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Beginner Sewing Machine Buying Guide

Buying a beginner sewing machine is an exciting decision that will impact your future in wonderful ways, but only if you choose a good beginner machine.

There is a huge difference between a great sewing machine and a not-so-great machine

The difference a well designed machine makes to a sewing beginner’s journey will save an enormous amount of frustration.  With a good machine, you will enjoy the process and learn to sew without trouble. With a poorly designed nightmare of a machine, your progress will not be near as fast. That is, if you progress at all; many beginners have thrown up their hands and given up on learning to sew thanks to an overly complicated or inferior beginner sewing machine, and this is a shame.

I’m speaking from experience here. If someone had told me these things I could have been spared an awful lot of trouble and tears. I’m not exaggerating to say tears, either; I not only cried but also screamed and wanted to tear out my hair in frustration when I was learning to sew. Learning to sew seemed so hard to do, but this was only because I was trying to teach myself on a terrible machine. I bought it at the same store where I shopped for groceries and it was, to put it mildly, a piece of junk!

If I had only known that I could have bought a much better machine for about the same amount of money, I could have enjoyed my beginner sewing experiences so much more. I’d love to save someone else that same trouble.

Start with a mechanical model sewing machine

My first recommendation is to start with a mechanical-only model. There are awesome computerized and electrical sewing machines available, and soon you will definitely want to add one of these to your collection, too. But I recommend you start with a mechanical model for two reasons.

First of all, you don’t want to confuse yourself with too many options and features when you first start sewing. I think it is best to focus on learning the basics of sewing on a good, basic machine.

And perhaps more importantly, you need to have a mechanical back-up machine in your collection before you buy an electronic or computerized machine. That’s because computerized machines require regular maintenance that you cannot do yourself. Nor can you repair any problem that might arise on a computerized machine at home.

When your machine is away, sometimes for as long as a few weeks, you cannot sew—unless you have a mechanical backup. So I think this needs to be the first sewing machine you buy.

I’d think I was sewing and then realize that I was sewing without thread! Argh, this is what made me scream and want to tear out my hair when using that machine!

Don’t buy a beginner sewing machine without these features:

Built-in needle threader

You’ll be threading your machine every time you sew.  With an easy machine, you are going to love sewing and want to make lots of things, so you will thread your machine thousands or even ten-thousands of times.

Save yourself a lot of time and trouble by getting a machine with a handy dandy built-in needle threader. Even if you are young with great eyesight and steady hands, this will still make needle threading go a lot faster for you. I wouldn’t buy a machine without this feature.

Top loading drop-in bobbin

The poorly designed bobbin system was the thing that caused me the most frustration on my first sewing machine. On that thing, the bobbin was concealed inside the front of the machine. To change it, I had to take the case off the front and then remove the bobbin casing to get to the bobbin which was held vertically inside.

Besides all those extra steps, the problem with this system was that there was no way to see that my bobbin was running low on thread. So what would happen is that my bobbin would run out without me knowing it. I’d think I was sewing and then realize that I was sewing without thread! Argh, this is what made me scream and want to tear out my hair when using that machine! I’d have to remove my project from the machine, rewind and replace the bobbin, and then start all over again. NOT fun!

A top loading bobbin system is so much better. With this system, the bobbin just pops out and drops into place without your having to disassemble a bobbin casing to get to it. Even better, this kind of system is accompanied by a see through cover plate. So you can see at a glance when your bobbin thread is low. Believe me, you want to get a machine with this feature.

Free arm capability

With a free arm, you can sew narrow, round garment pieces such as sleeves and pant hems. If a sewing machine won’t convert to free arm sewing you can’t sew these things easily, if at all.

As a beginner sewist, you will want to make many small projects. That’s because they are easy and satisfying, not to mention useful. Not having the ability for free arm sewing is unnecessarily limiting. There are basic beginner sewing machines that do limit you in this way. Be sure the machine you buy includes this important feature.

My recommendations for your beginner sewing machine:

I always recommend Janome brand machines. That is because I have seen for myself that Janome offers the best quality and the best value, by far. From my experiences with my own nightmare first machine to my experiences helping others with frustrating machines when I teach sewing classes, I have seen clearly that there is a big difference in user friendliness between different makes of machines. I can’t imagine buying any other brand and I recommend them as being the best choice for beginners and experienced sewists alike.

1. Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine, Lightweight, Full Featured, 27 Stitches, 6 Included Feet _ https://amzn.to/35zQSvo
This Brother machine is perfect for multiple everyday sewing projects. Featuring a full range of user-friendly features and a lightweight design, the Brother XM2701 is perfect for beginners who are learning to sew and more advanced sewers who are looking for versatility.
The Brother XM2701 sewing machine offers 27 built-in stitches including blind hem, decorative, and quilting stitches with an automatic one-step buttonholer for virtually perfect buttonholes. The XM2701 has been engineered for easy use, featuring 6 quick-change sewing feet, including buttonhole, zipper, zigzag, narrow hemmer, blind stitch, and button sewing feet. Users will enjoy the ease of sewing cuffs, sleeves, and pant legs with the built-in free arm.

2. Brother CS5055PRW Sewing Machine, Project Runway, 50 Built-in Stitches, LCD Display, 7 Included Feet _ https://amzn.to/3iD9oqg
Create high-end fashions at an affordable price, with this incredibly easy to learn and use, exclusive Brother Project Runway computerized sewing machine. The CS5055PRW offers complete couture-level solutions to help you leverage your sense of style into one-of-a-kind, runway-ready fashions! Experience easy, reliable threading of both top and bottom threads; virtually effortless sewing on a wide range of fabrics, and the ability to add professional quality buttonholes, zippers, decorative top stitching and neat, overcasting edges to your favorite creations. The CS5055PRW includes 50 built-in stitches that cover a wide range of utility, decorative, heirloom and quilting stitch functions, and your entire selection of built-in stitches is printed on the front your machine, for easy reference. Simply select your desired stitch on the informative LCD display screen and adjust the stitch to your specific needs.

3.Brother 1034D Serger, Heavy-Duty Metal Frame Overlock Machine, 1,300 Stitches Per Minute, Removeable Trim Trap, 3 Included Accessory Feet _ https://amzn.to/2FfH1jR

Designed for finishing the edges and hems of a wide range of fabrics, including formal wear, linens and stretchy fabrics, and for creating ruffles and decorative edges, the Brother 1034D Serger is the perfect addition to any sewing room. This reliable, easy to learn and use 3 or 4 thread serger features 22 stitch functions, and snap-on, interchangeable creative feet. Stitch options include 4 thread overlock, 3 thread overlock, narrow hem, rolled hem, and ribbon lock stitches. With its differential fabric feed, the 1034D helps you achieve better stitch quality, for a more even, professional finish, even on very thin or stretchy fabrics. Threading is easy, with the color-coded upper thread guides and lower looper threading system. Plus, the included snap-on presser feet allow for quick and easy changes to transition to each desired stitch.


4. Brother SE600 Sewing and Embroidery Machine, 80 Designs, 103 Built-In Stitches, Computerized, 4″ x 4″ Hoop Area, 3.2″ LCD Touchscreen Display, 7 Included Feet _ https://amzn.to/3kb942A

The Brother SE600 two-in-one sewing and embroidery machines allows you to bring creativity to life with ease. This 4” x 4” embroidery machine is packed with enhanced technology and multiple customizable features that streamline your sewing and embroidery. This computerized sewing and embroidery machine allows you to view embroidery designs in full color on the large 3.7″” Sew Smart color LCD touchscreen display and preview your design edits on the screen before stitching. This machine also comes with expanded embroidery design-editing features, including the ability to change individual thread colors, place lettering in an arc, move designs on the touchscreen display with the touch of a finger, and much more.

The SE600 has additional built-in features to simplify the design process. You can choose from 80 fresh and inspiring embroidery designs or import your own designs through the USB port. The sewing features include 103 versatile built-in sewing stitches, needle up/down and variable speed controls, and a drop feed for creative free-motion sewing. The expanded 6.4″”(W) x 4.1″”(H) needle-to-arm workspace allows more room for folding quilts and bulkier projects to the right of the needle for easier sewing.

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