The best sewing machines

  • If you've ever wanted to make your own masks or clothes, or even just repair small holes and ripped seams, you'll want a good sewing machine. 
  • I relied on my background as a theatrical costume maker for six years; consulted three sewing, quilting, and patternmaking experts; and then tested four models to determine the best sewing machines for different needs.
  • Of the four models we tested, the Brother CS7000X is the best sewing machine for most people. 
  • It's a beginner-friendly machine with precise and user-friendly handling, consistent stitches, convenient features like a needle up/needle down button and one-step buttonholes, and lots of useful accessories.

If you've ever wanted to make custom masks that fit your face perfectly; repair clothes or upholstery; or sew costumes, clothing, or quilts; you'll need a good sewing machine. 

As a theatrical costume maker for six years, I've made everything from heavy corsets and hoop skirts to whisper-thin chiffon dresses and elegantly tailored suits, and even 20 identical sequin sailor suits strong enough to stand up to vigorous dancing. I've been sewing for 30 years and one of the reasons I love it is because my sewing machine works so well. 

I tried a lot of machines before I landed on a sturdy, recently discontinued mechanical model that I bought second-hand 20 years ago. If you're just starting out, it's important to find an easy-to-use machine that does the kind of sewing you want, whether it's quilting or simple repairs, and hopefully makes it fun, too. No matter how much you might like to sew, struggling with an unresponsive or frustrating machine can turn it into a terrible chore. 

That's why I tested four machines, and based on my own experience after consulting three experts, I put each one through a series of tests to evaluate performance and ease of use. You can check out my full testing methodology below along with a helpful glossary and list of sewing machines we're looking forward to testing next.

Here are the best sewing machines:

  • Best sewing machine overall: Brother CS7000X
  • Best mechanical sewing machine: Singer Heavy Duty 4452
  • Best high-end sewing machine: Bernina 535

Updated 11/10/20: We've completely rewritten this guide after comprehensive testing and expert interviews. We've also added information about our testing methodology, how to shop for a sewing machine, a glossary of terms to know, and more.

The best sewing machine overall

The Brother CS7000X is a beginner-friendly computerized machine that makes it easy to sew at the touch of button, and it comes with a lot of decorative stitches and useful accessories. 

Pros: Quiet, reasonably priced, 70 utility and decorative stitches, seven buttonholes, has a wide variety of useful features such as needle up/down and automatic backstitch

Cons: Computerized controls can be intimidating, inconvenient storage compartment

If you wanted to start a project right away, you could do so without looking at anything besides the Brother CS7000X's Quick Start Guide. It teaches you how to fill a bobbin, thread the machine, and start sewing. This is a great, easy-to-use, beginner-friendly machine with a lot of features that advanced and tech-adverse sewers will appreciate too. 

For most sewing projects, you'll just need a straight stitch, zig-zag stitch, and a buttonhole. This machine did an excellent job with all three of them — and quietly too. 

The machine handled lightweight cotton muslin and cotton jersey very well. The stitches were straight and even, and they looked neat from both sides of the fabric. The fabric fed through smoothly and evenly too. 

Silk chiffon is difficult to sew at the best of times, and it took several experiments to figure out how to sew the chiffon sample without pulling or puckering. By switching to a finer 70/10 needle, shortening the stitch length to two, and loosening the tension from four to three, I was able to get nice, smooth results with no puckering.

This machine was also a powerhouse when sewing several layers of heavy upholstery fabric. The fabric fed through easily, and the machine was able to sew through three or four layers and make neat, closely stitched buttonholes. 

In testing, the one-step buttonholes were easy to execute with the included button foot. The machine stops sewing automatically as soon as the buttonhole is finished, making sure all the buttonholes look neat, even, and consistent.

The machine also has a lot of extra features that make sewing easier for beginners and advanced sewers like the needle up/down button, which allows you to move the needle in a single step. The machine can also be programmed to your preference, so you can set the needle to default to the left or center while sewing, or have the needle stop in the up or down position, which is a great feature to sew sharp corners more easily. 

