Buying Guide

How to Choose a Sewing Machine

Types of Sewing Machines

Match your sewing machine to your budget, skills and the type of sew craft that interests you most.


Even the best sewing machines will seize if they are not regularly cleaned and serviced. Be sure to consult your sewing machine manual and follow the recommended maintenance schedule and instructions.

Mechanical
using a mechanical sewing machine to sew a garment

This sewing machine uses manually controlled knobs and dials to make adjustments to the straight stitch, the needle threader position and the feed of the clothing or fabric. 

  

Features

  • Smaller variety of stitches
  • Higher-end models include some decorative stitches 
  • Least expensive option 
  • Best for beginners learning to sew 
  • Lower maintenance


Less threading and foot automation can be helpful for a beginner. Seeing how small adjustments affect the length and width of the stitches and doing much of the maintenance at home leads to a better understanding of both the machine and the sewing process overall.

Electronic/Computerized
using an electronic sewing machine to tailor fabric

Electronic and computerized sewing machines offer greater precision than mechanical machines, along with a wide array of decorative stitches. Electronic machines usually have an automatic needle threader and LCD screen to let you see the adjustments you’re making, while many computerized models are capable of creating embroidery designs. The increase in speed, efficiency and expanded capabilities come at a higher cost.  


Features

  • Wide variety of stitches, especially decorative stitch patterns and buttonhole styles 
  • More expensive and high quality 
  • Better choice for more serious tailors and crafters 
  • Most regular maintenance needs to be done professionally
Specialized Machines
using a specialized sewing machine to stitch fabric

There are several types of machines devoted to more specific types of stitching. These are normally a heavy-duty models that can be used as dedicated garment machines for industrial sewing.



Embroidery
using an embroidery sewing machine to stitch decorative heart onto fabric

These types of sewing machines are best for creating decorative needlework, patterns and designs on fabric surfaces. 

Serger/Overlock
using a serger overlock sewing machine to hem cotton garment

These types of sewing machines work best on cotton knits. This sewing machine hems, seams and finishes edges at the same time using cutters.


Quilting
using a quilting sewing machine to sew a quilt

These sewing machines are constructed to sew through multiple layers like those found on a quilt. This is the best sewing machine for easy sewing and often comes with extender to manage larger projects.

Essential Features
Basic features and accessories of the best sewing machine

At any price, a good sewing machine should have several basic features that help produce top-quality projects.

 
Tip: A hard case is a great way to protect your sewing machine from dust and moisture as well as to carry it safely. Some machines are sold with cases, but they can also be purchased separately.


  • 1-step buttonholer: creates a buttonhole in one step - user designates size and shape and machine stitches automatically
  • Top-load bobbin: easily replace thread without taking apart entire casing – look for a see-through bobbin cover as well
  • Bobbin-thread lift: brings bobbin thread to the surface without placing fingers under the presser foot
  • Free arm: lets you sew narrow, round pieces such as sleeves, collars and pant hems
  • Built-in needle threader: saves time and strain by automatically placing thread correctly
  • Lightweight design: prevents accidental damage by being easy to carry and maneuver


Tip: To get the most out of beginner sewing machines, customers may find it helpful to read sewing machine reviews or locate nearby sewing classes to learn the basics.rn the basics.