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What Beginner Sewing Machine Would You Recommend

Last week a dear friend of mine asked me if I’d ever done a post about beginner sewing machines. And to be honest, I haven’t because I don’t know a lot about them! I was brought up on Elna machines, and I love them and have a lot of brand loyalty, so I honestly haven’t really explored other options.

I learnt to sew on my moms first sewing machine – it was an Elna Lotus, and she gave it to me when I was 11. And though I’ve moved on to a more modern machine now, it’s still my favourite machine of all time. It only had a straight stitch and a zig zag and that’s it. But it was sturdy as anything, and always performed well. Funnily enough whenever i get it serviced the serviceman starts trying to haggle with me to buy it. hehe yeah, not gonna happen!

Anyway, since I really don’t know a lot about beginner machines –  I thought I might leave this as an open post of sorts. If you have a beginner sewing machine you’d like to recommend to other beginners, would you mind leaving a comment about it? I’ll do my best to then update this post with your recommendations.

Thanks so much! I really appreciate the help friends!

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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Firesparx
Firesparx
10 years ago

I lucked out in that my mom gave me her old sewing machine (which was the machine I learned on) and it’s a sturdy workhorse. In fact, the machine she replaced it with has already bit the dust and her old one is still going strong!

I can’t recommend a specific beginners machine but I can make a general recommendation: Don’t buy a new machine simply because it is cheap. When my sewing machine was in the shop getting a tune-up, I borrowed my friend’s machine that she purchased from Walmart. I naively thought any machine could sew a straight line on a regular weight fabric. Wow. Not true. After only one night on her machine I knew why my friend was so frustrated learning how to sew: her machine was giving her extra hassles and holding her back. Sewing can be frustrating enough as it is, you don’t need your machine adding to it! I had a new appreciation for my old machine after that.

Kat
Kat
10 years ago

I’ve sewn on Singer, Janome, Husqvarna, and Bernina sewing machines and Janome and Babylock sergers. I like using mechanical machines and probably due to this personal preference, I prefer to start beginners on mechanical machines. I haven’t really had much experience with computerized machines. If I could choose, I’d probably always choose the mechanical Bernina I used in my old university costume shop. Those machines withstood the dozens of newbie theater majors we taught to sew each year. Unfortunately, Berninas are expensive and when it was time for me to choose a new machine, I got a “school model” Janome. I am not entirely happy with it – I’ve had lots of trouble with knits no matter how much I fiddle with needles, foot pressure, tension, stitches… But for the wovens, I think the stitch quality has been good for normal use (nothing very heavy, but it’s done fine on canvas). I’d certainly recommend it over many of the Singers I’ve worked on (excluding old machines, of course!). As much as I love many of the quality old machines, I can’t recommend them for a beginner unless they buy them from a reputable sewing machine repair shop or have someone knowledgeable to help them choose a machine.

I’d love for everyone to give recommendations on sergers as well! We used Janomes at work as well as a brand I can’t remember which auto-threaded and I wasn’t too fond of either (particularly the auto-thread one, when it broke it was awful to get the thing threaded). The only one I liked was an ancient three-thread Babylock, but I’d like the option for four threads and a serged rolled hem.

Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple

My only advice due to my very limited experience is to buy an “old” machine that is in good shape. I learned on my mom’s “old” Singer — she got it when she graduated from high school. Now I have an “old” Viking/Huskqvarna — it was made in the same year I was born (1979!) It is sturdy and works great! My mom bought it for me when I graduated from college…she paid about $100 for it and then took it to a sewing machine shop and had it checked over and “turned up” — about $75 and that included a replacement part in the bobbin mechanism. So, a great machine for less than $200…can’t get a much better deal than that! The “old” machines were made to last through lots of use!

Patricia
Patricia
10 years ago

I echo Kat with starting a beginner on a mechanical machine. I bought my very first brand new machine 5 years ago and still bought a mechanical. I ended up with a Pfaff and purchased it through a dealer. I gave them my budget, what primarily wanted to sew, and they took me to check out an array of machines that fit these criteria. It was great to try out the machne in tne shop a really get feel of for each one. Once you decide on one this particular shop sits down with you shows you exactly how things work. There is even a class they encourage you to take for first time buyers. (Go Linda Z’s) If you take care if your machines (change the needle, oil, dust, cover when not in use)they will last FOREVER. Mine is aptly named “Tim”.

Paunnet
10 years ago

I have an Elna too and I love her. My mom has always used Bernina, so I have a fascination for them.
I think it has already been written, but I would stay away from super cheap machines, if you’re at least a bit serious about starting to sew. If your machine doesn’t perform well, it will spoil the fun!

Rosalie
Rosalie
10 years ago

Hi Megan, I just purchased a Janome 2011 after 40 years on my Elna Elite which died and could not be revived, very sad day. But I do like my Janome and there is a lot to relearn.
My quesion today is with regard to a post you did in 2009 on interlining a coat with Thinsolate and a lining of fleece and satin flannel for the sleeves. You posted segment 3 which was great by the way. But I was wondering where the rest of the tutorial was and if the coat was finished. You see I am getting ready to construct a raincoat (cotton w/laminate)for my little granddaughter using the Thinsolate 150 and a cotton lining and any further assistance will be most appreciated. I also want to know what is satin flannel and where can I go to see some?
Thanks for your time…

districtofchic
10 years ago

This is sooo helpful. I know at some point I really need to get a sewing machine (and re-learn how to use one), and I’m totally going to need your help! My mom and grandmother are Singer gals, but both of their machines are super-old so I don’t know what the quality’s like nowadays…

cicile
cicile
10 years ago

Ooooh ! I’ve got an Elna Lotus too :) I love it. It’s my first sewing machine. And remains the one I use everyday (well every week at least).

I’ve never serviced it. It’s REALLY reliable :)

Caitlin
10 years ago

This might be showing my newness to sewing (hence this whole post!), but what’s a mechanical machine? I’m really not looking to spend more than about $100, maybe I should have said that?

Sarah
10 years ago

I have a computerized Brother sewing machine and I love it! It’s super easy to use and there are lots of different stitch settings, most of which I’ll probably never use though. It was a gift given to me by my boyfriend’s mother. It’s really been wonderful to me so far!

Trudy Callan
10 years ago

I prefer mechanical machines. I have a basic Kenmore that has served me well for over ten years now. The cost was around $300.

Rosalie
Rosalie
10 years ago

Hi Meg, Thanks for the other sessions on your coat! I have one more question…(sorry, I think there are 2) When you zig-zagged the 150 to the satin flannel I assume it showed through, did that affect the interior look of the lining? I’m thinking of using just the 150 and purchasing some satin flannel for an insulated lining and maybe closing up the seam allowances thereby “squishing” the 150 and reducing the bulk. Any suggestions or alterations? I’m not cutting anything until I am sure of what I want to do…I’m not as fearless as some of my sewing friends! Thanks for your help…

risawest
risawest
10 years ago

I learned on an old pfaff… it’s a workhorse but was also hard to figure out and sometimes got ahead of me and my abilities.

my sister had a Brother cs6000i and showed me all the cool things it could do…

so i bought one, for around $150-200, and it has made a world of difference. it has settings where you can slow down the speed and for a beginner that was really helpful to take curves and sleeves and things really slow as i learned how to handle my garment while sewing. i’ve had the machine for about a year and i’m a much better seamstress than i was when i bought it. oh and i started by making lots of clothes for my daughter (around the time she was 12 months) which taught me many principles that i’ve been able to translate to clothing for myself.

EF5Twister
10 years ago

I’d go with the Brother with only the features you need.

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7 years ago

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