Best Portable Sewing Machines

Review & Comparison, Last Update October 17, 2018
Are you going to start sewing? Then the first thing you need is a sewing machine. Whether you want a sewing machine for DIY projects, crafts, detailed embroidery, or simple at-home repairs, our in-depth review will help you figure out which one is the best for your upcoming projects. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Built-in Stitch Patterns
Sewing Speed
Adjustments
Additional Features
Included Presser Feet
Power Source
Weight
Warranty
 
PROS

The Singer 323S comes with 4 additional fashion accessories including a gathering foot and side cutter, darning and embroidery foot, even feed/walking foot as well as the standard feet which give you more options for your projects and allow you to diversify your designs as much as you like. 

CONS

The unit might deliver poorer performance when handling heavy fabrics. 

OUR VERDICT

The 3323S is a sewing machine of the mechanical type that comes with a wide range of accessories and useful features to facilitate its use and control. It features a powerful motor and a heavy-duty metal frame which increase its sewing efficiency level. Due to the automatic needle threader, the 3323S is well suitable both for professional and for beginner sewers. 

detailed parameters
Built-in Stitch Patterns

23

Sewing Speed

350-400 stitches per minute

Adjustments

Automatic needle threader, Automatic reverse button, Adjustable thread tension, Adjustable stitch width and stitch length, Variable needle positions, Free arm

Additional Features

Top drop-in bobbin, Built-in 1-step buttonhole, Foot speed control, LED sewing space light, 4 Bonus fashion accessories included

Included Presser Feet

All-purpose/General presser foot, Zipper foot, Buttonhole foot, Button sewing foot, Darning & Embroidery foot, Even feed/Walking foot, Gathering foot

Power Source

From mains

Weight

~ 16 lbs

Warranty

25-year limited warranty

PROS

Thanks to a narrow hemmer foot that comes in the box, making tiny hems on thin and lightweight fabrics can be done easily and quickly.

CONS

Adjusting to the foot controller might be difficult at first.

OUR VERDICT

The XM2701 is a multifunctional device that will come in useful for both tailoring repairs and small designer projects. It brags user-friendly controls and a range of functions necessary for tailoring clothes at home. Also, it has very compact dimensions so it won't take much of your working space.

detailed parameters
Built-in Stitch Patterns

27

Sewing Speed

800 stitches per minute

Adjustments

Automatic needle threading system, 1-step buttonhole styles, Built-in quilting stitches, Built-in free arm

Additional Features

Built-in needle threader, Jam-resistant top drop-in bobbin, Instructional DVD and English/Spanish user manual included

Included Presser Feet

Buttonhole foot, Button sewing foot, Narrow hemmer foot, Zipper foot, Blind stitch foot, Zigzag foot

Power Source

From mains

Weight

15.8 lbs

Warranty

25 years for the chassis casting, 2 years for electronic components and printed circuit boards, 1 year for parts, labor, and accompanying accessory items


PROS

The Singer portable sewing machine is packed with many features and accessories that any sewer is going to love. It comes with 3 presser feet and a choice of colorful decorative decals.

CONS

The machine comes with plastic bobbins, which are not very reliable.

OUR VERDICT

This portable electric sewing machine from Singer is great for those who are starting out with home sewing. It will ease you into the joys of sewing and help accomplish your most bold sewing projects. Convenient and easy to use, the Singer 1234 will serve you well for years to come.

detailed parameters
Built-in Stitch Patterns

6

Sewing Speed

1 speed (750 stitches per minute)

Adjustments

Automatic tension, Dual spool pins for twin needle sewing

Additional Features

Easy stitch selection, LED sewing space light, Automatic bobbin winding system, Foot control, Sewing accessories and Vinyl stickers included

Included Presser Feet

All-purpose foot, Zipper foot, Buttonhole foot

Power Source

From mains

Weight

12.7 lbs

Warranty

25-year limited warranty

PROS

The presser foot with finger guard protects your fingers, making the Janome sewing machine one of the best options for beginners. The extra high presser foot lift allows accommodating multiple layers and heavy fabrics. The free arm is included for sewing small parts of clothes, like collars and cuffs.

CONS

The sewing space light is not sufficient enough for workspace illumination.

