Best Sewing Reviews for 2017 and Buying Guide – A Look at UK’s Top 10

Best Sewing Reviews for 2017 and Buying Guide - A Look at UK's Top 10

While it may seem like a lost art, the ability to sew is a vital skill to have. From simple alterations at home to the creation of elaborate clothing, costumes, and housewares, few skills can be more valuable than sewing. But, the skill itself can only take you so far. You’ll also need the proper sewing equipment. Our sewing machine review will include the most popular features available as well as reviews of 10 of the best sewing machines on the market today.

Top 10 Sewing Machines Comparison

Product NameBuilt-in StitchesGuarantee
Sewer LevelOur Rating Price
Janome 525S

Janome 525S

242 yearsNovice - Intermediate5 Stars

£££

Brother L14

Brother L14

143 yearsIntermediate to expert5 Stars

£

Brother FS100WT

Brother FS100WT

1003 yearsExpert5 Stars

££££

Janome J3-24

Janome J3-24

242 yearsNovice - Intermediate5 Stars

£££

Janome 2200XT

Janome 2200XT

222 yearsNovice - Intermediate5 Stars

££

Brother LS14

Brother LS14

143 yearsNovice4.5 Stars

£

Quilting Special 404

Quilting Special 404

1701 yearIntermediate to expert4.5 Stars

£££

Singer Model 1507

Singer Model 1507

82 yearsNovice4.5 Stars

£

Singer 4411

Singer 4411

112 yearsExpert4.5 Stars

£££

Brother AE1700

Brother AE1700

173 yearsIntermediate to expert4.5 Stars

££

The Sewing Machine

The modern sewing machine as we know it was patented in 1845 by Elias Howe. At that time, the industrial revolution was at its height. Inventors set their sights on creating the sewing machine, which could join two pieces of material together to modernise textile manufacturing. As a result, the sewing machine was born.

Initially, the reception to the sewing machine was poor, especially in America. Most people viewed the machine as a strange curiosity. Professional tailors and dressmakers feared that the sewing machine would affect their ability to earn a living.

After Howe’s invention had been met with such scepticism, he headed east to England. The English were much more receptive to Howe’s prototype. They saw all the potential it carried with it. But, it would still be another few years before the machine caught on. By the late 1850’s, the public’s view of the machine changed. Once an oddity, sewing machines were now considered a necessity in the home.

How It Works

A motor drives a threaded needle through the fabric. Once the needle drives through the fabric, a device called a shuttle hook catches the thread and loops it around the second piece of thread. These two pieces of thread form a stitch, which locks the thread in place through the fabric. This process repeats for as many stitches as it takes to sew the two pieces of fabric.

It’s a difficult process to explain with words. This video does a great job of highlighting the most basic tenants of the sewing machine.

Types Of Sewing Machines

Many different types of sewing machines exist to serve some more advanced and specialised functions. We’ll stick to the two most common types of domestic sewing machines for our purposes. Those are mechanical and electronic.

Mechanical Sewing Machines

Mechanical sewing machines are the most basic of sewing machines. For most of us, this kind of machine is ideal. A mechanical sewing machine will be able to handle alterations and basic repairs.

You’ll also be able to create clothing and crafts. They feature a variety of different dials and levers which enable you to change the type of stitch the machine produces. Most of the models below are mechanical. These are also some of the best sewing machines for beginners.

Electronic Sewing Machines

These are the “big brother” of mechanical sewing machines. They have internal computers. This automates many functions you’d otherwise have to do by hand.

Plus, these feature a library of different stitches, often in the hundreds. Some of the more professional models feature full HD touch screen displays for changing stitches and making adjustments. They are usually more versatile and allow you to tackle many different types of projects – even at home.

Some of these advanced projects include elaborate embroidery and the decorative stitching often used on dresses and housewares. These projects can be tough to complete with a mechanical machine.

You’ll want to look towards an electronic machine if your skills are advanced, or if you plan for them to be. It’s important to note that by nature, they can be much harder to repair than more simple mechanical models.

Types of Stitches

best sewing machine 2017You’ll notice that some of the models below have huge stitch libraries. Others only feature a handful of different stitches. Some have hundreds of available stitches while others only have a handful. When you’re evaluating the best machine for you, it’s helpful to know the types of stitches each machine can create.

