It's a Perfect Time to Learn How to Sew—Check Out 5 Top-Rated Machines for Beginners

Learn a new skill while social distancing.

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In the nearly two years since the pandemic began, many of our readers learned how to sew—and now, they're using this skill to make all kinds of easy sewing projects. If you've been looking to pick up a new hobby, we've got all the resources you need to get started. We'll even help you choose the right sewing machine!

Because the demand for sewing machines skyrocketed during the pandemic, CNN reported a sewing machine shortage last year. Luckily, we found a few that are back in stock, and we're here to tell you exactly which one will fit best with your level of sewing experience.

We chatted with Sonja Carmon, one of our go-to sewing experts at Better Homes & Gardens (she made this simple six-pocket bag and these DIY lavender eye masks), about the best ways for beginner sewers to get started and what to look for when buying a sewing machine for the first time.

She said one of the easiest ways to judge which machine will be right for you is to read the reviews from consumers who have made projects similar to the ones you'd like to make. Many stores that sell sewing machines also offer some sewing classes to go with them (although you'll need to rely on online tutorials until it's safe to go back into the stores). You can also turn to friends or family members who already know how to sew. "My best tip for beginning sewing is to take a class or find a friend who sews and learn the basics," she says. "The machine does not have to be fancy; honestly that's best for a beginner. Fewer bells and whistles equal fewer things that can go awry and frustrate a first-time stitcher."

In addition to online classes and tutorials, our ultimate sewing guide can help you learn about all the terms, materials, and techniques you'll need to know. When you do get your machine, Carmon says it's best to start small, even though you may be anxious to start with bigger projects. "The biggest mistake people make is to buy a sewing machine and start by trying to make a project they aren't ready for," she says. "You should start with simple stitching of straight lines and seams to get the feel for the machine, then start in with simple projects."

Features to Look For in a Machine

Based on the reviews of the best beginner sewing machines (we've outlined our top picks below), there are a few features to look for that are especially helpful for a beginner sewer.

  • Automatic Needle Threader: Most modern machines have this feature, but it's our top must-have in a beginner sewing machine. An automatic needle threader is exactly what it sounds like: Rather than trying to thread your needles by hand, let the machine do the work for you.
  • Built-In Stitches: Look for a beginner machine that has at least 10-20 built-in stitches. While some machines come with 100 or more built-in stitches, which you won't need for most beginner projects.
  • Top Drop-In Bobbin: This drop-in system is the easiest way to load a new bobbin into the machine since it doesn't require removing any storage compartments or attachments.

The Best Beginner Sewing Machines

Singer 2277 Tradition Essential

white sewing machine
Courtesy of Joann

This machine is ideal for beginners because it's easy to learn on, but its features aren't limited to first-time sewers (meaning you can work your way up to larger-scale projects). It also comes with online instructional videos that will help you learn how to sew while social distancing. It has over 100 five-star reviews on the Joann site, with one reviewer commenting, "This is the very first sewing machine I have ever owned. I was inspired to help make masks, so I researched the best machines for beginners and this is one of them. Great price point, enough features that this machine can do pretty much any basic project, and it was easy to figure out."

It's not available to ship, but you can buy online and pick up at the store.

Price at time of publish: $160

Brother XM2701

white and purple sewing machine
Courtesy of Amazon

Brother is one of Consumer Reports' top-rated sewing machine brands, and it's the brand our crafts editors use in our office when we're making easy sewing projects. The Brother XM2701 is one of the top-rated machines on Amazon with over 4720 five-star reviews. The machine is lightweight and easy to transport, and comes with 27 built-in stitches, an automatic needle threader, and a drop-in top bobbin system that's fool-proof for even the most beginner sewers.

Price at time of publish: $130

The Singer Confidence 7363

white sewing machine with teal panel on the side
Courtesy of Joann

With an impressive 4.5 out of five-stars rating, this is one of the highest-rated machines available on the Joann site right now. It comes with 30 built-in stitches, a drop-and-sew bobbin system (which reviewers say makes it a good fit for beginners), and an automatic needle threader. It's not available to ship, but you can order online and take advantage of Joann's same-day free curbside pickup.

Price at time of publish: $190

Janome Derby Portable Sewing Machine

gray sewing machine with pink accents
Courtesy of Joann

If you're not sure sewing will become an everyday hobby for you, the Janome Derby Portable Sewing Machine is a great starter machine because of the price point. At just under $60, this machine comes equipped with 10 stitch options, a simple stitch dial, and an attached finger guard to keep you from accidentally stitching a finger. This machine can help you do just about any basic sewing project, from mending to sewing cloth masks.

Price at time of publish: $100

Singer M2100

singer sewing machine
Courtesy of Amazon

At just over $130, this beginner machine is a great price for anyone looking to learn. It comes equipped with more than 65 included accessories, 57 stitch applications, and has a fool-proof stitch selection feature. It has more than 150 five-star reviews on Amazon, with one reviewer commenting, "Easy to operate for beginners, but has also been designed for serious sewing! Does not have all the bells and whistles that you find on expensive machines, but definitely has features/stitch patterns that are probably all that will be used the majority of the time."

Price at time of publish: $131

No matter what machine you go with, you'll want to spend a lot of time getting a feel for the machine and work your way up to larger projects. As Carmon says, the most important thing you can do is "Practice, practice, practice!"

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