A few hundred dollars buys a good, basic sewing machine that can handle most clothing and crafts projects or quilting. Spending even more gets you additional automated functions, while a top-of-the-line machine can cost thousands. The best part? It will produce professional-quality designs and you don't even need to know how to sew.
This information is meant to help make shopping for a sewing machine easier. Ratings are not offered, at this time. Today's machines can recommend the proper presser foot, determine the right thread tension and stitch length, size and sew a buttonhole, and automatically cut the thread.
What's the best sewing machine for you? That depends on your skill level and budget. Before buying a sewing machine assess your needs and skills. Consider, too, how you might use the machine when your skills improve (independent shops often offer a free tutorial; many also have classes).
Singer, Brother, and Kenmore are long established, well known brands, and Bernina, Husqvarna Viking, and Janome have gained popularity. Choose your retailer wisely. Different retail channels offer different advantages. An independent shop might not have the lowest prices but usually offers lessons, more personalized service, and repairs can often be done in the store, sometimes even on the spot. Note that some models are only sold at authorized dealers (usually independent stores), and they offer instructional classes and repairs.
Ask about the warranty and what it covers, and what it excludes.
Look for sales (stores typically discount sewing machines around Mother's Day and Christmas) and try before you buy. Bring fabric samples and test several machines on a variety of fabrics and settings to make sure that they stitch evenly and are easy to use.
When you sew be sure to use the right needle. A dull one, or the wrong kind, can bend and damage the fabric and/or machine. Change your needles after every project or when switching fabric types. And at least every two years (more if you sew a lot), take your sewing machine in for a tune-up.