Sewing Machine Reviews

When shopping for a sewing machine, there are so many different types on the market that it can be confusing to find the right one to fit your experience and needs.

Sometimes reviews are often just advertorial pieces by the manufacturers that talk about the sewing machine in glowing terms. There are not many real reviews by real users. So in an attempt to rectify that, my wonderful readers have submitted reviews of their own machines – the good, the bad and the ugly!

Thanks so much to all the fabulous people who took the time to write up their review! I have categorised the sewing machine reviews into groups by manufacturer. I hope this information helps anyone looking to buy a new machine!

BABYLOCK SEWING MACHINES

Babylock Ellageo
Reviewer: Valerie, Parksville NC Canada
Machine’s Age: 15 years
Mainly Used For: garment sewing
Favourite Features: Embroidery, button holes. Love the way it sews.
Criticisms: Low bobbin alert starts too soon
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: I love my machine.

Babylock Espire
Reviewer: Karen, Canon City USA
Machine’s Age: 15 years
Mainly Used For: small projects, garments, quilting
Favourite Features: Over all use of the machine. Didn’t have time to use it for some years, but am retired now so I am using it more and enjoy it’s ease of use.
Criticisms: Recently, the electronics quit talking to the mechanics of my machine. No where was there a # to call for info in my book. I did the usual cleaning of the bobbin area which didn’t help. I shut the machine off and left it. My husband came back later, turned it on and started pushing places on the screen and it started working and has worked since.
I did call Baby Lock and my model doesn’t exist in their list of models, not sure I would have gotten any service info.
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: Good machine if you don’t want to do a lot of current fancy sewing, quilting that is done today. It works well for my purposes.

BERNINA SEWING MACHINES

Bernina B350
Reviewer: Lynda, San Diego California USA
Machine’s Age: 1 year
Mainly Used For: quilting
Favourite Features: Knee lifter (for appliqué, etc), removeable tray to make the base smaller for zippered pouches, clothing, etc.
Criticisms: Price!
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: I had a Singer before and thought life was good. When it broke I upgraded to the Bernina and I had no idea what the difference a quality machine could be. I am now hooked on Bernina and always recommend people who do much sewing to check out the higher end brands (Janome, Brother, BabyLock, Bernina, Etc) before just going for a cheap simple machine. Even with the base models, these companies make better quality machines and it’s worth an extra $100 to me for a machine that will last longer.

Bernina 380
Reviewer: Sumé, East London South Africa
Machine’s Age: 3 years
Mainly Used For: garments
Favourite Features: Reliable,
Beautiful stitches
Needle threader
Knee lift
Needle up/down
Quality machine!!
Criticisms: Quite expensive! ?? Don’t have any complaints! Well, would love more affordable foot options….
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: Bernina= quality!

Bernina 430
Reviewer: Melissa, Melbourne Australia
Machine’s Age: 2 years
Mainly Used For: Quilting
Favourite Features: Speed. Computerised settings for just about everything. Easy to use and understand.
Criticisms: I had a couple of small issues when I first bought it – with threads snapping or nesting, but I have ironed them out with the help of the dealer.
 Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: I bought this machine when I’d only started quilting and couldn’t have foreseen how much I would use it – if I were to buy again, I would get a machine with a much larger throat space 🙂

Bernina 430
Reviewer: Catherine, Brisbane Australia
Machine’s Age: 5 years
Mainly Used For: small projects, quilt blocks, cushions, bags
Favourite Features: automatic bobbin wind-on, needle-down option, slide on table
Criticisms: none really, it’s very reliable and consistent
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: It’s a very good machine – reliable, no real problems with it at all. I clean it regularly, squirt oil into it, change the needle. I get it serviced regularly – about every 6 months. It had something wrong with the external plastic cover, which was fixed for free under warranty, and Bernina also replaced the slide-on table for free, to go with the new cover.

