Best sewing machine UK 2022 – for beginners and every budget

If you like DIY at home, a good sewing machine is essential. Whether it’s mending beloved clothes and making throw pillows to freshen up your living room, or simply learning a new hobby, they open up endless possibilities.

It can be difficult for beginners to know which sewing machine to buy. To help, the Good Housekeeping Institute’s resident sewing expert tested seven machines from top brands.

Here are our best sewing machines for beginner to intermediate sewers:

What are the different types of sewing machine?

For making clothes and upholstery, there are two main types of sewing machines:

Mechanical sewing machines

The traditional style of the sewing machine, the mechanical models are manually controlled by a range of dials that allow you to select your stitch, change its length and width and adjust the tension.

Most mechanical machines will work for any sewing project, but they usually don’t have as many functions as their computerized counterparts. Although more affordable, the more points a model offers, the more expensive it will be.

Computerized sewing machines

These innovative sewing machines have built-in computers programmed with the stitches and their recommended sizes. They can even operate without a pedal via a stop and start button.

If you’re just getting started and want to keep your sewing slow and steady, a feature called “speed control” allows you to limit the speed at which the machine can run.

Computerized sewing machines cost more than mechanical models, but their higher prices are easily justified by features such as automatic stitch reinforcement – as opposed to manually pressing a reverse stitch button at the start and end. end of a row of stitches – and a wider range of stitches. patterns, including decorative options and sometimes letters of the alphabet.

How to choose my first sewing machine?

First, decide if a mechanical or computerized model is the best sewing machine for you. Next, consider how important the following factors are to you:

Thread design

Sewing machines can vary in needle threading and bobbin loading.

For a more accessible machine, look for an automatic needle threader. These speed up the often tedious process of feeding the thread through the needle eye, instead of snagging on the thread and pulling it through themselves.

When it comes to the spools (the part the lower thread is wound on), you’ll have to choose between a front-loading and top-loading design.

Top loading bobbins sit on the free arm just below the needle. They can simply be dropped and their bobbin cases tend to be clear so you can see how much thread is left. Front loading spools are difficult to install and hidden in the machine when in use.

Stitch range

The machines on our list offer between 14 and 97 points, so you’ll have to decide how many of them you want. Even the most basic patterns come with standard straight, zigzag, and stretch stitches, and 20 stitches should be enough for most home sewing projects.

More advanced stitches, such as quilting, add more functionality but cost more.

Accessories included

Presser feet — the pieces that rest on top of the fabric and hold it in place while you sew — are essential accessories. Each machine below comes with at least one standard zigzag foot.

Other options include a zipper foot – useful for making garments or cushions – and an overlock (or overcast) foot to help you finish the edges of your fabric to prevent fraying.

Finally, think about the type of buttonhole foot you want; a one-step buttonhole foot is the easiest to use, as you simply insert the button into one end of the foot, sew, and the machine automatically runs to the correct size.

If you want to try quilting, look for a quilting guide. Most machines come with a seam ripper, extra spools and spool extensions to thread two spools of cotton, if you want to use a twin needle.

Note that most of these accessories (and many more) can also be purchased separately.

How to maintain your sewing machine

The best sewing machines should last you many years with proper care.

Look for a machine with a cover – hard or soft – to protect it when not in use and prevent it from getting dusty.

Regularly changing the needle of your sewing machine is also important; try to do this every eight hours of sewing. Also, be sure to use the correct type of needle for your fabric.

Check the manufacturer’s instructions, but some machines require regular cleaning to prevent lint buildup in the feed dogs, and many come with a brush for this purpose. If you have a front loading spool, this may also require occasional oiling.

Ideally bring your machine in for an annual service, especially if you are a regular sewer. Local sewing machine stores and some fabric stores should have specialists who offer this.

How we test sewing machines

The GHI finds the best sewing machines by testing how they sew on four different fabrics: cotton, viscose, jersey and denim. They run long test strips of each material through the machine to check consistency, tension, and how it handles it.

Then they test a selection of stitches on each fabric, including a straight stitch, a zigzag stitch and a buttonhole stitch, as well as stretch stitches on jersey.

Finally, they give each sewing machine an overall rating for ease of use, design, and functionality.

Here are our seven best sewing machines for beginner and intermediate sewers:

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