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:
Our Rating: 4.7
Our Rating: 4.2
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Our Rating: 4.5
Best Sewing Machines for Kids Reviews
- Brother XM2701: for versatility and value
- Janome Hello Kitty 13512: for simplicity and reliability
- Janome Magnolia 7330: for ambitious kids
Brother’s XM2701 is one of the all-around best machines on the market. That’s why it’s made our overall Top Three list, as well as our recommendations for kids. If you’re looking for value, the XM2701 is hard to beat. Even the MSRP is only $100, and it’s usually available for less.
The XM2701 has lots of built-in stitches, conveniences, and features, and offers kids lots of room to grow. Plus, it’s sturdy enough to last them far beyond their first stitches. It’s our top recommendation to parents on a budget.
It’s very inexpensive. The XM2701 is the cheapest “real” sewing machine on the market. We think this is the least you can pay for something which will sew straight, work reliably, and be enjoyable to use on a wide range of projects. You’ll probably pay less for this than you would for their cell phone!
Unlike most models at this price, it’s not disposable. So many other inexpensive options are cheap to the point that they break frequently and aren’t worth a trip to a service center. The XM2701 isn’t the sturdiest machine on the market, but it’s reliable enough for kids to use without running into trouble. It has a solid track record for long-term performance.
It’s insured to do so, too. The Brother comes with a 25-year warranty, just like the nicest sewing machines. Brother also has a good phone support service, in case you have questions or need assistance down the road.
It’s easy to learn, despite having lots of features and functions. The Brother includes a good instructional DVD which is helpful for teaching kids, and there are also plenty of video tutorials online. Even if you don’t have the experience to teach kids sewing yourself, your child should have no issue learning to use the Brother.
It offers a lot of variety. This is an entry-level model, not a kid-specific sewing machine. So, it’s designed to do everything adults would want, as well as kids. We think it’s a good value because it leaves kids with lots of room to grow, once they’ve mastered the basics.
There are over 60 different stitch features, and 27 built-in stitches. That’s enough for kids to get into some pretty advanced work, so you won’t have to worry about them growing out of the Brother in a hurry.
They’re all selectable via a dial, and they’re all labeled with graphic markers. We like this setup because it offers lots of options, without the hassle of learning to use computer menus. Kids ought to have a much easier time using this than a computerized model.
Conveniences which make it more accessible to younger sewists. It includes an automatic needle-threader, plus a drop-in bobbin casing which is practically jam-proof. With those two design tweaks, two of the trickiest bits of sewing are already out of the way! You can also wind bobbins with one click.
The one-step buttonhole feature helps them make functional pieces right out of the gate. As any adult needleworker probably remembers, the most exciting projects to make are those that open and close, or serve a purpose. The Brother makes all those easy.
Aside from thread and some spare needles, you won’t need to buy any extras to get your child up and running. There are 6 different feet included in the box: buttonhole, zipper, zigzag, narrow hemmer, blind stitch and button sewing.
It’s equipped with a bright LED work light. Most other budget workstations have crummy bulbs you’d want to replace instantly.
It’s light and compact. Little ones can easily put this away when they’re done, and it doesn’t take up much space in the family home.
There are quite a few functions. That’s one reason the Janome Hello Kitty can be a better choice for some younger kids. It’s simpler than the Brother, and may be less frustrating.
Another reason we don’t always recommend this to younger ones is the fact that it’s a relatively lightweight machine. Given that, it can’t handle the learning curve in the same way that a sturdier machine like the Janome’s can.
On the flip side, if you’re shopping for an older, more ambitious kid, you may find that the Brother doesn’t offer enough room to grow. If that’s the case, we’d recommend either the Janome Magnolia below or our “See Also” pick, the Brother CS6000i. Either of those computerized models will offer even more versatility to an aspiring needleworker.
You can’t adjust the speed of the pedal. That’s not a surprise at this price, though. Just make sure you supervise kids when they’re learning.
You can’t adjust the pressure on the presser foot. That’s true of anything in this price bracket. Be sure to help young ones learn how to have patience with the feed system!
The tensioning is all automatic, so if it gets wonky, you usually have to have the machine serviced. That’s one reason we recommend the Janome’s to parents who have some experience. They’re automatic too, but you can also make manual tweaks. Still, this Brother is very reliable.