Bernina Aurora 430
Reviewer: Anna, Melbourne Australia
Machine’s Age: 6 years
Mainly Used For: garments
Favourite Features: It does a very lovely straight stitch. With the different feet that are available you can do really good quality sewing. It’s reliable and sturdy. It also has a very nice buttonhole stitch and a vast array of decorative stitches (most that I haven’t used!)
Criticisms: The cost of machine feet as I would like to have more than the basic few that I have. It is heavy so it isn’t ideal for taking to classes.
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: I had been wanting a Bernina for many years and it was a present for a milestone birthday. It was worth the wait!

Bernina Aurora 440QE
Reviewer: Pam, Sydney Australia
Machine’s Age: 3 years
Mainly Used For: garments, small projects, quilting
Favourite Features: – needle up down at the press of a button
– needle will stop in the down position, instead of the normal up position
– automatic buttonholes
– easily sews through very thick layers of fabric
– never, ever have tension problems
– lots of accessories included
– slide on table
– separate bobbin winder with own motor
– LCD screen which lets you easily see a lot of settingsCriticisms: None
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: I bought my machine on sale, but still expensive. Worth every cent though, even if I’d paid full price. Due to the expense, perhaps not a machine for someone starting out. I forget just how good my machine is, till I use someone else’s non-computerised machine.

Bernina Aurora 440QE
Reviewer: Kathy, Melbourne Australia
Machine’s Age: 6 years, second hand
Mainly Used For:  clothes / bags
Favourite Features: Sturdy as all get out. Motors through denim and heavy fabrics. Lots of different stitches. A very quiet machine.
Criticisms: Instruction book not thorough enough. I can go online to Bernina and get some info there.
Recommend to Others? yes
Additional Comments: Love the machine to bits, but I am glad I purchased it for a good price on eBay.

Bernina 560
Reviewer: Margaret, Stanthorpe
Machine’s Age: 5 months
Mainly Used For: Garments and quilting
Favourite Features: The number of embroidery stitches and alphabets it has. The ease with which I can use it. It sews beautifully and has lots of features eg needle down position. It works well with denim. I like the many different feet that will work with the machine. I love Bernina as I also have a Bernina 1230 that is 22 years old and is a great machine.
Criticisms: Nothing
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: Berninas are great sewing machines.

Bernina 1008
Reviewer: Sarah, Perth Australia
Machine’s Age: 15 years
Mainly Used For: Anything and everything.
Favourite Features: This is a basic machine in terms of functionality – there’s nothing computerised about it – but it just goes and goes and goes. It’s actually the same sort of machine that we used to learn in Home Ec classes at high school. It’s all metal parts so it’s like lifting lead to move it but it will sewing through many layers easily. I’ve collected a range of presser feet over the years that make trickier tasks a lot easier.
Criticisms: The weird 80s pastel swash decoration on the front (only minor but annoying~) and I’d love an auto needle down function and set stitch length when I wander off and do free motion quilting.
Recommend to Others? Yes

Bernina 1008
Reviewer: Sherry, Perth Australia
Machine’s Age: 3 years
Mainly Used For: garments
Favourite Features: 4 step button hole-this allows the ability to make really long buttonholes and to correct button holes that haven’t stitched properly. I love the fact it is a mechanical machine.
Criticisms: None
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: I love this machine. it is such a workhorse and can handle really thick fabric.

BROTHER SEWING MACHINES

Brother NS30
Reviewer: Leanne, Wellington New Zealand
Machine’s Age: Unsure – possibly 4 years.
Mainly Used For: garments
Favourite Features: Compared to the the Brother PS53, it has several functions that I love (although these may come standard with any brand of new machine now?): automatic bobbin winder function, needle threader and reverse/reinforcement stitch button; several presser foot attachments, including a blind stitch foot;
70 stitch patterns – not that I have used them all, but it’s nice to have the option.Criticisms: Doesn’t cope well with several layers of thick fabrics.
I have to tighten the foot with the screwdriver after longer projects to safeguard against the foot falling off. It’s likely that the constant vibration of the machine loosens the foot over time.
Have had a couple of shocks from touching the needle plate when feeding the fabric through – obviously nothing major since I am still here to tell the tale but it’s worth noting in case other users have experienced it too or it could just be my machine.Recommend to Others? Not sure
Additional Comments: It is hard to say whether I would or wouldn’t recommend it to others – I use it and like it despite its apparent “quirks” and would definitely recommend it over the basic model PS53, which is a non-computerised model. But if I could, I’d love to try out an older Swiss-made Bernina or an Elna so hopefully someone else has one of these machines and does a review.