Utility Stitches

Utility stitches are the bread and butter of sewing. You’ll use these stitches when making alterations or for simple home sewing projects. For many sewers, these are the only stitches they ever use.

Decorative Stitches

These stitches add decorative embellishment to your project. They’re reserved for more advanced sewers. They’re also critical in quilting, embroidery, and dressmaking. Sewing machines with lots of stitches provide a broad range of decorative stitching options. Conversely, those with a few available stitches include very few decorative stitch options.

Benefits of A Sewing Machine

Owning a sewing machine is an investment that will save you time and money. The basic alterations you’ll be able to complete with a sewing machine will save money and trips to the tailor. If you have children, you’re sure to find much more uses for the machine. In addition to more practical applications, sewing, quilting, and embroidery can be a fun and rewarding hobby.

Sewing Machine Features

The features that are most important to you will vary depending on your skill level and what you would like the machine to be able to do. Based on your budget, you’ll want to focus on the specifications you like the most when choosing the best machine for yourself. If you plan on advancing your skills, you’ll want to look for a one with other add-ons for you to use in the future.

Automatic Buttonholer

This feature allows you to attach buttons to the fabric in one simple step. With less advanced models, the process of attaching a button can be challenging and time-consuming. Often, they need extra attachments. An automatic buttonholer simplifies this process and allows you to sew buttons quickly and easily.

Automatic Needle Threader

Depending on the quality of your eyesight or your level of hand dexterity, this feature may prove to be necessary. An automatic needle threader allows you to quickly and easily thread the eye of a needle, often with one hand.

Adjustable Drop Foot Pressure

On more simple machines, the presser foot pressure is pre-set for more common types of fabrics and cannot be adjusted. This can be limiting if you plan to sew fabrics which are heavy or thinner than the machine’s default settings.

An adjustable presser foot will let you sew thinner or thicker fabrics with ease. An adjustable presser foot will also allow you to create more even stitches.

Adjustable Stitch Tension

Much like adjustable presser feet, adjustable stitch tension will allow you to sew a wider type of fabrics and provide you with a polished finished product. Each stitch your machine can make has its own preset stitch tension. Stitch tension determines the amount of thread used to create each stitch.

If you are sewing more delicate fabric, the preset tension may allow too much thread to be used to create each stitch which results in loose stitches. If you’re sewing thicker fabrics, the preset tension may not enable the machine to use enough thread for each stitch which may cause your fabric to pucker.

Stitches

The different types of stitches your machine is capable of making will be a major consideration for you depending on how versatile you need your machine to be. For basic sewing projects, you only require a few different stitches. If more advanced projects like quilting, patchwork or embroidery interest you, you may want a machine with lots of stitch options.

Stitch Function

Certain models allow you to make adjustments to the pre-set stitches a machine can make. These customizations allow you to modify characteristics such as the length and width of each stitch. That way, you to create many variations of the one stitch you have selected.

Drop Feed Dog Lever

This feature is necessary for more advanced projects. Feed dogs control the rate of speed of the fabric passing through the machine. If you want the ability to control that rate of speed yourself, you’ll need to be able to disengage the feed dogs to allow that control. This feature is especially useful for projects like embroidery and quilting.

Presser feet

All machines include at least one presser foot with purchase. Presser feet make contact with the fabric you’re working with as it passes into the feed dog. Different types of presser feet are necessary for various sewing applications.

Most include several different presser feet to make different tasks easier. More feet can be purchased separately at a later time. But, the more feet your machine includes, the fewer accessories you’ll worry about buying in the future.

Portability

One thing you learn after getting your first sewing machine is that you’ll have lots of new friends! If you plan to help Bob hem his new pants or help Sally with a seam on her dress, you’ll want a machine that can be portable. Many weigh in at less than 15lbs and include custom storage and carrying cases. This makes which make transporting your machine and it’s accessories much easier.

Top Loading Bobbins

In the past, most models would require you to load the bobbin into a small compartment on the machine. This process could be a little difficult, especially if you have large hands. You may want to look for a machine that features a top loading bobbin. This feature allows you to place the bobbin onto a pole located atop the machine.

Jam Proof Bobbins

This is a helpful feature, especially for beginners in sewing. When setting up the machine or sewing, the bobbin is the most likely component to jam and cause issues. More advanced jam proof bobbins eliminate many of these problems and make for smooth sewing.