The automatic backstitch creates a single backstitch at the touch of a button, instead of having to control it with the wheel or foot pedal — useful for securing your seam stitches. It saves a bit of motion and makes a tidy-looking backstitch every time. I also appreciated the speed control, which tells the machine how fast or slow you want it to go, so you can use slower speeds for more careful work or faster speeds for zipping along straight lines. 

Beginners will especially appreciate that the machine gives a small beep if they're about to commit a user error, like forgetting to push the buttonhole lever down before trying to sew a buttonhole.

This model has 70 stitches and seven buttonholes, and you can look up the machine's stitch guide on the Brother website to find out what each one looks like and does. Experimenting with all the options was fun, and I enjoyed making the machine sew little flower borders and Greek keys. As a garment sewer, I might not ever need those things, but it's fun to imagine how I might include them. 

The brand lists the machine at around 18 pounds but according to my scale, it's closer to 10.4 pounds, which makes it easy to carry around. It comes with a hard plastic case, which is good for protection. The flat bed attachment on the front of the machine doesn't have a hinged compartment for storage though. It slides on and off and is not enclosed, so any accessories in the storage compartment have to be kept in a plastic bag, and the whole attachment has to be taken off to access them. It's not convenient, but not a dealbreaker either.

This machine is a great value. At one point while testing it, I stopped to double-check the price. Most good machines start around $200, but with all these features, I expected to pay a lot more. It's a great general-purpose machine for garments, crafts, and quilts, and it comes with a lot of stitch options and useful accessories too. 

The machine is bundled with 10 presser feet, including a walking foot, which is useful for quilting and matching patterns across seams. It also comes with a piecing foot, quilting foot, quilting guide for making evenly spaced lines, and a wide table attachment for increasing the sewing area. 

The best computerized sewing machine

The Singer Heavy Duty 4452 is a powerful, low-maintenance mechanical sewing machine that will power through any fabric from silk to denim.

Pros: Fast, powerful, simple to use, easy to care for because of less technology

Cons: Only has 32 stitches, does not have many decorative stitches, does not have an attractive buttonhole, loud

This machine is so easy to use that a time-traveler from 1963 could probably thread and start sewing without ever having to look at a manual. In fact, a manual wasn't even included in the box, just a Quick Start Guide for how to fill a bobbin and thread the machine. Everything on the machine is controlled via knobs, levers, and dials, so you can pick things up quickly. 

The machine only has 32 stitches and one buttonhole, so it might be limiting to some sewers. 

The Singer Heavy Duty is loud, powerful, and fast. In testing, it handled lightweight cotton muslin, stretch jersey, and several layers of heavy upholstery fabric very well. All the fabric went through the machine evenly, and the stitches were even and straight, though the backstitch didn't look very neat. At first, the zig-zag stitch on the stretch jersey also looked too tight on the bobbin-thread side, but after I adjusted the top thread tension a bit, I was able to make it look even on both sides. 

This machine can sew lightweight fabrics like silk chiffon and charmeuse, but it's more difficult because the powerful feed yanked the delicate fabric too quickly, causing the fabric to shift and the seam to pucker. To make the seam look nice, I had to test several different thread tensions and baste, or roughly hand sew, the seam to keep the layers from moving. If you plan to use this machine for light fabrics, you'll want to remember to use a sharp, fine needle for delicate fabrics.

The machine makes a plain, rectangular one-step buttonhole. The buttonhole took several attempts before it worked out, but it was frustrating and I don't know what I did to get it to start working either. The first few times I tried to sew buttonholes, the fabric stopped moving when the machine was ready to change directions, but the machine kept sewing so the thread made a big lump and the fabric got stuck. On the fourth or fifth attempt, things just started working and the buttonholes were fine.  