Brother PS 53
Reviewer: Janine, Adelaide Australia
Machine’s Age: at least 8 years
Mainly Used For: Quilting and small projects, mending
Favourite Features: The ease of changing feet.
 Criticisms: This machine was given to me by my Mum. I have had some difficulties with it. It doesn’t like bulkiness, ie when doing a pouch and the final sewing of the zip etc.
It is not easy to chain piece as it doesn’t always seem to catch the next piece of fabric.
And it’s particular with what type of thread to use, it doesn’t like cheap cotton, but goes really well with Aurifil which I hadn’t heard of before joining IG, and following lots of quilters thanks ladies and gents!Recommend to Others? No
Additional Comments: I personally wouldn’t buy this sewing machine again, I had a Janome very basic machine for many years, and I am saving up to buy another machine which will hopefully be a Janome with the 11″ throat to do my quilting. I know there are many out there that love Brother, but in my personal opinion this particular machine is ok, and I’m content with it for now.

Brother NX400
Reviewer: Sherry, Perth WA
Machine’s Age: 5 years
Mainly Used For: garments
Favourite Features: Speed control
Criticisms: Cannot handle thick fabric.
Recommend to Others? No

Brother PS37
Reviewer: Leanne, Melbourne Australia
Machine’s Age: 6 years
Mainly Used For: Quilting
Favourite Features: Simple. Can be fixed simply as no computer to fix. Metal parts.
Great machine especially for those learning. This is a great machine – I’ve just grown out of it 🙁 Criticisms: Not enough arm length for quilting big projects. Would love it to have automatic needle down option.
 Recommend to Others? Yes

Brother GS3700
Reviewer: Emma, Adelaide Australia
Machine’s Age: 1 year
Mainly Used For: small projects, garments & quilting (mostly quilting)
Favourite Features: Easy to use for a beginner (which I was when I purchased it), not too many things to set before being able to just sew!
Good lighting
Good range of stitches, including a ‘mock overlock’ stitch.
Tension was easy to get right, doesn’t require too much fiddling between different types of materials.Criticisms: Foot pedal isn’t quite as touchy as I would like it to be. Can sometimes speed up and slow down without having adjusted foot pressure.
Has a pretty small throat, but have quilted single bed quilts without too much struggle.
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: Fantastic beginner machine. Not too complicated but room to grow as your skills increase. Probably more stitches than I’m likely to ever use but it’s nice to have the option.

Brother XL 2630
Reviewer: Oanh, Melbourne Australia
Machine’s Age: 2 years
Mainly Used For: garments and bags
Favourite Features: It has stretch sewing capability (the main reason I bought it; but now I have an overlocker so I’m considering ditching this machine for a better one)
Criticisms: It’s not very strong; it’s noisy! And I wish I’d known I would want a one-step button hole functions (the 4-step button hole function is difficult to get right)
Recommend to Others? No
Additional Comments: I would not recommend this machine for a beginner, even though that is its target market. The reason is, some of the problems of sewing would be fighting this machine! I reckon beginners should try out as many machines as possible and then spend a decent amount of money on a good machine, so any sewing troubles is lack of skill, not the machine.

