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Best sewing machines for beginners

Whether you want to learn to alter what’s already in your wardrobe, build a whole new look from scratch, or try and wrangle another year of wear out of those expensive clothes your little one has already grown out of (it will happen), there’s one thing you simply can’t do without: a sewing machine that’s up to the task. And we’re here to help.

If this is your first ever sewing machine, you’re likely to need a little guidance on how to find one that’s sturdy and fully featured enough to stand the test of time, but won’t be difficult to use or break the bank, and we think our list of the best sewing machines for beginners has it sussed. Singer sewing machines are an instantly recognisable favourite, and their constant innovation as well as their classic status earns them two spots on this list. Brother, Bernina and Janome machines all have their selling points, too, whether it’s their friendly factor or full complement of features.

The materials you’re likely to be working with are a factor, so look for a machine that can handle knits, synthetic fabrics and blends to be on the safe side. If you’re a student or are likely to be on the move a lot, a more lightweight portable sewing machine with carry case is your best bet. Whatever your needs, take a look through our top sewing machines shortlist, and you’ll be bobbin along in no time.

1. Janome 525S

A small-screen star with big credentials

Best for: Which? Best Buy
Number of stitches: *24
Reasons to buy
+Quick to set up, easy to use+24-stitch, 2 speed foot pedal
Reasons to avoid
-Not many decorative stitches

Avid watchers of The Great British Sewing Bee might recognise this nifty machine, and we can see how it got its starring role. Its built-in needle threader, jam-proof drop-in bobbin system and quick foot conversion means it’s fast and simple to get going — and keep going. The only downside: there are no slow speed options, so while the 2-speed pedal might be sufficient for a more confident sewer who’s already had a little bit of practice, it might put off some more hesitant starters.

2. Brother AE1700

This little Brother is a great companion for new starters

Best for: Absolute beginners
Number of stitches: 17
Reasons to buy
+Drop-in bobbin+Instructional DVD included
Reasons to avoid
-A little on the loud side

The Brother AE1700 is probably the most beginner-friendly option on our list. It comes with its own instructional DVD that not only gets you set up, but acts as a useful reference point throughout use. Material glides easily through and the foot pedal is forgiving, easing the user in gently if they’re unused to the action. It also has an impressive range of stitch patterns for the price point. 

3. Singer 4411

Sturdy, speedy, and surprisingly quiet

Best for: Quality
Number of stitches: 11
Reasons to buy
+Sturdy and reliable+Surprisingly quiet
Reasons to avoid
-Only 11 stitches

With enough accessories for a good amount of experimentation straight off the bat, and handy storage to keep them all together, this sturdy Singer model has everything you need to get started. The high speed (1100 stitches a minute) mean that once you get the hang of it, you’ll be flying along. But even until then, this machine’s high quality and low maintenance, its reliable stitching and enthusiastic tackling of heavyweight materials, make it a joy to use.

4. Singer 7470

This Singer is potentially the star of the show with a whopping 225 built-in stitches

Best for: Features
Number of stitches: 225
Reasons to buy
+Huge selection of stitches+Automatic tension settings
Reasons to avoid
-Auto threader sometimes finds issues

With a whopping 225 built-in stitches and 7 one-step buttonholes in its arsenal, plus a one-touch stitch selection feature with which to choose them, this Singer model is the most feature-heavy on our list. Its automatic needle threader and Drop & Sew bobbin system also mean it’s a cinch to set up. If you’re not sure where your next project will take you, this is the machine to have on your side.

5. Bernina b215

OK Computer, smashing sewing machine

Best for: Stretchy fabrics
Number of stitches: n/a
Reasons to buy
+Variable needle position+Best price in the Bernina range 
Reasons to avoid
-Still expensive

The computerised Bernina 215 is a superb entry-level model, granting beginner sewers access to an aspirational premium brand. Its big seller is the LCD screen offering step-by-step guidance, especially useful when it comes to dastardly buttonholes, which typically fill more inexperienced sewers with dread. It sews even trickier fabrics quickly and with very little noise or off-putting vibration, and its stitches are sturdy, even and beautifully formed.

6. Brother Innovis NV15

Ready to go in no time

Best for: Quick and easy start-up
Number of stitches: 16
Reasons to buy
+Simple to set up+Handles all types of fabric
Reasons to avoid
-Not many options for the price

The Brother Innovis has been praised by reviewers for its set-up, quick enough to get sewing as soon as the mood takes you, and simple enough for first-timers to avoid getting in a tangle. A complement of 16 stitches means enough variety to help you hone a variety of skills, and the jog-dial stitch selector plus LCD screen gives all the relevant info at a glance.

7. Janome 2200XT

Light and portable, easily take your sewing away with you

Best for: Great value
Number of stitches: 22
Reasons to buy
+Great value+Light and portable
Reasons to avoid
-Quite loud

Another great value basic, the light and portable Janome 2200XT is especially good for sewers on the go, whether that entails bringing it home from halls for the holidays or transporting it to a weekly sewing class. It’s also robust and reliable enough to do exactly what it needs to, with all the features you’d expect at this price range, including a respectable 22 stitches.

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