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Cheap Sewing Machines Buying Guide

Higher-priced sewing machines get you computerized functionality that encompasses hundreds of stitch types and stitching patterns and lets you customize your own designs. Cheap sewing machines offer far fewer stitch types and designs and fewer accessories.

Among inexpensive sewing machines, mechanical models are generally (but not always) cheaper than electronic sewing machines.

Some of the major sewing machines manufacturers include Brother, Singer, Janome, and Kenmore. Michley makes several small, portable sewing machines, such as the Michley LSS-208 Lil' Sew & Sew Mini 2-Speed Sewing Machine (starting at $25).

Before you start shopping for a cheap sewing machine, it's important to know something about the sewing machine market. Many types of vendors sell sewing machines. You can buy an inexpensive sewing machine directly from the manufacturer, but if you don't, several factors are worth considering. A consumer products website advises that you make sure the retailer is an authorized dealer for the sewing machine brand you're interested in (this affects servicing and warranties). Second, make sure the particular cheap sewing machine you're eying is new or refurbished, not simply used (used machines do not meet factory standards). And finally, check to see if the manufacturer's warranty is valid with this retailer or if the retailer offers a substitute warranty. You can buy your inexpensive sewing machine online, but many people prefer to purchase from a local store in order to test it out before making a final decision -- you really want to select a cheap sewing machine that feels right in your hands.

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Regardless whether you choose a cheap manual sewing machine or a cheap electronic sewing machine, users and experts say the critical functions to look for include stitching options, bobbins, needle threaders, presser feet, buttonhole function, and free arm; also check the machine's weight. When it comes to stitches, the four basics on cheap sewing machines are the straight stitch, zip stitch, blind hem stitch, and buttonhole stitch. Many cheap sewing machines offer more variety in stitch type, sometimes even letting you achieve an embroidery effect. Bobbins on cheap sewing machines will probably be drop-in (a.k.a. horizontal), which is favored by experts and home sewers for ease of use. Also look for an automatic needle threader and at least one presser foot, though you (additional presser feet are handy if you're going to take on more advanced projects, like a quilt). In addition, buttonhole-making should be simple, and the preferred weight depends on your need for portability (to a sewing bee, say, or another room in the house).

The inexpensive sewing machines on our list perform well, handle fabric adequately, don't jam the bobbins, and seem durable. The Brother CS-6000i (starting at $148) garners accolades for its gorgeous stitching, speed control, and ease of use for both beginners and pros. The Kenmore 16231 (starting at $250) is commended for being easy to use and versatile in its stitching abilities. The mechanical Brother XL-2600i (starting at $80) is portable and offers smooth stitching and quilting options, according to sewing machine reviews. The Singer 7442 (starting at $170) is big and durable and easily handles standard sewing tasks as well as mending jeans and lending colorful embroidery to projects.

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