We’ve all done it. Ripped a big, unsightly hole in our favourite pair of jeans or skirt or snagged that shirt while rushing out the door to the office. While it may feel like game over for that particular garment if you had a sewing machine it doesn’t need to be. With a basic sewing machine, you can not only rescue damage clothes but can also turn your hand to creating completely new pieces for your wardrobe.
Of course, you don’t need to have damaged clothes to mend to justify investing in a sewing machine. If you are a particularly crafty person and are looking to make your own home furnishings, interested in setting up a shop or something similarly creative with raw materials, you need a sewing machine.
There are, it has to be said, many sewing machines out there. So, how do you know which is right for you as a beginner? You could spend hours searching and browsing through products and descriptions on Google and Amazon. But, if that feels like too much of a headache, you could simply turn to the team here at Internet Eyes and this helpful guide to the best basic sewing machines. As well as reviewing the top 10 models, we have also put a comprehensive buyer’s guide of the important features and other factors you need to consider when choosing your perfect starter sewing machine.
Sew, let’s get started.
Best Basic Sewing Machine UK 2020
Brother LS14S Metal Chassis Sewing Machine
We’re kicking off our guide to the best starter machines in style with the LS14S from Brother. It has a traditional chassis made from metal and offers a selection of 14 different stitches, which can be chosen easily using the jog dial, and includes standards like zigzag and straight stitches and a special 4-step buttonhole.
It is equipped with a drop-in bobbin feature that is jam-proof and has a transparent cover that ensures you can always keep an eye on how much thread you have left. The machine also benefits from a free arm for sewing sleeves, cuffs and other similar parts of garments. Tension adjustment has also been thought of by Brother and is easy with this machine, thanks to the tension dial that sits directly above the machine’s needle bar.
As well as the machine, free arm and foot pedal, you also get a zigzag foot, buttonhole foot, zipper foot, disc-shaped screwdriver, set of needles, 3 bobbins and an instructional DVD.
The price alone is inviting enough, even before you consider the fact it has been designed and manufactured by the highly regarded brand Brother.
Singer Model 1507 Sewing Machine
The second entry-level sewing machine in our guide is from another hugely popular and successful manufacturer in Singer. This is a well-designed and sturdy machine that is very easy to use. It is powered by an exceptionally strong motor and can cope with even the most taxing of sewing tasks and projects. We think you will appreciate the easy and quick threading system, that makes the setup process a lot simpler than it can be. Particularly if you are complete sewing machine newbie.
With 8 stitches ready to use, you have all you need to get started, that can be selected at the simple turn of a dial. While the zigzag width and stitch length can be adjusted from 0 to 5mm. Like the above model, this also has a 4-step buttonhole function that removes all the guessing and estimating to give you a truly professional finish. In addition to these great features, you also get a free arm that doubles up as a built-in accessory storage box for all your bits and pieces and an extra high presser foot lifter to give you extended clearance when you are working with multiple layers of even the thickest materials.
Along with 3 bobbins, a seam brush and ripper, a darning plate, small and large spool caps, screwdriver, pack of needles and seam guide, you also get the foot control and lead, buttonhole foot pedal, zipper foot pedal, button sewing foot pedal, general-purpose foot pedal, instruction manual and soft dust cover.
Singer 3232 Sewing Machine, White and Lavender
Sticking with Singer, the 2323 model is a bit more expensive than the above machine. However, it does come equipped with 32 built-in stitches, comprised of 6 x basic, 6 x stretch, 1 buttonhole and 19 x decorative stitches for all those projects and tasks you have lined up and so much more. Learning the creative art of sewing with a machine could be a lot of fun using this option from Singer.
It has been built with the kind of heavy-duty frame you would expect from the brand, that will stand still to provide skip and error-free sewing. You can adjust the stitch width and length and the machine will keep your seams strong and stop bunching happening to any kind of material or fabric you work on. To make things even easier it even comes with a handy and fast automatic needle threader.
Along with the features and attachments we’ve already discussed, you also get a pack of needles, bobbins, l-shaped screwdriver, soft dust cover, darning plate, quilting and edge guide, lint brush and seam ripper, button sewing foot pedal, buttonhole foot pedal, zipper foot pedal, all-purpose foot pedal and instruction manual.
Brother L14S Sewing Machine
We have only featured this model even though it is exactly the same as the previously covered Brother L14S machine because it has slightly different colours. Everything else is more or less the same. It has the same sturdy frame, 14 built-in stitches and one, easy to use dial to select the stitches you want to use.
