i don’t own a sewing machine. there, i said it. i know you’re probably thinking, ‘how are you going to make a quilt or curtains with out a sewing machine?’ and you’re right. i can’t.

so, i think i need to get a sewing machine. and i think it the perfect time of year to ask that special someone to bring it to me … santa that is.

and because i don’t know a whole lot about sewing machines, i’m going to turn to you for advice. (you haven’t let me down in the past.) as i assume most of you have one … or know a little (or a lot) more than me.

so based on a couple online reviews i’ve found and read, i’ve picked three four options that i think would work well for me. i do realize that sewing machine range from $25 – $4,000+ dollars. with that being said, i looking for a basic sewing machine. something simple, yet effective. something around or under $200. not to complicated, but quality. here goes …


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Brother CS6000I Sew Advance Sew Affordable 60-Stitch Computerized Free-Arm Sewing Machine

these seems to be one of the highest rated machines for it’s price range on amazon. rated about 4.5 stars. lots of reviews.

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SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty Model Sewing Machine

i saw this machine at joann’s on sunday. i was initially attracted to it because of it looks. as sewing machines go, it has a ‘manly’ look. (i guess) it was also recommend as a good machine for a beginner.

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Janome Sewist 500 Sewing Machine with 25 Built-In Stitches and Hard Case


this is the priciest machine of the three four i found this via a search for sewing machines for beginners. comes with a hardcase.

***updated – based on the first couple comments i’ve decided to add a kenmore sewing machine to my list.


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Kenmore Drop-In Bobbin Sewing Machine 

$179.99  – this is from sears, so i assume i could use a coupon and get a better deal. i’m all about the coupon!

has a five star rating based on 45 reviews. and i think my mom has a kenmore and i’m pretty sure it’s older than me.

so what do you think? what machine do you have? what do you love about it? what do you hate about it? other advice for a first time sewing machine buyer? any advice would be really appreciated. and don’t worry, i’ll share what i’ve learned and what machine i do get.

in other news, thanks to a great blogger friend, i do have enough bloggers for my 12 days of christmas. i’ll be in touch within the next couple days for those of you participating.

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  • Robin at

    I can’t tell you too much about the ones you have found. But I can tell you that I have had a basic Kenmore Sewing Machine from Sears for ten years and I still love it. It has very basic stiches and it’s nothing pretty but it works great and has never let me down. Last christmas hubby bought me another one with more options and I have only used is a few times since I seem to pull out the old one instead. LOL

  • linwood avenue at

    mine is a kenmore as well, bought by my mom because she thinks they are the best. hers has lasted well over 50 years and mine is going on 10.

    the only feature i wish mine had is a see through window showing the bobbin. my bobbin is completely hidden, so unless i want to take the bobbin thread all the way out, i have no idea how much more thread i have to sew with.

    hope this helps!

  • Mrs. Adventure at

    Oh Michael what a great post! I too am in the market for my first machine, I can’t wait to read everyones responses :+)

  • Robin at

    p.s. If a certain someone is bringing a sewing machine it certainly wouldn’t hurt to ask for a ruffling foot also – – just saying, how awsome would that be!

  • jek-a-go-go at

    i too am in the kenmore camp. hee hee. super simple, non-complicated and you can still use a zipper foot, etc. i do sometimes wish for fancier stitches.

    i think the singer and the janome are better than the brother. stay away from a computer paneled machine. you will fare better with one that is more mechanical and easier to fiddle around without the need to take it in too a professional.

    when purchasing yer machine, check out shops and suppliers in your neighborhood to make sure you have fairly easy access to repairs and parts. i would advise hitting up a place that sells them and taking them out for a spin. they may all be sort of the same but until you sit down and drive you’ll never know which one is the most comfortable for you.

    hope i didn’t complicate things. good luck!


  • Melissa P at

    Sewing machines are big decisions. I have sewn for over three decades–on everything from a basic 60’s Kenmore and an even older Bernina to my new 350PE Bernina. I have to agree that old Kenmore sewing machines are excellent workhorses. You can sometimes find one through private sellers online (via craigs list and other sites). Since they are fully mechanized and very basic, you can practically do all the servicing needed on your own.

    (I love Bernina machines but they are not a machine for the casual sewist unless you have money to burn. Though for quality, they are top of the line.)

    Try to sew on the machines you put on the short list. And please don’t hesitate to email me if you want more of my opinions or suggestions. I’m always eager to help out new sewists and offer encouragement. Good luck!

  • Dianah at

    I have a Pfaff that I LOVE. I can give my kids up for a week no problem, I rented a machine when mine had to go in for work. I sew daily and have been sewing for 30 plus years.

    You have a good start knowing what you want to spend. Think of everything you want the machine to do, piecing a quilt, quilting it, hemming jeans, sewing shears, to a quilt little pillow. Now take your list to a sewing machine dealer. Yes they will try to sell you the top end but test drive a few machines.