The buttonhole is functional, but it's not particularly beautiful since it's a mechanical machine, and you have to know when to take your foot off the pedal. If you don't, the machine will keep sewing. This can be tough for any level of sewer because it's more difficult to ensure the buttonholes are consistent. 

There's also no speed control other than changing how much pressure you put on the foot pedal. If you push too hard, the fabric might fly through so quickly that you can't control it. This machine has a maximum speed of 1,100 stitches per minute, so it's very fast when you want it to be but it takes some time to figure out speed control.

The flat bed attachment at the front of the machine has a convenient hinged compartment for storing accessories. It comes with five presser feet, including a walking foot, which is good for dealing with very thick fabric. It also comes with a light cloth cover to protect it from dust but no carrying case. You wouldn't want to carry this one around anyway, it weighs roughly 15 pounds. 

While this is a simple and straightforward machine, it won't hold your hand the way a lot of computerized machines do. A computerized machine might help you control the fabric and stitch neatly and consistently. This machine expects you to do all the work, and when something goes wrong, it expects you to troubleshoot it. A beginner might find that frustrating, but this is a good option for an experienced sewer who just wants something inexpensive, powerful, and portable, without having to learn a whole new sewing machine. 

Best high-end sewing machine

The Bernina 535 is an expensive computerized machine for people who know how to sew and want to take advantage of its huge array of special stitches or get into computerized embroidery while avoiding a lot of the petty annoyances of sewing.

Pros: Handles lightweight and heavyweight fabric well, easy to control, makes beautiful stitches, has embroidery capability, includes slide-on sewing table 

Cons: Requires a lot of practice to learn how to use for beginners, not a machine to just plug in and sew right out of the box

Using this machine is the next best thing to having elves come into my house at night and sew all my projects while I'm asleep. It's solidly built and feels sturdy and well-made. 

The stitches were perfect and precise on every fabric I tested without having to make any adjustments. The fabric glided through evenly with no pulling or puckering — even the chiffon that was so difficult with the other machines. The stretch zig-zag stitch was so even and balanced that it looked like it came from a store.

I've been sewing for 30 years and I was impressed by how smooth and effortless the machine was. It made me feel like a better sewer. Beginners likely won't feel the same, but I wouldn't recommend getting such an expensive computerized machine if you're just starting out. 

A machine that costs nearly $4,000 will definitely have more of everything. Where an entry-level machine might come with a simple operating manual, the Bernina 535 comes with a heavy 180-page spiral-bound user manual with heavy, glossy paper and full-color ink — there's a digital version within the machine too. It explains all the features of the machine clearly and offers tips and project ideas. It's like the machine is its own sewing class, which inspired my creativity. For example, there's one machine quilting stitch designed to imitate the look of hand sewing. I've never used anything like that before, but now I can't stop thinking of fun projects I could do with it. 

This machine is available online, but if you pick it up from a dealer, you can get personal instruction about how to set up the machine and take advantage of its features. Be warned though — it weighs around 35 pounds, so bring a hand truck.

The dealer I picked the machine up from said she would normally spend at least half an hour teaching a customer to use a machine like this, and there are continuing education and master classes going on at the store so you can develop your skills and get the most out of all these fancy features. There are also classes online or at various Bernina Creative Centers around the US. 

With so many features, it can be overwhelming, so it's not a machine for beginners. With a bit of practice and instruction though, it becomes clearer how to select different functions and operate special features. It has a brightly lit, 3- by 2-inch touch-screen control panel which you can operate with your finger or the included stylus.

You use the screen to navigate through the stitch options, which are grouped by utility, decorative, buttonholes, and alphabets. Select one and it will bring a menu of all the stitches in the category. Click on a stitch, and you can control the length, width, and tension through the control panel. You can even save favorite stitches, or combine different stitch patterns into an intricate, lace-like effect for embellishment. 

