with all of my orders. I want a new machine…preferably a computerized machine for embr also. A serger would be nice, too…that's actually all my shop-partner uses.

(Btw, I'm still eyeing those beautiful double-gauzes!!!)

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CraftyGiveaways

I just have a basic Singer sewing machine.. but it works for everything I do on it! and if not, I head over to grandma's where she's got the sewers dream basement!

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Danae

Thanks for this post! Couldn't have come at a better time as I'm thinking about getting a new machine to replace my brother that is slowly wearing out. However, I'm still trying to convince the hubby. He can't quite swallow the price tag of some of the machines. But I try to explain to him that I currently have the base Honda Civic and would at least like to upgrade to the Accord. Or a 7:1 vs. a 5:1 sound system. I'm still working on it, but thanks for some great options!

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Liz

This post was so helpful… I NEED a new sewing machine (I'm still working on my mom's Kenmore from about 1976!). Thank you so much for the tips!

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Wall Family

I have a Brother which works well for me, but am now thinking that the more sewing I do I might need a new machine. Thank you for the post and yes, talk about sergers please!!

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sweetrsyl

I bought my first "real" sewing machine when I left home, 1969. It's a Bernina and after my daughter was born, thought I should upgrade to a computerized machine. So I bought a Viking (yes! I jumped ship!). I've sewed on it three times! Am looking to sell it even though it's several years old. Paid close to $2K for it! I must have been suffering from sleep deprivation. Back to my old Bernina, who is like an old friend who adjusts to my quirks. Must be how some old folks (I'm 63) feel about their old Singers!!

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Andore

I own the Brother "electronic" as listed above. It is fairly easy to use and its perfect. I sewed a few things on it (waiting for my fabric) and I cannot wait to use it for my upcoming projects. Love your site!

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The Mack Pack

I love my Bernina Virtuosa 150. My mother-in-law helped me convince my dear hubby that I NEEDED it to run a proper home and do the mending, crafting, sewing, etc. She told him his father bought her Bernina for her when they were first married and 30 + yrs later it was going strong.
He bought our plea and 10 yrs later I still have my Bernina, my husband, and have done lots of projects with & for my Mother-in-law. Now if she had a nice serger, maybe I/we could convince DH that it is a necessity as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Alison C

I have two sewing machines and I love them both equally. I have my mums old New Home (Janome) 535 which is a work horse – there's nothing that machine can't sew through! and my new Brother Innovis 10 which is my every day machine. My husband bought it of ebay without consulting anyone – he thought I'd like it cause its pink (!). Fortunately the machine and I get on well so it turned out OK!
I recently made a slightly tipsy purchase of an Elna 745 serger from ebay – I'm too scared to use it though so I just look at every now and again!!! lol!

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Erin Ashley

I love my brother machine. It's the project runway one limited edition. I was a beginner when I got it and had only sewn on an oldie before that. It was super easy to learn though and I love all the functions and I am able to embroider things with it too! Bonus! Hooping is TRICKY though! I am still learning the best way to do that.

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Andrea

I have 2, my 60's "touch and sew" it's a workhorse & can sew thru ANYTHING! BUt, it's heavy & expensive to fix (not to mention I can't find the bobbins that fit it anymore.

I too bought the Brother "Project Runway" version from Overstock. Yes its refurbished & I do love it's simplicity (no thinking or fussing, just sewing Wheeeee!)

I would recommend Overstock to those (like me!) who live in a community with very little sewing outlets (we only have 1 fabric shop in town!)

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Lauren

I'm completely head over heels for my Babylock Decorators Choice. It's definitely not a cheap machine, but it was a gift from my parents when I graduated college. As far as sergers go, I was crazy lucky and found someone selling a brand new (they had never even opened the box!) Babylock Imagine for $500! Again, not cheap but totally worth the price since I don't have to fiddle with tensions or threading the loopers!

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isewinla

??? since you've got your sewing machine at sew joe stitch lounge(which is closed now), you must live close from me? lol it feels nice to know that who the blogger is! Thank you for many amazing tutorials.

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afwife

I'm using my dad's (yes my dad can sew) Janome 4618 LE on a long term loan basis after I broke the thread tensioner on my light weight Brother and I think it's the perfect beginner's machine. My dad said the salesman showcased it by sewing through a piece of toilet paper without ripping it and sewing straight onto a piece of 1/4 inch leather without stopping. It's gears are aluminum I believe so it's very heavy but rock solid. It has 18 stitch settings, including smocking, automatic buttonholes, several decorative stitches, free arm sewing, half a dozen different presser feet included, ect. I have never had a problem with it. Ever. This machine is at least 15 years old and still runs great, and I've been sewing up a storm since I found this blog with all these adorable little girl clothes. I'm saving up to buy my own machine, but I want one that's a little more advanced, maybe one that will allow me to get into machine quilting or do some basic embroidery on more decorative stitches, but I think I'll definitely be going to the Janome dealer a few towns over when I'm ready to buy.

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Lisa Ann

I have a Singer Merritt? I got it as a $20 goodwill find and although I can only get it to do a straight stitch (can't afford to fix it either)… I love it. I've quilted, sewn my kids some clothes and toys, and made gifts for all of my friends. I wish I had a more reliable machine (one that sews straight!), but I really still am just so thankful for the one I have! Someone just recently gave me their goodwill find and I hope I can get it to work! It's an electric machine that's supposed to be able to do multiple stitches. Unfortunately all it does is a straight stitch the knobs don't work yet, and rubber flies out the side lol…
I'm crazy hooked on sewing and am glad you posted reviews on the machines you like. I doubt I' can save to buy one (2 kids , stay at home mom with a husband in ministry) but if I were to… At least this is a great place to start!

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Kay

I love my Bernina 630. I did a lot of research before I bought it. I learned on a Singer, but the newer ones don't seem to be the same quality. That one was from the 1950s. My mother bought me an old Kenmore at a yard sale. She bought it in the early 1980s, and it was about 20 years old then. It's a good machine, but I haven't used it at all since I bought my Bernina. I should use it for some of my quilting. Maybe I'll try it again one of these days!

Like someone mentioned before, find out what kind of support you have locally. I have two Bernina shops within 40 miles, so that greatly influenced my decision.

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desta

oh man.. i bought my sewing machine brother 2600 in my country (Indonesia, south east asia) about US$284.21 last January and my dearest friend bought the same product about US$189.47 last week and that’s the cheapest from other store (same type) *crying out loud*
but no problem, i love sewing with this machine. very easy to use ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks for sharing by the way..

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