Visible Bobbin Cover

Bobbin covers come in a variety of materials. Some bobbin covers are see-thru and allow you to view the amount of thread left in the bobbin. While this is far from a make or break feature, it can be very frustrating to run out of bobbin thread in the middle of a project. With a clear bobbin cover, you’ll know exactly how much thread you have left before you begin sewing.

Twin Needle

This feature allows you to add a second needle to your machine. As you’d imagine, a twin needle option allows you to add a parallel stitch to the fabric. A second stitch increases the strength of your work while also serving a decorative purpose. It can be especially useful when sewing denim.

Lighting

 sewing machine reviews UKWhile it may be an easy feature to overlook, the onboard light on a sewing machine certainly comes in handy. Many machines today include LED lights which are brighter than traditional light bulbs. This feature comes in handy when threading needles, especially on models that don’t do so automatically.

LED lighting also doesn’t artificially colour the fabric or thread as you work. Best of all, LED lights have a much longer lifespan compared to traditional bulbs.

Strength

Depending on the types of fabric you plan to sew, you a heavier duty machine may interest you. Most machines can handle simple alterations, as well as simple clothing and craft projects. But, if you plan to embark on more challenging projects or heavier weight fabrics, it’s important to find a machine that can handle those more demanding projects without breaking.

Also, if you’re looking for a machine that can withstand decades of use, you’ll want a machine that’s built strong to stand up to all that use.

Reliability

Few features are more important than reliability, especially if you’re a novice sewer. Nothing is more frustrating than setting yourself up for your next project only to find that some mechanical issue is preventing your machine from working well.

Plus, it can be difficult to find a quality repair shop in your area. A reliable machine will ensure that you spend less time at the repair shop and more time sewing.

Simplicity

Another important feature, especially for novice sewers is simplicity. Advanced features are great, but they become less useful when you need a university degree to operate them. If you’re new to sewing or searching for a machine that can easily complete simple sewing tasks, simplicity is key.

Adaptability

If you’re an advanced sewer or plan on becoming one, you’ll need a machine that can continue to grow to suit your skill level moving forward. Many computerised sewing machines allow you to continue to update the machine and add new stitches to the library throughout its lifespan.

Accessories

You can buy most sewing machine accessories separately after you have your machine. Almost all manufacturers do include at least a few accessories with the machine. If you’re hoping for a more of an “all in one” type machine, consider looking towards sewing machines which come with a broad range of accessories designed especially for your machine.

How to Choose the Best Sewing Machine

Now that we’re familiar with a wide variety of popular sewing machine features, it’ll be easier to select which sewing machine is best. First, you’ll want to consider your goals when it comes to sewing.

Are basic stitches and controls sufficient for your needs? Are you interested in quilting and embroidery? Are you willing to learn how to use all the features of a more advanced machine? Do you have a specific budget in mind for your new machine?

These are the type of questions you’ll want to ask when choosing a machine. Next, consider the specifications that the machine must have for you to accomplish those goals. Once you’ve established your goals and what you’ll need to achieve them, you’ll have a very good idea of the machine that’s best for you.

Top 10 Sewing Machine Reviews

Customer satisfaction is a great indicator of the quality of a sewing machine.  Below are our ten selections for UK’s best sewing machine for 2017. These machines may vary in features and price, but each one is a quality machine which should bring you years of use and enjoyment.

1. Janome 525S

Janome 525SThe Janome 525S is jam packed with useful add-ons. The machine has 24 stitch settings, a one-step buttonholer, jam proof bobbin, double needle, adjustable drop foot pressure, a built-in needle threader and thread cutter.

This machine is also a good choice for circular sewing and free hand embroidery. The Janome 525S may have lots of features, but it’s still easy to use. Because of this, it may be a good choice for the beginner sewer looking to develop more advanced skills.