This machine goes beyond helping a user avoid a lot of the petty annoyances of sewing. A lot of typical sewing problems are caused by incorrectly putting in a bobbin, but it's physically impossible here because there's only one way to fit it into the case. The machine even alerts you when the bobbin is running low, so you won't have to worry about sewing long channels, only to discover you've been sewing with air the whole time. It also has an automatic thread cutter, which can neatly finish your stitch and snip threads whenever you stop sewing. 

The pressure foot can also adjust its pressure depending on what kind of fabric you're using. This ensures the fabric is fed through the machine evenly and seams don't shift or pull as you sew. It even makes sewing lightweight silk chiffon easy. 

You can also buy a separate embroidery module, which is a fun way to explore machine embroidery without having to buy a dedicated embroidery machine

The Bernina 535 comes with five presser feet, a dust cover, a box for accessories, a slide-on table to increase the sewing surface, and a free-hand system so you can raise and lower the presser foot with your knee without having to let go of the fabric. 

What we also recommend

Brother CS5055: If you're looking for a powerful sewing machine without a ton of accessories, the Brother CS5055 is an easy-to-use machine for clothes, crafts, masks, and more. It's as powerful as our top pick, the Brother CS7000X, but has 10 fewer stitches and three fewer presser feet, though none of the missing ones are truly useful for most projects. Due to the minimal price difference, we think the CS7000X is a better value and will serve most people's needs perfectly. But if the CS5055 is on sale or the CS7000X is out of stock, this is a great machine that we're happy to recommend.

Our testing methodology

I have 30 years of sewing experience and six years as a theatrical costume maker, so I know what stitches most people will or won't need. I also consulted quilt artist and educator Valerie C. White; couture designer, educator, and Threads contributing editor Kenneth D. King; and CEO and designer of Style Sew Me Patterns Eryn Shields; and my own professional colleagues.

Basic stitches on different fabrics: When I spoke with Shields and King, they confirmed that you need three basic things from a sewing machine: a straight stitch, a zig-zag stitch, and a good buttonhole. The rest, according to King, is gravy.

I tested how each machine performed those three tasks on four common fabrics I would use to make or repair clothes, quilts, or upholstery: plain-weave cotton muslin that has a similar weight to a basic quilting cotton, four-way stretch knit jersey that's 90% cotton and 10% Spandex, lightweight 100% silk chiffon, and heavy-weight upholstery fabric.

Every sample was also pressed and pinned before sewing for consistency. I sewed through two layers of cotton muslin, jersey, and silk chiffon to mimic a simple seam made of two pieces of fabric sewn together, and four layers of upholstery fabric to make sure the machine could handle a very thick, heavy project. 

I tested each machine with Gutermann Sew-All Thread, an all-purpose polyester thread, as both the top thread and the bobbin thread. Due to the different fabric weights, I used the universal needle that came pre-installed on each machine to sew through the cotton muslin and upholstery fabric, a ball-point needle for jersey fabric, and a 70/10 needle for silk chiffon. I noted whether stitches looked tight and neat, if the fabric (in the case of the cotton jersey) stretched well and sprang back to its original state, and if the fabric puckered (in the case of the silk chiffon).

Decorative stitches: With the three computerized machines, I also tested a sampling of the decorative stitches on cotton muslin to see if the machine could stitch something like a cute row of stars or flowers. 

Buttonholes: All four machines came with a buttonhole foot, so I used those feet to create a basic rectangular buttonhole. Because the cotton jersey has some stretch to it, I also tested a stretch buttonhole using the three computerized machines — it's not an option with the manual Singer Heavy Duty machine. 

Ease of use: During my testing, I also evaluated the machines based on ease of use, taking into whether it was a computerized or mechanical unit.   

Extra features: I tested each machine's extra features such as needle up/down buttons, noises or lights that notify you of a user error, knee lift, and more to see if they were helpful or novelties. 

How to shop for a sewing machine

Here are some tips for sewing machine shopping from our experts. 