Like-Very Portable 12-Stitch Sewing Machine with Foot Pedal
One of the least expensive on our list, this unbranded sewing machine may not have the Singer or Brother name plastered on it, but still deserves some attention. It is a multifunctional machine that offers a stunning range of built-in 12 stitches to choose from, including buttonholing, hemming and seaming as well as very neat and straight stitches.
It has been designed with beginners in mind as it is very easy to use. There is an LED light to help you see the finer details and it also comes with the capabilities of reversing and overlocking, making it the perfect starter quilting machine, if that’s what you are planning on making.
We especially love the convenient and very portable size of just 27.4 x 26 x 12 cm.
Mini Two-Speed Sewing Machine
Perhaps you were hoping to spend less than 30 or 40 quid for a starter sewing machine even though you have limited space available in your home. Although in the past we may have suggested that you were insane, we are happy to say that you don’t need to spend more than 30 quid to get your hands on a simple, but effective and surprisingly high-performance two-speed sewing machine, especially when you consider its size.
It comes with 25 different threads of a whole variety of colours and can be used for several different tasks and projects including stitching, craft sewing, making wallets, sewing and mending clothes, quilt covers and pillows. The only downside, which is understandable considering its price, is that you can’t work on materials that are too thick, hard or soft, so sweaters, leathers and wools are out of the question.
However, with a practical lightbulb, you can work on even those fine and intricate stitches. As it can be powered by both battery and mains, it is ideal for taking away with you if you like to sew when you are travelling.
Sohler Electric Multifunctional Sewing Machine
Another low priced, convenient and portable lightweight sewing machine, this time from Sohler is this model that comes with 12 built-in stitch patterns, has two selectable sewing speeds, sewing sleeves and an automatic threader and rewinder. You also get the option of forwards and backwards sewing and a thread cutter. Although you may not have heard of the brand name, it is associated by the respected and successful craft store chain Hobby Craft
Singer Tradition 2250 Sewing Machine
Another classic beginner’s sewing machine from Singer, the Tradition 2250 model has all the important features to help you get your new adventures in sewing off to a great start. It features 10 built-in stitches that are very easy to select, including a professional-quality 4-step buttonhole. The stitch selection is comprised of 10 basic stitches and one additional decorative stitch.
Also, it comes with a darning plate, bobbins, screwdriver, spool caps, seam ripper, foot control and cable, soft side dust cover and a selection of foot pedals including a zipper foot pedal, buttonhole foot pedal, blind hem foot pedal and all-purpose foot pedal.
Singer 1306 Start Sewing Machine
The last on our list is this Start sewing machine, the 1306 model from Singer. It has the robust and durable frame you’d expect from a brand of Singer’s stature and although it only offers 6 built-in stitches, we still think that’s enough to get started with.
Those include the most popular stitches, 4 x basic stitches, 1 x decorative stitch and 1 x automatic 4-step buttonhole. It also comes with extras and features such as a dust cover, lint brush and seam ripper, spool pin felts, needle plate screwdriver, bobbins, needles, darning plate, buttonhole foot pedal, zipper foot pedal and all-purpose foot pedal.
Best Basic Sewing Machine UK – Buyer’s Guide
Now that we’ve looked at the best basic sewing machines available right now, you may still be overwhelmed by choosing between 10. To help you whittle that list down even more, therefore, we have put together a buyer’s guide so you can understand exactly what you need to look for when picking the best basic sewing machine.
The most important thing you need to do when deciding on the budget for the best basic sewing machine is to look at getting a quality model rather than one that has all the bells and whistles. There are some cheap models you can get that are very lightweight and made of plastic.
Features That Are Important
Once you have a vague idea about the kind of budget you have for a sewing machine, you then can start looking at the different features you may need or want.
One of the first decisions you need to make is about the number of stitches you want to be able to work with.
You mustn’t be easily seduced by investing in a machine that offers all the stitches in the world, but rather you should look for one that has the stitches you are actually going to use.
There are actually only really two stitches you need to sew most things – the straight stitch and the zigzag stitch. You can work on most projects with a sewing machine that offers these particular stitches.
Along with the straight stitch and zigzag stitch, though, there are other stitches and useful features you should also look for. Let’s discuss the stitches you should be on the lookout for, first.
- Straight Stitch – Ideally, you will want a straight stitch that can be adjusted from 0 to 5mm. 0 enables you to lock stitches in and 5mm enables you to baste what you are working on and gather it.
- Generally, you will stitch and sew with stitches measuring 2.5mm in length. The adjustability gives you versatility in the sewing you do.
- Zigzag Stitch – You should look for a machine that offers zigzag stitches that the length and width of which can be adjusted.
- Utility Stitch – You will find that most of the sewing machines you look at will offer some utility stitches, including knit and stretch stitches. These are great for decorative stitching and making stitches secure.
