The best sewing machine of 2020
While many people have dusted off their old machines to put them to use recently, some consumers have decided to dive in and buy a brand-new one. While sewing machines all handle the same basic duties, you might need one with specialized functions to align with your creative aspirations.
Given the surge in sales of sewing machines this year, our team takes a closer look at our longstanding top picks, as well as a couple new arrivals featuring exciting functions.
Best sewing machines of 2020
Here's our roundup of top sewing machines, which covers beginner-friendly models and those outfitted with advanced features geared toward experienced sewing enthusiasts.
1. Brother HC1850 Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine
A well-rounded machine that boasts a whopping 185 stitch types to cover all your fine detailing needs. This top performer has been our best pick for years and holds strong with its universal appeal.
2. Singer 1304 Start Sewing Machine
Convenient and affordable, this beginner-friendly model handles small sewing projects with lightweight materials. We're big fans of its straightforward operation and auto bobbin-winding mechanism.
3. Singer 4452 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine
Often referred to as a genuine workhorse, this model is capable of sewing even the toughest of materials, like leather. We're glad to include it on our list this year given its high output of 1,100 stitches per minute.
What you need to know before buying a sewing machine
While all sewing machines are designed to be quick to set up and easy to operate, certain models are more user-friendly than others. However, it's not necessarily a case of basic models having fewer, less complicated functions than more advanced sewing machines -- it's a matter of accessibility. Even the most advanced sewing machines can be beginner-friendly if their dials, screens, bobbins, and threading mechanisms are easy to understand and manipulate.
Some sewing machines keep it simple with icons that indicate stitch style or tension level. In others, there's quite the learning curve when it comes to navigating a complicated, information-laden LCD screen. With these, you may need to scroll through an entire menu to find the exact setting you want, which can be tricky and confusing, even to seasoned sewing enthusiasts.
It's also important to choose a sewing machine that can handle the projects you intend to do, and not just the ones you can handle today. Keep in mind that the more you sew, the more your skills develop. It may be better to choose a sewing machine equipped with advanced features, such as an extensive stitch selection, heavy material capabilities, speed control, and programmable settings. Eventually, you'll be glad you spent the money up front instead of shelling out more money to upgrade your machine later.
Sewing machines have quite the price range, as they start at $60 and can cost as much as $700. Most hobbyists stick to the $150 to $350 price range, where there are a variety of user-friendly models with a broad selection of advanced features.
No matter how much you spend, it's imperative to properly maintain your sewing machine to get the most bang for your buck. In fact, sewing machines can last for the better part of 25 years or longer if they're well cared for.
As far as maintenance goes, it involves keeping the machine clean between uses, as well as bringing it to an authorized service center for occasional tune-ups. Manufacturers like Singer, Brother, and Husqvarna provide a list of approved vendors for your convenience. If you take the sewing machine to another vendor for service, it may affect or void your manufacturer's warranty.
Q. What's the difference between a serger and a sewing machine?
A. Sewing machines handle straight stitches, fine detail, and buttonholes, to name a few basic functions. Sergers, on the other hand, operate as "finishing" machines -- they cut and create professional-looking hems. They're typically used by advanced sewing enthusiasts, garment makers, and tailors.
Q. What's the difference between a regular sewing machine and a heavy-duty sewing machine?
A. It boils down to the weight and thickness and materials the machine can handle. Heavy-duty machines are designed to sew through several layers of tough materials at high speeds for prolonged periods of time. Regular sewing machines can handle a few layers of light- or medium-weight materials but can jam or break if the job is too arduous.
In-depth recommendations for best sewing machines
Best of the best: Brother HC1850 Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine
What we like: User-friendly machine with plenty of advanced features, such as a wide table and 130 built-in stitches. The LCD screen takes the guesswork out of choosing stitches and functions.
What we dislike: Can be prone to bobbin jamming with certain types of thread.
Best bang for your buck: Singer 1304 Start Sewing Machine
What we like: Budget-friendly and easy to operate with a single dial for stitch selection. Fabric feeds smoothly beneath feet without bunching or jamming. On the smaller side, so it's fairly kid-friendly.
What we dislike: Experiences some difficulty sewing through thicker materials or several layers.
Choice 3: Singer 4452 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine
What we like: Solid and sturdy, this model is designed to tackle the most difficult projects, making it a good pick for commercial use. As advanced as it is, this sewing machine has straightforward operation.
What we dislike: Its light isn't as bright as it could be, which can affect how straight your stitch lines are.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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