ELNA SEWING MACHINES

Elna Supermatic
Reviewer: SunnyLo, SoCal USA
Machine’s Age: 59 years old
Mainly Used For: Small projects
Favourite Features: great cams, perfect tension, all steel, sews leather
Criticisms: too last century
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: great workhorse

Elna Sew Fun
Reviewer: Cassandra, Brisbane Australia
Machine’s Age: 5 years
Mainly Used For: kids garments, small projects
Favourite Features: Great beginners machine. Can take quite a beating!
Criticisms: I wish there were more stitch functions.
Recommend to Others? Yes

Elna 6600
Reviewer: Karen, Garfield Australia
Machine’s Age: 4 years
Mainly Used For: quilting, small craft
Favourite Features: All the feet that come with it, needle down function, lots of stitches.
Criticisms: None
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: I have only ever had a very very old Janome machine before this so I don’t really have much to compare to!!

HUSQVARNA SEWING MACHINES

Husqvarna Viking Sapphire
Reviewer: Kris, Madison WI USA
Machine’s Age: 6 years
Mainly Used For: Small projects & quilting
Favourite Features: The alphabets. The ability to program in phrases, etc.
Criticisms: It is not consistent. Sometimes the stitches are perfect; other times they are very poorly done.
Recommend to Others? No

JANOME SEWING MACHINES

Janome Hello Kitty 3/4 size
Reviewer: Sarah, Austin Texas USA
Machine’s Age: 1 1/2 years
Mainly Used For: garments, bags & small projects
Favourite Features: Ability to immobilize the needle when threading the bobbin. Light weight and very portable. Cute! Simple to use.
Criticisms: Too small to quilt on. No advanced features- button hole, move needle position.
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: This is a great travel machine and it would be great for kids and beginners. I have been using it while my other machine is being repaired and it has been great. I take it on vacations too.

Janome MC5200
Reviewer: Sarah, Perth Australia
Machine’s Age: 3 years
Mainly Used For: garments, quilting, small projects
Favourite Features: Computerised screen, auto needle threader, excellent variety of stitches, presser foot pressure adjustment, one step button hole.
Criticisms: There is no ability to attach a knee lift (I only discovered these exist recently!!), the ability to sew letters in a choice of three fonts was one of the features that attracted me to this machine however I rarely use this now as they tend to come out quite messy looking. This isn’t something that I’d look for in a machine again.
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: I really love this machine and am so glad I forked out the extra money early on to get a good machine even though I was just starting out. I believe there is a new replacement model of this machine coming out soon and my friend who bought this exact machine last month got a great deal because of that.

Janome Memory Craft 6600
Reviewer: Ruth, Melbourne Australia
Machine’s Age: 4.5 years
Mainly Used For: Garments
Favourite Features: Automatic lock stitch, one step button hole(s). Loads of options. It has a walking foot. Awesome!!
Criticisms: Very heavy. I never had an issue keeping my top stitching nice & even until this machine. You really have to watch out so the seams stay straight. Kind of annoying. You cannot detach a part of it for sleeves. It is also a bit clumsy with curves.
 Recommend to Others? NoAdditional Comments: It really is more of a quilting machine. My husband bought it for me. Eventually I ought to exchange it for more of a garment machine or start quilting…

Janome 2160 DC
Reviewer: Erin, Melbourne Australia
Machine’s Age: 2 years old
Mainly Used For: Bags, small projects, quilt tops, childrens clothing
Favourite Features: Assisted needle threader, great ‘starter’ machine – it has been brilliant to learn on, love the start/stop button.
 Criticisms: I had had a few tension issues but a service and clean did the machine the world of good. It can be a bit slow but you get what you pay for with a beginners level machine. Recommend to Others? Yes

Janome MC6500P
Reviewer: Wendy, Beaudesert Australia
Machine’s Age: 3 years
Mainly Used For: garments and small projects
Favourite Features: Computerisation – it enables very small adjustments eg stitch length, that is repeatable (very difficult to do this with unmarked turn dials) AND the needle can be moved left or right to be in the exact position required (especially when using a zipper foot)
Criticisms: It’s heavy to carry
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: It also has a flat bed (but no free arm) and an extension table to support your work, especially when quilting.