- Blind Hem Stitch – As the name suggests, the blind hem stitch produces hems that are virtually invisible and ideal for using on trousers, skirts and other garments.
- Knit or Stretch Stitch – You will find there are some suitable stitches to use when you are sewing knits. These include the triple stretch knit and one that resembles a lightning symbol. Both ensure the knits can stretch without popping threads after they have been stitched in place.
- Buttonhole Stitch – Buttonhole stitches are basically zigzag stitches that have been automated. That means that any sewing machine that offers the ability to perform zigzag stitches should also offer the ability to perform buttonhole stitches. You will find that even the budget-priced machines have a form of buttonhole stitch.
Depending on the available budget you have to spend on a sewing machine, you may be able to get one that has some amazing special features that make your sewing experience even better. Look out for the following.
- Adjustable Speed Control – This enables you to control how quickly or slowly you sew and is especially useful when you are working with trickier fabrics and materials.
- Needle Threader – On the lower-priced models you will normally have a semi-automatic needle threader, while on the more expensive machines the needle threader will be completely automatic.
- Needle Down/Up – This enables you to stop the needle from moving in the down or up position which makes turning and pivoting material.
- Automatic Thread Cutter – On some models, you will find an automatic thread cutter. This makes it very easy to cut the thread – at the touch of a button. Be aware though, that this feature works better on some machines than others.
- Lighting – If you have ever used machines in the past you may have been disappointed in the lighting features offered. However, the lighting on most sewing machines you can buy nowadays has improved dramatically.
- Needle Position Adjustment – This is another feature you can find on both the cheaper and more expensive sewing machines. It enables you to move the needle you are using from right to left and is perfect for when you are working on topstitching or zippers.
- Free Arm – The free arm is a part that can be removed from the sewing machine deck and helps to make it easy to place something very narrow, such as a sleeve, underneath the needle. You will also find that on some machines the free arm doubles as the removable storage box for accessories found at the front.
- Knee Lifter – There was a time when a knee lifter was only something you would find on the most expensive model but is often found now on mid-priced machines too. It enables you to lift the machine presser foot even when you have your hands on the material you are working on. This is perfect when you are sewing sharp corners and curves and many crafters can’t imagine sewing without having access to it.
Feet and Attachments
The type of feet and attachments you need will be particular to the items you plan on sewing. If you are sewing garments, you should consider a button attaching foot, a buttonhole foot, an overcast stitching foot and a zipper foot, whereas if you are planning on working on quilts, you will want to invest in a ¼-inch foot, a spring action foot and a walking foot.
While it’s true that some sewing machines will be available with these feet, you may have to buy them separately if you are investing in a cheaper model.
Computerized and Mechanical
The basics of sewing are all about moving the needle upwards and downwards. How good a machine is at doing this, will depend on the inner workings of the machine. There are three different kinds of sewing machines – computerised, mechanical and hybrid machines.
Computerised Sewing Machines
Computerised sewing machines can sew beautifully clean and smart straight stitches. You will find that the majority of expensive, top range machines are computerised to some extent. This makes everything a lot simpler, from programmable stitch sequencing, buttonholes, stitch length selection and stitch selection. Most computerised sewing machines are also equipped with a touchscreen control display.
Above all else though, one of the biggest advantages of a computerised machine over others is the motor that powers it, as these are usually higher performance and better for heavier duty projects. The downside is that a computerised machine needs to be regularly serviced to ensure it is working efficiently and effectively.
Mechanical Sewing Machines
Mechanical sewing machines are not as heavy as their computerised counterparts as they don’t have all those electronics weighing it down. They are also a lot simpler to operate. Not only that, but they require less intensive and regular maintenance. You just need to keep the machine oiled and clean to get the most out of it. This is why it is a great choice if you are looking for a basic beginner’s model or simply have a small budget to play with.
Electronic/Hybrid Sewing Machines
The third and final option of sewing machine is a hybrid model, which is a mixture between a computerised and mechanical model. You will usually find that these machines have computer-style control screens. However, it differs from computerised machines in that the inner workings are all mechanical. These are very easy to look after and maintain and the electronic features they are equipped with includes the thread cutter, needle position, needle down/up and stitch selection.
There you have it folks, our look at the best basic sewing machines available right now. There is no need to feel scared or apprehensive, the models we have selected are designed with newbies in mind. With a little time, dedication and a bucketful of patience, you will be able to stitch, sew and create great pieces of clothing and soft furnishings or just about anything else you want.
The one you choose is up to you, but with the help of our buyer’s guide and shortlist, we have hopefully made it very easy.