Best sewing machines for beginners: easy to use machines from Brother, Bernina, and John Lewis

Channel your creative energies into something you can wear and take up sewing with one of these brilliant beginner sewing machines  

The best sewing machines for beginnersThe best sewing machines for beginners
The best sewing machines for beginners

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Whether it’s The Great British Sewing Bee, a friend’s enviable Instagram or pure boredom that’s inspired you to take up sewing, finding the right machine will make or break your newfound hobby.  

There are numerous sewing machines targeted at beginners on the market, with Janome, Brother and Bernina among the leading brands. They tend to have a single motor and a foot pedal, which leaves your hands free to guide the fabric.

What should you look for? 

Sarah Cordery, founder of fashion design agency Sarah Denise Studio, enjoys making burlesque costumes in her spare time. She recommends looking for a machine that offers straight stitch, zig zag stitch and an automatic buttonhole function, while steering clear of “anything too fancy” that might overwhelm you and put you off.  

“Check that the machine you buy lets you adjust the stitch length and width,” she says. “A feature that alerts you when your bobbin is running out of thread is handy too.”

What will a beginner’s machine be able to do? 

Entry level sewing machines should suffice for alterations, dressmaking and simple crafty projects, but you may want more stitch options for quilting and embroidery. Consider size and weight. Look for a lighter, more compact machine if you’ll need to move it about a lot, but go bigger and heavier if you can for better stability, clearer controls and a larger sewing area. Even the trustiest sewing machines can be temperamental and need servicing, so check that your chosen model comes with a decent warranty.

What should you pay? 

In terms of what you should spend, there are plenty of affordable and reliable machines that will last you years with proper care. Beginners should expect to pay between £100 and £300 for a standard machine and between £300 and £400 for a computerised machine. We’ve included a couple of options for under £100, too, which can make good choices if you simply want to have a play or tackle odd jobs.

Ready, steady, sew!

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