Janome Memory Craft 6000
Reviewer: Jenya, Bendigo Australia
Machine’s Age: 25-30 years old
Mainly Used For: sewing garments
Favourite Features: A glorious set of feet. Decorative stitches. Adjustable presser foot (although I have not played with it yet), easy to operate. Up/Down needle position. And… drum roll… automatic buttonhole (well, almost).
Criticisms: I find it to sew slower than modern machines.
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: I know a lot of people who have the same or similar Janome machines. They seem to go and go and go. A real work horse. That’s what I want from my machine – reliable, hard working, easy to navigate and operate. This one did not cost me an arm and a leg either (an op shop bargain).

Janome DC2101
Reviewer: Katy, Kellerberrin, Australia
Machine’s Age: 3 years
Mainly Used For: quilting
Favourite Features: 1 step button hole, needle up or down position 
Criticisms: walking foot, not very good at all. I go back to my ancient pfaff for use of walking foot on quilts 
Recommend to Others? No
Additional Comments: Good basic machine, but I should have done more research for a more appropriate machine for my needs

Janome JR1012
Reviewer: Liz, Melbourne Australia
Machine’s Age: 2 years
Mainly Used For: garments
Favourite Features: It’s a work horse that does everything I need: buttonholes (4-step), zig-zag, straight stitch, stitch adaption. It’s solid and can handle thick fabrics (triple layers of denim etc) 
Criticisms: It doesn’t have the ‘lightening bolt’ stretch stitch function. Sewing knits are quite tricky on this machine. The fabric frequently gets stuck in the lower thread/bobbin hole and there’s no way of adjusting the presser foot easily so that knits don’t stretch out as you stitch.  I really needed an overlocker to make this machine work for sewing with knits. 
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: It’s a perfect beginner or work horse machine. When I update to an electronic version I will still use this machine to deal with heavy fabrics etc.

PFAFF SEWING MACHINES

Pfaff Expression 2.0
Reviewer: Georgia, Wollongong Australia
Machine’s Age: 2 years
Mainly Used For: Quilting and childrens garments
Favourite Features: I love the wide plate to quilt with and it is just so easy to use.
Criticisms: It is not that portable as it is fairly heavy but I guess that could be seen as a positive too as it is quite robust!
Recommend to Others? Yes

Pfaff Tiptronic
Reviewer: Julie, Cairns Australia
Machine’s Age: 13 years
Mainly Used For: quilting, patchwork, small projects and some garments.
Favourite Features: The needle down which is very handy in all of my sewing projects, it is reasonably quiet and has loads of stitches to use, some of which I never used.
Criticisms: When it comes to doing zips and buttonholes I don’t think it is a very simple process, There is no one sided zipper foot which makes it awkward, the book says to do it a different way using the needle on one side but I find that it is not a simple process. I also find that buttonholes do not come out very well.
I like to free motion quilt and sometimes it has a mind of it’s own and decides enough is enough and for no reason it will jam up and not sew properly. If I leave it for a day then it comes good.Recommend to Others? No
Additional Comments: There are some good aspects of this machine, but I think if I was to buy another machine it would not be a Pfaff.

Pfaff Tiptronic 6230
Reviewer: Christine, Fairfield CA USA
Machine’s Age: 10 years
Mainly Used For: quilting, small projects
Favourite Features: Automatic Needle down, IDF (integrated dual feed) and an incredibly strong motor…multi- layer quilts or denim sew like a hot knife through butter!
Criticisms: No blanket stitch on the decorative stitches chart.
Recommend to Others? Yes

SINGER SEWING MACHINES

Singer Simple 3232
Reviewer: Sarah, Mansfield Australia
Machine’s Age: I have had it for ~6 months
Mainly Used For: Small projects, garments, repairs
Favourite Features: The whole thing is my favourite! It is so easy to use, changing stitches and threading are a breeze.
Criticisms: Compared to my old Singer (40 years old), this sews incredibly quick. It isn’t really a criticism, just something I had to get used to.
Recommend to Others? Yes