    I used to have a Brother and it was a great machine. I bought a Singer, similar to the photo, for my niece’s first machine. I have used a Janome. The problem I found with the lower level Singers and Janomes is they couldn’t handle thicker weight fabrics, jeans and decorater weights. If you are wanting to hem jeans or do slip covers it might be a challenge.

    As for the stitches. It sounds impressive that a machine has 25 stitches you most likely wont use them. Make sure the machine does a EXCELLENT straight stitch. I have over 200 stitches I have no need for 90% of them. Also make sure the buttonhole stitch is easy to use.

    Also machines need serviced and repairs done. You might want to find out if someone local is able to work on whatever type of machine you are buying. Learn to oil and basic cleaning yourself, it is easy on most machines.

    E-mail me if you have questions, I would be happy to try and answer them.

  • Jaeyde at

    I own a OLD kenmore and it works pretty darned well but brands change over time.

    My only real input is regarding cost of repair. A sewing machine with a computer chip in it will almost certainly cost more to repair/service than a traditional electric machine. I don’t have to take my machine into the shop to do routine maintenance like oiling parts and clearing out dust. And if I was feeling brave, there’s a fair amount of repair I could do myself. A chipped machine is more likely to need a “professional” treatment. And that is where I’d second Dianah’s comment about checking into what local repair shops can do.

    Also seconded on the # of stitches thing – my machine has I have no idea how many stitches (the number of which can be increased with snap in cartridges – yes it’s old) and I mostly use variations on straight and zig zag.

    Once you get a machine, it might be worth going into a sewing shop and getting a bit of a tutorial. It doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles it has if you don’t know how to use them.

    *mourns her frightening buttonhole attachment*

  • The Innkeeper To Go at

    Michael, the Singer does look manly and it will do everything you need to do.

    But if it were me, I’d spring another 30 bucks on the Kenmore with the drop-in bobbin. When you think of the number of times you’ll be threading that bobbin (and how much easier a drop-in is), it’s definitely worth the difference.

    The easy ability to gage stitch size is important, but it’s a basic skill I think is good for every beginner to learn anyway. So, to me, that’s nice but not as important a convenience.

    If you want to keep it as basic as possible, get the Singer. For a bit of ease and comfort though, I’d go for the Kenmore.

    For the kind of sewing you’ll be doing, you’ll be happy with either one.

  • diedre at

    hi there, michael:

    there is an entry level machine by bernina. i sew and i’m very picky about my stitches. i own a old metal riccar that’s straight-forward and nothing fancy. but, in a perfect world, a bernina first, and second, a pfaff. do not buy a viking. my m-in-law has one and bought all her daughters and daughter-in-laws one and they’re junk(my husband was married before so the viking went bye-bye) when i use it the bobbin thread breaks. stay away from those even though they’re scandinavian.

    really, consider a bernina. heard you could drop one from a airplane and it will still sew (metal, heavy duty). entry level one may not be metal. my neighbor is selling hers as she doesn’t know how to sew. brand new. list for about $250.00. look on craigs list before you buy. you might score something better that’s almost new for lots less. okay, i’ll stop now.


  • bbmowery at

    I would also recommend you see if there is a sewing machine dealer/repair shop located near where you live. You might be able to get a really nice machine that someone has traded in or that has been refurbished. And of course a sewing machine dealer/repair person would be able to advise you.

    That said, I have been really lucky with my 40 year old Kenmore sewing machine that I found at a yardsale. I tracked down the manual online for cheap. It weighs about a ton and is built like a tank. But it hasn’t failed me yet.

  • Corners of My Life at

    I just bought a Brother Innovis from a local sewing center. They told me that Singers have all plastic parts in them now so this store won’t carry them. Also Vicking went bankrupt and Singer bought them so Vikings are now essential Singers.
    I would have been happy with the Limited Edition Project Runway Innov-ís 40 ($399) but upgraded to the Limited Edition Project Runway Innov-ís 80 ($599). Not sure the upgrade was worth it. It has more embrodary stitches and does sew letters. Mine was $50 off at the store and has a black Friday rebate of $75. I think you may need to get it from a dealer to get the rebate. They told me the ones you can get at Walmart or online are not as good but it is in their interest to say that. You can find a local dealer at their website
    Also, buying it from a sewing center gives me free, unlimited one-on-one in-store training and free monthly classes.

  • Oonafey at

    I would go with one with more stitch options than the “manly” Singer. My mom bought me a beginner Singer a few years ago and I constantly wish it had more options. You know you are going to have it for years, you may as well invest in something nice.

  • Sharon@Sharon at Home at

    I have a Kenmore machine also … it is a real workhorse. I quilt, make drapes, everything on this machine and it is fantastic. … and you can’t beat the price! Definitely get one with a hard case.

  • tamara at

    I use to have the Brother CS6000I and now have the SQ9000. I loved them both…more than any other machine i have used. i have used those for everything from sewing swimwear to upholstery. I will say that the SQ seemed to be a lot smoother and has a few extra features that i really adored for the extra few bucks.

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