Our guide to the best sewing machines of 2021 is a living article that is constantly updated with the latest models, deals and stock levels. Check back for updates!
If you’ve got a friend or family member with sewing chops, you’ve likely seen how powerful a sewing machine can be in the hands of a creative and knowledgable maker.
There has never been a better time to learn how to sew and make your own items whether it’s fashion, home decor or something else. It’s a useful skill, a fun creative outlet, and has even potential to grow into a small business or side hustle. Those aren’t the only reasons sewing is rising in popularity.
COVID-19 has had major effect on the sewing industry. Many people are making reusable fabric masks and it doesn’t look like that will slow any time soon. In “quarantine mode” lots of people have taken up new hobbies and sewing has been a top choice. Think about it, after months of social distancing and Netlfix or Prime bingeing, who hasn’t been inspired by Making the Cut or Amazing Interiors?
Yes, the pandemic has sewing machines flying off shelves, with many popular models out of stock. Luckily there are many models and lots of brands to chose from so you’re in luck.
Read on for recommendations for the best sewing machines of 2021, followed by a guide to help you through your purchase process. Lots of tips and insights along the way too. Let’s get to it!
Choosing a Sewing Machine
Researching sewing machines can be overwhelming to say the least.
Our own exhaustive research includes comparing top rated machines on Amazon, Joann, Micheal’s, SewingMachinesPlus and various sewing forums along with first hand insights from experienced sewers.
I checked stock at different outlets so I can recommend machines that are available (not on back order due to COVID related demand.)
The Best Sewing Machine in 2021
For the best sewing machines in 2021, here are our recommendations from beginner to splurge purchase.
|Category||Model||Price||Needle Threader||Stitch Count||Presser Feet #||Computerized /Mechanical|
|Best Overall||Brother CS5055||$$||Yes||60||7||Computerized|
|Best Basic||Singer MX60||$$||No||6||3||Mechanical|
|Best Cheap||Sew Mighty||$||No||1||1||Mechanical|
|Best for Kids||Magic Fly Mini||$||No||1||1||Mechanical|
|Best Computerized||Singer Quantum Stylist 9960||$$$||Yes||600||13||Computerized|
|Best Serger||Juki MO644D||$$$||N/A||7||1||Mechanical|
|Best for Quilting||Brother CS7000X||$$$||Yes||70||10||Computerized|
Best Sewing Machine for Beginners
The Brother CS5055 Sewing Machine has 60 built-in stitches that cover utility and decorative styles. It includes a buttonhole foot, zipper foot, overcasting foot, blindstich foot, monogramming foot, zigzag foot, button sewing foot and 7 button hole Style. An automatic needle threader and drop-in top bobbin makes life easier every time.
Make sure you read the manual to understand how the computerized sewing machine works. Brother also offers lots of video tutorials so take the time to get acquainted with your machine. The investment in education time will pay off as your skills advance! Beginners like this machine as well as experienced artists.
Note: There is a Project Runway version of this machine and if that little extra glam of a badge on your machine keeps you motivated, I say go for it. (I’m such a sucker for fashion competition shows and always get stuck between watching the next episode and firing up my machine.)
Best Basic Sewing Machines
If you’re looking for a basic machine, (less complicated features, simple to use and quick to get up and running), consider a mechanical sewing machine. Mechanical sewing machines are super easy to use and maintain. They have manual controls (dials) to switch between the built-in stitches. The length and width of the stitches are preset so figuring out what they should be is one less thing to worry about.
The basic stitches are included to cover “light sewing” like hemming, mending, alternations, making masks. The the basic accessories too.
The main draw for a manual sewing machine is that they have no computerized parts so if a repair is needed, it will likely be an easy (and less costly) one.
This is a fantastic option for beginners or those seeking portability. For more details, check our our in-depth review of the Singer 1304.
Best Cheap Sewing Machine
If you need a compact, portable machine for simple or occasional projects, consider a Sew Mighty. This is as streamlined as it gets!
This little option is best for budgeters that need a light-duty machine. It’s a 2 speed, user friendly option that can easily fit into a shoulder bag, work off a power cord or batteries and can be operated via foot pedal or on/off switch. That makes it ridiculously portable and easy to bring along for quick projects like volunteering at the local school or helping make masks for your community.
