We spent 20 hours setting up and testing 10 different computerized and mechanical sewing machines. To do that, we went through 12 yards of fabric, 10 spools of thread and more bobbins than we cared to count. Our research and testing showed the Singer Confidence 7640 is the best sewing machine overall because it offers the widest variety of stitches and is still easy to use. It comes with a lot of extra features – a light, nine extra sewing feet and alphanumeric stitches – and it’s reasonably priced.
Singer Confidence 7640
The Singer Confidence 7640 is a sewing machine that can handle almost any project – and it’s an economical buy.
Singer Stylist 7258
The Singer Stylist 7258 is an affordable sewing machine that has a lot of stitch patterns and useful features.
The Juki HZL-LB5100 is a quiet sewing machine that is easy to use and perfect for anyone new to sewing.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Price||Sewing||Design||Accessories||Ease of Use||Sewing Accuracy||Max. Stitches Per Minute||Noise Level||Automatic Stitch Settings||Stitch Patterns||Buttonhole Styles||Integrated Speed Control||LCD Screen||Extension Table||Extra Feet||Cover||Instruction CD|
|Singer Confidence 7640||View Deal||4.5/5||4.3||5||5||3.8||A||A+||750||69.3||✓||200||8||✓||✓||✓||9||Soft||✖|
|Juki HZL-LB5100||View Deal||4.5/5||4.5||5||4||3.4||A+||B||700||62.3||✓||100||3||✓||✓||✖||5||Hard||✓|
|Singer Stylist 7258||View Deal||4/5||4.8||3.5||4||5||B||D+||750||69.9||✓||100||6||✓||✓||✖||9||Soft||✓|
|Janome JW8100||View Deal||4/5||3.3||4.8||5||2.2||A||B+||750||66.9||✓||100||7||✓||✓||✓||5||Hard||✖|
|Janome 8050||View Deal||3.5/5||5||3.7||4||1.3||B+||D||820||65.6||✓||50||3||✓||✓||✖||3||Soft||✖|
|Brother CS6000i||View Deal||3.5/5||4||3.2||5||2.9||D-||C+||850||67.7||✓||60||7||✓||✓||✓||7||Hard||✖|
|Brother XR9500PRW||View Deal||3.5/5||3||3.4||5||2.5||B-||D||850||66.2||✓||155||8||✓||✓||✓||6||Hard||✖|
|Juki HZL-355ZW-A||View Deal||2.5/5||3.7||2.4||0||2.5||A||F||750||68.9||✖||26||1||✖||✖||✖||3||Hard||✓|
|Singer 4423 Heavy Duty||View Deal||2.5/5||3||3||0||1.3||B+||B-||1100||41.4||✖||23||1||✖||✖||✖||3||Soft||✖|
|Elna eXplore 240||2/5||3.8||1.9||0||1.7||F||C+||800||70.1||✖||24||1||✖||✖||✖||4||Soft||✖|
This sleek, affordable sewing machine was well-liked by our testers and comes with a lot of features to make any sewing endeavor fun and easy.
With 200 stitch patterns, including alphanumeric stitches and eight styles of buttonholes, it has the most of any we tested and still comes at a reasonable price. It can also sew up to 750 stitches per minute accurately. Our testers gave it an A+ for sewing accuracy and an A for ease of use.
The computerized Confidence 7640 has automatic stitch settings, but the one downside to this machine is the location of the stitch key. Instead of listing them right on the front of the machine, they’re on a separate card, which is a little inconvenient. Aside from that, it has several great features like a sewing light, extension table, thread cutter and automatic needle threader. It comes with nine extra sewing feet, including an even feed walking foot, saving you money. Speed control is also built into the machine, along with a start/stop button so the fabric you’re working on won’t get away from you if you press too hard on the foot pedal. Every time you start sewing though, the first couple of stitches are slow to ensure an accurate line.
This sewing machine put out 69.3 decibels of sound at full speed, so it wasn’t the quietest but it also wasn’t the loudest we tested. The alphanumeric stitches really make this machine stand out and can be entered into the machine’s memory. Essentially, you can program the machine to sew out a sentence while you sit back and watch. This Singer can sew so many different stitches, you’re never going to run out and it’s all-around easy to use, making it our best overall pick.
