Best sewing machines for beginners: 7 machines to get you started with the hobby

Our round-up of the best sewing machines for beginners features simple machines to suit every budget

a comp image of the best sewing machines for beginners including models from john lewis, singer and hobbycraft
(Image credit: Future / Singer / John Lewis / Hobbycraft)

In our guide to the best sewing machines for beginners, we share the simple models that will help you get started on your sewing journey - whether you're a complete newbie, or are returning to the craft after years away.

The best sewing machines out there can be complex, with advanced functions and a plethora of complicated stitches. Plus, they can also be very pricey. So if you're just starting out sewing, a basic model is a great idea. The best sewing machines for beginners are still great-performing gadgets with helpful features that will allow you to sew a range of beautiful creations - they're just a little bit easier to use. 

With simple stitches and easy interfaces, our craft expert, Esme Clemo, has reviewed the best models to suit all budgets.

How we tested the best sewing machines for beginners 

Our craft expert, Esme Clemo, puts the sewing machines through a rigorous stitch test. Here are the key criteria we used while assessing the machines.

How it looks and feels: First impressions count, so the judging begins the moment we open the box, from how it looks to how much it weighs and feels to be carried around.

Instructions: Then we review the instructions to see if they are understandable for a beginner, especially if they include step-by-step diagrams.

Performance and stitch range: While setting up the machine, we make a note of any complications in the threading process that might make this an inappropriate sewing machine for beginners. We then practice sewing on different fabrics, from slippery satin to heavy denim and thick fleece, running through most of the stitches at the same time. For most beginner sewing machines, we can test the whole stitch range but some models have over 100 stitches, so for these, we test the basic stitches, buttonholes, and several decorative options.

Often we’ll test the machine for a full month before writing up the review, so we’ll have plenty of time to use the machine to complete a full project or garment, putting it through its paces for an extended period of time. 

The best sewing machines for beginners as tested by our expert

These tried and tested machines are the very best ones on the market for beginners. However, if you're looking for anything more niche, or up from a beginner level—such as those that want to get adventurous with their stitching or even just vary the width of stitches—we’d recommend taking a look at our best sewing machines for quilting guide.

Janome sewing machine

(Image credit: Janome)

1. Janome 2200XT

The best beginner sewing machine overall

Specifications

RRP: $232 / £189
Size: W39 x D15 x H28cm
Weight: 6kg
Amount of stitches: 22 built-in stitches (including one buttonhole)
Sewing machine type: Mechanical sewing machine
Warranty: Two years (an additional three years can be purchased)

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price point
+
Good selection of stitches
+
Has all the features a beginner would need

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t have variable stitch widths

Our top beginner sewing machine is the Janome 2200XT. It has all the features a beginner sewer could need, with 22 built-in stitches, including a four-step buttonhole, variable stitch lengths and a convenient thread cutter. A detailed stitch chart on the front of the machine makes it easy to select your chosen stitch and start sewing. Simple dials on the front of the machine control the stitch length and the stitch selection.

For those who want to try out some new sewing skills, the Janome 2200XT has some hidden talents. You can easily drop the feed dogs to have a go at freehand embroidery, or convert the flat bed into a free arm for some circular sewing. This is particularly useful for sewing trouser hems or shirt cuffs. 

Janome’s snap-on presser feet are another major selling point, easy to remove and replace with a wide range of accessories to tackle different sewing jobs. Included with this model is the hemmer foot, overcasting foot, satin-stitch foot, sliding-buttonhole foot, standard foot and zipper foot. You can purchase extra accessories for when your sewing projects demand technical feet.  

If you’re interested in speed, this model can produce 750 stitches per minute, so it’s anything but slow if you’re stitching to a deadline. It's a great all-rounder that delivers on style too.

Pfaff passport sewing machine

(Image credit: Pfaff)

2. Pfaff Passport 3.0

The best premium beginner sewing machine

Specifications

RRP: $851 / £619
Size: W38 x H28cm
Weight: 6.7kg
Amount of stitches: 100 built-in stitches (including four buttonholes)
Sewing machine type: Computerised sewing machine
Warranty: Five years

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and portable
+
Original IDT system
+
Quick and simple to sew with

Reasons to avoid

-
The most expensive model we've tested

Blow your budget on the Pfaff Passport 3.0 and you won’t be disappointed. While its features and functions are more suited to confident stitchers or those looking to replace their existing machine, it’s also suitable for a beginner because it’s so easy to use. This machine boasts a vast amount of stitches and its computerized elements make it quick and simple to sew with. 

The Original IDT System ensures fabric is pulled evenly from top and bottom to create perfect stitching every time. The automatic tie-off knots your stitches and the built-in thread snips cuts the top and bobbin threads to the back of the fabric for an invisible finish. With this machine, all the hard work is done for you. This is an investment buy (it's certainly pricey) that ticks all the boxes.

