Best sewing machine brands for 2021
We surveyed more than 2,800 sewing machine owners in August 2020 to get the inside track on everything from ease of use to durability and value for money, so you can find out which sewing machine brands are rated best and worst by those who use them.
If you're considering buying a sewing machine, read on to find out more about the brands, how they're rated by its customers and how much you should expect to pay.
Our results show that not all sewing machines are created equal – there's a big difference between those brands at the top of the table and those at the bottom when it comes to their overall Which? customer satisfaction score.
For each brand you can find out:
- How durable the brand is – we ask sewing machine owners to rate how durable their machines have been.
- How owners rate it – how satisfied owners are with their brand of sewing machine, and whether they would recommend it to a friend. Brands are given a customer score based on this.
- Our verdict – we tell you, in a nutshell, what owners think of the brand.
Sewing machine brands rated
The table below reveals Which? customer scores for each of the sewing machine brands rated in our survey, and shows which sewing machine brands customers are most likely to have experienced problems with.
You can also see star ratings for factors such as ease of use and value for money, so you can see each brand's pros and cons and compare their strengths and weaknesses.
Best and worst sewing machine brands - overview
|Brand||Which? customer score||Build quality||Durability||Portability||Ease of use||Value for money||Overall rating||Sample size|
- Table notes Ratings are based on answers from 2858 respondents who took part in our online survey in August 2020 about their current sewing machines, bought in the last 10 years.
- Which Customer score Based on respondents' overall satisfaction with the brand and likelihood to recommend.
- Build quality, durability, portability, ease of use, value for money, overall rating We ask owners to rate their brand of sewing machines for all these elements
- Sample sizes Bernina (314), Brother (389), Elna (149), Frister & Rossman (168), Husqvarna (113), Janome (531), John Lewis (77), Jones (68), Pfaff (81)
Popular sewing machines brands explained
We've pulled together our unique customer insight to give you an in-depth look at each brand.
The highest scoring sewing machine brand has an excellent customer satisfaction score of 88% while the brand at the bottom of the table doesn't reach 70%.
Only one brand gained a full five-stars for build quality, and one for durability, while two brands scored a very poor one star for portability. If you plan on moving your sewing machine around a lot, these could be worth avoiding.
Bernina sewing machines: ranges and prices
Swiss company Bernina was founded in 1893. It focuses on the premium segment of the market and claims that Swiss precision is at the core of every Bernina sewing machine.
It offers foundation courses in sewing at its London Sewing Centre, which come free with the purchase of the majority of its overlockers and sewing machines.
You can purchase a Bernina via their independent online sewing shop or from a variety of other stores such as Jaycotts and Tysew.
Bernina has a range of around 13 sewing machines plus other machines for quilting and embroidery, and overlockers. According to the company, the entry level Bernina 325 is your new go-to machine, while the Bernina 880 Plus – the company's most sophisticated machine – should provide sewing pros with almost limitless possibilities.
Sewing machines in Bernina's 2 Series are the most basic you'll find from this company – they're the simplest and most straightforward to use, but you can choose to upgrade them with new accessories as you progress. The cheapest model available is the Bernina 325 – at £749 it's a lot more expensive than entry-level sewing machines from other manufacturers.
The 3 Series is also suitable for beginners, and you can use these sewing machines for quilting projects, too. At around £749, you'll find the Bernina 325 the cheapest in this range, while the Bernina 335 (£995) is the most expensive.
The 5 Series, 7 and 8 Series are designed for pros; you can sew, embroider or quilt using these feature-packed machines. Prices for the more compact models in the 5 Series start at £1,995 for the Bernina 540, while prices in the 7 Series start at £2,850 (Bernina 720).
The newest addition to the range is the Bernina 880 Plus (£7,900). It includes full automated threading, an extended free arm and extra embroidery features.
Japanese brand Brother is a major manufacturer of competitively priced sewing and embroidery machines. These range from sewing machines starting at around £100 that are suitable for beginners, through to high-specification semi-professional embroidery machines for small businesses.
A notable feature of the Brother brand is the number of features that it includes on even its most basic machines. You'll often find its machines online and in stores such as Argos, John Lewis and Hobbycraft.
Brother has a range of 18 sewing machines, six embroidery machines and six models that combine both features. It also has sewing machines for other craft projects, such as quilting.
Brother's range of sewing machines is suitable for beginners right up to professionals. The cheapest and most basic model is the L14S, which costs £990 and is aimed at beginners performing basic alterations and repairs.
Fully computerised sewing machines, such as the Innov-is A150 (£449) are aimed at those who have some sewing experience.
If you want to try your hand at embroidery as well, models such as the Innov-is 440e (£799) combine this feature in a compact sewing machine. Depending on how much you want to invest, you could pay up to £6,499 for the Innov-is XJ1 – designed for those who are, as Brother says: 'serious about sewing'. With a price tag to match at £6499.
Elna sewing machines: ranges and prices
Elna has always believed that sewing should be fun. For this to happen sewing machines needed to be easy to use, versatile and modern. Back in 1940, the first Elna was introduced – imaginatively named the Elna #1. It claims to be the first compact, portable electric sewing machine with a free arm.