Janome 13512 Hello Kitty (red model)
Janome’s Hello Kitty sewing machine might look like a toy, but it definitely isn’t. This is a full-fledged workstation that even adults would enjoy. It’s full-size, ruggedly-built, and refreshingly simple. While the Brother might offer more features, this is better at handling the learning curve and standing up to young ones’ experiments!
We recommend it for the youngest kids, as well as to parents who know they want to find something super durable. It’s also a good idea if you want a child to learn technique the old-school way, rather than rely on the kinds of shortcuts that the Brother includes.
*both red and pink models are available. We’re recommending the red one specifically, since it has a rugged aluminum frame. That’s not the case with the pink model.
It’s built more ruggedly than the Brother. The Janome Hello Kitty definitely looks the more toylike of the two, but it packs an internal aluminum frame, whereas the Brother is nearly all plastic. We like this one for kids because it can handle the learning curve better than lighter-weight options.
It’s basic, but capable. There are 15 stitches built into the Janome, and you can adjust the length of all of them. The set includes a 4-stitch buttonhole, too. Like the Brother, the Hello Kitty is perfectly able to make functional pieces. Also like the Brother, it comes with all the basic feet kids need to get started.
In a way, something so simple is better for many kids than something with more options (such as the Brother or the Magnolia). They’ll still have all the basic options they need, but having constraints will help them focus. Plus, having some limitations will build the problem-solving, creative impulses that all craftspeople need.
It has bigger stitch diagrams, too, so it’s very easy to navigate.
Even though it’s aimed at kids, it’s full-size and has all the features you’d expect from a full-size machine. There’s a free arm, and you can choose between center and left needle positions. Under the bonnet is a motor powerful enough to tackle thick fabrics and layered pieces with no issues.
Between the build quality and functionality, you can plan on seeing years of use from this. While older kids may eventually want to move to a more versatile computerized machine, they won’t wear this one out. It’s certainly more of a workhorse than the Brother, even if it’s less feature-packed.
Another key advantage in the durability department is the fact that you can make manual adjustments to the Janome. It’s easy to fix the tensioning, where you can’t even get to it on the Brother. So, even if something goes wrong years into using it, you shouldn’t have any problems resolving it.
It’s easy to learn, even if it doesn’t include a DVD like the Brother (Janome is decidedly more old-school). It includes a good manual, with helpful diagrams. You shouldn’t need to seek any extra help to use this.
While it’s sturdy, it’s still light enough for kids to carry.
It’s only covered by a 5-year warranty, as opposed to the 25-year policy on the Brother. Given the reliability this one has, we’re not too worried about that. Still, if you’re the sort of person who likes long-term insurance, you may want to nab an extended policy at checkout.
It isn’t as easy as the Brother. It’s still very navigable for kids, but they’ll need to do a few more things themselves, since the Janome doesn’t have an automatic needle-threader or drop-in bobbin compartment. This one’s best when bought by someone who can show the child how to do those basics.
Likewise, the Janome’s 4-step buttonhole isn’t as easy as the 1-step process on the Brother.
Janome 7330 Magnolia
This Janome Magnolia model is our ultimate recommendation for kid needleworkers. It’s very versatile, and includes lots of features & conveniences that kids will appreciate as they gain more experience and start working on advanced projects.
This might not be as full of stitch options and extras as some other computerized model, but it’s the best balance of computerized convenience and old-school sturdiness that we’ve found for young ones. We suggest it as a first machine for older kids in particular. It also makes a good secondary machine for children who want to have more range than they had with the Hello Kitty or similar.
It’s the most versatile of the bunch. The Magnolia has all the features and options the Brother and Hello Kitty offer, and then some! It has 30 stitches on board, and there are 6 different 1-step buttonhole options. That’s lots of room to grow for older kids, and a bit more variety for young ones who have outgrown their first machine.
It includes all the features they’ll need to work on advanced pieces. The drop feed allows them to try freewheeling and quilting, while the free arm allows them to make their own items of clothing!
There are also lots of conveniences that come with the Magnolia. One of the best is the locking stitch button, which neatly ties off the end of each stitch. It’s a nice shortcut that we wouldn’t encourage for brand-new sewists, but which is a nice reward for those who have mastered locking off their first stitches manually.
You can set the needle up/down position, and the machine will return to that position after every stitch! That’s another nice reward for kids who have earned their stripes.