Singer Confidence
Reviewer: Caitlin, Seaford DE USA
Machine’s Age: 2 years
Mainly Used For: Garments
Favourite Features: I love the needle threader and the drop in bobbin. It has a good variety of stitches, including decorative stitches. It easily accepts a variety of feet designed for snap on applications. It sews quickly and rarely misses a stitch. Needle position and stitch length are easy to adjust. The extension deck comes on and off easily.
Criticisms: One must hold the reverse button down while stitching in reverse (with my ancient singer, you flipped a switch and it reversed until you flipped it back). The snap on attachment for the foot will occasionally fall off as it is very difficult to get the screw tightened properly. The feed dogs do not handle thick fabric very well so a walking foot is an absolute must for quilting.
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: It’s a great “middle of the road” kind of machine. It lacks some of the features of more expensive models but it is a HUGE step up from a basic machine.

 Singer Stylist
Reviewer: Renee, Victoria Australia
Machine’s Age: 1 year
Mainly Used For: garments
Favourite Features: Start/Stop button (means you don’t have to use a foot pedal – although you can if you want to). It’s quiet and smooth when it sews.
Criticisms: Auto buttonhole is very sensitive – a change in thickness of fabric can mean the buttonhole is not finished correctly. Every time you push any buttons it makes a ‘beep’ sound. You can mute this – but each time you turn the machine back on, you have to go into the menu to mute the ‘beep’ again. Gets annoying!
Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: I’ve generally been very happy with my machine in the last 12 months. It has not had a service yet and is still sewing smoothly.

Singer Tradition 2273
Reviewer: Briana, Sydney Australia
Machine’s Age: 3 years
Mainly Used For: clothing, soft furnishings and other small projects
Favourite Features: This machine is beautiful in its simplicity. It has enough features to be really useful but not so many that it is overwhelming. Perfect for a beginner. It has 23 Built in Stitches including (6 Basic, 11 Decorative and 5 Stretch) and “One Step Buttonhole” (brilliant!). My other favourite feature is that there are small numbers and arrows on the machine showing how to thread it. I really benefited from watching the instructional DVD too.
Criticisms: Although I’ve read all the accompanying material and watched the instructional DVD, it is not clear how to maintain the machine. It wasn’t until I paid for it to be professionally serviced that a technician was able to show me how to service it correctly.Recommend to Others? Yes
Additional Comments: RRP $499 (however, often available on sale for as little as $349).

Phew. So that’s it for now. And really, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to tell us about your machine in the comments below. 

I hope this is a helpful resource to anyone doing some Sewing Machine research and shopping! 

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.

6 thoughts on “Sewing Machine Reviews

  1. This is a fantastic resource, thanks for compiling it. I just re-read my review – I meant that the Brother NS30 is the next model up from the PS53, could you change the wording from 'later model' to 'basic model' please? Thanks so much!

    1. Sorry Tonya! There were a few entries where the spreadsheet was blank or only the name was filled out so I think quite a few reviewers had problems with the form 🙁 Thanks for trying to participate though! xx

  2. The purchase of a sewing machine really does depend on where you live and if any servicing is available. Climate affects how long some machine parts will last. Computer updates are useless if you rarely have internet access.
    I had a wonderful Elna for more than 30 years. Eventually the tension needed real work. No-one available closer than Perth. I live in Darwin. Then there is the problem of how to get it there. It seemed simpler to buy a new machine. I bought a Bernina because there was a great Bernina shop here with an excellent technician. He closed his shop after one more year. No servicing available now for that machine either. Spotlight sell machines but offer absolutely no support in the form of instruction or servicing. The only brand available here now with servicing available is Janome.
    It does not matter how good the machine is, if something goes wrong you need to be able to get support. And the models sold overseas are not always the same as the machines sold here.

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