This Singer sewing machine can do a lot but doesn’t have a price tag to match. Isn’t that fantastic? It comes programmed with 100 different stitch patterns, including six different styles of buttonholes.
You have a lot to pick from, whether it's a basic straight stitch or something decorative. All the stitches are preset in the machine, though you can alter the width and length manually on the sewing machine's LCD screen.
This computerized sewing machine has integrated speed control along with a stop/start button, so you don’t have to use the pedal at all if you don’t want to. It can reach a maximum of 750 stitches per minute and our reviewers gave it a grade of B for ease of use. It has a little bit of a high-pitched motor and makes 69.9 decibels of sound at its highest speed. It might not be the quietest sewing machine, but the teal color on the front of the machine is a nice design element that makes the Stylist 7258 stand out.
Along with a lot of stitch patterns this machine has a sewing light, thread cutter, instructional DVD, soft case for storage, automatic needle threader and a whopping nine extra sewing feet. Other sewing accessories like a seam ripper and extra bobbins are also included.
Best for Beginners
Even if you’ve never touched a sewing machine before, you will be able to figure out how to use this one.
To use the different preprogrammed stitches, you simply reference the stitch key on the front of the machine. Then you change the number on the LCD screen to match the kind of stitch you want. There are 100 to pick from so the odds of having just what you need for your project are high. Along with extra accessories like bobbins and a lint brush, this sewing machine comes with five extra sewing feet and an instruction DVD you can follow along with if you're new to the hobby.
Our testers really liked this machine and encountered few problems, giving it an A+ for ease of use and a B for sewing accuracy. It can only sew 700 stitches per minute, but most novice sewers probably won’t want to fly through their first projects anyway. At its fastest, this machine only put out 62.3 decibels of sound, making it the quietest one we tested. The average refrigerator puts out about 50 decibels, and this sewing machine isn't much louder.
The drop-in bobbin is easy to install, but we did notice winding it takes twice as much time as most of the machines we tested. Still, waiting a full two minutes for a bobbin to wind probably won't bother most new sewers who are just learning how to thread the sewing machine anyway. It also has an automatic needle threader to make setting up even easier, along with a sewing light and thread cutter.
Best for Heavy Duty Sewing
The Singer 4423 Heavy Duty really lives up to its name.
Sewing an incredible 1,100 stitches per minute, this mechanical sewing machine has some serious muscle. During our tests we tried sewing through four layers of denim on this machine and it worked just as well as on two layers of cotton. It only has 23 stitch patterns, but if power is your priority then you don’t need hundreds of frilly stitches. We noticed some puckering while working with satin but overall this machine works really well, it just lacks some of the fancier features of computerized models. All that power means this sewing machine is by no means dainty: it hit 71.4 decibels sewing at its fastest, the loudest of the machines we tested. However, this sewing machine is ideal for your heavy duty sewing projects.
Best for the Basics
The Janome 8050 has 50 different stitch patterns and is easy to use, making it great for keeping your family’s wardrobe fresh.
You can add buttons with this sewing machine’s three different styles of buttonholes or hem skirts and pants with commonplace stitches. While you’re sewing, tap the needle placement button to send it to either its highest or lowest point, making for tight turns and secure stitches. At 820 stitches per minute, you’re sure to get through any garment repairs or quick touch ups quickly. The stitch key is right on the front of the sewing machine, making it impossible to lose. You get three extra sewing feet and a handful of sewing accessories as well, making this sewing machine worth its slightly higher price tag.
Why Trust Us
We have been reviewing sewing machines since 2013, so we know our way around a bobbin. During testing and research, we evaluated machines that aren’t super expensive and would work well for someone fairly new to the hobby or even someone who has been doing it for a while but is looking to upgrade their current model.
Brooke Johnsen lives in Utah and sews almost every day. She said it’s important to get a machine to meet your own needs whether it’s quilting, embroidery or just repairing the occasional pair of pants.
