Best Sewing Machine for Beginners (and anyone else too!)
As a sewing teacher, I see a lot of different machines come through my doors – ones well loved and others new out of the box, some with all the bells and whistles that cost a pretty penny and some more budget-friendly machines, and many different brands too!
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But the machine I recommend over and over again to my students is the one I also have in my sewing studio – the Brother CS6000i. (Note: Brother has released a newer version, the CS7000i which is the same machine, with a few extra stitch options.)
I do want to mention that as much as I joke with my students that I should get commission from Brother for the number of times I’ve recommended their machines, I actually do not, so this is my unbiased (and unpaid!) review of this machine. 🙂
When I first started my sewing studio, I was looking for a good, solid machine that had all the functionality I needed it to for beginning through advanced sewing projects, it needed to have a speed control (great for beginners just learning), it needed to be able to stand up to daily use and abuse, and I was going to be buying four of them, so they needed to be reasonably priced! I found the Brother CS6000i, read the reviews (which were very high!), and decided to give it a shot! Years later, I am still glad I did.
So in no particular order, these are the top five reasons why I recommend this machine for beginners:
1. Very user friendly
In my opinion, it is easy to use and comfortable to work at. It does everything you need it to do (see #2 below), but it doesn’t have so many bells and whistles that it is overwhelming or offers too big a learning curve to just figure out how to sew on it.
It has all your basic stitches and functions (and then some!) to allow a beginner to grow with the machine. So in other words, this isn’t a machine you will outgrow but is one you can use for years and years to come! This is an important point, because some people will say, when either buying a machine for their child or for themselves, that they want something bottom of the line to learn on and once they have more experience, or decide it’s something they really like to do, they will invest in a better machine. However, nothing can kill the dream faster than a machine that doesn’t do all you want it to do, or worse, breaks more often than it sews! (This is often the case for the “kid” sized machines out there.) But obviously price has something to do with it – sure, it would be nice to have the latest Baby Lock machine, but you do need to strike a balance, especially when first starting out between functionality and price. Which leads me to #3…
(April 2020 edit: Under normal circumstances, this machine is extremely well priced – before the sewing machine demand went up. Once the machines come back in stock, the prices should hopefully go down – be careful of price gouging by individual sellers right now! But this machine is very good value for the money!)
4. Tough and Low Maintenance
I have multiple classes a day, multiple times a week, with students ranging from 8 years old to adults, so these machines need to be able to withstand a beating with little maintenance and they do! Ain’t nobody got time for oiling machines or other such things. I periodically undo the bobbin casing and clean out the lint and dust (probably not as often as I should…) and that is literally it! My business depends on these machines just simply working when I turn them on and not jamming every five seconds, so I love these machines mostly for this reason.
I will also note that they can handle many kinds of fabric well. Now if you plan on sewing exclusively upholstery fabric or denim, you may want a heavier duty machine, but it can definitely handle just about any project you throw at it. My machines have gone through multiple layers of canvas, twill, vinyl, and fur – so if you cosplay and you need a good inexpensive machine that can tackle lots of different types of fabrics, this one is great! 🙂
5. Speed Control
When selecting a beginner’s machine, this is an often overlooked feature that is so nice to have and this machine has it!
When the little slider is all the way over to the left, it does not matter how hard you press on that pedal, your machine will go “turtle speed” as one of my students called it. That is so nice when you are first learning (or even later when you are sewing more but still would like to turn the speed down to have a little more control). The middle speed gives you the range of speed you need for basic everyday sewing, but you won’t accidentally slip into turbo mode! The speed slider is just such a nice function to have whether you are just beginning or have been sewing a while.
Now I will say I only have one small complaint, but it is by no means a deal breaker, but I thought it was worth mentioning. The needle threader…
There’s nothing wrong with it, it absolutely does the job, but it does take a little practice to use it (but it is still nicer than having to try to thread the needle manually, trying to see the needle with eyes that may or may not be getting worse with age as mine are…). When you push the needle threader down, this little “claw” comes around the needle and a little hook pulls your thread through the needle for you. However, there’s a particular motion to get it to hook on successfully and consistently – it’s almost like you have to scoop the thread toward the back of the “claw” and then up and then it threads no problem. (I show this in the video on how to thread the machine.) I’ve seen other more basic machines of different brands with needle threaders that are easier to use, but all the other pluses still make this machine worth it!
If you would like more tips on purchasing a machine, see my post Three Tips For Buying Your First Sewing Machine.