When you’re shopping for your child’s first sewing machine, you’re sure to find lots of different kid-specific models. They’ve got fun designs, bright colors, and compact shapes that seem perfect for your young sewers. The problem is, a lot of them simply aren’t very good. Chances are, if it looks like a toy, it probably works like a toy as well!
Here at So Sew Reviews, we think that if it’s worth teaching, it’s worth teaching right! Your child deserves to learn needlework on a real machine, which can produce real results that they can be proud of. With that in mind, we’ve gone hunting for real sewing machines that’ll be intuitive and easy to use when your child is first starting, but sturdy and powerful enough to help them expand their skills over the long haul.
After combing through dozens of options, we ended up choosing a few great models for you to look at. We think these are the best you can buy for your child. They’re simple, sturdy, and powerful. Most importantly of all, they’re affordable! Our in-depth reviews will take you through all the features we’re loving on these machines, and help you figure out which of them is best for your child.
Take a look at our top recommendations for a child:
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Best Sewing Machines for Kids Reviews
- Janome 2206: for simplicity and reliability
- Brother LS2125i: for parents on a budget
- Brother XL2610: for versatility and value
The Janome 2206 is one of our favorite, no-nonsense starter machines. It’s sturdy, simple, and intuitive to learn on. Janome is famous for their high build quality and excellent reliability, and the 2206 offers both at a very reasonable price. This is a machine your child can start on, and keep as a basic sewing tool for years to come.
It has all the basic functions your child needs to get started. There are six built-in stitches, with basic adjustments for stitch length and width. The simple control knobs make it easy to select the right stitch, and make any adjustments needed.
This one also has a four-step automatic buttonhole stitch built in. It simplifies one of the most painstaking procedures in sewing, and makes it easier for your kids to make functional bags and garments with closures.
It’s very easy to set up. The Janome doesn’t have a lot of parts, and there’s not much assembly involved. It’s also lighter than most machines, so it’s easy to get in and out of storage–even for kids! That makes it a great option for people who don’t have a dedicated sewing space in their home.
It includes impossible to lose, retractable spool pins. They’re perfect for kids, who always seem to misplace those tiny bits and bobs in seconds flat!
There are a few little touches which make the manual threading system a bit easier to manage. The Janome has a push-pull bobbin winder, and a thread-through needle system which helps little fingers get the machine threaded.
There’s a built-in thread cutter on the corner of the arm.
Even though it’s a smaller machine, it cranks out those projects. This one sews up to 860 stitches per minute. Previous buyers were especially impressed at how precisely it stitches, even compared to more expensive options.
The manual tension controls are good for teaching your kid about the dynamics of using different threads, and sewing different types of fabric. They’re easier to modify than computer systems, which try to work automatically (and can end up jamming with kids).
You get all the essentials in the box. There are three bobbins, a set of needles, a stitch ripper, screwdriver, basic presser feet (utility, buttonhole, zipper, blindhem, and cording). Plus, you can store all the tools and extras right in the sewing machine itself.
It’s very sturdily built. The metal frame keeps the whole thing strong, and the thick plastic casing can handle all the bumps, bangs and scrapes that come with the learning curve.
Though it lacks an automatic needle threader, it is simple to thread. It may even be better than using cheap automatic threaders on other machines, since many cheaper automatic models only work part of the time.
The free arm and drop feed are excellent features for when your child starts to branch out and expand their abilities.
The extra-high presser foot lift feature is good for keeping little fingers clear of the needle while they make adjustments.
The light does a great job at brightening the workspace.
It’s covered by a 25-year warranty, and has an excellent reputation for reliability.
The bobbin is front loading, which can be more difficult for beginners to get the hang of. We normally prefer top-loading systems for kids, but there’s also nothing wrong with learning the old fashioned way. Be prepared to teach your child a few times, and make sure they can be patient with this first important step.
The plastic foot pedal seems flimsy. It’s definitely not the sturdiest on the market. You also can’t adjust the sensitivity of the pedal. That’s expected at this price point, though.
Some (more advanced) children may want more stitches, especially for quilting and embroidery.
It also doesn’t have as many stitch length adjustments as you might want. The Janome has just two settings built in.
The Brother LS2125i is a budget-priced, full size option with every feature your child could want! It’s ideal for kids who want lots of options for their creativity. Plus, the pricetag makes it an easier purchase for parents to swallow. It’s lightweight, very easy to set up, and is even easier to learn than the Janome.
It has a few extra stitch options, and a similar buttonhole feature to the one on the Janome. You can select from ten stitches by turning the dial. One of these is an automatic 4-step buttonhole stitch. All of them can be adjusted for length and width.