It may be a bit expensive, but it does include more than 15 money saving accessories. The 2200XT carries Janome’s standard two-year warranty. The Janome 525S doesn’t pack as many bells and whistles as electronic sewing machines. But, it’s build quality, and adaptability make this one of the best

Pros

  • Packed with useful features
  • Easy to use
  • Adjustable stitch length and width
  • Good for freehand embroidery and circular sewing
  • Wide range of available accessories
  • Reliable and well built
  • Includes hard case
  • Two-year warranty

Cons

  • More than double the cost of some of the more budget-friendly models
  • Limited amount of stitches

2. Brother L14

Brother L14The Brother L14 is a simple, value priced and may be the best sewing machine for beginners. It has 14 settings, free arm sewing, an easy to use top loading bobbin and manual thread tension. To deliver reliable operation at a value price point, this machine doesn’t include any of the more advanced features found in more expensive models.

It does, however, include a three-year warranty which provides peace of mind. If all you’re looking for is a basic machine that can handle simple sewing tasks, this may be a good machine for you. If you’re looking for more advanced specifications or a machine that you’ll be able to grow into as your skills improve, it may be best to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Value price
  • Easy to use, suitable for beginners
  • Free arm sewing
  • Top loading bobbin
  • Adjustable thread tension
  • LED light
  • Three-year warranty

Cons

  • Limited stitch selection
  • Fixed stitch length and width
  • 4 step buttonholer
  • Fixed foot tension
  • Only accepts plastic bobbins

3. Brother FS100WT

Brother FS100WTFor more advanced sewers, the Brother FS100WT is a treasure. The wide range of features makes this machine a fine choice for more advanced tasks such as dressmaking, quilting, and embroidery. It also makes very quick work of simpler sewing and mending tasks.

The Brother FS100WT has seven different one step buttonhole options, semi-automatic needle threader, fifteen needle positions, LED lighting, push button start/stop with variable speed control, drop in bobbin with automatic bobbin winding, automatic stitch selection, fully adjustable stitch length and width and a wide range of useful accessories.

The backlit LCD and simple touch controls make adjusting the machine for different stitches quick and easy. As with other Brother products, it carries a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Pros

  • 100 stitches with adjustable stitch length and width
  • Perfect for embroidery, quilting, and advanced sewing tasks
  • Includes 19 valuable accessories
  • Light Weight
  • LED Light
  • Hard case

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only accepts plastic bobbins
  • Small size may make this machine hard to use for larger people

4. Janome J3-24

Janome J3-24The Janome J3-24 has many of the features of the 525S at a slightly more attractive price point. It has 24settings with adjustable stitch length and width, automatic 1 step buttonholer, built in thread cutter, free arm sewing, an easy to adjust foot and drop feed options.

The Janome JS-24 is well constructed, easy to use and lightweight. The 2200XT includes Janome’s standard two-year warranty This machine also includes ten accessories including a hard case. However, it does not feature a top-loading bobbin, and the bobbin is not jam proof.

Pros

  • Includes many high-end features
  • Comes with six different feet
  • Easy to use, good for beginners
  • Free arm sewing
  • Two-year warranty

Cons

  • Limited amount of stitches
  • No top loading bobbin

5. Janome 2200XT

Janome 2200XTThe Janome 2200XT has several of the features of their more expensive models at a value price. Ideal for beginners, just 2 dials control all of the 2200XT’s features. It has 22 stitch settings, adjustable snap-on feet and adjustable stitch length and width.

The Janome 2200XT includes six different feet which can be quickly snapped on and off the machine. It also has Janome’s standard two-year warranty. Janome rounds out this machine with a dust cover and six additional accessories.

Pros

  • Value priced
  • Durable build quality
  • Easy to change out feet
  • Adjustable foot
  • Adjustable stitch length and width
  • Two-year warranty

Cons

  • Limited stitches
  • No top loading bobbin
  • 4 step buttonholer
  • Does not include hard case

6. Brother LS14

Brother LS14The Brother LS14 is very similar to the L14 model. However, some features from the L14 have been removed resulting in an even lower price. The LS14 features a drop-in jam proof bobbin and 14 stitches.

It does include three additional feet but does not include many other accessories or a case. This machine may be suitable for beginners and those who have limited sewing needs.

Based on the amount of sewing machine reviews, the LS14 is extremely popular. Considering its lack of premium features, it might not be the best choice for those who are more advanced.

