Best Sewing Machines for Beginners Under $500

What are the best sewing machines for beginners? If you're you making clothes or buying a machine for your kids discover the features you need!

What should you look for when buying a sewing machine?

No doubt buying a sewing machine can be daunting. And, as a beginner even more so. You have lots of questions. Allow me to try to answer some of them.

Let's call what you need to look for sewing features, or simply, features.

When most beginners start to sew they begin by making clothes.

Sewing Machine Features For Beginners Making Clothes

Here's how I’ve picked the best sewing machines for beginners.

From experience, and a little research, I determined that these eight sewing features will make learning to sew a great experience for the beginner, whether a kid or older adult.

Let's take a look at the sewing features (features) needed in your best sewing machine.

Six Must Have Features

Two Nice to Have Features

  1. Free Arm
  2. Eight Essential Stitches
  3. Automatic Buttonhole
  4. Adjustable Presser Foot Pressure
  5. Adjustable Stitch Width/Length
  6. Needle Up/Down
  1. Needle Threader
  2. Sew on a Button

6 Must Have Sewing Features For Beginners

(1) Free Arm: Use the free arm to stitch sleeves to a bodice, attach cuffs to sleeves or to make a hem.

(2) Eight Essential Stitches: Look for stitches to sew on a variety of fabrics including wovens like quilting cottons or denim as well as stretch fabrics such as Lycra and knits. Here are what I call the eight essential stitches for beginners who want to make clothes:

  • Straight Stitch
  • Stretch Straight
  • Zigzag
  • Three-Step Zigzag
  • Tri-Motion Overcasting
  • Blind Hem
  • Stretch Blind Hem
  • One-Step, or automatic, Buttonhole

(3) Automatic Buttonhole: Having a a sewing machine that does automatic buttonholes will save you time and work effort. The other option is to stitch the buttonhole manually and four or more steps.

(4) Adjustable Presser Foot Pressure: The ability to adjust the presser foot pressure comes in handy when stitching fabrics with different thicknesses. Use a higher pressure when sewing lightweight fabrics and lower pressure when sewing thick fabrics.

(5) Adjustable Stitch Width/Length: In most cases a stitch length of 2.4 to 2.6mm will do. Sometimes you may need to lower your stitch length. For example, when sewing around curves or fabrics that easily free. At other times you will want a longer stitch length. For example, when basting or using thick threads (12 weight).

(6) Needle Up/Down: This convenient feature works great for pivoting sharp corners, inserting a zipper or stitching long seams on pants or binding a quilt.

2 Nice to Have Sewing Features For Beginners

(1) Needle Threader: Though not absolutely necessary for youngsters or people with great eyesight a needle threader is a great time saver.

(2) Sew on a Button: If you're making clothes you will sew on a lot of buttons. The button fitting presser foot comes in handy for attaching buttons to garments.

What Are the Prices of Beginner Models?

The retail prices for the sewing machines on my report range from $169 to $599. Of course, retailers run sales on beginner sewing machines all the time.

So, you can find a great beginner sewing machine on sale for under $500!

Sales allow you to buy a higher priced model which usually has more features. You could end up with a better quality machine that offers you room to grow and still stay on budget. Now, what could be better?!

What sewing projects will I be able to make?

Clothes

Make clothes of course! Pants. Dresses. Skirts. Blouses. Costumes. Aprons. And much more!

Making clothes requires putting in zippers, making buttonholes (and possibly sew on buttons), sewing in elastic or put in a blind stitch hem.

Use the machine's free arm to put a cuff on a sleeve. You can even do gathers, with or without a special presser foot.

You can make alterations to or mend your favorite dress or jeans.

Sewing Projects Other Than Clothes

Other than making clothes, most beginner sewing machines have features that allow you to

  • Piece a quilt and do free motion quilting.
  • Make craft projects like stuffed animals or Halloween costumes.
  • Stitch up home decor such as window valances or throw pillow covers.
  • Make a magic, or burrito, pillowcase.
  • And, as most of us did in 2020, make face masks.

The Best Sewing Machines for Beginners

What are good sewing machines for beginners?

There is no shortage of choice when buying a sewing machine. New starter sewing machines come on the market each year by most brands. Researching which one to buy is time-consuming.

Good news though...I do the research for you!

In addition to the eight sewing features noted above, these best sewing machines for beginners have other great features as well.

Here are my on-the-spot recommendations...

4 of The Best Sewing Machines for Beginners

Singer Heavy Duty 6600C MSRP $330
This machine has a heavy duty metal frame and electronic features that upgrade it over other Singer heavy-duty sewing machines. Electronic features include a Programmable needle up/down and a button to lower the feed dogs. Great for Quilters or beginners making clothes. Program the needle down when sewing long seams or quilting a quilt. Drop the feed dogs to sew on buttons or for free motion Quilting.

Singer Heavy Duty 6800C MSRP $350
In addition to needle up/down and a button to drop the feed dogs this model also has an automatic thread cutter. This feature will save you some time. The Heavy Duty 6800C also has two fonts and mirror image capabilities to personalize your sewing projects with words or monograms.

Juki HZL-LB5020 MSRP $499
This Juki is built for beginners or as a portable sewing machine for more advanced sewers to take to classes or sewing retreats. It has basic essential sewing features and some nice convenience features like needle up/down, needle threader and auto stitch tie off.

Singer Confidence 7469Q MSRP $500
This single model is geared toward beginner quilters. The quilting features include stitch tie off, drop feed dog lever, needle up/down extension table and four bonus quilting feet: a darning and embroidery foot for free motion quilting, a walking foot for an even flow of thick fabrics, a open toe foot to see better as you stitch and 1/4 inch foot for piecing quilt blocks.

Your Research Done

If you want to see how these machines, and others, compare to one another get The Best Sewing Machines for Beginners (Under $500) Making Clothes Guide!

Picture of an excerpt of The Best Sewing Machines for Beginners Making Clothes Comparison ReportBest Sewing Machines for Beginners Making Clothes Comparison Report excerpt
  1. See 55+ sewing machines compared
  2. Pick three and test drive
  3. Choose your favorite

My Best Sewing Machines for Beginners for Making Clothes Guide lists sewing machines that sell for $500 or less. Compare 20+ features across several brands.

Choose from three categories of machines:

  1. The Best: have all six Must Have plus both Nice to Have features.
  2. The Next Best: have three (free arm, eight essential stitches, at least one 1-step buttonhole) of the six Must Have and both Nice to Have features.
  3. The Rest: have one (free arm) of the six Must Have and a number of the remaining seven features.

Also get other valuable information on the best sewing machines for beginners:

  • the best places to buy a sewing machine
  • what to do to get service for your new sewing machine
  • checking for a warranty or an extended warranty.

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What Others Say

"Very helpful especially for someone who never owned a machine before."
-Millie G., Louisa, VA (36 years sewing/crafting/embroidering)

Have Your Say...

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