OUR VERDICT

The Janome Mystical Mint Basic is the best portable sewing machine for both advanced sewists and absolute beginners. This compact portable sewing machine will inspire you to realize your full creative potential. It has a variety of features to tackle plenty of sewing projects, from simple mending and hemming to paper crafting and scrapbooking.

detailed parameters
Built-in Stitch Patterns

10

Sewing Speed

1 speed

Adjustments

Left and center needle position, Tension control dial

Additional Features

Free arm, Top load bobbin, Built-in accessory tray, Easy stitch selection, Reverse lever, Foot pedal

Included Presser Feet

Adjustable presser foot with finger guard

Power Source

From mains

Weight

5 lbs

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The extension table provides ample sewing area for you to manage large projects with ease and helps stabilize the machine during use. This model can run both on 4 x 1.5V AA batteries and from an AC adapter which makes it perfect for on-the-go sewing jobs.

CONS

The machine features only one built-in stitch.

OUR VERDICT

The Varmax 201 is a lightweight and easy-to-use mini sewing machine which is great for adults who are learning basic sewing and for children who are getting started on their first sewing projects. It's perfect for home-sewing and can be used for anything, from quilts to baby clothes.

detailed parameters
Built-in Stitch Patterns

1

Sewing Speed

2-speed control (max around 280 stitches per minute)

Adjustments

Adjustable thread tension

Additional Features

Unique extension table, Thread cutter, Lighting lamp, Foot pedal

Included Presser Feet

All-purpose foot

Power Source

Power adapter or 4 x 1.5V AA batteries

Weight

~ 3 lbs

Warranty

30 days

SINGER 3323S

Perfect for Creating a Variety of Craft Projects

If you want a basic machine for making and designing your own clothes, the Singer 3323S is what you need. Apart from the basic features, this model is packed with a range of accessories and multiple useful features to give you a creative edge. Let's take an in-depth look at this versatile machine and see what features are included with it.

For those who look for a little bit of help in sewing, Singer has equipped this model with several automatic features that make sewing more hassle-free. With the automatic needle threader, you don't need to try countless times until you can pull a thick or frayed thread through the needle's eye. Another welcomed feature is the one-step automatic buttonhole that will do all the hard work, allowing you to focus on the most important parts of your design.

The 3323S Talent comes with 6 basic stitches for sewing and mending, including a simple stitch, blind hem stitches, and zigzag stitches. The machine is also equipped with 4 different stretch stitches and 12 decorative stitches that offer a range of creative possibilities and incredible diversity of designs to add some flair to your sewing projects.

This portable sewing machine comes with a number of levers and dials that make selecting settings easier. A reverse lever makes reinforcing and backing up stitches easy. All you need is to press it down and hold, and the device will automatically stitch in the opposite direction.

Besides, the Singer 3323S comes with a top drop-in bobbin and a transparent cover that allows you to easily check how much thread is left so that you will not run out of thread halfway through your design.

A storage compartment holds all your accessories so that you won't go looking for them. By removing the storage compartment, you can use a free arm which gives you plenty of room to maneuver and makes sewing collars, pants, and other difficult-to-reach areas a breeze.

All in all, the 3323S Talent is a good basic machine for domestic use that provides a great value for the price at which it's offered. It's an excellent choice for seamstresses who would like to hone their skills on a mechanical machine and create a variety of craft projects in the comforts of their homes.

Review of SINGER 3323S Talent Portable Sewing Machine

Boost Your Creative Edge

The 3323S Talent sewing machine comes with standard presser feet, such as a general purpose pressure foot, zipper foot, auto pressure controlled, a foot for buttonholes, and a foot for sewing buttons.

What is more, Singer has included some extra feet to give more options for your projects. These presser feet include an embroidery and darning foot which will allow you more maneuverability for embroidering garments.

For quilting applications or sewing several layers of fabric together, the machine comes with an even feed walking foot. This foot is also a nice tool for matching certain fabrics, like plaids or stripes.

The gathering foot is used for creating ruffles and other gathered edges in some fabrics that provide additional options for your creativity when making garments.

Finally, the 323S comes with a side cutter presser foot attachment that allows you to finish seams at the same time as you sew them, making sewing seams easier and saving you a lot of time.

