woman sewing on a machine seen from close up

If you’re a long-time sewist, you probably made your first stitches on your grandma’s beautiful, vintage Singer. Most of these models used to last for decades, and many are still alive and kicking. Maybe yours still works just fine, but you realize it’s time for it to finally retire and convert to a beautiful, antique piece of furniture. But what should you get in its stead? The market is overflown with computerized sewing machines, but many oldschool sewists are leery about that.

If that’s the case, here’s some news: I know many sewists who had been skeptical about those modern contraptions with LCD screens and a bunch of automatic actions. Usually, all it takes to convert these guys into believers is a push of a button – quite literally. Why do everything manually when there are so many convenient features? Compared to traditional, mechanical workhorses, digital machines make sewing a breeze.

This is not to say I’m about to ditch my analogue machine into the basement. I’m far from giving up on mechanics. As a rule of thumb, oldschool machines are sturdier and more durable. Also, I don’t mind doing most things manually, since I like to think I am long past the rookie phase. But I learned to appreciate ease of use – as you will too, the moment you decide to try out a computerized machine.

Since most computerized machines haven’t been around long enough to prove their longevity, that’s one reason we can’t argue with. But the fact is, they do offer some awesome features that will make you wonder how you could ever live without them.

Why Do I Need One of the Computerized Sewing Machines?

You don’t only need a digital machine if you’re a novice. Even as a seasoned sewist, you will appreciate the greater variety of stitches that most of these machines feature. There can be hundreds of different stitches for home decor, embroidery, and a bunch of other fun projects. Plus, these stitches can be customized by adjusting the width and length.

In most cases, these awesome features aren’t overwhelming, but intuitive and easy to comprehend. Another thing that I absolutely adore is Internet connectivity – all the world’s a stage! You can download and customize hundreds and thousands of patterns. Whereas most of the good patterns aren’t free, you can keep an eye out for sales that happen every once in a while.

The Internet connection also means your machine will always be up-to-date when it comes to newest upgrades. I know what you’re thinking right now: relying on software means it only takes a little screw to unscrew (in the digital sense) and paralyze the whole system, making your machine a worthless pile of metal and plastics. But rest assured this doesn’t happen often. In fact, I only heard of it as a theory.

If you’re a sewing newbie, most of these machines will come with video tutorials and training materials, getting your skills up and running in no time. When it comes to basic sewing projects, these sewing machines are of the “set and forget” type.

Whichever kind of user you may happen to be, using a computerized sewing machine will mean a significant time cutdown and far less stress, with the result looking very consistent and professional. Manual machines require more skill and experience because you are in control of everything. The digital ones will let you sweat less, while enjoying more.

And they don’t have to cost arm and leg. You can buy a semi-computerized machine (with a few automatic functions) for under $200. If you want a state-of-the-art model, you will have to shell out a few hundreds of bucks.

I put together a list of seven options with the best price-performance ratio. Let’s dig in!

Brother SE400 Combination Computerized Sewing and 4×4 Embroidery Machine

If you need a sewing and embroidery combo machine, this one will probably be the best performer within this price range. When you want to switch from sewing to embroidering and vice versa, just change the foot and the base. This workhorse features 67 unique sewing stitches, 70 built-in embroidery designs, 5 lettering fonts. Plus, you can download thousands of embroidery designs directly from the internet. The 7-point feed dogs just eat up the fabrics without wrinkling. Ditch the scissors since there’s a one-touch automatic thread cutter, plus a self-threading needle. It’s been one of the highest-rated machines in the US for the past few years – head over here for my detailed Brother SE400 review. Over 2,500 customers awarded it an average 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon, and that speaks volumes.

Pros
  • Internet connectivity for easy download of thousands of patterns.
  • Very handy touch screen, with icons easy to understand.
  • Memory stick port so you can easily load patterns from your computer.
  • Great buttonhole stitches.
  • Very even and smooth stitching, great finish.
  • Easy drop-in bobbin with transparent case so you can monitor the supply.
Cons
  • Presser foot pressure isn’t adjustable.
  • It doesn’t come with a hard protective case.
  • Only works with 120V AC – and won’t work with an adapter.

Juki HZL-F600 Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine

This model is the most advanced version of JUKI’s Exceed line, with most accessories and features. Choose from a large selection of patterns and stitches, 255 sewing patterns (among them decorative, utility, alphabetical), 16 buttonholes. In terms of power and reliability, this computerized sewing machine is comparable to heavy-duty high-end models. Thanks to the automatic needle threader, it won’t take more than a few seconds to thread the machine. The bobbin winder has a separate motor, which means no more trouble with the bobbins. A piece of good news for quilters is that you won’t have to change the presser foot – just press a button for piecing stitch, and the needle position will adjust automatically. The automatic thread cutter can be controlled via food pedal or a special button.

Pros
  • Great for sewing thick and thin materials.
  • Enough room for free motion quilting.
  • Easy setup.
  • Comes with an extension table for quilting, as well as walking foot and free motion foot.
  • Automatic thread cutter and needle threader.
  • Presser foot knee lift.
  • The bobbin winder has a separate motor.
  • Memorized up and down positions for the needle.
Cons
  • Pretty expensive.
  • Sometimes it can make uneven stitches.
  • Not for total beginners, since you have to watch the thread tension.

