Best Sewing Machines
Sayerry/istockphoto
Best Sewing Machines
Sayerry/istockphoto

START STITCHING!

When pants are too long and shoulders rip at the seams, a sewing machine can come to the rescue. While you may be able to get by with a needle and thread in some situations, a sewing machine provides a more lasting, versatile solution -- and the opportunity to make basic clothes and unleash your crafty side.

Fortunately, all but the most advanced home sewers should be very happy with an inexpensive sewing machine. Cheapism.com's picks for the best sewing machines under $200 include both electronic and mechanical models for beginner and intermediate sewers. We also researched a few pricier options for buyers who want to go beyond the basics: one that's capable of embroidery, another to satisfy beginning quilters, and a third that's packed with all the bells, whistles, and stitches you'll ever need.

*Prices and availability subject to change.

Singer 1304 Start
Courtesy of amazon.com

SINGER 1304 START


Good Cheap Sewing Machine for Beginners
Price: $72 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- Heavy-duty metal frame makes this machine more durable and stable than other beginner models.
- Users say it can handle the occasional heavier fabric like flannel or denim with the right needles.
- Desirable features such as automatic bobbin-winding and tension, twin needle sewing, and a removable free arm.

Cons:
- Only 6 stitches; buttonhole requires 4 steps instead of 1.
- No automatic needle threader.
- Bobbin jams easily, some users say.
- Short 90-day warranty for parts and labor.

Takeaway: Beginners who just want to learn the basics will be happy with the sturdy little Singer 1304 Start. Because it's a bit more robust than other mechanical sewing machines intended for beginners, it's also a suitable pick for more experienced sewers who want a simple, compact model for travel at a very low price.

Brother XM2701
Courtesy of amazon.com

BROTHER XM2701


Best Cheap Sewing Machine for Beginners
Price: $83 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- More stitches (27) than similarly priced sewing machines recommended for beginners.
- Comes with an instructional DVD, which beginners say is invaluable for learning to use the machine.
- Beginner-friendly features such as a jam-resistant drop-in bobbin and automatic needle threader.
- Relatively lightweight, at roughly 12.6 pounds.

Cons:
- A fair number of plastic parts, raising some questions about long-term durability.
- Suitable only for lightweight fabrics, experts report.
- LED light is too dim to be very useful, experts say.

Takeaway: We consider the mechanical Brother XM2701 the best sewing machine for novices. It strikes a good balance, giving users a few crucial extra features without being too complicated for beginners to learn and use. It's also lightweight, and the DVD takes the instructions a step beyond a typical written manual.

Singer 4432 Heavy Duty
Courtesy of amazon.com

SINGER 4432 HEAVY DUTY


Good Cheap Mechanical Sewing Machine
Price: $155 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- Heavy-duty metal frame promotes long-term durability and stability.
- With a speed of 1,100 stitches per minute, it's one of the fastest machines for the price.
- More adept with heavier fabrics such as denim than most inexpensive sewing machines.

Cons:
- Weighing about 14.5 pounds, it may be difficult to port around.
- Lacks bells and whistles of comparably priced electronic machines.
- Short 90-day warranty for parts and labor.

Takeaway: Built for speed and sturdiness, the mechanical, 32-stitch Singer 4432 is a good choice for anyone seeking a fast machine that can stand up to heavier fabrics. Relatively light on features, it still has crucial ease-of-use elements, including an automatic needle threader and drop-in bobbin, that keep it accessible to novices who feel more comfortable with classic foot pedal and dial controls.

Janome 2212
Courtesy of amazon.com

JANOME 2212


Best Cheap Mechanical Sewing Machine
Price: $189 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- Users consider this machine a dependable workhorse.
- Experts say the stitch quality is hard to beat.
- Can handle heavier fabric and multiple layers, users say.
- At 13 pounds, it's relatively lightweight.

Cons:
- Front-loading bobbin can be fussy to work with, especially for beginners.
- On the noisier side, experts say.
- Drop-feed control is hard to access.
- Only 12 stitches; buttonhole requires 4 steps instead of 1.

Takeaway: The mechanical Janome 2212 might be as close to archetypal as sewing machines get these days, eschewing bells and whistles in favor of a solid build, top-notch stitch quality, and a simple design. It's also a smart pick for anyone who wants a sewing machine that might last as long as older models.

Brother CS-6000i
Courtesy of amazon.com

BROTHER CS-6000i


Good Cheap Electronic Sewing Machine
Price: $150 | Buy it from Walmart

Pros:
- 60 stitches, more than many similarly priced or pricier machines, and 7 1-step buttonholes.
- Includes several conveniences typically found on more expensive machines, such as 9 presser feet, a detachable oversize table for larger projects, an automatic needle threader, an LCD, dual LED work lights, and a hard case.
- Variable speed control and start/stop button.

