Decent sewing machines have traditionally been something you had to spend quite a chunk of change to get. One of the best things about having so many options on the market today is the fact that there are actually a lot of reasonably-priced models that perform way beyond their price bracket.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to all of our favorite cheap sewing machines. Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive in to the world of sewing or are an experienced seamstress on a budget, we’ve got recommendations to point you in the right direction.
You’ll also find a handy buying guide at the bottom of the page, packed with useful advice for getting the most bang for your buck and choosing the best cheap sewing machine for your needs. In it, we explain which features to look for and which to avoid. We also explain the differences between the ultra-cheap, crappy models and the affordable workhorses we’ve recommended here.
Read on to see which budget-priced models we currently recommend and to find out why these models made our cut!
|Brother XM2701 Lightweight, Full-Featured Sewing Machine||Manual||$|
|Janome Blue Couture Easy-To-Use Sewing Machine With Interior Metal Frame||Manual||$|
|Brother Computerized XR9550PR Sewing Machine, Project Runway Limited Edition||Computerized||$$|
Best Cheap Sewing Machine Reviews (2018)
Brother XM2701 Lightweight, Full-Featured Sewing Machine
This Brother is the least expensive full-size sewing machine we recommend at present. It’s an accessible, feature-packed model that’s ideal for beginners and for experienced needleworks on a tight budget. It won’t run you much more than $100, and it offers performance and reliability that can compete with much pricier machines! Get this one if you need to hold to a tight budget and want lots of value.
It’s manual. At this price, you won’t find any decent computerized models. That’s why we recommend this Brother instead. It doesn’t have an onboard computer, but it has enough onboard features for most folks not to miss one. With a manual machine, there’s no big, expensive component to go wrong. Everything’s very easy to maintain and service, which is key when you’re trying to save money!
Even though it’s a manual machine, there are lots of features and options to keep you inspired and interested. Whether you’re a beginner or a longtime craftsperson, you’ll have more than enough to cover the basics and add a bit of your own individual flair to boot. 27 stitches are built in–more than the vast majority of manual machines. In fact, the Brother has more than some manual machines that cost twice its price! 6 feet are included in the box as well.
It’s very user-friendly. One reason we think this is such a great buy for a newcomer is that it’s so darn accessible. All the stitches are laid out on the front of the machine. Selecting between them is simple, thanks to the labeled dials.
There are also some helpful (if a bit cheesy) tutorials on Brother’s YouTube page that make it easy to learn this machine even if you struggle with manuals or have absolutely no idea what any of the terms mean.
The drop-in bobbin design is super easy to use–better than the Janome below, which uses an old-fashioned front-loading setup! It’s a standout feature that is remarkably good at this price.
It’s a lot more reliable than anything else for the price. While this isn’t quite as rock-solid as the Janome below or some of the more expensive Brother models, we think it’s by far the next best thing. It has a great reputation for reliability and doesn’t have any notable flaws that we’re aware of. Best of all, it’s covered by the same 25-year warranty as more expensive Brother models.
The light build and relatively compact (while still full-size) design makes it easy for anyone to handle. It’s a breeze to pack away, so it’s perfect for someone who doesn’t have a dedicated workspace for their sewing.
It’s built quite lightly. The Janome Couture below is a more rugged and reliable choice, though it doesn’t have quite so many features as the Brother. We recommend the Janome to the average buyer who will value reliability and build quality over number of features.
While it has a lot of features, it’s not as versatile as a computerized machine. If you want computerized versatility, you should check out the Project Runway model below. This packs plenty of options for most people, but ambitious needleworkers who want to do things like monogramming and so on will definitely appreciate all the variety you get on a computerized
Machine like the Project Runway.
Janome Blue Couture Easy-To-Use Sewing Machine With Interior Metal Frame
This manual Janome model is our budget recommendation to the average buyer. It doesn’t have as many built-in stitch options as the Brother models we recommend in this category, but it covers the basics handily and is built like a tank. We think it’s the ideal value choice for the average needleworker who doesn’t need anything fancy and who values longevity over variety.
It’s very rugged, for a budget machine. This Janome is by far the most solidly-built machine under $250. That’s despite the fact that there are a lot of models in that price range marketed as “heavy duty,” which this is not. That’s good news for your pocketbook, since you can buy this one and comfortably expect to have it work for the length of the warranty (25 years) or longer.
It’s simple. Aside from the bobbin compartment, which is more old-fashioned, the Janome is every bit as user-friendly and accessible as the Brother XM2701. Stitch diagrams are laid out clearly on the front of the machine, and you can easily select which one you want to work with using the labeled dials. It’s equally easy for novices and old hands to figure out.