SINGER 3323S Talent Portable Sewing Machine in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Brother XM2701

YOUR TRUSTWORTHY ASSISTANT

If you are only learning to sew and are not sure whether this hobby is going to develop into something bigger than just occasional tailoring repairs and dressmaking, this model might be the right choice for you.

Why? Because this sewing machine isn't as pricey as some other Brother models and it has all the functionality you need for comfortable sewing. With the XM2701, you get 27 types of stitches for all basic tailoring tasks and the opportunity to adjust the width, length, and tension of stitches, which doubles your sewing options.

The design of the XM2701 is simple and user-friendly. It doesn't contain many buttons which could confuse novice tailors and features a single pattern selection dial on the front panel. The advantage of it, though, is that because it doesn't have many buttons, there aren't many functions to confuse. Performance-wise, the XM2701 doesn't fall behind its more expensive rivals and can reach a sewing speed of up to 800 stitches per minute, which isn't much slower than in more pro-oriented devices.

The last but not the least, for such a budget sewing machine, the XM2701 has a very extended package which includes accessory feet and a bunch of tools for maintenance including brushes, a screwdriver, and an extra spool pin.

All in all, the Brother XM2701 is a very good option for any beginner sewer who's looking to buy his/her first sewing machine and want it to be long-lasting, reliable, and easy to use.

Review of Brother XM2701 Lightweight, Full-Featured Sewing Machine with 27 Stitches

SEWING MACHINE MAINTENANCE

In order to prolong the service life of your new Brother sewing machine, the manufacturer advises users to not oil it. All parts of sewing machines are oiled by the engineers in the process of production. What they recommend doing instead should any problem occur during use is turning to the service center first thing.

With that, it's imperative that you take care of the bobbin compartment to ensure that it doesn't collect dust and small pieces of threads. To clean it, first, switch the sewing machine off, then remove a presser foot with a needle, a needle plate, and a bobbin case, and then use either your vac or a cleaning brush that comes included in the box. Keep note that if you use a brush it should be completely dry.

Brother XM2701 Lightweight, Full-Featured Sewing Machine with 27 Stitches in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

SINGER 1234

PUT YOUR TRUST IN SINGER

Singer is among one of the most trusted brands manufacturing sewing machines due to their quality and price policy. The Singer 1234 mini sewing machine is one of them, a perfect model for anyone that's starting out with home sewing and looks to buy a quality yet affordable machine. Despite its compact size, the Singer 1234 comes in a frame made out of heavy-duty metal which makes it sturdy and high-performance. It offers 6 basic stitches and a simple dial control. You can use a straight stitch for basic sewing, sew a decorative scallop stitch, fix a hem with a blind hem stitch, or sew a simple applique using a zigzag stitch. There's no guesswork due to the preset stitch width and length. And when the garment is ready, the Singer 1234 offers a 4-step buttonhole to add a finishing touch to your clothes. By removing the extension table, you get access to a free arm to sew such small projects as sleeves and collars. And when you finish, the Singer 1234 has a special tray in which you can store away all sewing accessories. In addition to the mentioned features, the Singer 1234 boasts such extra conveniences as a built-in reverse stitching, extra-high presser foot lifter, automatic bobbin winding system, adjustable tension settings, easy stitch selection and threading. It comes in a tiny size, making it easy to carry around and put away when not in use. Anyone who's new to sewing or wants a backup unit to take along to classes or sew together with friends should take a closer look at the Singer 1234. Easy setup, simplicity of use, and excellent sewing performance make it perfectly suitable for any type of user, including kids.

Review of SINGER 1234 Portable Sewing Machine with 6 Built-In Stitches - Fully Automatic 4-step Buttonhole

BEST FOR LEARNING SEWING

Many beginners with no previous experience give up sewing when they face first challenges. Don't be one of them and get the SINGER 1234. This mini sewing machine will ease you into the joys of sewing while making the whole process entertaining and easy to accomplish.

The SINGER 1234 is designed for thin, lightweight materials, has an automatic 4-step buttonhole feature, and comes with an easy and quick threading system, making it a real find for those who are only starting out and have a lot to learn. Other things that add to the ease of use are the built-in stitches with preset width and length settings eliminating the need for manual adjustments and making a stitch selection a breeze. The machine itself is very compact and has a very small footprint. Not only will you have no problem storing it in your home but also will be able to take it with you when traveling. All of this makes it one of the better mini sewing machines for beginners.

