4 Best Basic Sewing Machines (Mechanical Beginner Models)

Whether you are looking for your first sewing machine, or you just want a good affordable and basic machine – you’ve come to the right place. Let’s go right to the point, and start by listing the models we recommend.

What are the best basic and mechanical sewing machines?
These four models are the best, when we compare features, prices and ease of use: Singer 4411 Heavy Duty, Janome Jem Gold 660 (our favorite), Brother XR9550PRW and Bernina (Bernette) B33.

Many newer models seem overly complicated and full of computerized features. It can be overwhelming. So we have found the best basic/mechanical models.

We will start with some tips to remember when you are out shopping for your first sewing machine or you just want to make sure you get a good basic model without too many fancy features.

Best sewing machines for beginners

These are the types of sewing machine she should go for if you are not up for a computerized model.

They are perfect for learning to sew and they will do all standard jobs perfectly.

Good basic features you will need

Built-in needle threader

After a while, you get tired of threading the machine. Most model from the good brands will come with automatic threading, and you will thank them every time you sit down and start to sew.

This feature will save you a lot of time every time you start sewing on your machine.

The system works like this:
You move the thread down at the shaft of the needle and the system will automatically put it through of the needle. Most of the newer models will have this system and they all work really great. Just make sure you get a sewing machine from one of the biggest brands in the industry and then you will always be good to go.

If you are visibly impaired or you have a shake on your hand the automatic needle threader is definitely a must-have. Go to this article for more tips about sewing machines for elderly and handicapped people.

Free Arm

You want to be able to move the garment around easily. This is especially important when working on sleeves and hems and that’s where the free arm is really handy.

You need a free arm to do so, otherwise, you will be locked in and not have the flexibility to move the fabric around. In this article, you can see exactly what a free arm is.

All never machines will have the option to use the free arm. You’re basically just take off the accessory tray to access to free arm and now you can work much easier with tubes, corners etc. That being said, you might be able to find older sewing machines or cheaper models without the option of the free arm. 

So it’s an important thing to keep in mind before you go shopping.

A Visible lid to the bobbin

You need either a transparent bobbin shield OR a bobbin sensor. That way you can either monitor the bobbin yourself or get a notification when it runs out. The last option will be available for some of the computerized models.

It doesn’t matter if the machine has a top loading bobbin or a front-loaded bobbin system. The only thing that matters here is that you have easy access to the bobbin so you are able to monitor how much thread you have left.

Most European models would have a front-loaded bobbin system and in the states, it’s more like 50-50.

The 4 basic sewing machines we recommend

We have chosen a machine from each of our favorite brands: Singer, Janome, Brother, and Bernina (Bernette). Bernette is basically a Bernina model – It’s the cheaper lineup from the Bernina brand.

We all have our preferences, and some will swear to one brand, while others are more familiar with the brand they grew up with. These are all top brands that stood the test of time!

These 4 models all have the features we mentioned above:

  • Built-in needle threader
  • Free Arm
  • Front loading bobbin
  • Plus a lot of other features

Let’s start by looking at the Singer model below.

Singer 4411 heavy duty

Singer heavy duty 4411

>> Check out the current price here at Amazon.com.

If you are not sure what kind of fabric and projects you will end up sewing in the future, this heavy-duty machine is a very good choice.

It will let you sew denim, leather, vinyl and other heavy fabric this model is a dream. It doesn’t care what you throw at it. The engine is stronger than most sewing machines, so you won’t risk breaking it.

As the name indicates, this machine can do some decent heavy duty work. It’s a tank! and it is also wrapped in a nice durable metal case. This is the type of machine you can pass down generations.

No fancy features you won’t need, just good basic features. This is a typical Singer model that you can keep for ages, which is exactly why these models are super popular. Most features are placed nicely on the front of the machine so everything is easy and quick to access.

It’s fast!
You also get a fast machine with this model.

It can do up to 1,100 stitches per minute, which makes it compete with larger and way more expensive industry models.

When you are more experienced, it’s just really nice to be able to turn up the speed, when you are jugging through long lines of fabric (curtains for instance). Speed shouldn’t be your main feature to go after if you are a beginner, but as you start getting used to the sewing machine you might want to turn up the speed.

Features include:

  • Built-in needle threader
  • Free Arm
  • Stitch count: 11 (including buttonhole)
  • Max speed: 1,100 stitches per minute (!)
  • Can work with leather and other heavy fabrics
  • Mechanic
  • Front loading bobbin
  • and much more.. (see a full feature list).

It has a free arm for easy access and a lot of other great features. You can see a complete list of features at the link below. It’s quite heavy though (14 pounds).

It’s cheap!
You really get bang for the buck with this one, and as you probably know Singer is one of the most reliable brands in sewing machines. So you just won’t go wrong with this model.

This is the cheapest model, but also the most simple model. The downside is the weight, but if that’s not a problem this is also a very good choice!

If you’re looking for a lightweight sewing machine the next model below (from Janome) is a very good option for you.

On to the next model we recommend.

Price: Around $150- 200

Janome Jem Gold 660 (our favorite!)

Janome Jem Gold 660

We found the best price here.

Janome is our favorite brand in sewing machines. They are super durable, and in our opinion, this is where you get the most from your money.

Easy threading
One of the very cool features of this model is the cool threading system Janome built into this machine. It will put the thread through the eye of the needle for you, so you don’t have to worry about that part.

It has a little lever you pull down, and when you just place the thread around it, it will stick the thread through the hole.

Here’s a little video that shows how it’s done:

This is something you will be very happy about every time you want to sit down and set up the machine!

The bobbin system is also 100% fool-proof. You just drop in the bobbin, and the machine takes care of the rest. The case around the bobbin is transparent, so you can easily see when the thread runs out.

