10 of the best sewing machines

31 March 2021

sewing machine

Needles and bobbins at the ready! If you’re keen to get crafty with a new hobby or want to make do and mend, we've rounded up the best sewing machines to buy in the UK.

If you’re looking to increase your sustainability credentials by upcycling and repurposing your old clothes or want to take on a few craft projects at home, you’ll want to invest in a quality sewing machine. Even with the most basic skills and experience, you’ll find opportunities to revamp tired garments you haven’t worn for years or mend pre-loved items to give them a new lease of life.

But which model or brand is best? And how do you get your head around the technical terminology (Overlockers! Bobbins! Free arms! Extension tables!)? There are so many options to consider but once you’ve decided on the type of tasks you’re looking to take on, the space you have at home and the amount you want to spend, it should be pretty easy to make a choice based on your needs.

To make the process even easier, we’ve narrowed down a selection of the best sewing machines to buy right now, including recommendations from the Mumsnet forums.

Here are the best sewing machines to buy.

1. Best overall sewing machine: Janome J3-24 Sewing Machine

1. Best overall sewing machine: Janome J3-24 Sewing Machine

With key features including 24 built-in stitch options, an automatic one-step buttonhole function, a built-in needle threader and a convertible free arm, this sewing machine ticks a lot of boxes. And it offers plenty of storage for accessories to boot.

It’s a decent mid-range sewing machine and it would be a good investment for beginners learning the ropes before possibly committing to a more expensive model.

It’s suitable for a wide variety of tasks including dress-making and craftwork but it’s not a heavy-duty machine so it’s not designed to deal with thick materials.

Key specs

  • Sewing machine type: Electronic
  • Number of stitch options: 24
  • Weight: 8kg
  • Dimensions: 46 × 38.2 × 20.8cm
  • Guarantee: Two years
Buy now from Amazon

2. Best budget sewing machine: Silver 12 Stitch Mini Sewing Machine

2. Best budget sewing machine: Silver 12 Stitch Mini Sewing Machine

Looking for a decent budget buy? This is a great option and can be used with confidence even by complete beginners. It’s a lovely all-rounder and offers 12 different stitch options, including some embroidery settings. At £59, the price tag is very reasonable for the functionality it provides.

You can take this machine almost anywhere, and it’s great if you want to do more serious sewing tasks than a handheld device could cope with.

It’s not a heavy-duty machine — it’s designed to deal with lightweight fabrics, so do be aware of that before you buy. For beginners and occasional sewers, this is a serious contender to consider.

Key specs

  • Sewing machine type: Electronic
  • Number of stitch options: 12
  • Weight: 2kg
  • Dimensions: 27 × 27 × 12cm
  • Guarantee: One year
Buy now from John Lewis & Partners

3. Best computerised sewing machine: Singer Starlet 6660 Computerised Sewing Machine

3. Best computerised sewing machine: Singer Starlet 6660 Computerised Sewing Machine

This nifty machine offers 13 needle positions, stitch length and width control, 60 built-in stitch options and an LED screen to display all the settings on. If you’re planning some creative projects like embroidery or patchwork, then this is a good option for you.

It’s great for experienced sewers and beginners, and the price offers a lot of luxury features for the money.

This machine is designed for general purpose sewing, so it’s not ideal if you’re looking for a heavy-duty model. It’s a good reliable product though that can tackle a wide variety of tasks to a high standard.

Key specifications:

  • Sewing machine type: Computerised
  • Number of stitch options: 60
  • Weight: 8kg
  • Dimensions: 34 × 40 × 22cm
  • Guarantee: Two years
Buy now from Amazon

4. Best sewing machine for beginners: Brother LS14s Manual Stitch Sewing Machine

“I have a Brother LS14S which is perfect for beginners. I've made some play mats, kids trousers, and baby toys with it so far. It's got all the basic stuff, but it's not a “bells and whistles” machine. If you're just learning like me then it's great, if you want to be a professional seamstress then not so much.”

4. Best sewing machine for beginners: Brother LS14s Manual Stitch Sewing Machine

This is a lightweight and compact machine that’s really straightforward to use so it’s perfect for beginners to get to grips with. The instruction manual is simple to digest and the machine offers a range of features that’ll make your first sewing projects easy to complete.

Offering 14 built-in stitches, a four-step automatic buttonhole, a bright LED sewing light and a free arm conversion, you’ll be able to manage a range of craft projects and simple dressmaking tasks.

It offers amazing value for £80, particularly because it can accomplish most jobs that beginners are likely to tackle and you won’t feel guilty if you don’t use it regularly.

The main downside is that you may find you’ll outgrow it fairly quickly, especially if you find yourself having a talent or deep passion for sewing once you’ve learnt the ropes with this one. In which case you’ll want to invest in a more expensive model later down the line which will offer you more stitch variety and other features that’ll entice a more experienced sewer. If you’re looking for a basic machine to try your hand at a new hobby, then look no further!