It’s versatile enough to cover all the basics and then some. This one doesn’t have nearly as many built-in stitches as the Brother XM2701, but there’s enough to cover your requirements for most projects. The Janome includes 4 presser feet, 15 stitch options and a 4-step buttonhole feature.
If you’re a novice, it’ll take you a long time to grow out of this one. Most casual needleworkers never will. Those with more experience should choose this one if they stick to relatively simple stitches and would rather have a solid workhorse than something with a lot of tricks up its sleeve.
The best thing about this Janome (like most Janome models) is how rugged and reliable it is. This is a rock-solid workhorse at a budget price! It has a heavy-duty internal frame made entirely from metal. Unlike the Brother XM2701, which is relatively reliable but quite lightly-made, this one is built like a tank. It’s more than ready to handle a beginner’s learning curve. For experienced folks on a budget, it’s an excellent investment you’ll probably never need to replace.
It’s cheaper than many “heavy duty” models that are less sturdy. This one isn’t too much more expensive than the Brother XM2701. It’s also a lot cheaper than the Janome 2212, which we used to recommend in the same category. That’s despite the fact that this one is every bit as solid as the 2212, and even has a few more features.
It has the fewest features of our budget recommendations. 15 stitches is still enough for most people to do their projects, but if you’re the kind of person who wants to get adventurous or have a different stitch option for every project, you may want to choose one of our other recommendations. This is a rock-solid workhorse, not a trick pony!
It uses an old-fashioned front-loading bobbin compartment. Drop-in bobbin compartments such as those on the Brother models in this guide are a lot more user-friendly. Still, plenty of needleworkers have been using front-loaders for decades without any issues. There’s nothing wrong with the Janome design, but the new drop-in compartments on pricier Janome models and the Brother models we recommend are much easier to work with.
Brother Computerized XR9550PR Sewing Machine, Project Runway Limited Edition
This Brother Project Runway model is the priciest, most well-equipped model we recommend for a cheap sewing machine. We think it’s the least you can pay for a reliable, versatile computerized model that can handle real sewing projects. Something like this, while affordable, is definitely overkill for what most home needleworkers need. If you’re ambitious and want tons of options to keep up with your inspiration, though, this is a great budget buy!
For something relatively inexpensive, the Project Runway is a really great computerized sewing machine. It covers all the basics, with a nice big screen and simple navigation that’s intuitive even if you’ve never worked with a computerized model before. Most other inexpensive computerized options are frustrating to use, to say the least!
Stitch diagrams are all laid out on the front of the machine, just like the manual models we recommend. That’s a rarity for a machine with this many options, and it makes the whole thing much easier to navigate. You don’t even have to flip up a panel to see all your choices.
Most importantly, the Brother is more rugged than any other computerized models under $250. It’s not a tank like the Janome, but it has a sturdy metal frame and even the plastic components are solid enough to handle regular use on tricky projects. We think it’s the least expensive machine that isn’t a lightweight when it comes to sewing layers and materials like denim which can wreck cheaper computerized models.
There’s a heck of a lot of variety here, despite the fact that this isn’t even a midrange model in its category. The Project Runway has 110 stitches programmed in, including a basic monogramming font. Even the most ambitious home needleworkers will be hard pressed to outgrow this Brother. Free arm and drop feed give you all the flexibility to tackle custom, elaborate designs. As far as bang for your buck, it doesn’t get much better than this!
Not only do you have more options for stitches, you have more control over the execution of whichever stitch or pattern you choose. Like all good computerized models, the Project Runway offers stop/start sewing using a button control and a speed slider. That’s especially notable at this price, since other inexpensive options don’t have a lot of middle ground between being at a standstill and going full-bore. This is good both for novices who want to start off slowly and for more experienced hands.
It’s an extremely convenient setup to use. An automatic needle threader takes care of the trickiest part of the whole sewing process, and the Project Runway has the same kind of drop-in bobbin compartment as the XM2701 we’ve recommended above. 8 different one-step buttonholes are also pre-programmed into the machine. All in all, it provides a convenience factor that everyone will appreciate. Novices will love how quickly this one allows you to play with fancier functions, and experienced needleworkers will be thrilled by how much time they can save on big projects, compared with using an older, manual model.
Not only is the Project Runway a great machine–it’s a great value! It includes a multitude of automatic, computerized conveniences for around $200, without compromising on build quality. There’s a lot in the box, too. The Project Runway includes a hard case and an extension table that’s perfect for working on quilt sections and other larger pieces. 8 feet are included as well.