Best Computerized Sewing Machines
Note: the latest model, 9985, is out of stock!
There may be a newer model (that is out of stock everywhere due to pandemic-related demand) but don’t let that stop you from checking out the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 sewing machine (and save a few hundred bucks while you are at it).
This machine has 600 stitches and lettering options so you’ve got countless possibilities for customization. It provides a needle up/down feature for easy pivoting, free-motion quilting, appliqué and whatever else you can dream up. A thread trimmer makes it quick and easy to move to the next step of your project. Loads of features make this a fabulous option for fashion sewing, quilting, home decor and crafting. And if speed matters to you, this baby gets up to 850 stitches-per-minute.
Note: The pandemic sewing machine shortages certainly make it hard to find many sewing machine models but this can be a blessing in disguise if you check out models that you would have otherwise overlooked. Check this one out for a great machine at a lower price point than the newer model.
Sewing Machines for Kids
Kids ages range quite a bit so we have two recommendations for this category. Please note, most “kids sewing machines”are not truly designed for kids but are considered “kid friendly” because of their size, simplicity, and ease of use. Those things also result in a less expensive machine. These sewing machines tend to be easily portable and great to bring to a friend’s house – in our case Grandma’s place – to get some lessons and make fun projects.
Keep in mind, even though these machines are “kid friendly” they still have sharp needles, and motorized, moving parts so adult supervision is important. These often come in fun, bright colors or beloved character themes like Hello Kitty.
Best Sewing Machine for Younger Kids (Simple)
This is a mini electric sewing machine that is under 4 lbs and under $50!
It provides one stitch so it’s really as basic as it gets. The machine comes with a 42 piece sewing kit, an extension table, and a bag to store it in. It can be powered via electric cord or by batteries which makes it easily portable for small tasks nearly anywhere. Sewing is powered by your usual foot pedal or by an on/off switch, making it even more simplistic to use. Plus it come in a few different fun colors.
This was my choice for my 6 year old. She wants to learn how to sew and I want to make sure it’s as easy as possible so she can get right to sewing rather than get bogged down with a learning curve. The Magicfly comes with a fun set of threads, read-to-use bobbins, tiny scissors and a threader tool which my kiddo was excited to get – she loves accessories so the kit was a quick hit. There is also a machine bag to keep dust off the machine when not in use. We kept the box because it has a handle and my daughter likes to carry the box back and forth to Grandma’s place.
All in all this was a solid choice for a starter machine for a young kid. It’s a little awkward at times though. Grandma found the bobbin winder and tension dial a little cumbersome to turn. However, she is used to the more lux machines so…
The tradeoff for simplicity and price was worth it for me. If my daughter sticks with sewing I’ll get her a more advanced machine in the future, like the one below. But I wasn’t prepared to get an expensive machine right out the gate before knowing that she would stick with sewing.
Best Sewing Machine for Older Kids (Splurge)
If you prefer an upscale option for your budding designer, consider the Baby Lock Zest. Baby Lock is considered a high end brand so going with their more entry level machine is a way to introduce a younger sewing artist to a luxury experience (high quality look and feel) that is very user friendly.
It’s a mechanical machine that is light weight and includes all the accessories they need to get started. I would choose this option for bigger kids – preteen/teens (especially if they have Grandmas that are partial to Baby Lock. Not naming names but you know who you are).
Best Sewing and Quilting Machine (for Beginners)
The Brother CS7000x is a great option for various levels but it’s especially appealing for beginners that are interested in quilting because of the price point.
This machine has 70 built-in stitches including decorative and quilting stitches, a free arm to make it easy to sew your skinny jeans and a drop feed mechanism for free motion sewing and quilting. It comes with 10 presser feet and a detachable wide table for big quilting projects. Another bonus is that it comes with a “hard shell” carrying case to protect it while it’s stored or in transit.
The Brother CS7000X gets 4.7/5 stars from over 14,000 reviewers so you know it’s got a lot going for it. Reviews comment that it’s an easy to use, inviting machine that makes it easy for beginners to learn sewing and quilting. Note, the previous version, the CS6000i is also a great option if you can’t find the 7000 in stock (or want to save a little cash).
Best Serger Sewing Machine
This machine is well loved with over 360 people rating it a 4.6/5 stars on Amazon. Juki boasts that this is an industrial style machine designed for home use. Built to last, the Juki MO-644D is considered a “best bang for the buck” machine which puts it easily into our recommendations for beginners.
