What sewing machine for beginners ?

1. Why buy a sewing machine?

If you think you're going to fix a few buttons and the holes in the bottom of the pockets with a sewing machine, I'll save you some money: it won't be necessary to buy a sewing machine! 😂

A sewing machine is for sewing bigger pieces such as clothes, accessories, bags, pouches, covers, bed sheets, cushion covers, furniture...

Thanks to the purchase of a sewing machine, you will be able to let your creativity speak. It will be a great weekend activity, you can go for a walk at the fabric market on Saturday morning to finally wear your new, freshly sewn dress, on Saturday evening or at Sunday brunch! 🤩

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2. What are the different types of machines?

So let's start by telling you what types of sewing machines are there.

2.1. Electronic Sewing Machines

Electronic machines have a wide selection of stitches (including decorative stitches) and features thanks to a mini computer built into the machine. They are no more complicated to use than mechanical machines (older ones)! They have several motors to control the movement of the needle (sideways, forwards or backwards), which allows them to operate with a degree increased precision.

2.2. The lockmachines

These machines are used to finish the edges of fabrics to prevent them from fraying and give a more professional look to seams and hems. You will not need one to start. The zigzag stich on a classic electronic machine will do to start.

2.3. The embroiderers

These machines make it possible to do embroidery on fabric. Some do just that while others can also do the job of a sewing machine. Some sewing machines also offer an embroidery unit to add to the machine, for embroidery.

2.4. Industrial sewing machines

These are machines generally designed for a single point or a single task. For example, a quilter only sews straight stitches! The most common industrial machines are overlockers, coverlocks, stitchers, buttonhole machines... These machines are robust and efficient. Of course you will not need one for now.

3. How to choose a beginner sewing machine?

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3.1. What use I will make of it?

The first question to ask is: "what use will I make of it?". If the idea is to use your sewing machine for leisure, occasionally, keep it simple. Avoid going to sewing machines that offer 30 different stitches. Quite simply, because you won't have any use for it, but also because a machine that you use using several points may quickly break down.

3.2. Robustness

This naturally brings us to the second essential criterion: robustness! A relatively heavy machine is a solid, stable and resistant machine. In summary, if you want to invest in quality equipment, avoid colorful, light machines, which offer a host of different stitches. It’s tempting, but they are not the most reliable!

3.3. Fonctionnalities

Your sewing machine must be equipped with a forward stitch, a reverse stitch and a zigzag stitch and the automatic or semi-automatic buttonhole. This is more than enough to start sewing. You can always choose a sewing machine that also offers one or two decorative stitches, but no more.

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3.4. The budget

Brands like Singer or Brother are very reliable. But there’s no real “good” or “bad” brands. I think they are all good in the end. The ideal is to go to a shop to have an someone who will guide you at the time of purchase but also in case of difficulties afterwards. On the budget side, count about 150-200 euros for a quality sewing machine, corresponding to the needs of a beginner.

4. Top 5 budget models

People often ask me which sewing machine I recommend for beginners. It is always something complicated because there is not really a “cheap” sewing machine. I would say that the first prices of sewing machines are from 150€ (to have something nice), and can go up to several thousand euros of course!

So it is not at all easy to find your way around. When we want to get into sewing we always have this dilemma. Whether or not to invest in a sewing machine. We don't really know if we're going to like sewing, since we may have never tried it, or just a few times. But if you love it, then don't you want to spend 200€ on a cheap machine and have to buy a better one later?

Especially since the more expensive the machine, the more pleasant it will be to use. And contrary to what you might think, starting out on a machine that is difficult to adjust makes sewing less fun and much more difficult in the beginning.

In any case, you can come and test the sewing during the sewing workshops of L'Atelier de Pandora. You can even come with your own sewing project and we will discuss it together!

I have therefore selected 5 sewing machines for beginners...

4.1. Singer 333 Fashion Mate 

Singer 333 Fashion Mate naaimachine (about 150€).

Strenghts of this sewing machine

  • Easy handling
  • Good finish
  • Functional and easy to use
  • Very competitive price...
  • Lightweight and easy to carry

4.2. Singer Single 3221

Singer Simple 3221 White/Blue Sewing Machine (about 170€).

