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Sewing Machine Buying Guide | Top 5 Features and Machine Reviews

Posted by Kara Ballinger on

Sewing Machine Buying Guide  | Top 5 Features and Machine Reviews

The question I’ve gotten the most since opening The Hive Makery is “Which sewing machine do you recommend?” I am excited to share what I recommend for both features and machines! Whether this is your first sewing machine or you are looking to upgrade, I will cover what you need to buy so you can get making!

There are so many options you will come across when buying a machine. It doesn't have to be complicated though. Before you get lost in an endless maze of reading reviews and comparing features to prices, read this guide. l will make it simple and get you shopping in the right direction. 

Once you know your options you can look for a machine that fits your needs. I have highlighted my top four picks for sewing machines to make shopping even easier. 

Features:

1. Drop-In Bobbin

Winding and inserting the bobbin is one of the most frustrating things for beginner sewists. That is why the Drop in Bobbin is the number one feature I suggest to look for in a machine. This means that you insert the bobbin from the top of the machine instead of from the bottom. It doesn’t require that you remove and replace the bobbin case. Most drop in bobbins have a clear cover so that you can always see your bobbin.  That means you can see when you are having an issue or almost out of thread. It makes threading the machine so much faster and also makes it easier to get a proper threading on the first try. 

2. Multiple Stitch Options

The most common stitches that I use in my sewing kits are a basic straight stitch and a zigzag stitch. At the very least, make sure a machine has the capabilities to do those two stitch options before you buy. But most machines will have dozens more options that can be used as you tackle new projects and learn to sew. Another stitch option that is helpful to look for is a button-holer. Although this is not something we do often in our sewing kits, the ability of your machine to sew button holes for you can be a great feature

3. Automatic Needle Threader

This little hook that you slide your thread around makes threading your needle faster and saves both time and frustration. If you have threaded a machine by hand you will appreciate this beautiful upgrade. 

4. Free Arm

A sewing machine with a free arm allows for you to remove the front portion of the sewing machine deck to make the section underneath the needle more narrow and suspended above the table. That narrow section is called the free arm. This makes sewing in the round and hemming sleeves and pant legs much easier. This feature is a must if you plan on sewing clothing, especially clothing for children.

5. Built in Light

This is pretty self explanatory. It’s a light that is built into the machine and shines down by the needle so you can see the work area better. While most machines have this feature, some of the most basic machines do not. It is so worth it to so you don’t have to rearrange lighting in your sewing space to see your machine. Because of the small working space under a sewing machine, a little light goes a long way! 

Machines I Recommend:

Now that you know what to look for, you are ready to shop! Here are 4 machines I recommend when buying.

This section includes affiliate links. You can learn more about how I use affiliate links here

Brother XM2701

This machine is great for beginners. It has all 5 of my must-haves plus several other convenient features. And it comes with a DVD to help you get started.

Drop-In Bobbin - YES
Essential Stitch Options - YES
Needle Threader - YES
Free Arm - YES
Built-In Light - YES

Price: $200 - $250

 

Singer Heavy Duty 4432

I have this machine as my back up machine. It doesn't have an automatic needle threader, but it has everything else. Plus it's heavy duty, (I mean it's right there in the name) which I like. It also has the ability to sew much faster than my primary machine. If reliability and simplicity is what you are after, this may be your best friend.

Drop-In Bobbin - YES
Essential Stitch Options - YES
Needle Threader - NO
Free Arm - YES
Built-In Light - YES
Price: $300 - $350

 

Brother Project Runway

This machine has everything you need and a whole lot more. I love that it is computerized and has a digital display for selecting stitches and stitch length/width. That certainly isn't a required feature, but it is nice to have. 

Drop-In Bobbin - YES
Essential Stitch Options - YES
Needle Threader - YES
Free Arm - YES
Built-In Light - YES
Price: $250 - $300

 

Singer Stylist 7258

This beauty is the machine that I use as my primary machine. It has all 5 of my must haves. It also has a digital display (just like the Brother Project Runway) and so many stitch options. I also like that it has a speed control for times you may want a consistently slower speed. This is great for learning to sew and especially for teaching children to sew. 

Drop-In Bobbin - YES
Essential Stitch Options - YES
Needle Threader - YES
Free Arm - YES
Built-In Light - YES
Price: $250 - $300
.

So there you have it! Five things to look for in a machine and four great options to browse. Happy shopping!

You can go ahead and grab a sewing kit so that it's ready and waiting for you when your machine arrives. Shop for sewing kits here.


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