Key specs

  • Sewing machine type: Electronic
  • Number of stitch options: 14
  • Weight: 6.4kg
  • Dimensions: 35.5 × 44.5 × 19cm
  • Guarantee: Three years
Buy now from Argos

5. Best sewing machine for quilting: Janome 5060 QCD Sewing Machine with Extension Table and LCD display

5. Best sewing machine for quilting: Janome 5060 QCD Sewing Machine with Extension Table and LCD display

This machine is perfect for intermediate sewers with a passion for quilting. It offers a choice of 60 different stitches and two styles of automatic buttonholes. It also includes an extension table so you can work on larger projects like quilting.

It’s pricey (although there are plenty of machines that are far more expensive) but it does offer value for money, especially with its expansive stitch selection and computerised settings that allow you to store patterns and come back to them.

Key specs

  • Sewing machine type: Computerised
  • Number of stitch options: 60
  • Weight: 9.8kg
  • Dimensions: 48.8 × 41.6 × 28.8cm
Buy now from Amazon

6. Best handheld sewing machine: Singer Stitch Sew Quick

6. Best handheld sewing machine: Singer Stitch Sew Quick

Handheld machines are great for many reasons. Firstly they are very cheap, and secondly they are very portable (and you never know when you might need to repair a hem!).

Many people love these nifty little machines because for some jobs you don’t even need to remove the clothes from the person wearing them, and this model is battery operated so you won’t have to deal with tangled power cords.

It comes with accessories like bobbins, machine needles, a thread spindle and a needle threader, which is pretty good for a machine of this sort. If you’re a frequent sewer, this probably won’t cut the mustard and handheld devices can be fiddly to use and tricky to get stitches running perfectly straight unless you’re quite experienced at sewing.

For the price, it’s cheap enough to justify buying one as a second piece of equipment when you already have a table top machine. Handheld machines serve a certain purpose for convenience but this wouldn’t replace a traditional, larger sewing machine if you sew more often.

Key specs

  • Sewing machine type: Handheld (battery powered)
  • Number of stitch options: N/A
  • Weight: 376g
  • Dimensions: 22.9 × 5.7 × 19.1 cm
Buy now from Amazon

7. Best sewing machine for kids: John Lewis & Partners JL111 Floral Print Sewing Machine

“My 6-year-old uses my full size machine fine with supervision”

7. Best sewing machine for kids: John Lewis & Partners JL111 Floral Print Sewing Machine

This very popular machine has lots of positive reviews. It’s a good all-rounder and is very easy to get to grips with, which is important for beginners. For this reason it’s a great option for kids that are learning to sew.

Even though it is a large, full-sized machine, most kids that are old enough to take an interest in sewing should be able to handle it. It also comes in a range of colours and styles, so kids can choose one they like from the range and it’ll feel more personal to them. This particular range also features a limited edition floral print.

It has 14 stitch options — plenty for a beginner without offering too much choice. It also features an LED light to illuminate your work and an automatic four-step buttonhole function.

It’s designed mainly for craft projects, so it will only really handle lightweight fabrics. However, most beginners tend not to take on projects using heavy, thick materials, so you’ll probably find that this will suit your child for almost any project they take on at this early stage.

It’s advisable that although this machine is extremely straightforward to use, it is still an adult machine and would require supervision when being used by a child.

Key specs

  • Sewing machine type: Electronic
  • Number of stitch options: 14
  • Weight: 6kg
  • Dimensions: 33.5 × 22 × 43.5cm
  • Guarantee: Two years

Price: £140

Buy now from John Lewis & Partners

8. Best sewing machine for advanced sewers: Janome 6234XL Overlocker

8. Best sewing machine for advanced sewers: Janome 6234XL Overlocker

This is a heavy, serious sewing machine for experienced sewers. It can stitch at high speeds (up to 1300 spm), which is impressive and would certainly rival a professional machine.

It’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking to give your projects a top class finish to rival shop-bought clothes. It offers two needles as well as two-, three- and four-thread overlock stitching options.

This isn’t really a machine for small creative projects. It’s best for seasoned sewers that already know their way around a sewing machine. With its variety of professional features and solid design, it’s a great option for perfecting dressmaking techniques.

It’s not cheap at £479, but it’s definitely reliable and worth it for the right person.

Key specs

  • Sewing machine type: Overlocker
  • Number of stitch options: Two-, three- or four-thread overlocking
  • Weight: 8kg
  • Dimensions: 39.8 × 36.6 × 32 cm
Buy now from Amazon

9. Best sewing machine for creative projects: Pfaff Passport 2.0 Computerised Sewing Machine

9. Best sewing machine for creative projects: Pfaff Passport 2.0 Computerised Sewing Machine

Whether you take this to a workshop class or use it at home, this compact and portable machine offers 70 stitches including utility stitches, eyelets, decorative stitches, quilting stitches, needle art stitches and scallop stitches — perfect for creative sewers!

It includes a start/stop key to enable you to sew without a pedal, and a speed sliding bar so you can adjust the speed, giving you complete control over individual tasks.

It’s quite pricey at £519, but the variety of creative features is vast and well worth the money if you are interested in artistic projects. However, if you’re simply an occasional sewer looking to mend clothes or take on simple tasks involving straightforward traditional stitches, then there are definitely other models out there more suited to you.