Brother CS6000i Sewing and Quilting Machine

Meet the most popular computerized sewing machine in the US! It’s a proud holder of the 2018 Women’s Choice Award, with 9 out of 10 users recommending it to others. It comes with 8 sewing and quilting feet: walking foot, spring action quilting foot, overcasting, monogramming, zipper, blind stitch, buttonhole, button sewing foot. Needle threading is automatic and sewing speed adjustable. Quilters will be pleased to know that the package includes a wide table for extra space, and there’s an option for free-arm quilting, so you can access collars, cuffs, sleeves, and other small areas. One more feature that you don’t need to buy separately is hard protective case – you don’t want this beauty to get damaged if you ever decide to bring it to your quilting or sewing class. There are 60 built-in stitches. If you’re new to sewing, this machine will get you started very fast, and you can discover more features as you develop your skill.

Pros
  • Great for beginners.
  • Oversized table.
  • Very easy bobbin winding.
  • Lightweight and protected with hard case.
  • Very affordable.
  • Adjustable stitch length and width.
  • It will even sew through upholstery and denim.
Cons
  • Adjusting tension and winding bobbins seems to be hard for beginners.

Janome Computerized Sewing Machine DC2013

As a renowned sewing machine manufacturer, Janome boasts of their exclusive superior feed system that enables easy gliding of the fabric and therefore great stitch quality. This computerized sewing machine comes with 50 built-in stitches, including 3 buttonholes. The stitch buttons are computerized so you can easily choose the ones that work best for you. The model differs from its predecessor DC2012 in a better color scheme. Other than that, everything is basically the same – including the price. Whether you sew garments, home decor, or quilts, this should meet your expectations.

Pros
  • Easy setup with comprehensive instructions manual.
  • Automatic needle threader.
  • Easy stitch selection.
  • Quiet.
  • You don’t need to oil it – just clean it occasionally.
  • Affordable, considering what you get for the money.
  • Speed selector works very well, with three speed options.
  • Versatile – it goes through multiple layers of light fabrics or denim like a breeze.
Cons
  • Threading can be a little challenging if you have poor vision.

READ  Brother LS2400 Review

SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960 Computerized Portable Sewing Machine

If you need a great variety of stitches, look no further! This Singer model has a whopping 600 stitches! And this is just to begin with, since you can customize them by adjusting length and width, and even doing mirror stitches without a second needle! Sewing newbies will be especially relaxed when working with it, since it can go autopilot. The extension table makes it easier to quilt or sew window curtains and other large areas. It will even handle leather, although it might not be the best choice if you’re working primarily with leather or faux leather. Its maximum speed of 850 stitches per minute maybe isn’t enough if you’ve ever tried working with industrial machines, but it’s an industry standard within this price range.

Pros
  • The greatest selection of stitches from our list.
  • Has a bunch of presets so even newbies won’t get intimidated or overwhelmed with all the tasks.
  • Comes with 19 additional accessories and tools, as well as hard protective cover.
Cons
  • It doesn’t have a knee lifter, which can be an issue to sewists who are used to it.

Janome Magnolia 7330 Sewing Machine

Janome’s Magnolia line is designed with beginners in mind, and 7330 is its most advanced model to date. It comes with automatic benefits such as a built-in needle threader, as well as start and stop buttons for easy sewing without using the foot pedal. Sewing speed is adjustable, as well as the stitch width and length. Even though beginners will get the most of this model, intermediate users will have nothing to complain about either. The machine has 30 built-in stitches, which is less than some other models in this list. But this shouldn’t worry you – most sewists only use a handful of stitches on a regular basis, so this should be more than enough to get you started. If you work with thick fabrics, you will appreciate the high presser foot lift. Superior feed dog system won’t allow the thread to wrinkle.

Pros
  • It has a free arm that comes out when you remove a portion of the base.
  • Very beginner-friendly.
  • Sturdy and stable, even though it’s lightweight.
  • Easy to thread and wind.
Cons
  • Doesn’t come in a hard protective case, so you’ll have to acquire one separately.

Brother Sewing Laura Ashley CX155LA Limited Edition Sewing & Quilting Machine

This limited-edition beauty comes with 11 sewing and quilting feet (Buttonhole foot, Button sewing foot, Overcasting foot, Zipper foot, Monogramming foot, Blind stitch foot, Zigzag foot, Walking foot, Quilting foot, 1/4″ Quilting foot), extra wide table, adjustable speed control. The top drop-in bobbin system is unjammable, according to Brother. Maximum sewing speed is 850 stitches per minute. The 7-point feed dogs allow for smooth fabric feeding, without puckering. Stitching will be very fun with as many as 100 built-in stitches including 8 one-step buttonholes, plus 55 alphanumeric stitches for monogramming, and a blind-hem stitch. As most models I included in this list, this one has automatic needle threader. Even if you never operated a computerized sewing machine, you won’t have any issues while setting it up, since the instructions are comprehensive and the process intuitive.

Pros
  • Very affordable.
  • Very easy to operate.
  • Quilting arm makes quilting a breeze.
  • Light enough to move around the house if you don’t have a sewing cabinet.
  • Very easy setup.
Cons
  • If you use a regular table for sewing, it can shake due to the light weight.
  • Pretty noisy for a computerized machine.
  • Won’t provide best results with multiple layers of fabric.