Note: I’ve heard a few complaints about difficulty threading this machine but after watching video tutorials, it became a breeze.
Best Sewing Machine Splurge
Once you’ve got some experience and polished projects under your belt, you may consider getting a “splurge machine.” This may also be the opportunity where you diversify your machine “fleet” and add a serger, long arm quilting system or embroidery machine to your collection. That’s if you’re go-to sewing machine still meets your needs of course. Alternatively, you could purchase an antique sewing machine for the nostalgia, glamour and utility all wrapped in one.
Once you’ve been sewing for a while you’ll know what you like, what you want in your upgraded option and any speciality features that you want to have for future projects. What you consider a splurge will depend on what you love. Some ideas to consider:
(Can anyone tell I am dreaming of getting into embroidery work? Ha!)
As a splurge, I recommend getting a machine from a reputable brand that offers lessons and support, has accessories and tons of decorative stitches. It can easily run you over $1,000 so make sure you get all the bells and whistles you’re dreaming of.
Best Sewing Machines: Guide to the Purchase Process
Now that you’ve read our recommendations, it’s time to think about what will work best for YOU. Here are five questions to ask yourself before you start shopping, along with a quick line-up of sewing machines types and how they differ.
What will I use the sewing machine for?
Each sewing machine brand has tons of models with various features so sifting through the options can get overwhelming quickly. A good place to start is asking yourself “what will I use the sewing machine for?”
If you plan to do simple tailoring, home decor and the occasional creative project, a simple sewing machine with few features will cover your needs. However, if you plan to do quilting or embroidery, you’ll need a machine with specific functionality. Those things are not “add-ons” for later so spend a little time thinking about the kinds of projects that capture your attention and get your heart racing.
Here’s the “quick and dirty” on categories of sewing machines and how they compare to each other.
Manual Sewing Machines vs Computerized Sewing Machines
What is the difference between a manual and computerized sewing machine?
A manual sewing machine uses knobs to adjust the settings. They are considered “basic machines” and tend to have less precise stitches and less ability to make the more detailed or decorative stitches. On the other hand, computerized sewing machines usually have a variety of built-in stitches including very precise styles.
Since mechanical sewing machines lack computerized parts, if they need a repair, the repair tends to be far less expensive.
If you just want to sew the basics (alternations, hemming, etc) a mechanical machine is a more affordable option that will still be a work horse for your needs. If you want to develop your sewing skills into expertise, consider a computerized machine that you can grow into.
Sewing Machine vs Embroidery Machine
What is the difference between a sewing machine and an embroidery machine?
While both involve stitching, sewing and embroidery are different techniques and have different uses. It’s helpful to think of sewing machines as the go-to for construction while embroidery machines are for design and decoration. On a basic level, sewing machines allow you to stitch fabric together in to a functional piece. Embroidery machines are highly specialized devices that sew designs on to fabric.
You can use an embroidery machine for all kinds of embellishments – stitch a company logo on to a shirt to personalize it or make a highly artistic design just for the sake of adding beauty to your work.
Sewing Machine vs Serger
What is the difference between a serger and a sewing machine?
A serger is a specialized sewing machine (sometimes called an overlock machine) that loops thread over the edge of material to prevent fraying. Sergers use multiple threads at the same time (compare that to one thread at a time with a “regular” sewing machine) to loop the thread. This creates a more durable seam and more professional look. Sergers also have a blade that trims access fabric. In short, a serger trims the seam allowance and closes the raw edges at rapid speed.
These babies are your best friend when you have lots of long, straight seams. Think prom dresses, bridesmaids dresses, and the like. They give you clean seams at 3 – 4 times the pace you would do other wise. If you sew A LOT or professionally, a serger is a smart thing to consider.
Note, sergers do not sew buttonholes, zippers, and top stitching so it’s not a replacement for your “main machine.” It’s usually a separate purchase, made in addition to a sewing machine once want to take your skills to a new level with a professional look.
Sewing vs Quilting
What is the difference between sewing and quilting?
Quilting refers to the process of sewing layers of fabric together to create a thicker, padded material, usually with an insulating layer in the middle. You can sew the material together by manually stitching it, mechanically sewing it or using a specialized long arm quilting machine.