  • Automatic threading
  • 21 programs
  • Extra high foot position
  • 1-step automatic buttonhole

4.3. Bernina Bernette Sew & Go

Bernina Bernette Sew & GO8 (about 380€).

  • Very quiet machine
  • Easy to use
  • Many decoration points available
  • Nice design

4.4. Brother FS 40 Electronic Sewing Machine

Brother FS 40 Electronic Sewing Machine (about 380€).

  • Simple to use
  • Silent
  • Great variety of stitches
  • Lightweight

4.5. Pfaff Smarter manual sewing machine

PFAFF SMARTER 140S sewing machine with 5 year warranty (about 260€).

  • Easy to use
  • Good value for money
  • Silent

5. The sewing machine I use every day: the PFAFF Passport 2.0

I bought this very first sewing machine in 2018. I actually started sewing in the 1900’s when I was young, with my mother's old Singer. It was with a manual sewing machine that I learned to sew, little by little. Then, during teenage, I completely stopped sewing and only resumed when I finished my studies, after my first job.

In fact, that's when I really learned to sew, and from there came my passion for sewing. I had just moved to Nantes and started as a freelancer in web communication (a job that I still do full time). I then spent half the week sewing and testing techniques, and the other half at my web agency.

I finally perfected myself thanks to youtube videos and free patterns on the internet. Something that wouldn't have been possible when I was little since we didn't even have internet! 🙈

So this famous first machine (and still current) is the passport 2.0 from the Pfaff brand. Although this is not of great importance when it comes to choosing a sewing machine, it should still be noted that the pfaff passport 2.0 sewing machine is of particular beauty. Indeed, it attracts the eye with its beautiful colors and its particular finishes. In addition, it must be admitted that it is not only beautiful to look at, it is also robust, solid and resistant to shocks!

In addition to its sleek design, the Pfaff Passport 2.0 sewing machine is also ergonomic and very light. In fact, it weighs only 6.3 kg, which makes it easy to transport (but still quite heavy I can tell you).

The Pfaff Passport 2.0 machine is sold with many accessories. Much more than necessary for a beginner, but you will end up using them some day believe me. What I prefer about this machine is its noise: it is very low.

In other words, you can easily sew your fabrics with this machine, because it is fed with great regularity above and below. This therefore makes it possible to work on all types of fabrics (thick, thin, stretchy), without folding them, and even with faux-leather. Thus, the PFAFF Passport 2 sewing machine achieves precise assembly and smooth sewing, while avoiding shifts.

To recap, here are the main features of the Pfaff Passport 2.0 sewing machine:

  • a lightweight for a sewing machine: 6.3 kg,
  • a small footprint thanks to its compact size, which allows it to be stored on a simple shelf or bookcase,
  • a wide choice of sewing stitches, including utility, decorative, fancy, quilt stitches and artistic stitches, the point of Paris and buttonholes;
  • adjustable stitch width,
  • the adjustable needle height, even for thick fabrics,
  • the possibility of working with or without pedal,
  • a free arm for tubular seams, such as the hems of sleeves or trouser legs, for example,
  • a reverse function, ideal for easily carrying out stopping points (like every sewing machine actually)
  • claws to practice and see how each point is rendered,
  • worktop lighting for visual comfort and the possibility of sewing in all light conditions, (this is quite important when you sew in a not very lightful room)
  • a needle threader,
  • possibility to adjust the stitching speed of the needle,
  • many accessories supplied with the machine.

I am truely happy about this sewing machine and I wouldn’t change it !!!

6. The sewing machines that are available in the Workshop

I offer sewing workshops all year round, by appointment only. the workshops aim to open you up to the world of sewing, to discover your talents, and why not, to improve your skills.

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I offer projects such as making small handbags, or make-up remover wipes. You can also come with your own project, and ask me how we could work together for you to carry it out. This was the case of Virginie, who wanted to make her white dress for her civil wedding.

During these private workshops, all equipment is included! You don't need to bring your own machine, I'll lend you one. These are second-hand sewing machines, which I buy from individuals on the internet (on marktplaats or on facebook marletplace). They all work well, and are beginner machines.

Come and test them, and tell me if, following a workshop, you ended up buying your own machine!

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