Brother sewing machine

(Image credit: Brother)

3. Brother L14S

The best budget beginner sewing machine

Specifications

RRP: $122.39 / £105
Size: W39cm x H29cm
Weight: 6kg
Amount of stitches: 14 built-in stitches (including one buttonhole)
Sewing machine type: Mechanical sewing machine
Warranty: Three years

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish finish on casing
+
Easy to use
+
An affordable price

Reasons to avoid

-
Fewer stitch options

New to sewing as one of the most fun hobbies for women, and not even sure if you’re going to carry on? This would be the machine for you. The bargain price teamed with the limited stitch options makes this a perfect first sewing machine for a young adult or someone that’s still working out if sewing is for them. At just $122 / £89, you don’t get a lot of features for your money. Look closely and you realize that the stitch options are mostly made up of straight and zigzag stitches in various lengths, widths and needle positions. 

The stitch sizes are fixed on this machine and, with only a small selection of presser feet, it’s quite restricted in terms of what it can do. But don’t be put off by the bargain price, as should you only want the basic stitches, this machine is just as powerful as some of the more expensive sewing machines out there and built with a strong aluminium chassis to keep stitches perfectly aligned at top speeds. Sure, it might have rudimentary features but what it can do, it does well, making it one of the best sewing machines for beginners.

Necchi sewing machine

(Image credit: Freemans)
The best value-for-money beginner sewing machine

Specifications

RRP: $548 / £309.99
Size: W45cm x H30cm
Weight: 6.4kg
Amount of stitches: 200 built-in stitches (including eight buttonholes)
Sewing machine type: Computerised sewing machine
Warranty: Three years

Reasons to buy

+
Striking colour and design
+
Great range of decorative stitches
+
Optional accessories 

Reasons to avoid

-
Lesser-known brand

For a machine that’s as stylish as it is practical, the Necchi NC-102D delivers on both looks and features. With 200 utility and decorative stitches, including an alphanumeric stitch range, this model boasts a wide range of functions for a mid-level price tag. Plus, it comes with nine presser feet, a memory function for the tech-savvy stitcher, and simple button controls to start/ stop, mute sounds, lock stitch and needle up/down. 

If that’s not enough, there are a number of optional accessories that make this sewing machine work even harder. Add on the walking foot and extension table, and the Necchi NC-102D is transformed into the perfect model for quilting. This machine is for the stitcher who wants to have (and try) it all without breaking the bank. It's everything you could want and need in a sewing machine, and then some.

See our full Necchi NC-102D review

sewing machine

(Image credit: Singer)

5. Singer Tradition 2250

The best compact beginner sewing machine

Specifications

RRP: $192 / £150
Size: W37.3 x D16.2 x H21.6cm
Weight: 6.2kg
Amount of stitches: 10 built-in stitches (including one buttonhole)
Sewing machine type: Mechanical sewing machine
Warranty: Two years

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to store
+
Simple controls
+
All the features a beginner would need

Reasons to avoid

-
Fewer stitches

In the sewing world, size matters. So, when considering what sewing machine to buy, you should always measure up your sewing space and the place you intend to store it. Sewing machines are getting bigger as the demand for quilting models and larger flat beds increases. But if you’re looking for a compact model that can stitch just as well as a regular-size sewing machine, the Singer Tradition 2250 does just that.

This mini machine has a small range of stitches, but they can all be adjusted on the length dial to suit your sewing needs. A reverse button at the front of the machine allows for reverse stitching and the removable flat bed provides ample storage space while also revealing a free arm for circular sewing projects. It has all the basic features a beginner could need, just in a much smaller package, to prove that the best things really do come in small packages.

John Lewis JL110 Sewing Machine in Aqua

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

6. John Lewis JL110

The best beginner sewing machine for the style-conscious

Specifications

RRP: £135 (UK only)
Size: W38.8 x D15.2 x H29.5cm
Weight: 6kg
Amount of stitches: 14 built-in stitches (including one buttonhole)
Sewing machine type: Mechanical sewing machine
Warranty: Two years included

Reasons to buy

+
Available in multiple colours
+
Clearly labelled controls
+
All the features a beginner would need

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for heavyweight fabrics
-
No thread cutter

For those who like their stitching and their sewing machine to stand out from the crowd, take a look at John Lewis’s JL110 model. Currently available in Aqua, Yellow, Candy Pink, Peppermint, Modern Grey, Ruby Red, and even white for the traditionalists, there really is a colour to suit all tastes. But it’s not all about looks. So, how did the JL110 sewing machine perform when I put it to the test?

The machine more than exceeded our expectations. It’s straightforward to use, with a traditional mechanical setup to select stitches and stitch lengths. I’ve never been a fan of a front-loaded bobbin, but it worked smoothly and threading the machine was simple. When testing out different fabrics, it stitched through light and medium weights easily but struggled to go through thicker layers of denim and fleece.

If you want a machine that looks good and won’t blow your budget, the JL110 is the machine for you.