With the purchase, along with the sewing machine, you get a comprehensive manual containing a quick guide on how to make your own tote bag. Also, you get free access to the machine owner’s online class that will take you through every aspect of the unit setup and functions. With both instructions and online lessons, you will soon start to sew like a pro!

SINGER 1234 Portable Sewing Machine with 6 Built-In Stitches - Fully Automatic 4-step Buttonhole in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Janome 001

Perfect for Diverse Sewing Needs

If you’re looking for a portable sewing machine and don’t know where to start, the Janome Mystical Mint Basic might be just the place. It’s an excellent choice for both absolute beginners and advanced seamstresses. This compact portable sewing machine offers the highest level of precision and advanced stitch features to inspire users to realize their full creative potential. It has a variety of features to tackle plenty of sewing projects, from mending, hemming, seaming, and zipper insertion to applique, paper crafting, and scrapbooking.

The Janome Mystical Mint Basic mini sewing machine offers 10 stitch options including straight, crescent, and zigzag with left and center position of the needle, and features a 4-point feed dog system for feeding light and medium-weight types of fabric such as leather, upholstery, canvas, vinyl, synthetics, and etc. Furthermore, it features an extra high presser foot lift for accommodating multiple layers and heavy fabrics. One of the better features of this portable model is that it also has the option of a free arm making it possible to sew small and narrow parts of clothes like collars and cuffs.

The top loading bobbin with a clear cover allows you to keep track of the amount of thread left on the bobbin. You can set your needle in the left and center position. The tension control dial controls the pressure applied to the thread and regulates the looseness or tightness of the upper thread for evenly formed stitches. The reverse lever allows you to sew in reverse to secure the thread at the start or end. The push-pull bobbin winding system makes it easier for sewers of various skill levels to use the machine. The integrated accessory tray allows storing needles, thread, and other supplies to keep your sewing space well organized. Weighing only 5 pounds, it’s easily portable and can be taken wherever you need.

Some people love to create their own clothing and some are just passionate about the craft. Whatever your reason is, investing in a sewing machine is just the right thing to do. With the Janome Mystical Mint Basic Sewing Machine, you can enjoy the essential variety of stitch patterns that will meet your diverse sewing needs.

Review of Janome 001 Graceful Gray Basic

A Great Introduction to Sewing for Kids

Do you want to teach your kids an important practical life skill? Then you can teach them to sew.

The Janome portable sewing machine is kids-friendly, easy to use, and affordable for parents. It has enough power to tackle simple sewing tasks with precision, providing your young seamstresses with everything they need to get started with sewing. The machine is lightweight, so your child can easily move it from one room to another. With a free-arm design, easy threading and 10 stitch patterns, the Janome Mystical Mint Basic will allow your kids to express their creativity to the fullest and enjoy countless hours of sewing crafting their own garments.

Janome 001 Graceful Gray Basic in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Varmax 201

MINI SEWING MACHINE WITH AN EXTENSION TABLE

A sewing machine is a useful tool around the house, as there's always something to fix. However, there are many cases where carrying a regular machine is not feasible. Thus, investing in a good mini sewing machine is an apt choice for fixing small sewing problems in a jiffy.

The Varmax Sewing Machine is an excellent choice for those who want to learn how to sew. Sure enough, you won't be good at first, so you don't need an expensive equipment.

There are two commendable features that make this machine stand out. The first one is an extension table which provides ample sewing area for you to manage large projects and helps stabilize the machine during use. And the second one is the ability to use it for quick fixes on the go due to the fact that it can run on batteries. That said, if you have heavy-duty sewing tasks to perform, the option to connect it via an AC adapter is also available, adding to the versatility of this model.

To make it easier to work on intricate parts of clothes, such as sleeves, collars, legs, the manufacturer designed this model with a special slot at the bottom and fitted it with a large spool for hassle-free replacement of the bottom bobbin. As for other characteristics, the Varmax Sewing Machine has adjustable speed settings and features an automatic thread cutter which further facilitates its use. One other thing included in this sewing machine for greater user's convenience is a lighting lamp which allows using it under various conditions.