Shop in person if you can

Our experts suggest going to a dealer for hands-on guidance and support, as well as for future classes, repairs and maintenance, and potential trade-ins — here's how to find a dealer for Brother and Bernina. Singer sewing machines are more readily available at craft stores and big-box retailers around the US, and you can register your machine for warranty and repairs. A good dealer will help you develop your sewing skills, learn to use all the features of your machine, and help troubleshoot if things go wrong. But we realize that some people don't live near reputable dealers and that many people are not comfortable going into stores right now. That's why all of our picks can be purchased online, meet criteria based on the experts I spoke with, and performed well in our tests.

Know your brands

King said he likes Bernina machines, but also said Brother and Janome are both reputable brands with good machines."What I like about Bernina machines is that the quality is consistent throughout the line," he said. "You can get a lower-end Bernina machine with fewer features for less money, but you're still going to get a quality machine."

Brands like Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff, Juki, and Babylock are also well-regarded and known for making very good machines. 

Decide what kind of sewing you want to do, but give yourself room to grow

According to Shields, for garment sewers, a straight stitch, zig-zag stitch for stretch fabrics, and a buttonhole are going to take care of all your basic needs.

For quilting, one of the most useful attachments is a walking foot. This moves the presser foot so both the presser foot and the feed dogs move the fabric, which keeps the layers from shifting while you sew. White says one of her favorite features for quilting is a knee lift, which raises and lowers the presser foot, so you don't need to use your hand. 

White also likes a machine that warns you when the bobbin is about to run out — this is especially helpful for beginners. 

Of the machines we tested, the Brother CS7000X and the Singer Heavy Duty both come with walking feet, and the Brother CS7000X and the Bernina 535 both alert you when the bobbin is low, but only the Bernina 535 has a knee lift. 

White also suggests a machine that you can grow into. "You're going to learn to do other things, and you should have a machine that will push you to explore some creative avenues," White said. 

Test the machine on different kinds of fabric

Shields says garment sewers should think about what kinds of fabrics they want to sew and bring samples with them to the store, if possible, so they can test the machine on different fabrics. 

"Some people like to sew kids' clothes, so they'll be sewing with a lot of lightweight cottons and you can pretty much use any machine for that. If they plan to sew a lot of outerwear or work in heavy fabrics like wool and denim, they'll want to make sure that they have a workhorse machine that can handle those types of fabric." 

Of the machines we looked at, the Singer Heavy Duty is a great option for anybody looking to sew heavy outerwear fabric. 

Look for good customer service

White emphasizes the need for good customer service, which all of the brands we recommend have. "If I call with a question, they're more than happy to answer it," White said of her Bernina dealer. "And it's not just because I've received national attention. They treat all their customers like that. Especially those that are just starting out and need to know how to use their machine. They need to go be able to go back and find out, 'Why would I need this needle versus that needle?'" A dealer can be more helpful than videos or online tutorials and can answer questions about what to expect in terms of service, repairs, and more. 

Read reviews from people who have tried the machine

If you can't shop in person, Shields says to make sure you read a lot of reviews to learn about the experiences of people who have actually been sewing with the machine. 

Why sewing machines are so expensive

Sewing machines are available at a range of price points, but many of the good ones can start somewhere around $200 when they're not on sale. 

While the price is a factor in any purchase, King advised against going for the very cheapest machine you can find, if you can help it. "There are a lot of machines that are very inexpensive, but they aren't very good," he explained. That's especially a problem for beginners, he said, because struggling with a difficult machine can be demoralizing and could put a beginner off sewing forever. 

Some machines are available for under $50, while better ones can start around $200 and top-tier quilting or embroidery machines can cost well over $10,000. Most people will never need a $10,000 sewing machine, but spending $200 or $300 on a sewing machine can be a worthwhile investment, even for a beginner.