Cons:
- Contains a fair number of plastic parts, raising some questions about long-term durability.
- Some owners report issues adjusting thread tension and say this machine best suited for lightweight fabrics only.
- Experts give this model middling marks for stitch quality, saying it can struggle with long, straight stitches.

Takeaway: The best-selling Brother CS-6000i is an advanced electronic sewing machine with capabilities skilled users will appreciate (like quilting) but is easy enough for beginners to master. Compared with similarly priced models, it offers far more bells and whistles.

Singer 7258 Stylist
Courtesy of amazon.com

SINGER 7258 STYLIST


Best Cheap Electronic Sewing Machine
Est. Price: $177 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- Heavy-duty metal frame for long-term durability and stability.
- More stitches (100) than many similarly priced or pricier machines; 6 1-step buttonholes and 1 endless buttonhole.
- Electronic speed control and start/stop button let users sew without the foot pedal.
- Automatic needle threader, drop-in bobbin, and programmable up/down needle control add to ease of use.
- Comes with an instructional DVD to help beginners get a feel for the machine.

Cons:
- Getting up and operating is a bit laborious compared with other models, experts say; many reviewers report having a tough time threading the machine during initial setup.
- Several users say the LED work light is too dim.

Takeaway: The expert-lauded electronic Singer 7258 offers an appealing blend of sturdiness and high-tech flourishes at a price that's still accessible to beginners. At close to 15 pounds, it's a bit heavier than some comparable models, but it also has a hefty selection of stitches and convenience features.

Brother SE400
Courtesy of amazon.com

BROTHER SE400


Bonus: Best for Beginning Embroidery
Price: $310 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- 67 sewing stitches and 70 embroidery designs with a 4-by-4 embroidery area, making it more versatile than most sewing machines.
- Touchscreen LCD for easy navigation and USB connectivity for importing other designs and downloading upgrades in the future.
- Ease-of-use features include an automatic needle threader and cutter, a drop-in bobbin, and up/down needle control.
- At 13.7 pounds, it's light enough to move around the house.

Cons:
- Display can require lots of scrolling to find functions; icons aren't as intuitive as they should be, experts say.
- Some users say the embroidery area is too small or the bobbin jams up too easily.

Takeaway: Beginning sewers who think they may want to dabble in embroidery will find the best of both worlds with the Brother SE400. A versatile electronic model with easy-to-use features, it's a worthy investment for anyone who's concerned they may outgrow a more basic starter machine too quickly.

Singer 7469Q Confidence Quilter
Courtesy of homedepot.com

SINGER 7469Q CONFIDENCE QUILTER


Bonus: Best for Beginning Quilting
Price: $263 | Buy it from Home Depot

Pros:
- Includes features that beginning quilters will appreciate, such as 4 bonus quilting feet, a large extension table, programmable up/down needle settings, twin needle control, 2 LED work lights, and adjustable stitch length and width.
- Ease-of-use features include automatic tension, bobbin winding, and a needle threader.
- Heavy-duty metal frame promotes long-term durability and stability.
- Adept at handling heavier fabrics, most experts and owners say, as long as the proper needle is used.

Cons:
- Instructions don't show how to use quilting accessories, including special presser feet.
- A few reviewers say the work lights aren't bright enough.

Takeaway: A sturdy, capable electronic sewing machine with close to 100 built-in stitches, the Singer 7469Q Confidence Quilter comes with accessories that should help beginning quilters get a feel for their craft. Anyone who wants more room for their projects will also appreciate the extra-large extension table.

Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist
Courtesy of singerstore.com

SINGER 9960 QUANTUM STYLIST


Bonus: Best for a Bigger Budget
Price: $341 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- A staggering 600 stitches and 13 1-step buttonholes.
- With 19 presser feet, it can handle almost any project without costly add-ons.
- Plenty of conveniences and ease-of-use features including an extension table, automatic needle threader and cutter, automatic tension, and up/down needle control.
- Electronic speed control and a start/stop button on the machine let users sew without the foot pedal.
- Experts give it solid reviews for overall stitch quality and say it handles different fabric types well, including heavier weights.

Cons:
- Relatively heavy, at more than 18 pounds, making it cumbersome to move around or travel with.
- Some owners report issues with the bobbin, including thread jamming and the bobbin case breaking.

Takeaway: The sturdy electronic Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist might be overkill for beginners, but it's a solid pick for intermediate sewers who want a ton more features without completely emptying their bank accounts. With a huge number of included stitches and presser feet, it should more than suffice for just about any home-sewing project.