“I would say less is more to be honest,” she said. “The very first machine I had, had 150 decorative stitches. Some had good uses but most were just decorative. Like if I were to use that design across my whole quilt, it would take so long."
According to a representative for JOANN Fabric & Craft Stores, you should test drive any sewing machine before you buy it.
“The sewing machine needs to work for what the customer wants to do, and be easy for them to understand,” they said. “Metal inner parts are best as the machine is less likely to break and will run more smoothly. However, other factors should be based on personal preference.”
How We Tested
We bought 3 yards of white cotton, 3 yards of white denim and 3 yards of white satin. Then we cut the fabrics into smaller pieces, some of which had curved edges, and divided them among four testers. Each tester used all 10 machines to sew at least one line of straight stitch and one line of decorative stitch along each type of fabric. Most testers did more than that though, with a couple even making buttonholes. All the testers had access to each machine’s instruction manual.
When sewing on denim, we switched the needle the machine came with for a heavy duty one purchased at a fabric store. One thing we noticed in switching out needles repeatedly is a slick layer of clear oil. While it didn’t discolor any of our white fabric, it did leave our fingers quite slippery, so you’ll want to wipe your hands off before handling any delicate fabric just in case. We also sewed a straight stitch around the curved edge of a piece of fabric to see how easy it was to maneuver. In doing this, we tested each machine’s settings to see how intuitive the machine was and whether it struggled with any particular kind of stitch.
Noise comes from machine motor and needle mechanism going up and down, so we used a sound pressure level (decibel) meter to record how loud the machines are when going at full speed – the loudest operation. We were careful to hold the decibel meter in the same place for each sound reading.
How Much Do Sewing Machines Cost?
If money is no object, you can find high-tech sewing machines on the market for more than $1,000. However, we tested 10 more affordable models that cost an average of $244. The computerized models tend to cost more than the mechanical ones, but that’s not always the case so shop around. Some sewing machines come with supplies like needles and seam rippers, which can cost around $5 when purchased separately. Extra sewing feet can be purchased separately as well. A pack of about 30 will cost you about $25 but some specialized feet for quilting can cost $30 just for one.
If you're a novice sewer, you can watch YouTube videos to help you get started. But even if you're an experienced sewer, you can benefit from creative, interesting sewing videos. We’ve compiled a list of the best YouTube channels that can help you take your sewing to the next level.
Made to Sew is ideal for beginners because it includes videos about threading and using your sewing machine. There are also videos about how to replace the needle and what kind of thread to use. This channel covers just about everything.
Joycy is a channel for experienced sewers. It doesn't get into the nitty-gritty of every project, but it has lots of unique outfit ideas.
If you prefer using a pattern, check out McCall Patterns, which has a wonderful series of videos called Learn to Fit with Melissa Watson. These detailed videos show you how to fit, cut and sew several kinds of patterns, making them great for people who are new to the hobby.
Stitchless TV isn’t a very polished YouTube channel, but it’s incredibly informative. The videos tell you all about sewing each project as well as measuring and handling the fabric.
Angela Clayton shows you, step by step, how to sew a wide variety of old-fashioned garments, ranging from Edwardian ball gowns to 1940s coats. This is a really fun channel for people who are interested in making costumes.
Choosing a Sewing Machine: Computerized vs. Mechanical
Modern computerized sewing machines have a lot of perks, especially if you’re a newbie. Stitch settings change automatically rather than having to do so manually, as you would with most mechanical machines. On the other hand, mechanical sewing machines tend to feel sturdier and cost less, making them ideal if you deal with high volume sewing on tough, thick fabrics. In general, you should always try to test a sewing machine before you buy it and ultimately purchase one that feels good to you.
Most modern computerized sewing machines with a moderate price tag come standard with a few features: a sewing light, automatic needle threader, thread cutter, a free arm for sewing around the cuffs of sleeves or pant legs and drop-in bobbin. You’ll need to decide how you’ll use the sewing machine to prioritize what other features you want. If you’re going to quilt you’ll want an extension table but if you’re just going to be doing basic garment repair you could forgo most of the frills and get a less expensive mechanical machine. Read the packaging closely as well to see how many sewing feet come with the sewing machine because it will to save you money.