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Sewing machines are a product of the industrial revolution, and they have never gone out of style. In fact, with rising interest in upcycling, visible mending, and the slow fashion movement, one might even say that we’re in another golden age of sewing machines. It can be intimidating to find a good-quality one: There are many types of machines suited to a range of skill levels, and there are lots of varying features to compare, from the number of built-in stitch styles to sewing speed. Browse our selection, below, of the best sewing machines for home and studio use.
1. Singer 4423 Sewing Machine
This is a machine that will satisfy most seasoned sewing machine users and will give beginners a lot of room to grow. It’s the most capable midrange one we found, offering 23 built-in stitches and automatic features such as a needle threader and one-step buttonhole maker. But what makes this machine really stand out is its powerful motor, which can reach impressive speeds of up to 1,100 stitches per minute. Combine this with a presser foot that can be lifted extra high, and you’ve got a machine that can rapidly move through multiple layers of thick fabrics with no skipped stitches. Weighing about 14.5 pounds, this might not be the ideal machine to tote around, but its solid body helps reduce vibrations for greater stability. Its exterior is made of plastic, but its heavy-duty metal interior frame means this Singer will be one that will last you years.
2. Reliable Barracuda 200ZW Zig Zag
In our book, this machine is the very best option for users seeking a practical and fuss-free machine rather than something that can complete a lot of decorative stitches. Perfect for everyday fixes or small and easy projects, this Barracuda can glide through a wide range of fabrics, including thicker material like denim and canvas, and it has a built-in speed reducer to provide extra torque to get through tough jobs. This machine doesn’t feature an auto needle threader, but it is very easy to thread; adjusting tension is also a breeze. Its minimalist dials also make it incredibly user-friendly. Speed-wise, this Barracuda can accomplish up to 800 stitches per minute—far from an industrial standard, but perfectly good for a hobbyist. Made entirely out of metal, this hefty machine weighs 34 pounds but comes with an attached handle should you need to move it.
3. Singer Start 1304 Sewing Machine
All of the machines on this list are great starter machines, but Singer’s 1304 model is a particularly good choice for beginners on a budget. It is a rather basic machine, offering just six built-in stitches (including zigzag, blind hem, and scallop), but this limited choice allows users to focus on sewing foundations without getting too overwhelmed. The stitches also have pre-set widths and lengths to take the guesswork out of setting up individual stitch patterns. This is also a relatively slow machine, with a maximum speed of 400 stitches per minute, but it can be helpful to curb one’s speed when just starting out, to focus more on the process rather than the results. While not self-threading, this machine offers an automatic bobbin winding system and auto tension control. Finally, weighing just 10 pounds, this Singer is the perfect machine to carry from your home to classes and workshops.
4. Juki HZL-F300
Want to take the second guessing out of the sewing process? A computerized machine might be what you seek. Offering automatic stitch settings, speed control, and other features to guarantee precision, these devices can present a slight learning curve even if you’re an experienced mechanical machine user. This Juki is one of the more affordable models from the Japanese brand’s household sewing line, and it can do a lot—as long as you spend time learning about all its functions. Highlights include its library of 106 built-in stitches, a seven-point feed dog to maximize contact with your fabric for greater evenness and precision, and of course, lots of auto capabilities, from one-touch needle threading to sewing lock stitches. Its maximum speed is an impressive 900 stitches per minute, and you can even use it for quilting.
5. Brother GX37 Sewing Machine
This Brother is another reliable metal machine that we recommend especially for beginners, although it can also serve as a decent, straightforward one for experienced sewers. It is a highly user-friendly machine that you can use virtually straight from the box but also really grow with. It offers five needle positions, whereas the Singer 1304 has just one, and 37 built-in stitches—14 more than our top pick. These are also adjustable, unlike the 1304’s preset ones. Capable of reaching a maximum sewing speed of 800 stitches per minute, the 15-pound GX37 can also work through a range of fabric weights, from chiffon to denim. It does have a few flaws: The built-in LED light is a little dim, and the foot pedal is made of plastic, so we would be wary of pushing down too hard.