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Best sewing machine for beginners 2024: Start creating and mending your own clothes

best sewing machine for beginners header woman pushing material through sewing machine

Flex your stitching fingers with our pick of the best sewing machines for beginners

Neater and more efficient than stitching by hand, the best sewing machines for beginners will be a great introduction to the craft and potentially elevate your garment-making to the heights of haute couture.

However, particularly for complete novices, making that initial choice can be a little daunting – there’s so much specialist language you might not understand yet, and you could find yourself peering at buttons, dials and needles, trying to gauge what connects to which thread. So, a simple machine is often best for a true beginner. Something with a minimal number of basic stitches built into the machine, a top-loading bobbin to avoid getting your thread tangled and a foot pedal so you can run the machine at your own pace.

We were all beginners once, so if you don’t know your A-line from your mermaid cut, and the idea of darting fills you with dread, then don’t worry – we’ve put together a list of the best sewing machines for different budgets, including handheld, child-friendly and even computerised options. Pins in cushions and needles at the ready: let’s get sewing.

Best sewing machines for beginners: At a glance

Best simple sewing machine for beginners Brother LS14S (~£89)Check price at Argos
Best beginner’s sewing machine for long-term useJohn Lewis JL110 (~£135)Check price at John Lewis
Best beginner’s sewing machine for kidsCool Maker Stitch ’N Style (~£35)Check price at Amazon

How to choose the best beginner sewing machine for you

What kind of projects are you using the machine for?

The most common uses for a sewing machine tend to be repairing rips and holes, crafting or embroidery projects, dressmaking and upholstery. It’s best to start with a simple task so that you can get to grips with your machine, though. This could be learning to sew a buttonhole or learning how to hem, making cushion covers or blankets or creating a pocket.

Lightweight fabrics are the best starting point for a sewing beginner. This encompasses cotton, linen, silk, chiffon, lace and felt. Fabrics that are deemed medium weight include velvet, sateen and nylon, while heavyweight fabrics would be denim, wool and suede.

Location plays a part in choosing a sewing machine too. If you’re planning to only use the machine at home, in a single, designated place, then the size and weight will be less important as the machine won’t need to be portable. A heavier machine – one made with metal parts instead of plastic – can often be of better quality.

What else should I look out for?

Threading: There are two threads involved when using a sewing machine, and these come together from two different places to create a seam – the thread from the spool at the top of the machine goes through the needle’s eye, while the thread from the bobbin goes up through the needle plate. Sewing machines with auto-threading will do this fiddly threading process for you, which can be a weight off a beginner’s mind.

Bobbin: A top-loading or drop-in bobbin system (as opposed to a front-loading bobbin) is preferable for beginners, as it means the thread is less likely to get snagged.

Stitches: The basic stitches on a beginner’s machine should really include a straight stitch, a zigzag, a blind hem and a buttonhole. Once you’re a bit more advanced, a couple of other common stitches that you might look for would be a tri-motion stitch, to finish your edges and a stretch stitch.

Pressure: A machine with universal pressure will automatically adjust for different material thicknesses, which takes the decision away from you, making sewing simpler.

Foot pedal: This will be used to regulate the speed of your machine so you can set your own pace. You’ll sometimes find a machine comes with a few different pedals to use on different projects.

Free arm: This is used when dressmaking, and is only needed if you’re planning to sew sleeves and trouser legs.

Storage: Some machines include a space for storing needles, thread, bobbins and folds of material – a great idea if your sewing area is limited, but not essential.

Lastly, if you’re thinking ahead and expect to still be sewing well into the future then it might be worth getting a machine with a few more bells and whistles than you would currently use. That way, when you take your sewing to the next level, you’re already set with a machine that can do the work.

How much should I spend on a beginner’s sewing machine?

While you can find sewing machines for less than £20, these are more likely to be handheld, made with plastic instead of metal parts, and operate more like a toy than a professional piece of kit. At the opposite end of the scale, computerised sewing machines can retail for hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds.

You shouldn’t need to spend over £200 to get a solid beginner’s machine, and many easy-to-navigate machines can be found for under £100 too.

How we test sewing machines

Testing out sewing machines as a beginner is an interesting task. We first get to grips with these machines by reading their instructions (and noting the ease of understanding said instructions), before assessing the set up and performance of each feature, including loading and refilling the bobbin, testing the foot pedal/s and the machine’s buttonhole capabilities.

A sewing machine should be easy and comfortable to use, even for a beginner, so the intuitive aspects of each machine are important. We sew a range of commonly used stitches on different fabrics (and with different thread types), observing how the machine performs in each instance in terms of appearance and regularity. We keep an eye out for skipped stitches, any puckering at the seams, the penetration power of the needle and whether anything happens to the material when the machine is stopped.

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The best sewing machines for beginners to buy in 2024

1. Brother LS14S Manual Stitch: Best simple-to-use sewing machine for beginners

Price when reviewed: £89 | Check price at Argos

best sewing machine for beginners Brother LS14S (1) on a white background

The Brother LS14S is quick and easy to use for hemming and repairs, and perfectly capable of tackling any little mending jobs on light- to medium-weighted fabrics. Reviews mention children aged 9 finding the LS14S easy to use, which suggests it would be a solid choice for a first machine at practically any age.

The chassis is made of metal but, at just over 6kg, it’s still pretty lightweight, especially considering the functionality you get, including fourteen stitch options, a four-step buttonhole, tension adjustment, a reverse switch and a foot control pedal. The drop-in bobbin is placed in the top, instead of at the front, so it’s easy for first-time users to navigate the threading process and avoid any jams.