Key specs

  • Sewing machine type: Computerised
  • Number of stitch options: 70
  • Weight: 10.7kg
  • Dimensions: 54 × 39 × 27 cm
Buy now from Amazon

10. Best heavy-duty sewing machine: Singer 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

10. Best heavy-duty sewing machine: Singer 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

This model is very well priced for a heavy-duty machine. It works fast at 1100 stitches per minute (spm) and offers three needle positions.

If you’re looking for a high-performance machine you’ll probably be a keen and experienced sewer and you’ll want speed to get through projects quickly and easily. You’ll also most likely be working with heavier fabrics and you’ll find that this model is really effective at tackling tough, thick textiles.

Compared to other sewing machines it’s not big on creative features (it offers 11 stitch patterns for a start, and only a handful of those are decorative). So for that reason it’s not really a machine for someone with a passion for craft projects or dressmaking. This is more of a workhorse machine so if that’s what you’re looking for it won’t disappoint.

Key specs

  • Sewing machine type: Electronic
  • Number of stitch options: 11
  • Weight: 6.4kg
  • Dimensions: 40 × 16 × 30.5cm
Buy now from Amazon

How to choose the best sewing machine

When starting your search for a suitable sewing machine, it’s a good idea to get to grips with the three main types:

Electronic sewing machines: Definitely the most popular type for most sewing enthusiasts. They have a motor operated by a foot pedal, and decent models will have a good range of speeds to allow you to work as fast or slow as you’d like. Electronic sewing machines also offer a varied choice of stitch sizes and lengths. A great option if you’re a beginner and want to get to grips with the basics of sewing.

Computerised sewing machines: These will feel like a step up from a traditional electronic sewing machine. They’ll happily manage all the tasks you’d expect, but they're able to complete more advanced techniques as well. Using a touchpad and a screen to operate it, you’ll be able to expand your options for stitch sizes and lengths dramatically, and in some cases create your own! You’ll also be able to take advantage of a memory function, keeping a record of past work and saving you time when it comes to new projects.

Overlocker sewing machine: If you’re considering an overlocker you’ll most likely be a more experienced machinist. Many people choose to buy this style of machine as a second piece of equipment, because although they do what they’re designed to do to a high standard, they are also very limited in what they can do. Basically, if your main aim is to give your clothes a professional finish then this is a good option to look into. Overlockers are designed to help you to create the neatest of hems at a fast speed to rival a professional finish.

Remember, it’s really important to have a think about the kind of projects you will be taking on before you make a decision about which sewing machine to buy. Bigger is not always better, and in the case of sewing machines, bigger often means pricier and more cumbersome! Before you splash lots of cash, consider whether a more compact model can do the jobs you’re looking for.

“I have a fancy pants computerised machine, a middle of the range machine and a vintage 1970s machine that does only the basics – the latter is the one I love most for its simplicity. It's a workhorse that never lets me down.” (Mumsnetter)

What are the main features to look out for to suit beginners, intermediate and advanced sewers?

The next step to consider is which features you’d like included in your sewing machine. Here are a few of the options you should think about:

The selection of stitches and foot attachments: This will depend on your sewing level and ability. Think about whether you’ll be dressmaking, embroidering cushions or making curtains and figure out which settings you’ll need. Make sure that your machine offers enough variety for what you want to create
Is there a buttonhole function? All sewers, regardless of ability, should take advantage of this option if available.
Does it have an auto-thread function? This is particularly important for beginners.

There are many more features to look out for, so take the time to explore your options carefully before making a decision.

What can I use a handheld sewing machine for?

The best thing about a handheld sewing machine is that you can take it anywhere. If you’re going on a trip and fancy continuing a project you’ve been working on, then you can easily pop it into your luggage and you’ll barely notice the space it takes up.

Compared to hand stitching, it is definitely the better option for accuracy of stitches and it’s a great option if you’re mainly interested in repairing clothes or other textiles, or if you have a crafting hobby (providing the fabrics you sew with aren’t too thick for the machine to handle). The price is also very appealing compared to a standard sewing machine.

However, handheld options are definitely not as durable. They can also be quite tricky to master, and many people end up searching online for video demonstrations to help them get to grips with how to use it effectively. If you’re a keen sewer then it’s probably more sensible to invest in a larger sewing machine.

What is the best sewing machine to buy?

We opted for the Janome J3-24 Sewing Machine for its range of features including 24 built-in stitch options and an automatic one-step buttonhole. It ticks lots of boxes and is reasonably priced for beginners looking to tackle a variety of tasks from dressmaking to craft projects. And it offers a range of accessories to keep most enthusiastic sewers inspired!

How we chose our recommendations

Our sewing machine suggestions have come from recommendations on the Mumsnet forums and from consumer reviews on the web. We consulted advice from other review websites to ensure that the products we reviewed were accurate and unbiased. We also consulted independent review sites for opinions about products to ensure we were bringing you an honest summary of the best sewing machines to buy.

Why you should trust us

Mumsnet has been helping parents make their lives easier since 2000 and, in those years, we’ve seen, tried and reviewed thousands of products.

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.

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