How to choose a sewing machine for beginners

Sewing & Embroidery

The best sewing machine for beginners

The first question that arises in any beginner sewing is: what sewing machine is to buy for beginners? The variety of equipment is so wide that only a person versed in the intricacies of skill can choose the right machine.

Different models have a different number of operations, stitches, and technical capabilities. The exterior design also varies. So before you buy your first sewing machine, you need to think: what do you want from it?

Tips for beginners in choosing a machine

In order not to lose interest in needlework, it should bring pleasure. A sewing machine for beginners is a device on which a beginner should be comfortable working. If this is not the case, sewing causes great difficulty, you have to be nervous, spend a lot of time on each operation. It is unlikely that such a hobby will last long. Therefore, going shopping, you need to decide for yourself what the parameters should be at the machine. It depends on what you plan to do.

To sew the simplest things for the family, bedding, hem curtains, mending clothes, do not go after the machine with many operations and built-in features. Suitable primitive sewing machine. If you plan to master the heights of sewing skills, it is better to buy the expensive multi-functional option right away.

When choosing a machine, you should pay attention to the following technical parameters:

  • type of fabric. The passport of each device indicates what types of fabric it works with. Some of them can handle all fabrics: from the finest to leather. Others are designed to work only with thin or dense materials;
  • automation. Manufacturers produce machines with a different number of automatic operations. There are machines that are fully automated. The choice depends on the convenience, and speed of work of the seamstress;
  • model. The more advanced the technique, the higher its price. It is necessary to pay attention to the prevalence of the brand. The more popular the machine, the easier it is to repair. And vice versa: rare models are less willing to take workshops, their repair can be expensive, and the search for spare parts takes a long time;
  • manufacturer. Machines are produced by many factories in different countries. The model of a less well-known company can cost much cheaper than a machine of a well-known company with the same set of functions. But the quality of assembly, and the operation can also be different. Make a choice, find reviews about the manufacturer, or ask for expert advice.

In addition to these parameters, when buying a machine, you should pay attention to other points.

Number of stitches

Different models can do different numbers of stitches: from 3 to 24 or even more. The choice depends on how the seamstress is going to use the machine. Sometimes a minimum set is enough, and if you want to study sewing in depth will need more features. A minimum set of functions of a sewing machine for beginners:

  • regular straight stitch;
  • zigzag stitch;
  • overcasting for buttonholes.

sewing machine guide

Maximum stitch length and stitch width

The ability to change the length of the stitch determines the neatness of the seam on fabrics of different densities. The best sewing machine for beginners: a model with the function of lengthening the stitch length to at least 5 mm.

It is good when the machine has the function of changing the stitch width “zigzag”.  This will help to accurately handle the seams, and edges of different fabrics, which is convenient for beginners.

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Type of bobbin threading

Machines differ in the type of presser foot, which determines the type of threading of the bobbin. There are variants with vertical and horizontal presser feet.

The difference between them is significant:

  • Vertical. This is a classic option, they were equipped with the very first machines. It is reliable, rarely breaks down, and rarely needs to be replaced;
  • A vertical presser foot is more suitable for thick fabrics. With drape or other “coat” fabrics, the horizontal one simply will not cope;
  • The horizontal presser foot offers a greater number of possible stitches. The vertical model does not have the same variety of stitches;
  • Horizontal prevents the entanglement of upper and lower threads, and does not allow thread breaks when working;
  • The horizontal presser foot is quieter.

Conclusion: if you have to work a lot and often, the vertical device is better for this. If the seamstress wants to sew a lot of different stitches, embroider clothes, show imagination when finishing seams, the horizontal device will do it better.

Necessary sewing operations

If the machine is bought for the most basic operations: sewing simple things, or repairing clothes, it is not necessary to pay for many functions.

The minimum set of the easiest sewing machine for beginners:

  • Straight stitching. All manufactured devices have such a function. Another thing is that different manufacturers do not always have it perfectly straight. Therefore, before buying a test machine, check the evenness of the stitch on different materials.
  • Built-in zigzag stitch function. This stitch is needed to process the edges of the fabric, which prevents them from “shattering”. It is better to buy a model that allows you to change the width of the “zigzag”.
  • Reverse stroke function. Reverse stroke is a convenient operation for fixing the ends of seams.
  • Buttonhole stitching. Loop stitch makes neat buttonholes, beautifully processing slits in the material. The function of different machines can be automatic or semi-automatic. Both options help to make buttonholes beautifully.
  • Adjusting the presser foot. An optional feature, but it is useful if you plan to work with different types of fabric. If you can not change the presser foot strength, it will be convenient to work only with thick or only with thin fabric. If the presser foot is set for thin fabrics, it will be difficult to sew on drapes, and vice versa. The pressure regulator can be manual. It looks like a screw or lever on the back of the presser foot holder. On computerized models, this adjustment is done automatically when the material name is entered into the program.
  • The pinhole functions. This a handy extra option to help you avoid tying a knot at the end of each stitch.

sewing machines for beginners

Depending on the plans of the seamstress, additional accessories will be useful:

  • extended working platform (for working with things of larger sizes);
  • cylindrical nozzle, which is convenient for processing narrow parts (sleeves, bottoms of pants, skirts).
  • It is good if in the complete set of a sewing machine for the beginner will be additional details:
  • a set of additional feet: overstretching, foot for zipper (ordinary and countersunk), assembly, sewing, hemming, Teflon for working with leather;
  • set of spare needles;
  • container for threads;
  • care kit (lubricating oil, oil can, other means).

