Sewing Machines. Which one is best for a beginner?

As a Sewing Instructor, I get asked frequently for advice on which sewing machine to buy for a beginner. There are so many machines out there these days so I understand how overwhelming it can be. I’ve sewn since I was a teenager so I have sewn on quite a few different machines and brands throughout the years. Hopefully some of my experiences can help make the choice easier for you.

Firstly ask yourself:

  • Do you intend to sew a little or a lot?
  • What is your budget?
  • Machines these days are so much easier for beginners. You could pick up any new machine from Spotlight for $200, plug it in and start sewing with out too many problems so if budget is minimal, this is probably a good option. Also, if you are just wanting to sew a few crafty things, alter your clothes and occasionally use your machine, the department stores machines would probably be ok. However, if you have caught the sewing bug and are wanting to sew every week then I would recommend purchasing a better quality machine.

    The department stores have good machines for beginners at great prices and you can get some good brands too but the department stores won’t give you any follow up service. Once you’ve purchased it and are out the door, that’s it! Where as a dealer will be more than happy to help with follow up questions and if you have any issues.

    You can get good beginner sewing machine from a renowned brand for between the $350 – $600 range. Although they have gone up in price a little since Covid19 lockdowns!

    My go to brands are Janome or Brother. Both of these brands are great for price and quality. Not too cheap, not too expensive. Good quality for the price. Bernina has beautiful machines but they are usually a little expensive, maybe wait until you have a little more experience or a higher budget.

    As a beginner, I wouldn’t be too worried about how many stitches the machine has. You will be really only using straight stitch, zig zag, button hole and perhaps a couple of others for stretch at the moment.

    I would definitley make sure it has the following:

    Built in needle threaders

    Drop in bobbin (Loads from the top for easy access and visibility)

    Thread cutters

    Good lighting (Big plus)

    The difficult question is Mechanical or Computerised?

    I sew on both as I have so many machines at the studio. I love the mechanical for denim and heavier weight fabrics as they often have stronger motors. The mechanical machines have no problem feeding through the fabric. Plus I find topstitching is nicer on the mechanical machine for some reason. The buttonhole is not as nice as the computerised machine, in fact the computerised machines buttonhole would be one reason I would choose the computerised over the mechanical. It is far superior.

    Janome MyExcel 18W

    You can usually find an entry level mechanical machine for about $300 but the one I have at the studio and the one I would pick is Janome Myexcel 18W which is a little more expensive and at the moment has gone up a little in price. It’s usually available for between $450 -$500.

    You can usually pick up an entry level computerised machine starting from $300. As I mentioned above, I would buy one just for the buttonhole but they can be a bit “tinny” if you buy a cheaper machine. You need to spend about $500 -$800 to get a decent quality computerised machine. The automatic functions make sewing super easy. At a touch of a button you can pop the needle up and down, change stitches, reverse just to name a few. It makes the overall sewing experience a dream.

    This computerised machine is what my students use at the studio. Janome DC2150 It retails for about $600

    This is a slightly cheaper version and still a very good beginner machine Janome DC2050

    I have this computerised machine at home and I love it! It is a little higher in price though at about $900

    Janome Sewist 780DC

    I don’t have Brother machines at the moment but have sewn on them in the past.

    A couple worth looking at would be

    Brother NS15 Priced at approx $400

    Computerised Brother A16 approx $500

    You can also find some great second hand machines. I picked up 2 old Bernina’s (approx 25 years old) for a mere $50 and they both sew like a dream. I don’t really need them but I just love them so much I can’t part with them. If you can find a good second hand Bernina grab it! Bernina’s are made in Switzerland and (in my opinion) will last a life time and are excellent machines.

    I could go on and list machines forever, but these are the machines that I have used and can recommend. I’m not affiliated with Janome, I just love their machines (and old Bernina’s).

    I hope this helps you choose your new or second hand machine!

    Happy Sewing x

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