Since the Varmax Sewing Machine is a portable model, it's compact in size and weighs only 3 pounds so you won't find it difficult to carry it along with you when necessary.

All in all, the Varmax Mini Sewing Machine is a nice sewing machine to have around the house. It's easy to use and maintain and it's heavy duty enough to handle a variety of sewing projects. So if you're looking for a small sewing machine that will be reliable, durable, easy to use, and functional enough, you won't find a better choice than the Varmax 201 Sewing Machine.

Review of Varmax 201 Mini Sewing Machine with Extension Table

Useful Tips

The Varmax 201 sewing machine can handle a variety of materials, like shirt, curtain, denim, and canvas, if they are not over-thin, over-thick, or over-soft. When sewing these materials, it's recommended to change needles 

Mini sewing machines are normally used with the following needle sizes: 75/11, 80/12, 90/14, and 100/16. Needles of bigger size are used for thicker fabrics, while smaller ones are used with thin and delicate fabrics. 

Nota Bene:

1. The power supply cannot be used with a battery, as it can stop or even damage the machine.

2. Don't use a switch and pedal button together.

3. Keep the power switch off while using a pedal.

4. The machine can't work on over-thick cloth and elastic knitted fabrics.

Varmax 201 Mini Sewing Machine with Extension Table in the use

 

What Is a Portable Sewing Machine?

Sewing machines were invented in the late 19th century and since then rung up the efficiency and productivity of the clothing industry worldwide. Operation of those machines required considerable efforts while the end products still missed the desired quality. Today, a sewing machine has transformed from a complicated piece of equipment into an easy-to-use and straightforward device that anyone can buy and use at home. Moreover, many of these machines now come in portable sizes to serve as a backup sewing machine or one to take with you along to classes or somewhere else. For this review, we've picked five best mini models of sewing machines which despite their portable size and small weight don't lack in performance and have many of the features of conventional full-size sewing machines, making them perfect for beginning seamstresses.

If you're into sewing and handiwork, there are a few more devices to acquire for personal use. One of them is an overlock machine designed for edging, hemming, reinforcing stitches and decorating clothes. Another one is a scrapbooking cutting machine that will let you personalize your clothes by embossing various prints on them.

What Features to Compare

Sewing Options

Before you decide which model of a sewing machine to buy, you should first determine what you are going to use it for and only then make a decision. Thus, if you're a beginner or just about mending clothing, there's no need to go for one of the most expensive computerized models. It would be more than enough to acquire a basic machine providing several stitch options and functions. But if you're seriously into sewing and making your own garments, you will need to turn towards more heavy-duty and multifunctional machines such as those reviewed here. Unlike basic sewing machines, professional models offer up to 25 built-in stitches for stitching different types of fabrics and clothes, expanding seamstresses' options several times.

When choosing a sewing machine, you should also consider the sewing speed of the chosen model, which is measured in a number of stitches it can produce per minute, so you can see how quickly you'll be able to accomplish your projects. Depending on the model, the sewing speed can vary from 200 to 1100 stitches per minute. In some sewing machines, the sewing speed is adjustable and can be changed in the process. Along with the sewing speed, you should also look into the number of buttonhole sewing styles available in the model. There are automatic, semi-automatic and manual buttonhole sewing types to choose from.

Type of Shuttle

You should also pay attention to the type of shuttle used, since it is one of the key elements of a sewing machine. A shuttle is engaged in the process of stitch forming.

The most widespread type is a horizontal shuttle that features a top load drop-in bobbin system. Due to the peculiarities of the shuttle position, it's considered one of the most convenient in regards to the bobbin placement. Sewing machines with horizontal shuttle come with translucent covers which allow keeping an eye on the thread so you can see when it's running low and needs to be fed.

A vertical oscillating hook features a front load bobbin system and comes with a dismountable shuttle. Using such a sewing machine, you will first need to spool thread on a bobbin and drop it into the shuttle and then pull the thread through the slot and set the shuttle into a shuttle race.