Pros

  • Very low price
  • Jam proof bobbin
  • Easy to use
  • LED Lighting
  • Three-year warranty

Cons

  • Limited stitches
  • Lacks premium features
  • Does not include any case
  • Only accepts plastic bobbins
  • Its compact size may prove difficult to use for larger people

7. Sewing Machine Model 404

Quilting Special 404The model 404 machine is a great option for advanced sewers, quilters and embroiderers on a budget. This machine appears to be a copy of the Frister and Rossman Quilter’s Edition 404QE model, but at a friendlier price. The 404 packs a remarkable amount of features for its price. It includes 170 stitches, fully adjustable foot options including drop foot for embroidery, push button start/stop with speed limiter, adjustable stitch length and width and an incredible 13 different one step buttonhole options.

What’s more, the Model 404 also includes a tonne of accessories which would otherwise cost you quite a few quid. However, given the affordable price of this machine and the full range of features it possesses, there has to be a catch somewhere.

Some reviewers have complained about poor build quality, difficulty using the machine or obtaining repairs and questionable quality of the components. Overall, the Model 404 seems like a good machine to consider if you’re looking for an advanced, full featured machine at a value price.

Pros

  • 170 stitches
  • Wide range of 1 step buttonhole options
  • Perfect for quilting and embroidery
  • Includes an assortment of useful accessories
  • Quiet operation
  • Great value for the money
  • Hard case

Cons

  • Limited warranty
  • May not possess the same build quality as machines from more reputable manufacturers

8. Singer Model 1507

Singer Model 1507This entry level model from Singer offers quality construction and reliable operation at an affordable price. If you’re looking for a very basic machine for alterations and simple projects, the Singer Model 1507 may be a good choice.

This machine has eight settings with adjustable length and width, free arm sewing, four different snap on feet, a semi-adjustable presser foot, a dust cover and a limited range of included accessories.

Pros

  • Low price
  • High build quality
  • Adjustable stitch length and width
  • Free arm sewing
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Capable of only a few stitches
  • 4 step buttonholer
  • Compact size may be difficult to manoeuvre for larger people

9. Singer 4411

Singer 4411The Singer 4411 is a highly durable, heavy duty machine. If you’re looking for a machine capable of attacking thicker and more cumbersome fabrics, the 4411 may be a good option. This Singer machine operates at high speed and is capable of sewing 50% faster than traditional domestic sewing machines.

This machine also boasts a motor which is 60% stronger than a conventional domestic sewing machine motor. The 4411 is a great option for attacking larger scale sewing tasks. It may be the most heavy weight, well-built machine on our list. The Singer 4411 features an easy to use drop-in bobbin, adjustable stitch length and width, adjustable presser foot and free arm sewing.

On the other hand, this machine is certainly no frills. It’s capable of only 11 different stitches and does not include a case. But, from a utility perspective, the Singer 4411 is difficult to beat. Also, the 4411 is a reliable choice for beginners looking for an easy to use a machine that will last a lifetime.

Pros

  • Extremely durable
  • Capable of large-scale tasks
  • Adjustable stitch length and width
  • Adjustable presser foot
  • Free arm sewing
  • Surprisingly light weight
  • Two-year warranty

Cons

  • Only 11 different stitches
  • Doesn’t include a case

10. Brother AE1700

Brother AE1700The Brother AE1700 is a well-built machine with many attractive, easy to use features. It has 17 stitch settings, drop in bobbin with automatic bobbin winding, thread cutter, reverse stitching, adjustable thread tension, LED lighting and free hand sewing. Some accessories including four different feet come with the AE1700.

This machine does lack many of the more high-end features and does not include a case. As with other Brother machines, the AE1700 carries a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Lots of essential features
  • Lightweight
  • Integrated handle
  • LED Lighting
  • Three-year warranty

Cons

  • Limited stitches
  • Does not include case
  • Compact size may be difficult for larger people to manoeuvre

Final Verdict

You could make a strong argument for any of the machines covered above. However, of all the machines we reviewed, we believe one option stands above the others as the best sewing machine in the UK. What this model may lack in stitch selection, it more than makes up for it in other areas.

The Janome 525S offers the most comprehensive array of premium features at a price that most shoppers will find to be budget friendly. Beginners will find the 525S intuitive and easy to use while providing plenty of room to grow.

More advanced sewers are sure to appreciate the wide range of features. The most advanced sewers, embroiderers, and quilters may look towards a computerised machine with a full range of stitch options. But, for the average person, the 525S provides the most enjoyable and full-featured experience of all the machines we’ve covered.