If these accessories are not available, they can be purchased separately if necessary.

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Choosing a sewing machine

Different machines differ in the set of functions and the type of control. They come in mechanical, electromechanical, or computerized versions.

The first type is rare. These are mostly older models, produced a long time ago. The mechanical drive is a bottom pedal, which must be constantly pressed with the foot, or a knob, for which you have to twist so that the device came to work. Such machines were used by our grandmothers. They are reliable, and long-lasting, but not too convenient to work with. Especially if you have to sew a lot, a long time. My leg gets tired, and the handle on the body takes the right hand of the seamstress. You must hold the fabric and turn the thing with your left hand. Such mechanisms are discontinued in most factories. So there are two basic types in stores: electromechanical and computer.

  • The electromechanical version has an electric drive. The pros of this type: are low price, ease of work, and reliability. It does not require complex repairs, suitable for long continuous operation. Cons: few functions, can not work equally well with all kinds of fabrics.
  • Computer machine – a machine with a computer control unit. Suitable for professional sewing. Its advantages include high speed, automatic adjustment when changing mode, fabric, type of operation, ease of use, equally high-quality stitching on all types of fabrics, and a large set of basic and additional options. But they have their disadvantages. Mainly they relate to the high price, and high cost of repair and replacement parts.

Computerized models are difficult for beginners. You have to study the device itself, its capabilities, and the peculiarities of the settings before you get down to work. Handle them very carefully: the computer unit is a delicate part, it quickly overheats and fails. A lot of continuous sewing on such a machine will not work. If you do a lot of sewing, often, it is better to stop at the electromechanical.

All sewing machines are divided into domestic and industrial.

The main difference between them: are the different capabilities in terms of the volume of work performed.

Households are not able to cope with the industrial quantity of products. If you run such a machine for a full work shift, it will overheat and break. Household appliances can not perform and complex sewing operations, which can easily cope with the industrial.

A distinctive advantage of the domestic version is a large set of operations. It can do different types of stitching, hemming, trimming, assembling, and other types of work. An industrial machine is not capable of this. The main difference between this technique: is the ability to perform only one operation. But it can be done during a whole shift without overheating, without reducing the quality of work.

These types of equipment have different speeds of operation.

Industrial machines perform the operation with an average speed of 5000 stitches per minute. A beginner seamstress simply can not cope with such a machine, which will lead to injury.

They have different noise levels. A professional machine makes loud noises when operating, and this will be a nuisance at home.

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3 common mistakes when choosing a sewing machine

These are the mistakes that make buyers overpay or buy something they don’t want to buy at all. So, here are the most common ones:

  1. I do not need an expensive and functional machine, because I am not a seamstress. Of course, household needs do not need an expensive “fancy” machine. But do not choose the cheapest model, because most likely it will be of poor quality. Devices with a wide range of functions and low prices are extremely suspicious.
  2. It is better to overpay for a horizontal shuttle. This statement is true only for machines with a zigzag width of 6 mm. On devices with a smaller width, there is no difference.
  3. The more expensive, the better. This is also wrong. First, the brand also affects the price increase and many other factors. Also, how smooth the stitching is will not depend on the price. The quality of the stitching is not only depends on the sewing machine itself but also on the settings you set yourself.


Buying a sewing machine should not be spontaneous. Take the time to do your own research, read our sewing machine reviews, and see the machine in action (live or on video). By taking more time to choose a model, you will buy a machine that will not disappoint you for many years of sewing and needlework.

3 Tips what to look for when buying a sewing machine for beginners – Video

Additional Questions

What is the ideal basic sewing machine to purchase?

This question greatly depends on your specific needs and planned usage for the sewing machine. However, as an experienced seamstress, I would recommend Brother CS6000i as a top-notch option for beginners, because of its combination of user-friendly features and excellent performance. Also, buyer’s budget plays a significant role in finalising a purchase decision.

What characteristics should one consider when purchasing a sewing machine?

Several features come in handy when you’re using a sewing machine, especially for garment sewing. Some must-haves in your machine include a zipper foot, overcast stitching foot, buttonhole foot, and a button attaching foot. While many sewing machines come equipped with these features, it’s always good to double-check, especially if you are selecting a lower-priced machine, because they may not have a wide variety of specialty feet. If budget is not a constraint, opting for more expensive sewing machines could provide a broader range of specialized feet ultimately easing your sewing experience. Being in the garment industry for several years, I can confidently say, having these features in your machine can greatly enhance your sewing efficiency and accuracy.

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