Here are some things that make sewing machines more expensive:

Durability: There are a lot of moving parts inside a sewing machine, and many of them are expected to move very quickly for long periods of time, often in the presence of large amounts of dust, threads, and fluff. Machines with metal parts cost a bit more but are much more durable than machines made with cheaper plastic parts. A good mechanical machine should last for decades with a bit of regular maintenance. I own a couple of antique machines that are more than 70 years old and still sew like new, and I've been using a mechanical Bernina model for most of my home projects for the past 20 years.

Reliability: The most annoying thing about sewing is the tiny day-to-day malfunctions that can happen to anybody. Any machine can jam, skip stitches, or have tension problems, but based on my experience, it tends to happen less often with higher-end machines.  

Stability: The quality of the internal parts and engineering also affects the way it feels to sew with a machine. A small, inexpensive machine might be very portable, but it can be uncomfortable to sew if shakes or rattles while you sew with it.  

Additional features: Higher-end machines have extra features that aren't essential, but are nice to have. They can cut the thread, add an automatic backstitch, adjust the presser foot pressure, and remember your preferences so the machine is always set up the way you like it. 

Stitches: Computerized machines can come with tons of stitches, including alphabets and numbers. Some machines even have embroidery capabilities. Most people won't need all those stitches, but they can be fun to play with, especially for adding a bit of flourish to napkins, doll clothes, and masks. Some high-end machines, like the Bernina 535, have a machine embroidery add-on so you don't have to buy a separate embroidery machine.

Service: If you're spending a couple hundred dollars or more on a machine, there should be some guarantee that it will continue to work. If you buy the machine directly from the manufacturer, it should have a warranty of at least two years for a computerized machine or 20 years for a mechanical machine (Brother has a generous 25-year warranty). You should also have an option for servicing your machine if something goes wrong, whether that involves taking it to the dealer for repairs or sending it back to the company. 

Specialized technology: The most expensive sewing machines are designed for specific uses, like quilting or embroidery. A top-tier professional embroidery machine can embroider custom designs using 16 spools of embroidery thread. Special long-arm machines that can make enormous quilts are prized by quilters, but many of them cost well over $10,000.

The sewing machine glossary

Here are common sewing terms you'd need to know when shopping for or using sewing machines.

Mechanical machines: One of two machine types, a mechanical sewing machine is a manual model with stitches controlled by knobs and dials. Mechanical machines tend to be less intimidating with no mysterious lights or error messages. These also tend to be sturdy and long-lasting because there's no complicated motherboard. If something goes wrong, it's likely that it can be repaired locally without having to call tech support or send your machine back to the company for repairs. 

Computerized machines: This comes with pre-loaded stitches and has a lot of automated features to help you save time, cut threads, make buttonholes, and more. It doesn't do all the work for you, so you still have to feed the fabric through the machine and move it around, but it does make sewing a lot easier. 

Automatic needle threader: This is a small lever next to the needle that threads the needle for you instead of having to poke a thread through the needle eye with your hand. This is a great feature, especially if you have trouble seeing the eye of the needle or threading a needle by hand. 

Needle up/down feature: If your machine has this feature, you can program the needle to stop in the up or down position whenever you stop sewing. This is very useful if you want to sew sharp corners because you can stop with the needle in the down position, lift the presser foot, and rotate the fabric with the needle still in it, lower the presser foot again, and continue sewing to make a precise turn. 

Presser foot: This is the part of the machine that holds down the fabric while you sew. There are a ton of optional presser feet attachments that can help you install zippers, sew buttonholes, make hems, ruffle fabric, stitch neatly along an edge, apply trim or cording, and more. 

Walking foot/Even feed foot: This is an optional presser foot that "walks" as you sew, so the presser foot and the feed dogs both move the fabric. It's good for thick fabrics, quilting, or for matching patterns, because it means the top and bottom layers are moved through the machine at the same time, so there's no shifting or pulling. 

Bobbin: A small spool of thread that goes in the arm of the machine, under the feed dogs, and forms the stitches on the bottom side of the fabric.  

Feed dogs: These little metal teeth are visible under the presser foot and move to guide the fabric through the machine. 