It comes with a 25 year limited warranty. We like Brother’s service program better than Janome’s because ownership also includes free calls to their help line as long as you own the product! They also have a better reputation for answering promptly and helpfully than the competition.
There’s a simple upper thread tension control dial to stitch different thicknesses of fabric. While this machine isn’t the best choice for thick fabrics, the tension control gives your little needleworker the chance to play around with different types of threads and materials.
It winds your bobbins for you! That takes out one of the more annoying setup steps on any model (see example). We love this top-loading feature, because it means kids can get right to the fun part
Inside the box, there’s a set of presser feet (utility, zipper, button sewing, buttonhole), as well as 3 bobbins, a needle set, a twin needle, screwdriver, spool pins, darning plate, and an accessory pouch to keep it all in.
It’s very compact, and easy to pack away with the built-in handle. And, like the Janome, it has storage built in for all the accessories.
Unlike the Janome, the Brother features variable speed pedal control. That’s great for helping your child keep up with the needle. It’s always better to be safe when you’re thinking about small hands, so the Brother’s speed control is a nice security feature.
The free arm is small enough for children’s sleeves, which isn’t always the case on those big full-size models. This gives you lots of opportunities to teach your kids how to fix up their clothes, or modify old wardrobe items into cool, new creations!
Some people report issues with the thread locking up.
The tension control isn’t always fantastic. You might want to take yours in for a tuneup, if you’re not comfortable making all the adjustments yourself. You’ll also want to be careful to wind the entire bobbin at the same speed. This will affect how it runs later, and have a big impact on tension issues as you stitch.
It’s pretty lightly built. While the Brother’s warranty coverage is the same period as the Janome, you might be more likely to use it. It has lightweight plastic parts, and as you might expect on a machine this inexpensive, quality control isn’t superb.
This Brother model is our most versatile recommendation for kids. Priced between the smaller Brother and the Janome, it offers lots of different built-in stitches, features, and functions to get your kid started, and keep them expanding their abilities. We like it because it has a price tag close to the smaller Brother, but is sturdier and more powerful like the Janome. Its versatility makes it a great choice for teaching kids about working with different fabrics, like lace or denim.
It has the most pre-set options of our top three recommendations. It has 26 built-in stitches, and a four-step automatic buttonhole stitch with balance control. There are also 59 independent stitch functions which allow you to change the direction or placement of the selected stitch!
With so much space for modification, your child will be able to make truly personal creations. Plus, this gives you the chance to show them how all the little modifications can make a difference in their needlework!
This one is the most convenient of the three to get set up and sewing. It has an automatic needle threader, which is perfect for helping out little fingers. Best of all, this is the only one of the three to feature a convenient drop-in bobbin with transparent cover. Top loaders like this are much easier for kids to navigate. We also like the clear cover, which helps you see how much thread is left on the bobbin.
Like the other Brother, this one has an automatic bobbin-winder function.
The safe, built-in thread cutter keeps scissors and stitch rippers away from the machine, and protects your kids’ fingers from the sharp edge.
It comes with plenty of accessories–the same set you get with the smaller Brother model.
We especially like the quick-change feet system on this model. They snap easily on and off, and keep your child’s fingers as far from the needle as possible.
At just 11 pounds, this one’s a breeze to carry to class. If your child sews at school, this is an ideal travel choice.
Just like our other two recommendations, this one’s covered by a 25 year limited warranty. Plus, you get Brother’s complimentary phone support service.
This is a noisy one. It’s super light, and a lot of the plastic gears and internal parts make clackety sounds.
Previous buyers noted that the zipper foot takes time to adjust. The needle needs to be in the correct setting for it to work, and this can take some time to learn. Make sure you sit down and figure it out first, so you can help your kids when they get to zippers.
It has a tendency to travel as you sew through thicker layers of fabric. That’s one downside of the lightweight design. Placing a rubber mat, or other non-slip material under the machine will help with this.
You cannot adjust the pressure of the presser foot.
Which of these sewing machines is the best buy?
The Janome 2206 isn’t the least expensive machine here, but we still think it offers the best value. That’s because it’s built very sturdily. You can easily resell it at a substantial percentage of the original pricetag if your child loses interest. It’s also a great value in the sense that it’s sturdy enough to handle the learning curve of several little sewists. The old-fashioned, no-frills design is also perfect for teaching little ones the importance of proper technique. On the other hand, some younger or less patient users might find the lack of automatic features frustrating, so this is best for a young one who’s happy taking care in their work.
The Brother LS2125i is the most affordable machine here. It offers more automatic features and presets than the Janome and we think it’s a worthy choice for parents who want something that will give their child lots of features with minimal impact on their bottom line. On the downside, it’s built more lightly than our other recommendations, so it may not last as long as our other recommendations, and it doesn’t have the precision we like about the Janome.
