Sewing Machine Buying Guide


After doing some research, I have a couple of specific machines to recommend. These recommendations are for brand new, simple, beginner machines. You can buy better machines for around the same price if you are willing to search for a good used machine (I recommend the Yahoo group "Sew It's For Sale", Craigslist, and Ebay for used machines), but I understand that this takes a lot of extra time and effort.

Here are my top three recommendations:

1) Brother CS6000i, approx. $139 on Amazon

Pros: Speed control, adjustable stitch length, basic stitches, lightweight, good quality for price

Cons: Poor light (you'll need an extra lamp), drop-in bobbin (my repair guy says that often beginners break the plastic in a drop-in bobbin and it's an expensive fix), not great for thick fabrics or many layers (handbags, heavy fabric), mostly plastic parts

2) Janome Jem Gold, $199 at Amazon

Pros: Basic stitches, lightweight, good quality for price, small

Cons: Poor light, drop-in bobbin, preset stitch length

3) Janome HD1000, $299 at Amazon

Pros: Great basic stitches, all metal parts (hard to break), vertical bobbin (also hard to break), good with thick fabric, v. sturdy, decent resale value ($150-200)

Cons: Poor light, some issues with bobbins (metal bobbins recommended), no fancy stitches

I think of these as starter machines and you will likely need to upgrade in a few years if you do a lot of sewing (as in more than 10 hours a week).  

You can read reviews on Amazon and on

—Lisa Polderman