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Sewing machines review

A sewing machine can cost anywhere between $100 to a few thousand dollars. So the big question is, how much should you spend to get good performance?
 
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01.Introduction

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Having researched the market, CHOICE discovered a good price point that will suit most people - from beginners to experienced sewers - is about $500. For this price, you can get all the basic features and stitch types you need without paying extra for those you don't.

Many machines offer optional accessories, so they can expand along with your skills and ambitions. And in many cases, manufacturers offer numerous models in the same series - that is, the basics of the machines are the same, but as you move up in price, so do the additional stitch types, functions and accessories.

How we test

Performance

We selected one model costing around $500 from each major brand, and recruited an expert and a regular sewer to put them through their paces. A good machine produces tight, even stitches with minimal adjustments required by the user.

To assess sewing performance, numerous stitch types are tested on the appropriate fabric, including:

  • Lycra
  • chiffon
  • satin
  • 100% linen
  • 100% cotton
  • 80/20 poly-cotton
  • denim
  • cotton drill, and
  • faux fur.

Stitches and functions tested include:

  • straight stitch
  • zigzag
  • stretch
  • back-tacking
  • blind hemming
  • buttonholes
  • appliqué, and
  • decorative stitches.
Ease of use

We look at how good the instructions are; how easy it is to the thread the machine and wind the bobbin, remove and replace presser feet, use the controls and functions, and understand the labelling; whether the work area is well lit, and how simple it is to change the light bulb.

Models tested

  • # Bernette by Bernina
  • Brother NS10
  • Elna Explore 240
  • Husqvarna Viking H Class 100Q
  • Janome DC2050
  • Pfaff Hobby 1142
  • Singer 4423 Heavy Duty
  • Toyota ESG325
# Discontinued in October 2013.

Meet our experts

Rhonda Staudinger has more than 50 years’ experience in sewing. She’s been helping consumers choose the right sewing machine for their needs for the past 40 years, and teaches users how to get the most out of them through in-store demonstrations and sewing classes. She has extensive knowledge on all major brands, and isn’t affiliated with any brand.

Christine Shaday is a CHOICE staffer, and an avid quilter and sewer for over 30 years. She assessed the machines for performance and ease of use, from a typical user’s perspective.

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Video: Sewing machines

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