If you’re looking for the right sewing machine for a beginner, I’m here to help walk you through a few machines that will last you through your sewing journey and help you get started.
Sewing has been a skill that I am so glad I picked up over the years. My parents bought me my first sewing machine 8 years ago for Christmas. From there, I started a business and made countless projects from the same sewing machine I’m using today! After having Willow, I found getting away to my sewing machine was a respite for me to see the ideas I’ve sketched on paper come to life. Sitting down at the machine again after taking a year off of work and transitioning to Motherhood felt like coming home.
That’s a huge reason I started Rooney Clothing, a sewing pattern line, for women to find that respite themselves. To know what it is like to put their hand to sewing and experience the rest and joy found in making something. A big step towards sewing your own garments is the machine you use! I understand how daunting it can feel to not know what sewing machine will be best for you. Especially when starting out!
Personally, I have a Babylock Grace that I received as a gift over eight years ago. I know it is going to last me many, many more years. This is why I included trusted brands on this list because of the longevity of these machines! If you’re nervous about shopping online for a machine, I’d head in to your local sewing shop and just talk to the employees. I’m sure they’d love to help steer you in the right direction.
What to look for in a sewing machine
When looking for a sewing machine, there are just a few necessities I would look for. Machines can get pricey and technical so I try to keep it simple.
Straight Stitch – this is your most basic stitch. It will take you far and is the number one thing you need to start sewing!
Zig Zag Stitch – always look for a zig zag stitch. This is helpful for sewing different materials and finishing edges.
Top loading bobbin – this is not necessary but it is helpful to always track how much thread is on your bobbin.
Tension – when the tension is changed, it means the top thread and bobbin thread are interlocking at a different place. This is helpful for changing fabrics and sewing on all different kinds of materials.
Stitch Length – you’ll want to change the stitch length depending on the garment. This is helpful all patterns!
Free Arm – a free arm allows you to sew smaller areas of a garment or project (think arm holes, leg openings). This is especially helpful when sewing children’s clothes!
How much should you spend on your first sewing machine?
Of course, this is a personal preference. All the machines I’ve listed here are under $200 to get you started. I recommend shopping on Facebook Marketplace or asking a family member if they have a machine they are willing to part with. Most times, they are just collecting dust! If you do find a second hand machine, I recommend taking it in to your local sewing shop and getting a tune-up. This will start you off on the right foot. Don’t forget to take it in once a year to have it checked up. This will help the longevity of your machine and make that investment well worth it!
Do I need a serger?
A serger is a machine that will trim and finish off the edges of your garment. This keeps it from unraveling or fraying and ensures a long life to your seams!
With that said, you can make it without a serger. You can use overlock stitches (if your machine has one) or a zig zag stitch to finish off the seams of your garment. These stitches will take you far but I definitely recommend a serger if you see yourself making clothes often. They are well worth the investment to create a clean finish!
Top sewing machines for beginners
Baby Lock Joy – This machine has all the necessities you need plus some. You can easily sew a buttonhole with this machine too, which will come in handy if you’re sewing clothing! It comes with 19 stitches, which is more than enough. If I were starting out, this is the machine I would choose and is very similar to my Baby Lock Grace!
Singer – A Singer sewing machine is heavy duty, simple and will last. I love how it doesn’t have too many extras and is made to hold up to strong materials. This machine also has the buttonhole feature and all of the stitches you’ll need. The Janome 2212
Janome – The Janome 2212 has six stitches plus the buttonhole feature and a free arm. I feel like this is a solid choice for any beginner!
Brother – Brother is a trusted name in sewing and I know many friends with Brother machines. This is the lowest priced machine on the list (currently $99) and will start you off on the right foot with all of the stitches you’ll need!
I’ll leave you with two serger recommendations for finishing off your seams!
Brother Serger – This is popular for a reason. I’ve used this machine and recommend it!