Are you looking for an inexpensive sewing machine? I know I’m in the market for one right now, and my budget for a purchase like this is virtually nil. The best sewing machine for you will depend upon what your sewing needs are. In my case, I need something to mend some clothes, hem up pants that are too long, and occasionally take in a cosplay costume for my family. So, I don’t want or need to spend a lot of money.
So, I went in search of some cheap sewing machines. I’ll discuss each one I found and offer you the pros and cons of each unit. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of what features you can gain with these machines. Comparing your needs with the benefits of these sewing machines will help you choose the right one for you.
The Imax FHSM-202 Mini 2-Speed is a cute little portable sewing machine designed for those with beginner skills. It’s lightweight and portable and is easy to learn how to use. You can use it on most fabrics from silk to denim. However, I don’t think it’s suitable for thick fabrics, leather, or quilting work.
It’s certainly portable enough, weighing in at just under a pound and a half. It also operates off regular household plugs or batteries, which means you can take it anywhere you go. Its small size means it would be the perfect machine to keep in the RV or motorhome. Since I don’t camp, this wouldn’t be a huge selling point for me. But it’s also ideal for small homes, apartments, or dorm rooms.
The Imax has two-speed settings, which is excellent for those who are new to sewing with a machine. It operates with both a hand switch or a foot pedal, an ideal feature for beginners since it’s difficult to learn to coordinate the foot pedal with the act of stitching the material.
This sewing machine also offers a bobbin spinner and uses standard size needles available anywhere you find sewing supplies.
What’s Not So Peachy?
This machine only offers one style of stitch, so I wouldn’t be able to use it for making buttonholes or any kind of decorative stitch. It doesn’t come with different presser feet, and there’s no indication if the foot is interchangeable with other standard feet.
It also doesn’t stitch in reverse, so there’s no way I could backstitch to tie off the row of stitches. And it doesn’t have a convertible work base, making it difficult to stitch cuffs or pant hems that are circular, not flat. I also don’t like the fact that the feeder thread sits on the side of the machine rather than the top.
But, if you need a little machine for making quick repairs, especially on the go, check out this mini portable Imax FHSM-202.
The Sunbeam SB1818 Compact is a great little compact machine for basic sewing needs like hemming or mending. It won’t take up a lot of storage space yet performs like a larger machine.
This little Sunbeam comes with some great perks above the Imax. One of these is the sewing kit with bobbins, thread, needles, buttons, and various other things that are needed for sewing. I like the fact that it has a built-in storage space for keeping various items close at hand and the measuring tape along the side.
The sewing machine offers twelve different stitches, including the zigzag stitch, which is an excellent way to make hems. One of my favorite features is the top-drop bobbin, making it easier to properly place the bobbin before you start to sew. It also offers a bobbin winder (on my old machine, this was broken, so I used a drill instead, sometimes with disastrous results).
I like the reverse stitch feature on the Sunbeam and it also offers a thread cutter.
What’s Not to Like
The work base on the Sunbeam is rather small, which would make it more difficult for my older hands to work with. And though it does have a carry handle, it doesn’t come with a protective case. It’s probably not suitable for heavy-duty materials like leather, though.
The Brother XM1010 is the machine I looked at the other day while doing some shopping. It’s a full-size machine but because it doesn’t have a metal frame, it’s lighter in weight than other machines. It offers 10 different stitch styles, and Brother offers a 25-year warranty on it.
It’s got a convertible work platform, which means I can use it for hems or sleeves, and it’s got the top-drop bobbin that I like. I could make buttonholes with this unit, and it comes with 4 different presser feet to accomplish that task.
The work platform is lit by an LED bulb that should last for a long time. It also comes with a set of needles and spare bobbins.
What’s Holding Me Back
The Brother sewing machine probably has features I’ll never use, like some of the fancy stitches, so I wonder if paying for features I don’t need is feasible even though I like the machine. And I would prefer for it to have a hard carry case, but I think Brother offers those separately if I ever wanted to purchase one.
Singer is the leading brand name in sewing machines and their 1304 Start unit offers some excellent features. It’s made with a metal base, making it heavier than the other units I’ve covered. It’s got two thread spools for using with double needles but only offers 6 distinct stitch types.
This sewing machine can do multiple styles of stitches and comes with additional presser feet. It’s also capable of using a twin needle, something I would probably never use. But it can do zippers, which is an interesting feature. Singer offers a free Owner’s Class to teach new users how to use the machine and a 25-year warranty.
What turns me off this machine is the metal frame. It’s heavy, weighing in at about 12 pounds. That’s too much for me to move around all the time. And it’s difficult to thread and has a front-loading bobbin, which I find is more difficult to use.
But this might just be a perfect machine for anyone with intermediate sewing machine skills, so be sure to check it out.
This is an advanced machine for those whose sewing skills exceed mine. Compared to the other machines, it has more stitch styles, offering 17 different stitches and 38 stitch functions. It also boasts an automatic buttonhole feature, which I would probably catastrophically fail at using.
It’s got the top drop-in bobbin that I like, plus the reverse stitch capability. The machine also has a storage area for small accessories and multiple speed stitching. Plus, it comes with Brother’s 25-year warranty and their small collection of accessories like needles and bobbins.
The Part I Could Live Without
This is a heavy machine at 12 pounds, something I couldn’t easily lug around. It doesn’t offer twin needle capability, which doesn’t matter all that much to me, but it’s also not a self-threading sewing machine.
It’s probably an excellent option for people who do a lot of sewing or a lot of decorative sewing like quilting.
This Singer sewing machine is incredibly advanced. It’s intended for those who excel at sewing rather than those who do it just to get by.
This is a self-threading machine, which is very cool (I’d even consider it just for this because I can’t see well enough to easily thread a needle). It’s got an automatic reverse setting and you can set multiple needle positions. It also has a presser foot that has an extra-large clearance for thicker materials like quilts and the presser foot is a press-on rather than a screw-on.
What’s Not So Hot
The Singer Simple is built on a metal frame, so that makes it a heavy sewing machine. It also doesn’t have a carry case, which should be a no-brainer on a heavy unit.
The automatic threader is a huge plus for those who have difficulty threading a needle or for anyone who is an advanced or frequent user. If this is you, go check it out!
Buying a sewing machine doesn’t have to be a daunting task. There are many different machines on the market, but getting one for less than $100 isn’t impossible. Just decide on which features are important to you before you choose a sewing machine. Each will offer different benefits for the user and your needs will dictate which of these features you will require.
I’m personally looking at the Brother XM1010 sewing machine. For what I need to do with a sewing machine, the Brother seems to be the best option for me and my family. But any of these cheap sewing machines will take care of basic sewing needs, from hemming up to repairing torn clothing or bedding, or even for making crafts or even some basic quilting.
Whichever sewing machine you choose, make sure to read the instruction manual before you start sewing. If your skills are rusty like mine (or nonexistent!), you can probably find instructional videos on YouTube that will help you learn how to properly use your machine. Take the time to watch some of these videos. It will lead to a better overall sewing experience for you.