As with our other budget recommendations, the Project Runway is very reliable. There’s a reason this is the only computerized model that made it into this guide! We think it’s the only one in its category for less than $250 that’s a solid investment. It might not be a tank like the simple Janome, but it’s rugged and reliable. This one’s covered by the same 25-year warranty as any other Brother.
There are certainly fancier computerized models. This one has over 100 stitch options, but you can find other models for the same price or close to it with even more. We’ve placed a premium on build quality over versatility.
As far as we’re concerned, this one packs more than enough variety to keep the vast majority of users inspired and satisfied. At the same time, it’s vastly more reliable than anything else for the price! After all, there’s no point buying a lightweight model if you’re trying to save money. You might save $50 now, but you’ll end up having to buy a replacement in just a few years, if not sooner.
While it’s very sturdy compared to others in its category, it’s not any more rugged than the Janome. You’re paying for versatility more than durability here–as with most computerized models.
It’s not going to cost you any less than $200. We still think that’s well within the confines of “cheap,” but if you’re on a particularly tight budget the XM2701 is the next best balance of value and versatility.
Which of these inexpensive sewing machines should you buy?
The Brother XM2701 is the best choice if you’re looking to keep your budget to around $100. Even if you choose one of the accessory packs to go with it, you won’t end up paying much more than that. It’s actually packed with more features than our middle pick, despite the fact that it costs less. They key downside of the Brother is that it’s quite lightly-made. You should get a fair amount of use from it, but don’t expect it to last forever like a Janome.
The Janome Couture is our recommendation to most buyers. It doesn’t have as many features as either of the Brother models we’ve recommended in this guide but it still packs all the basics you need to handle most projects. Its biggest strength is its build quality. This is a solid, reliable sewing machine that ought to last for years of regular use. It’s user-friendly and versatile, too. The Janome is full-sized, capable and surprisingly inexpensive for how great it is. Unless you’re set on going for a feature-packed computer model, we think this is the best cheap sewing machine on the market right now.
We suggest the Brother XR9550PR to anyone who wants an inexpensive computerized sewing machines. There are certainly cheaper computerized models available, but we think this is the least you can pay for one that works well and won’t fall apart in a hurry. The Brother has a heck of a lot of features for something that doesn’t cost more than ~$200, and it’s built more sturdily than anything else in its category. Get this if you know you’ll get your money’s worth out of the computer and want the most bang for your buck on a budget.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
While it can be appealing to try and find an inexpensive sewing machine that has all the same features as the more expensive models, we think it’s best to stick with simpler, less exciting models when you’re trying to save money. If you choose something cheap with lots of features, you’ve simply increased your odds that something is going to break. There’s a reason premium sewing machines cost a lot of money! It takes a lot of time and energy to design and manufacture something that does a sophisticated task well and can do it reliably. The latter is the trickiest bit. There are plenty of cheap machines with some fancy tricks up their sleeves, but they’re usually not built sturdily enough to keep pulling those tricks out on a regular basis. Make every dollar count by putting your money into sturdy, simple machines that you can rely on for years.
Don’t Buy Cheap Computerized Models
For many of the same reasons we’ve just discussed, we don’t recommend many cheap computerized sewing machines. The least expensive computerized model we can confidently recommend comes in around the $200 mark. We’ve found that that’s the least you can pay for something that has a reliable computer and sturdy enough parts to back it up when it comes down to actually sewing. That’s why we suggest that most budget buyers stick with manual machines. That way, the money you’re spending goes into things like a metal frame and sturdy mechanical components rather than a glitzy computer.
Stick To Reputable Brands & Models Over $75
You’ve probably noticed by now that our recommendations start at around $100. We do recommend one or two miniature machines that are slightly less expensive, but we strongly advise that buyers steer clear of the junky models sold for less than $75. No reputable sewing machine maker sells products for less than that, so what you’d be buying are essentially crappy toy imitations. They’re made by companies that import generic crap from China and rebrand it with their logos before marketing it to you.
You won’t find anything that sews straight and stands up to the average person’s demands for less than $75. There are plenty of reasons to stick with the tried-and-true manufacturers, too. They all offer at least 10-25 years of warranty coverage, while the cheapo/knock-off brands don’t provide any warranties at all. They have high-quality accessories and replacement components easily available, and many have stellar customer service located here in the USA. So, while it’s possible to get something quite cheap that performs well and lasts a long time, we don’t suggest going cheaper than the models we recommend.
We hope you’ve seen at least one or two cheap sewing machines here that could serve your needs. You can learn more about any of the models we’ve recommended by clicking on the links in our reviews. That’s the easiest way to check current prices, see options for buying value packs, and find full feature lists. You can also visit our homepage to find links to all our latest content.