Use this buying guide to walk through the eight things you should consider before you buy a beginner sewing machine. This buying guide helps you find the best match when shopping brands like Brother, Janome, Singer, Juki and more.

We’ve put together our notes on these factors in a buying guide chart below.  Read through it to prepare yourself for finding the right machine or print the page and make notes as you browse sewing machine reviews, learn about features, and identify the best brands and models for you.

Factor Guide
Quality Many of today’s basic sewing machines are made with a significant amount of plastic.  Not only does this save on manufacturing costs but it also makes sewing machines more portable.

The downside is that cheap sewing machines break down more easily than the ones made years ago from all metal.

No matter how much you decide to spend you should make sure to get the highest quality machine possible for your money.  Avoid cheaply constructed sewing machines, substandard plastic parts, and machines made to be “cute” but not really sturdy.

Buttons, levers, feeders, and feet should all be easy to reach, easy to clean and easy to attach.  Settings and accessories should feel as if they are security attached, not loose.  Bobbins should sit snugly on the spindle but not so tight that they can’t freely be unspooled by the machine.

Brand When I was a kid, you sewed with Singer or you didn’t sew at all.  There are far more brands to choose from than ever before.  While Singer is still on the list, other popular brands include Brother, Bernina, Pfaff, Jenome, Husqvarna Viking, and Simplicity.

Some of these brands run anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.  The more expensive machines are intended for retail- quality work.  Brother, Singer, and Janome make some of the best sewing machines for beginners.

Functionality For clothes mending, utility stitches like a straight stitch, zigzag stitch and a blind hem stitch are sufficient along with the ability to do free-arm sewing (where the extension table removes so you can fit pant legs and sleeves under the needle).

To do any quilting, look for more decorative stitches, a walking foot (a presser foot that provides feed dog pressure from the top to assist in moving layers of fabric) and a hand-quilt machine stitch.

For embroidering with a sewing machine either look specifically at embroidery machines with hoop attachments or at least a sewing machine with a drop feed dog system so you can do free motion embroidery.

Dressmakers should focus on utility stitches, buttonhole features, and the capacity to handle stretch fabrics like knits and thick layers of material.

Price You could spend thousands of dollars and get the colossal do-it-all machine, but will you need it?  Instead, some of the best sewing machines for beginners run less than $300 and include lots of automation and beautiful, decorative stitches.
Portability Those who sew don’t always do so at home.  A machine in a carrying case makes it easy to take the machine wherever you go.  Decide up front whether or not you need a carrying case and take the weight of the machine into consideration.  Just because it can be put in a case doesn’t mean you can really carry it all that easily unless you go for a light weight machine.   On the other hand, light-weight machines aren’t the best if you will be working with heavy fabric.  Stiff denims and heavy duty fabrics can push a light machine around while you work making your task more difficult.
Computerized I’m a gadget-girl.  One look at buttons and LCD display panels and I’m all in but computerized sewing machines take more time to learn and their increased functionality also means more opportunity for machine breakdown.  Sure, they look cool but will you really need all of those options?

Think about the person who will be using the machine and consider whether or not a computerized model will frustrate their progress or make their life easier.  Sometimes a tool that does too much doesn’t really help you learn.  If the recipient is a qualified button geek themselves, though, they may become more involved in learning because they can tap into their technical expertise to tackle bigger projects.

Size Do you have a spot in mind for the sewing machine?  How big is the space?  You can find the size, height, and width dimensions of all machines before you purchase.  Keep those in mind if you’re limited as to placement.
Warranty The more you spend, the more important the manufacturer’s warranty becomes.  No one enjoys spending a great deal of money on a new appliance only to have it break down after a month.  Worse is when the part that breaks isn’t covered by any warranty.

Once you’ve considered the eight factors in the buying guide, read up on different Sewing Machines Features and use our Sewing Machine Wizard to find and compare machines that match your needs.