In addition to the type of shuttle, sewing machines differ in the type of fabric and thread they accept. In contrast to models with a vertical oscillating hook that accept thread of any thickness perfectly well, sewing machines with a horizontal shuttle work with fine thread better. On the downside, the vertical oscillating hook is more demanding in terms of maintenance and needs regular lubricating to prolong the service life of the machine.

Additional Features

What else you should pay attention is the additional functions and features making the use of the machine more efficient and convenient. We recommend choosing a sewing machine with the option of a twin needle setting which will let you make hemlines on clothes without using an overlock machine additionally. The reverse option will allow you to reinforce stitches. Some sewing machines have automatic needle threaders and bobbin winders that simplify their use making them suitable for beginners. The option of free-arm sewing is another useful feature that many seamstresses prefer, allowing them to work with narrow parts and articles of clothes. Consider whether the model you choose includes any presser feet and supports stitch length and width adjustments so you could trim clothes and sew through different types of fabric.

Of course, this isn't the full list of options a sewing machine can offer, every model has its own specifications and sewing options. Hopefully, in our review you'll find what you need.

The History of Sewing Machines

The First Functional Sewing Machine

Barthelemy Thimonnier made the first functional sewing machine in 1830. It had a hooked needle and a thread that made a similar chain stitch used in hand embroidery.

Walter Hunt & Elias Howe

In 1834, Walter Hunt made the US first sewing machine which could sew straight stitches. Hunt decided not to patent his invention since he believed this would cause unemployment among tailors.

In 1846, Elias Howe got a patent for the first sewing machine which used two sources of sewing thread. It had an eye-pointed needle that pushed through the fabric for creating a loop on the other side, while the second thread slipped through the loop, creating the lockstitch. For the next 9 years, Elias Howe struggled to arouse interest in his machines and protect his patent against imitators.

Isaac Singer & Elias Howe: Patent Battle

The first machines, made by Isaac Singer, were mass produced in the 1850's. These machines were powered by a foot pedal and moved in up and down direction (rather than side to side). But Singer used Howe's patented lockstitch, so he was sued for a patent infringement. After Elias Howe defended his right to a share in the profit, his annual income considerably increased.

Other Historical Facts About Sewing Machines

The first mechanical machines were used in production lines of garment factories. In 1889 sewing machines for home use were designed and entered the market. By 1905, the electric machines were widely used.

The Impact of the Sewing Machine Invention

As long as all sewing was done only by hand clothing was quite expensive. The invention of sewing machines greatly contributed to the textile industry. Also, this has opened up many opportunities for women to work. The textile industry was revolutionized due to the invention of lock-stitch sewing machines with an eye-pointed needle as well as further improvement of some sewing mechanisms. The clothing became mass produced, thus reducing the cost of garments. Many women had the opportunity to work on an assembly line. This type of work was profitable and cost-effective for the employer, as it didn’t require skilled workers and speeded up production. Therefore, the industrial-sewn clothing was cheaper.

Isaac Merrit Singer came up with the idea of instalment credits that were granted on condition of their repayment at regular intervals over a specified time period. These credits allowed many women to buy sewing machines for making their own clothing. The sewing machines were the first household machines which enabled women to perform their domestic tasks, saving hours of labour time.

Later on, sewing machines played an important role in producing other goods, like automobile seats and furniture. Besides, items like towels, pillows, curtains, and various toys could also be sewn by machines. All in all, it was one of the essential labour-saving inventions that improved the quality of life.

Sources:

1. 10 Tips for Buying a Sewing Machine, Instructables. April 19, 2015.

2. How to Choose a Sewing Machine, wikiHow.

3. Matthew Steen Sewing Machine Buying Guide, Choice. October 12, 2017.

4. Manda McGrory A Buyer's Guide to Your First Sewing Machine, Envato Tuts +. August 26, 2013.

5. Which Is the Best Sewing Machine? Good Housekeeping.

6. Kelly Burgess Sewing Machine Buying Guide, ConsumerSearch. June 26, 2017.

7. Ashley Jones Choosing a Sewing Machine: Plastic vs Metal Sewing Machines, Allfreesewing.

8. Sewing Machine Buying Guide, Consumer Reports. May 2016.

9. Sewing Machine, Wikipedia. March 13, 2018.

10. How to Use a Sewing Machine, wikiHow.

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Publish Date: 2018-03-19 13:42:27