Darn good: 6 best sewing machines for beginners

Feeling inspired by BBC Two's The Great British Sewing Bee? Don't get stitched up when choosing a machine. Here are six bits of kit to get you started

First, the recession got many of us out of the shops and into making our own out of need and a desire to save cash. Then, last April came the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee, a show which pitted amateur makers against each other in weekly challenges, both practical and creative. The result: a significant resurgence in sewing - anything from clothes and curtains to hand-made presents and embroidered works of art. More and more people are revisiting forgotten skills, alongside a whole new generation of stitchers who are joining the fray.

With thousands of models on offer, how does a beginner go about finding the right sewing machine for the job, within budget? We've taken expert advice to find the best entry level machines out there. From John Lewis's easy-to-use JL110 model to Bernina's top of the range B330.

1. John Lewis JL110, Teal, £99, johnlewis

This is an easy-to-use budget option for anyone new to sewing. Use it on light to medium fabrics – from hemming those trousers to knocking up a cushion cover  – it’ll get the job done. There are 14 stiches, so fewer than pricier models, but enough to get you started. It comes in a range of colours, from this bright turquoise to coral. If you can, it might be worth going into a John Lewis store to check out the colours as some come up a bit different from the listing. Comes with a two year guarantee.

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2. Brother LX25, £129, amazon

This good-value machine from the trusted brand comes with 25 preloaded stitches, including some preset embroidery options. You have some control over stitch length, so it will give novices looking to branch out a bit of freedom . There is a top loading bobbin with a handy see-through cover so it’s easy to see when the thread’s running out. It comes with a three year warranty and the instructions come on a DVD - no wading through a manual.

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3. Husqvarna Viking E20, £149, amazon

Textile and dress-making students take note: if you want a machine that you can grow into for under £200, then this one is a good bet. There are 32 stitches to choose from and you can adjust stitch width and length. Unlike the two cheaper models on the list, it has a handy built in needle threader as well as a one step button hole (as opposed to four-step) so ideal if you’re planning on dressmaking with your machine. Comes with a comprehensive range of accessories.

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4. Janome 525s, £249, amazon

This machine’s used on The Great British Sewing Bee, so unsurprisingly it’s a good all-rounder. There are 24 built in stitches, which will cover everything you’ll need when you’re starting out. Useful features include a jam proof drop in bobbin, built in needle threader, one step buttonhole and an adjustable pressure foot – very useful for handling different thicknesses of material. This is a machine that will last you years, from hemming a skirt through to knocking up your own curtains, and creative projects in between.

Buy now

5. Pfaff Passport 2.0, £429, amazon

Textile and dress-making students take note: if you want a machine that you can grow into for under £200, then this one is a good bet. There are 32 stitches to choose from and you can adjust stitch width and length. Unlike the two cheaper models on the list, it has a handy built in needle threader as well as a one step button hole (as opposed to four-step) so ideal if you’re planning on dressmaking with your machine. Comes with a comprehensive range of accessories.

Buy now

6. Bernina B330, £649, ebay

This machine’s used on The Great British Sewing Bee, so unsurprisingly it’s a good all-rounder. There are 24 built in stitches, which will cover everything you’ll need when you’re starting out. Useful features include a jam proof drop in bobbin, built in needle threader, one step buttonhole and an adjustable pressure foot – very useful for handling different thicknesses of material. This is a machine that will last you years, from hemming a skirt through to knocking up your own curtains, and creative projects in between.

Buy now

Verdict

For a machine to grow into, the Husqvarna Viking E20 - with its varied and adjustable stitch selection - is a good choice. Those looking to get really stuck into creative projects will thrive on the versatile  Pfaff Passport 2.0. And if you're on a budget and what it looks like in the room is just as important as getting the job done, then you can't go wrong with the John Lewis JL110. You'll just need to choose from the seven colours.

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