How to choose a Sewing machine

Looking to buy a sewing machine but don't know where to start?

Don't panic buy let me help you.

Here's some advice to help you find the perfect machine for your needs. 

Janome 230DC


Teaching beginners to sew I often hear “what machine should I buy?” and “can you recommend one??

So here’s my guide to buying a sewing machine and what to look for when buying a domestic sewing machine.

My personal preferences are digital operationtop loading bobbin with a one step button hole and snap on accessories (feet) like this Janome 230DC model.

These features make the machine much quicker and easier to use, especially if you are a beginner.

Things to consider when buying:

Digital or Manual model?

The digital will have a small display screen and navigation to help you choose stitch settings quickly and may carry more stitches than on a manual machine. Whereas the manual machine will use turn dials for stitch settings like length and width.

 Top loading or Front loading spool?

Top loading is more simple and you can see the spool during sewing to check how much thread you have left. (Note if the listing does not advertise this as a feature it probably is not top loading so always check the photos!)

Top loading spool sewing machine

New / second hand / reconditioned / ex demo – Second hand is always an option, but consider where will you get it serviced? Search local servicing centres before purchasing a second hand machine. And if your machine is missing accessories or parts you can usually contact the maker directly and download some manuals online for modern machines. Some shops will also sell pre-loved and ex demo machines so you could grab a bargain.

Most importantly – Your budget! – Consider how much you want to spend and how often you will use the machine before you start looking. I suggest you will have to spend at least £100 for a brand new model.


Trusted Brands:

I can personally recommend Janome who supply the machines that I teach with, I particularly like the 230DC or the 360DC models which are digital. Or the 725S manual model, which is cheaper than the digital models but still has the top loading spool feature.

Janome 230DC sewing machine

Other brands to consider are BrotherSinger and Elna.

Where to buy?

Shop local where possible, search for ‘sewing machine centers’ near to you and that way it will be easy to get your machine serviced in the future.


Buying for children or teens

I have taught children from age 8 upward to use the sewing machine so I have been asked about kids machines a lot. My advise is keep it simple but don’t underestimate what they will need if they are seriously interested in sewing. Consider buying second hand or ex-demo to see if the hobby sticks before splashing out in haste.

Children sewing machine

My advise when buying for youngsters is do not buy a toy machine, good sewing machines do not cost less than £80 new, in my experience these mini machines can be very limiting, so much so that they may put the child off entirely. Parts cannot be changed and projects are limited on these toys.

I would recommend looking at a machine like the Brother LS14S or the Janome 219S a simple but sturdy model that will last. And if your child grows tired of sewing you can steal the machine for yourself or sell it on.

If you have a machine already in the house, supervise and teach them safety first but let them explore the machines capabilities in the way that only children can with complete creative freedom.

For more advice don't hesitate to get in touch and I can try to help.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

  • 5 ways to Sew Sustainably

    5 ways to Sew Sustainably

    5 ways to sew in a more sustainable and planet friendly way. 

    5 ways to Sew Sustainably

    5 ways to sew in a more sustainable and planet friendly way. 

  • Petal Sun Hat Tutorial

    Petal Sun Hat Tutorial

    Make a reversible kids flower sun hat with this sewing tutorial and PDF sewing pattern available to download.

    Petal Sun Hat Tutorial

    Make a reversible kids flower sun hat with this sewing tutorial and PDF sewing pattern available to download.

  • Scrap Busting

    Scrap Busting

    5 scrap busting sewing projects to help you be more sustainable and waste free in your sewing.

    Scrap Busting

    5 scrap busting sewing projects to help you be more sustainable and waste free in your sewing.

1 of 3