Automatic thread cutter: This feature automatically pulls the top thread through to the bobbin side and neatly cuts both when you're finished sewing, which saves time and creates a very neat finish. 

Knee lift: A knee lift allows you to raise and lower the presser foot with your knee, so you don't have to let go of the fabric. 

Straight stitch: The most basic sewing stitch and the one most sewers will use most often. The needle goes up and down without moving from side to side, and if you hold the fabric straight, you can sew a long straight line. 

Zig-zag stitch: The needle moves from side to side and creates a zig-zag. This is an essential stitch if you sew stretch garments because it allows the fabric to stretch and return without snapping the threads. It's also a sturdy stitch, so if you want to attach something very strongly, a zig-zag is useful. You can also create a zig-zag stitch along the cut edge of your fabric to prevent it from fraying.  

Buttonhole: A slit in the fabric for a button to go through. It resembles a rectangle with sharp corners, and the edges are finished with very closely spaced stitches to prevent the fabric from stretching or fraying. 

Keyhole buttonhole: Instead of two squared ends, a keyhole buttonhole has one round end. It's a sturdy buttonhole that's useful with thicker, heavier fabrics, especially if you're using a button that isn't flat on the back and has a shank. 

Throat/harp length: The throat or harp of a machine is how much space you have between the needle and the vertical part of the sewing machine. A larger throat area makes it possible to sew large things like quilts without having to reposition the fabric as often. 

Arm length: Similar to the throat, the arm is the freestanding area around the base of the machine that lets you sew anything tubular, like pant legs, sleeves, and more. Quilters will want a longer one, but it's often an expensive feature. 

What we're looking forward to testing next

We researched a few machines that didn't arrive in time for testing and were short on inventory due to the pandemic. Here's what we're looking forward to testing next. 

Janome Jem Gold 660: I'm interested in testing the Janome Jem, a sturdy but lightweight mechanical machine with eight stitches and a buttonhole. King suggests that it's a really good, small machine.

Janome Derby: These super-cute machines are tiny and colorful. They only weigh five pounds, and they have 10 stitches and come in 11 colors. 

Janome MC6650 Sewing and Quilting Machine: This machine has a longer arm than you'll find in most home machines, which is a useful feature for quilters. It has 170 stitches and two alphabets, and it's powerful enough to sew leather. It's a powerful machine with a lot of useful features, including a needle up/down button and an automatic thread cutter. 

Singer Quantum Stylist 9960: This computerized machine has 600 stitches, including letters and 13 different buttonholes. It has a needle up/down feature, an automatic thread cutter, and adjustable speed control. 

Husqvarna Viking Jade 20: This sharp-looking machine comes with a sewing reference guide printed on the lid. You can look up what fabric you want to sew, and it will tell you what stitch and settings to use for the best results. It has 80 stitches and an automatic start-stop button so you don't have to control it with the foot pedal.  

Juki HZL DX7: This is a powerful computerized machine with 287 stitch patterns, some of which can be combined to create a lace-like effect on the fabric. You can control the height of the presser foot by the millimeter, and it has a "float" function that lets you sew with the presser foot slightly raised, so you can sew without pushing the layers or creating uneven seams. There is also a buttonhole sensor option for making beautiful buttonholes on all types of fabric. 

EverSewn Sparrow 25: EverSewn machines are designed with ease of use in mind. They look cool and appear to target a young demographic, with colorful, well-packaged kits and accessories that look like they were designed to be good gifts. They're reasonably priced, kid-friendly machines with features normally associated with higher-end models, like automatic thread cutters and needle up/down buttons.

Bernette 35: Bernette is owned by Bernina, so the machines are reliable and less expensive. This mechanical model has 23 stitches and comes with 7 presser feet.

Check out our other sewing buying guides

  • The best sewing shears and scissors
  • The best sewing supplies
  • The best serger sewing machines
  • The best quilting tools and supplies

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