The Magnolia also offers a whole other way to control the sewing machine. It features a start-stop button, so kids can operate the needle without the feet. We like push-button controls for both very long and very short stitches, but the key thing is they’ll be able to play around with having the option.
Best of all, it offers speed control! There’s a slider on the front of the machine which kids can use to set an exact speed for the needle. This gives more experienced kids the control they’ll need to tackle advanced projects.
It’s more convenient than the Janome Hello Kitty, or even the Brother. It can thread needles automatically, and has an easy auto-declutch bobbin winder. Of course, those are features you’ll also find on the Brother. The biggest difference is the Magnolia is also computerized, which makes it super simple to choose stitches and adjust settings.
Unlike more sophisticated computerized machines, you won’t get lost in confusing menus. That’s a key reason we still recommend this older model, rather than some of the fancier computerized options. It’s actually easier to navigate.
Most importantly for young ones, the Magnolia is much more rugged than other computerized options. It has a cast-iron frame inside, which is something we wish would be included on more current models.
Sure, it’s slightly heavier, but the Magnolia won’t have any issues at all holding up under the learning curve. In short, it’s by far the sturdiest computerized model we’ve found That’s why it’s our only computerized recommendation for kids (aside from our See Also choice below).
This is something you can expect kids to use for decades, both in terms of reliability and functionality. Most kids won’t outgrow this, unless they plan on going professional or getting into fancy embroidery. This is something you can buy them at a young age and have last into adulthood.
Layered pieces are a cinch on the Magnolia. Usually, they’re a sticking point for computerized models. This thing is rock-solid, and it has some serious strength in the motor. While you shouldn’t expect it to do industrial tasks, it’s a beast given a sturdy needle.
Like the Janome Hello Kitty, you can make manual tensioning adjustments manually. That’s increasingly rare, especially on computerized options As we noted above, that makes for a much better long-term purchase. Tensioning is the most common durability issue people run into, and you can troubleshoot this thing on your own.
It’s covered by a 25-year warranty, just in case you have any issues. That’s a tie for the longest in the industry, so no complaints here! These are very reliable, too.
It’s pricey for a kids machine. This is only something we’d suggest for an ambitious young person who is dedicated to sewing.
There are certainly flashier computerized options, with more bells and whistles.
Check out our See Also recommendation if you’re feeling like the Magnolia is too bare-bones. The Brother below has many more features and stitches, though it’s less rugged and reliable.
The biggest thing this one’s missing is fancy heirloom or embroidery options. We don’t think they’re essential, but if you know you want them for your child, check out the Brother below.
You can tweak the speed using the slider, but you can’t adjust the sensitivity on the pedal. That’s true of anything for this price, though.
Which of these sewing machines is the best buy?
The Janome Hello Kitty 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 XM2701 is the ideal affordable 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 the Hello Kitty’s price tag and the Magnolia’s versatility. In fact, it’s the cheapest machine here. Get this if you’re on a very tight budget!
For the most ambitious kids, especially older kids or younger kids who have already used a basic machine and learned some technique, the Janome Magnolia is the ultimate workstation. It’s as close to indestructible as you can get on a computerized model for less than $1000. It also offers the most options of the three, and lots of conveniences to reward young needleworkers who are earning their stripes. This is overkill for very young kids, though.
We’ve included the Janome Magnolia as our top recommendation for kids, because we think it offers the best balance of versatility and durability in the budget range. However, we can certainly see that some people would want to have a more recent computerized model with more tricks up its sleeve. If you’re looking for more bang for your buck, and know your child will want more options, have a look at the Brother CS6000i.
This isn’t a model we recommend for most kids, since the lightweight plastic construction isn’t as good at holding up to little ones’ experiments and mistakes as the Magnolia or Hello Kitty. Still, if you’re shopping for a child who’s responsible and won’t take frustrations out on a machine, it should last a long time.
This Brother includes twice as many stitch options as the Magnolia. It offers lots of decorative and heirloom options for kids to try out, as well as all the conveniences you’d expect on a computerized model. The best thing about it is the very low price. It costs about the same as a Janome Hello Kitty.
So, the CS6000i is certainly a valid choice for kids, and it’s one of our all-around favorite sewing machines for adults. Just don’t buy it for very young ones, or for kids who get easily frustrated/treat machines roughly.
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. 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!