It’s worth noting that the machine only takes plastic bobbins, and there are just three that are included, so be sure to stock up on the correct ones down the line. The LS14S does come with an instruction manual, but there’s also a smartphone app that accompanies the machines in the Brother range, as well as a DVD, though the latter may be redundant for some customers in this day and age.

Key spec – Size: 35.5 x x 19 x 44.5cm (WDH); Weight: 6.4kg; Number of stitches: 14; Power: Mains powered

2. John Lewis JL110 Sewing Machine: Best beginner’s sewing machine for long-term use

Price when reviewed: £135 | Check price at John Lewis

best sewing machine for beginners John Lewis JL110 on a white background

The hugely popular JL110 sewing machine has tons of functionality for a pretty phenomenal price. Classed as entry-level, it’s user-friendly for sewing beginners and even easy enough for older children (9 years old and upwards) to understand and operate, yet it has plenty of scope for more complex projects too.

The JL110 has a front-loading bobbin mechanism that’s a doddle to set up, along with two dials for selecting stitch length and type from a range of 14 options. It also has a seam ripper, a free arm and both a standard and buttonhole foot. While it doesn’t have a needle threader, the LED light is more than enough to guide your thread.

It’s available in a few different colours – we loved the peppermint green version – and, weighing 6kg, it’s portable enough to move around the house, or take to your sewing circle, should you attend one. That said, the foot pedal and plug are both connected by the same lead, which can be an issue if you can’t set up next to a plug socket or you don’t have an extension cable.

It’s priced on the higher end of our roundup, but the JL110 is a great investment if you’re looking for a longer-term option. It’s also worth noting that it’s manufactured by Janome, which is a trusted brand name in the sewing world.

Key spec – Size: 38.8 x 15.2 x 29.5cm (WDH); Weight: 6kg; Number of stitches: 14; Power: Mains powered

Check price at John Lewis

3. JML Magic Stitch: Best hand-held sewing machine for beginners

Price when reviewed: £13 | Check price at Amazonbest sewing machine for beginners JML Magic Stitch on a white background

About the size and weight of a stapler, the Magic Stitch is a completely cordless, battery-powered, handheld sewing machine that’s been designed primarily for simple stitching. So, while you won’t be using it to make dresses or stitch buttonholes, it will come in handy for quick, everyday sewing tasks.

It’s pretty easy to use, however the machine’s manoeuvrability does take a little getting used to, at least in terms of hand position – it took our resident novice sewer around ten minutes of practice before they managed a somewhat straight line of stitching. That said, the Magic Stitch has a user guide with plenty of diagrams, and there’s also a handy QR code you can scan for an instructional video, though it directs you to the JML blog first.

The Magic Stitch is also the cheapest sewing machine on our list, making it a great option if you’re on a budget, or if you don’t yet know whether sewing is something you want to pursue further.

Key spec – Size: 5.2 x 22.5 x 12.1cm (WDH); Weight: 0.35kg; Number of stitches: 1; Power: 4 x AA batteries (not included)

4. Cool Maker Stitch ‘N Style Pre-Threaded Sewing Machine: Best beginner’s sewing machine for children

Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Amazonbest sewing machine for beginners Cool Maker Stitch n Style on a white background

Children of all ages can learn to sew, but it makes sense to start them off on a machine that’s simple and sized accordingly. We love the bright and shiny design of the Cool Maker Stitch ‘N Style. It is, perhaps predictably, aimed at tweens and young teens but, aside from the cutesy aesthetics, it’s a solid little machine that will easily instruct users through a number of different projects.

The machine comes with a thread cartridge, pre-loaded with 90m of thread and with the pre-threaded needle inside. There are also sticker sheets, colour-coordinated clips and elastics, and it has a little storage drawer at the base. It also includes a sheet of gingham fabric printed with six project patterns, so your young sewer can try their hand at making a sunglasses case, a headscarf or a shoulder bag, right out of the box.

Safety-wise, the machine will automatically sense when there’s fabric beneath the needle, and won’t operate otherwise so there’s little chance of injury. If the kid in your life is already adept at basic stitching with needle and thread, this sewing machine is a great next step.

Key spec – Size: 27.94 x 13.03 x 27.94cm (WDH); Weight: 567g; Number of stitches: 1; Power: 4 x AA batteries (not included)

5. Husqvarna Opal 650: Best computerised sewing machine for beginners

Price when reviewed: £899 | Check price at Sewing Machines Directbest sewing machine for beginners Husqvarna Opal 650 on a white background

Computerised sewing machines cost big bucks but with good reason, and the Husqvarna Opal 650 is an excellent example of this. It’s a high-tech, mid-range machine that’s extremely intuitive and all about saving you both time and effort with your sewing endeavours.

There’s a ton of built-in assistance via a touch-screen graphic display: you can actually see the stitches here before you sew them, and you can utilise the sewing advisor software to choose the correct stitch length, width and style for any fabric. With 160 different stitches on offer, plus three different fonts built in, and seven types of one-step buttonholes, the opportunities for embellished stitching are virtually endless. Plus, you can save your preferred settings for quick access to your favourite stitches.

If you’re not a fan of technology this may not be the machine for you, as you’ll be greeted with an intimidating abundance of buttons and details when you first open up the machine. That said, with plenty of instructional guides and videos available, it’s easy enough to get set up, so long as you have a little patience. If you have a lot of large-scale projects in mind, this could be a worthy investment.

Key spec – Size: 44.5 x 19 x 35.5cm (WDH); Weight: 6.4kg; Number of stitches: 160; Power: Mains powered

Check price at Sewing Machines Direct

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