Best sewing machines for beginners: 5 machines to get you started with the hobby

Our round-up of the best sewing machines for beginners has something to suit every skill level

sewing materials
(Image credit: Getty)

If you’re just starting out on your sewing journey, buying your first sewing machine can be a huge decision.

Where to start? The price, the features, the size, the stitches. The list of decision-determining factors is endless. So we’re here to make finding the best sewing machines out there (and discovering the right one for you) that little bit easier. 

How will we do that? Well, we’ve weighed up all the pros and cons of our favourite beginner options, so you don’t have to. 

How to choose the best beginner sewing machine for you

There’s a lot to consider when choosing your first sewing machine or replacing your old one. If you intend to stick with smaller projects, dabble in fashion sewing or sew-up some accessories for your home, a beginner model is probably right for you.

Anything more niche or advanced, we’d recommend taking a look at our best sewing machines for quilters guide or considering an embroidery machine for more technical projects.

Looking for a beginner sewing machine starts with setting a budget. The most affordable 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. If you’re on a budget, 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.

Another thing to think about is whether you want a mechanical or computerised model. Mechanicals 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 computerised machine – one that’s able to tackle more intricate and complex tasks with its plethora of functions – will keep up with you as your sewing confidence increases.

“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 cool gadgets and functions on offer. Write a list of all the features you want your machine to have before you start your search to keep you on track for finding the best beginner sewing machine for you.

sewing machine

(Image credit: Janome)

Janome 2200XT

The best beginner sewing machine for most people

Specifications
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
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t have variable stitch widths

A great all-rounder that delivers on style too

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. 

sewing machine

(Image credit: Pfaff)

Pfaff Passport 3.0

The best premium beginner sewing machine

Specifications
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
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive model

An investment buy that ticks all the boxes

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 computerised 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.

sewing machine

(Image credit: Brother)

Brother L14S

The best budget beginner sewing machine

Specifications
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+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Fewer stitch options

Don’t be put off by the bargain price

New to sewing as a hobby 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 £99, you don’t get a lot of features for your money. Look closely and you realise 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. Should you only want the basic stitches though, 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.

sewing machine

(Image credit: Freemans)

Necchi NC-102D

The best value for money beginner sewing machine

Specifications
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
Reasons to avoid
-Lesser-known brand

Everything you could want and need in a sewing machine, and then some

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. 

Read full review here

sewing machine

(Image credit: Singer)

Singer Tradition 2250

The best compact beginner sewing machine

Specifications
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
Reasons to avoid
-Fewer stitches

The best things come in small packages

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.