The Brother XL 2610 is the ideal choice for a child who’s excited to try lots of different things. It has a lot of preset stitches and automatic features which make easier to keep a new little sewer interested and engaged. It also strikes a nice balance between Janome’s build quality and the Brother LS2125i’s value factor. Since it offers the best of both worlds, we think it’s a clear winner for the trio.
What to Think About When Choosing a Sewing Machine for Kids
Shop for tools, not toys:
If you’re going to teach a lifelong skill like sewing, it’s important to teach your child on a real machine that looks, feels, and performs like the models they’ll use later on. Otherwise, you’re adding in an unnecessary learning curve, and cheating them of the real experience while they’re learning.
Instead of shopping for kids’ toys, look for small, simple sewing machines that are easy for kids to learn on without sacrificing the sensation of a real model.
The most important thing to remember is: if it looks like a toy, it probably IS a toy, and not a real sewing machine. Stay away from those cartoon-themed designs, and beware the flashy packaging!
In all seriousness, try not to let the fun, bright colors, or super simplified functions suck you in. A cheap mechanical design, wrought with plastic parts, lurks just beneath that pale-pink shell. If it looks like a toy, it probably is a toy.
Be prepared to spend a bit more money for something that will last:
Sewing is a skill that will prove useful long into the life of your child, and may even save you some mending tasks later! Spending a bit more for one that will last for years is an investment in your child’s creative development.
Decide between manual and computerized models:
Computerized machines offer a bit easier learning curve, since they have lots of convenient automatic features that eliminate many of the tricky little tasks you have to do each time you set up or finish (threading the needle, loading the bobbin, tying off your stitch, etc.).
On the flip side, the shortcuts can sometimes mean your child skips those important technique lessons. They might seem tedious at first but they’ll come in handy if your child runs into trouble later.
This is a choice you’ll want to make by keeping your kid in mind. If they’re impatient and want to jump right in full-bore, a computerized model can give them real results and the satisfaction of making a creation quickly. If they’re careful and methodical, and enjoy details, a manual model can be very rewarding. After all, they’ll be figuring it all out for themselves!
Give them room to grow:
We made a conscious effort to find models that are better suited for technical growth for your young spinsters than a the toy versions. They’re easy to start on, but have features and adjustments that will help expand the machine’s function as your child’s abilities develop. You want to make sure you’re not buying something that your kid will outgrow anytime soon!
Think about kid-friendly features:
You want a machine that’s easy to set up. Children have small hands, and are still developing hand-eye coordination. Threading a needle may frustrate them, and loading bobbins can be tricky as well. You want a machine that’s simple and straightforward to start, so they can get right to the fun part.
And, of course, keep safety in mind. Make sure you know where your kid’s at, as far as self-control and common sense instincts. Teach them not to put pins into their mouth, to keep fingers away from the business end of their sewing machine, and get them a special pair of kid’s safety scissors for use with fabric only (this will ensure they stay sharp enough).
One thing to keep in mind is that real sewing machines don’t have as many safeguards as the toy models. The needles in these machines do move faster, and they do not have finger guards. However, finger guards can be purchased online for under $5. Some manufacturers even make machine-specific finger guards.
If your child struggles to keep up with the speed, simply place a Popsicle stick or other item into the pedal to limit their stitch speed.
Remember: these hacks are not a replacement for adult supervision. Always make sure your child is supervised when they use their new sewing machine.
Remember to encourage fun!
Kids love to have fun. If you want your child to utilize their machine and be excited about learning, it will have to be fun for them. Let them decorate their machine, or find a machine with embroidery designs they can customize their wardrobe with. Help them brainstorm projects, and find as many scraps or oddments as you can to give them room to play and explore!
Brother’s computerized Project Runway CS5055 PRW is a great option if you want to spend some more money. This machine has 50 stitches, an LCD screen, and a slider to adjust the stitch speed. The many intermediate and advanced features this machine boasts make it a great machine for older children. No matter how quickly your child advances their sewing skills, this machine will support their every creative endeavor.
At a slightly higher price range, we recommend the Singer 7258 Stylist. . It has 100 built in stitches to choose from, as well as six styles of one-step buttonhole settings. You will also find a wide selection of optional presser feet included in the box (eight total)! This machine functions the way today’s kids want, with push button controls, lots of nifty onboard features, and even an instructional DVD. You can choose to use the foot pedal, or use the slider and start/stop button. This one’s a great choice for a teen or older child who picks things up quickly, and wants to jump right into sewing!
Want to compare more fantastic sewing machines for kids? Check out the best sellers on Amazon!