Quilting machines require strength and space. You need a strong machine that also has the space to accommodate a large anoint of fabric.since you need to sew through layers of fabric, often called a “fabric sandwich. Most quilting machines have a wider space (the u section) for you to be able to roll the quilt in. Quilting machines also have a walking foot which walks the “fabric sandwich” to be stitched.
What kinds of fabric will I use?
What kinds of fabric do you love and/or plan to use? Thicker fabric and upholstery materials need a stronger machine with a powerful motor that can handle layers of that thick fabric. Think leather, denim, canvas, wool. The last thing you want is to invest in a machine that can’t handle the fabrics you use most often.
What extra sewing machine features do I need?
Important Features & Why They Matter
- Number of stitches: Most sewing can be accomplished with a straight stitch or zig zag stitch. Many machines comes with additional stitches that range from utility stitches to decorative stitches. Don’t get caught up in the number of stitches that a machine offers but rather, which ones you think you’ll actually use.
- Variety of presser feet: A speciality presser foot can make a technique much easier to learn and master. Example presser feet include edge-stitching foot, buttonhole foot, zipper foot and a blind stitch foot for creating blind hems. Purchasing additional feet can add up so if you know you’ll want the versatility that comes from using different feet, look for models that come with them included.
- Automatic buttonholer: Some machines have four-step buttonholes and others have one-step buttonholes. This means some sew buttons in 4 steps vs 1.
- Built-in needle threader: A tool that threads the needle for you so you don’t have to do get in there and thread it yourself. Helpful if you have any trouble with vision or shaky hands.
- Thread cutter: This is a little razor, attached to the machine, that makes it very quick and efficient to cut thread when you are done sewing and move to your next step.
- Weight and carrying handle: If you plan to take your sewing machine on the go (to classes, to your friend’s place, for volunteering to make costumes for your kid’s school play) it’s much easier to have a lighter weight machine that has a carrying handle. Alternatively you can get a carrying case – or sew one!
How much to budget for a sewing machine?
Finding an all around machine is challenging considering the amount of options on the market that are labeled “good for beginners.” Going by price does not narrow it down by much since sewing machines easily go from $50 – $2,000. Based on personal experience, a great machine with all the “must haves” presented in an easy to use way (or easy to learn way!) will likely run you between $100 – $300.
It’s worth splurging as high as you can go so that you get the machine that fits your needs and is easy to use right out of the box. Working with a sewing machine that is not user-friendly just makes it harder to sew, learn and fall in love with the process.
For an advanced sewer, as a splurge, you might consider getting a high end machine from a reputable brand that offers lessons/support, has lots of accessories, a great deal of decorative stitches, a button stitch and cover stitch. Cost can easily start around $1,500.
A traditional rule has been to purchase a machine from a dealer so you can take advantage of in-person classes. However, this is not always ideal (like in the case of a world-wide pandemic) or convenient (if you don’t live near a dealer). So if you don’t actually make it to the classes or take advantage of these perks you’ve spent a premium for no reason. You can purchase a model online and take online classes on Craftsy, CreativeBug or the countless talented makers that share info and tutorials on social media platforms from Instagram to Youtube.
Sewing machine warranty?
Finally, check out the warranty so you’re covered for anything major.
Most machines offer a year on labor, 2 – 5 years on the electronics, and a 25 year limited warranty that covers the head of the machine. If you need to repair your machine beyond the warranty the cost usually comes from labor fees. Parts in the more budget-friendly machines are not all that pricey, in general.
My mom suffered a major loss when her apartment burned down but luckily the computer parts in her machine were covered so her machine was restored to its glory despite losing most other belongings. Big love for warranties over here.
In general, I recommend you pick a reliable brand, (Singer, Brother, Janome) that has a few more than just the basic stitches and costs less that $400. A few features that are especially “beginner friendly” are drop in bobbins, an automatic needle threader, and a thread cutter.
If you go with the bare minimum (the economical machine with only basic stitches and less of the “beginner friendly features” that are listed above) AND you fall in love with sewing, you’ll find yourself wanting to trade up in no time.
No matter what you choose, make sure you give yourself the time and space to develop your sewing skills. Like most things, in order to excel, you need practice. A great teacher, classes, YouTube tutorials and lots of inspiration doesn’t hurt either.
What machine will you choose?