Hobbycraft 19S Sewing Machine

(Image credit: Hobbycraft)

7. Hobbycraft 19S

The simplest machine for beginner sewers to use

Specifications

RRP: £80 (UK only)
Size: W37 x D17 x H29cm
Weight: 8kg
Amount of stitches: 19 built-in stitches (including one buttonhole)
Sewing machine type: Mechanical sewing machine
Warranty: Two years included

Reasons to buy

+
Cheapest model we have tested
+
Works well with stretchy and heavyweight fabrics
+
Easy-to-read large stitch selector

Reasons to avoid

-
Tricky four-step buttonhole

How to choose the best sewing machine if you're just starting out

Beginner models are perfect for those who haven't sewed before or who are still honing their craft. They also work well for those who prefer to work with simpler stitches, rather than something more complex or decorative. But how do you know which one is right for you and your specific needs?

There are a few different things to take into consideration when choosing the best beginner sewing machine for you:

  • Price—even for a beginner, the cheaper sewing machine options aren’t necessarily the best choice. “For beginners, I usually recommend a Janome or Brother, costing anywhere between £100-£350,” suggests Lisa Comfort from Sew Over It, an independent pattern company. There are some great options available for less than £100. But for a machine that’s good value-for-money, you should consider spending a little more.
  • Mechanical or computerized—mechanical models are our beginner go-to as they’re very simple to use and will have a basic set of stitches to choose from. Alternatively, a computerized machine—one that’s able to tackle more intricate and complex tasks—will keep up with you as your sewing confidence increases.
  • Stitch types & extra features—"really think about what you want to use it for,” says Kate Underdown from The Fold Line. “Many of the machines come with hundreds of decorative stitches, which is lovely if you'll use them but, if you don't, why pay more for a machine that has this feature?” Don’t get wowed by all the amount of stitches on offer—choose the option that won't overwhelm you as a beginner.
  • Extra features—look for the additional features that will actually make your life easier. An integrated thread cutter will save you looking for your scissors, while an automatic threader function means you’ll never be looking for the eye of the needle.

The Hobbycraft 19S model might be cheap but its performance is anything but. This weighty model is incredibly sturdy, making it ideal for working on bigger projects with multiple layers - think hemming denim jeans or stitching a dense quilt design. 

As a beginner sewing machine, £80 is the perfect price point to start you off on your sewing journey and it has all the features you could need to get started on simple projects. There are even some decorative stitch options too, so there’s plenty to experiment with once you’re a confident sewer. 

Design-wise, the chunky dials and levers might not be to everyone’s taste, but they make it incredibly easy to use the machine, as does the large font on the stitch selector so you can be sure what you’ve chosen. Should the look of your device be a determining factor, look at the pretty green Pistachio version to help you decide.

What is the best cheap sewing machine for beginners?

There are plenty of options to choose from if you have a small budget, some of our favourite models come in under £100. Try the Brother L14S, at just $122/£89 it’s one of the simplest sewing machines for beginners, with basic stitching and easy-to-use controls. Want your money to go a little further? We love the Hobbycraft 19S, it’s cheaper at only £80 (UK only) and boasts nine more stitches.

What is the best sewing machine for making clothes if you're a beginner?

If you’re a beginner sewer, start with easy-to-sew garments with no fastenings - you should only need a simple zigzag and straight stitch for this, so look for a mechanical model. Once you’ve mastered basic stitching, it’s time to experiment with buttons and zips. You’ll need a machine that creates buttonholes - some machines even stitch on the buttons - and a zipper foot to install zips, these come included on some models so take a look at the presser feet options. Looking to expand your wardrobe? You might want to sew with stretch fabrics like jersey, so zigzag stitching is a must. For easy transitioning between stitches, look at the best electrical sewing machine for beginners, the Janome Sewist 780DC.

Which Brother sewing machine is the best for beginners?

We’d recommend the Brother L14S if you’ve never sewn before or have a small amount of stitching knowledge. It’s really easy to use and affordable, too. If you have a little more experience or are looking to upgrade your beginner sewing machine, take a look at our Brother Innov-is A60 Special Edition review. It has speed and style but retains a simple interface to suit most novice sewers.

Tips for beginner sewers

Sewing is one of those hobbies that needs a little bit of preparation put into it before jumping in, as it's important to stock up on essentials before getting started. Sewing pins and possibly a pin cushion to keep them all in place while you're working away can be really helpful to have. Fabric scissors are a must-have too.

After you've got hold of everything that you need, swotting up on sewing techniques is the next way to make the most out of your new sewing machine. Learning the basics of how to use a sewing machine is the first important step, as well as making sure that you know how to thread a sewing machine.

For any newbie sewers who have decided to get into sewing to beat stress, we have some easy sewing projects that you can make in 30 minutes or less and will leave you with something beautiful to use or look at at the end of it. 

Or, see our handy guides to some simple creations you can make with your new beginner sewing machine:

Now all there is to do is to go ahead and get creating with your new sewing machine!