If you plan on bringing the machine with you for class, for traveling, or just to sew with a friend, this is a very good choice. 12 pounds is not a lot for a sewing machine. It can be a hassle to travel with sewing machines, and even the lightweight ones are not easy to carry over longer distances.

So go with a lightweight machine, if you know you will bring it with you at times.

If you need to take the machine in and out of the closet every time you will use it, this is also a good reason to get a lightweight model.

Features include:

  • Built-in needle threader
  • Free Arm
  • 9 Stitches (including buttonhole)
  • Mechanic
  • Max speed: 660 stitches / minute
  • Front loading bobbin
  • Compact
  • Weighs only 12 pounds
  • and much more.. (see a full feature list).

SewingMachinesPlus rate this machine as the top seller in the Janome category. According to Janome, it’s practically jam-proof. These are two other indicators that this machine is a very good beginners model.

Price: Around $240

Brother XR9550PRW

Brother XR9550PRW

We found the price at Amazon.com.

We have chosen the XR9550PRW model from the Brother lineup. It’s actually not completely mechanical, as it does have a small display. But it’s still super easy to use, not too many complicated features at all.

It’s also the lightest in the class, which makes it perfect for traveling and taking to class.

Lots of stitches and adjustments
As this model actually is a computerized model (but an easy-to-use model), you find an impressive amount of stitches to choose from (110!). You can virtually do any type of stitch you want because the software in the machine makes it possible.

This is a great thing if you like to experiment and try new things out on your machine. On top of that, you can practically adjust this machine in every possible way. Even the lamp can be adjusted, so you can have low-light in the evening and bright light during the daytime.

Very simple display
So why did we include a computerized model in an article about basic mechanical machines? Because this model is so easy to use, that you don’t have to think about it being computerized. The display is simple and easy to use and understand. So don’t worry about it being too complicated or not simple enough, you will totally get it.

Along with the machine you also get a DVD that will guide you through the different settings and adjustments you can do. Brother has done a good job creating a basic sewing machine, with enough features and stitches to satisfy you for many years.

Features include:

  • Built-in needle threader
  • Free Arm
  • 110 Stitches (including buttonhole)
  • Computerized (still simple though!)
  • Speed: 850 Stitches per minute
  • Front loading bobbin
  • Weighs only 10 pounds
  • and much more.. (see a full feature list).

Price: around $270-300

Bernina-Bernette B33

Bernette B33

We found the best price here.

The “Bernette” series are the budget models from Bernina. One of the biggest international brands. This model has won several tests, and really offers good value for money!

I have the Bernina serger machine and it works like a charm! Definitely a brand we can recommend. These machines are designed in Switzerland which is well-known for high-quality products like watches and multi-tools.

Easy threading
Just like the Janome model above, the Bernette B33 has a super-easy threading system.

You won’t have the hassle of putting the thread through the eye of the needle, the machine takes care of that for you. You just insert the thread in the little threading-arm, and it will automatically be pulled through the hole.

Easy dials
The dials for choosing between the 23 different types of stitches are placed on the front of the machine, and not on the right side as many older models have it.

That makes it easy to see what you are doing, as well as choosing the right stitch. You also get a nice accessory tray with lots of storage for needles, bobbins, and what else you have.

Features include:

  • Built-in needle threader
  • Free Arm
  • 23 Stitches (including buttonhole)
  • Mechanic
  • Speed: 860 stitches per minute
  • Front loading bobbin
  • Weighs 15,8 pounds
  • and much more.. (see a full feature list).

You get five snap-on presser feet with this model and they are super easy to put on and off. They will let you do a lot of different buttonhole styles easily.

A great option for you if you don’t want a computerized model but you want to be able to do different types of buttonholes.

Price: around $199

Don’t buy sewing machines at the grocery store

You want to stay clear of cheap low-quality models and go for a basic model from one of the established brands.

Don’t buy your sewing machine at the grocery store. For the same amount of money, you can get a good basic machine from a brand like Singer, Brother, Bernina, Janome etc.

Of course, you can get lucky and find a machine from a good brand once in a while, but you really want to make sure it’s a decent model and not a cheap china model.

Starting out on a crappy machine kills all joy of sewing. Without a proper machine to get you started, you will get frustrated again and again, and you don’t have to. Just stay clear of unknown brands, and go for one of the best top sewing machine brands.

What you won’t get with these machines

As we mentioned above, these machines are great for learning to sew and if you want a very simple machine.

That if you want to do embroidery or you want to be able to choose a lot of different stitches, these machines are probably not what you are looking for. Then you should definitely go for a computerized model as they have way more features and a ton of stitches.

It all really comes down to how comfortable you are with a more advanced and technical sewing machine.

And Another thing you won’t get with the mechanical sewing machines is quick buttonhole stitches. The mechanical models will do a simple four-step buttonhole but if you want to do a lot of different buttonholes, and if you want the machine to do it automatically, you need a computerized model.

You should also bring prepared for a little more manual work with these machines compared to the more technical models. With the computerized models, you can set the needle to always stop at the top position. This way you don’t have to turn the handwheel every time you stop sewing, to be able to remove the fabric from the needle.

A really nice feature, but definitely not a must-have.


Make sure you get a good solid model from one of the big brands in sewing machines. And make sure you know a bit about what you are going to use it for.

If you don’t know that you might want to go with the heavy-duty model from Singer, as you can take on projects in tougher materials like leather.

But if you want a machine that is super fast to setup you should go with the one from Janome or Brother, as they have the easiest threading system in the industry.

Head over to this article if you are wondering about which type of sewing machine you need. If you will only be doing quilting or embroidery work, you might consider getting a specialized model for that type of work. But if you will be doing any normal type of sewing you will need a good all-around sewing machine, like the ones we mentioned above.

best mechanical sewing machines for beginners