It claims it was the first company to introduce a whole host of special features to sewing machines, such as the automatic needle threader, heirloom stitches as well as the first overlock stitch on a home sewing machine (in 1963). Since then Elna has gone on to create industrial and domestic sewing machines that are truly international.
There are 21 sewing machines in its range, including compact beginner models, such as the Sew Fun, computerised sewing machines for more advanced sewers and specialised machines for embroidery and quilting.
Click through our gallery to see a selection of Elna sewing machines, from standard models to machines that are suitable for more advanced projects.
You’ll find Elna sewing machines in specialist shops such as Tysew. The Elna Sew Fun (£119) is a basic practical sewing machine that is billed as being ‘user-friendly’ and an ultimate partner for beginners. This machine has 15 different stitches, including buttonhole, stretch stitches and triple stitches. The length of stitches can be altered, and other useful features include a sewing light, instant reverse lever and large-view stitch display to help.
The Elna Star (£369) is a compact machine that still houses a number of great features you’d find in a full sized model, so Elna says this is a perfect model for those sewers who are on the move a lot. It has an easy-to-view stitch library, the stitches can be adjusted in length and width, plus there’s 20 stitches to experiment with, and a whole host of accessories included.
If you're looking for something more advanced, then the Elna eXperience 580 is perfect for those who want to sew, quilt or do patchwork. This machine has an array of stitches to choose from, (120 in total), plus seven styles of automatic button hole to choose from and speeds of up to 820 stitches per minute.
Elna has three new machines in its range: the eXcellence 680+ and 580+ and the eXperience 550. The machines in the eXcellent range provide an extensive range of features for the highest sewing efficiency. The newest machine in the eXperience range is an all-round sewing machine with an LCD display screen and between 50 and 280 stitches to choose from, depending on which version you opt for; it can handle an array of different fabrics with ease, it says.
Frister & Rossman sewing machines: ranges and prices
Frister & Rossman sewing machines date back to 1864, when they were founded in Berlin. And it has ties with rival sewing machine company Singer, as F&R sewing machines were imported by Singer.
The brand is now owned by Sewing Machines Direct (SMD).Today, you’ll find a couple of sewing machines, overlockers and steam presses in its range on the SMD website
Frister & Rossman has just two sewing machines listed on its website via SMD, along with an overlocker and several steam presses. You’ll find more models on sale via eBay, secondhand.
Click through our gallery to see a selection of Frister & Rossman sewing machines.
Frister & Rossman’s 6423 is ‘low on price’ and ‘big on value’ according to Sewing Machines Direct. This die-cast aluminum sewing machine comes with a 22-stitch selection, performs up to 800 stitches per minute, and has an LED light. There’s a front-loading bobbin, variable stitch length and width, plus a needle threader. This lightweight sewing machine is just 6kg, and will set you back a reasonable £209.
A step up from the previous machine, the 6424 has a 31-stitch selection, one step buttonhole, front-loading bobbin and an automatic needle threader. Like the 6432 it’s capable of up to 800 stitches per minute and is perfect for alterations, repairs, dressmaking and home furnishings. Frister & Rossman says this is the ideal machine to take to class, use as a second machine or for a beginner looking for their first machine. It costs £239.
There currently isn’t anything more advanced in the Frister & Rossman range. Prices correct as of September 2020.
Husqvarna sewing machines: ranges and prices
Swedish brand Husqvarna began in 1689 as a royal arms factory, which eventually turned into a sewing machine factory around 1872. The first machine was called the ‘Nordstjernan’ or the Northern Star. Throughout the following decades came innovations such as sewing stitches in a straight line and an oscillating bobbin, and a free-arm machine called the ‘Husqvarna Zig Zag was introduced in 1947.
Today, machines come loaded with features that allow you to quilt, create beautiful embroidery, and machines with top-of-the-range specs, including the first smart sewing machine from this brand.
Husqvarna has a range of 16 sewing machines, including models that cater for beginners, pros and those in between. There are also specialised machines for embroidery and quilting. Machine owners told us the models they have are mainly electric or a computerised, and most paid between £500 and £750. Click through our gallery to see a selection of Husqvarna sewing machines, from standard models to machines that are suitable for more advanced projects.
The entry level HiClass's E10 sewing machine is an affordable option for beginners. For around £179 you’ll get a simple-to-use sewing machine that comes with a range of different sewing ‘foots’, 21 stitches to choose from and four easy step buttonhole options. Stitch length is adjustable between 0 and 4mm. Weighing 6.3kg, this lightweight machine comes with a soft cover for protection.
The Viking Opal 670 (£749) is a feature-rich computerised sewing machine with a touchscreen control panel, automatic thread cutter and a bobbin thread sensor that will let you know when your thread is about to run out. There are 200 different stitches to choose from, and a 7mm stitch width, as well as programmes to save your personal stitch settings. Other useful features include a built-in needle threader, three LED lights, and a programme specifically designed to stitch buttons.
If you're looking for a more advanced machine, the designer Epic is a sewing machine designed ‘by sewers for sewers’. This latest Husqvarna machine is a truly advanced model with a touchscreen 10.1-inch control panel, which the brand says is the ‘market's largest display’. It features a 30% larger bobbin and a large working area, perfect if you’re a fan of quilting. A wi-fi connection means you can access your designs from a desktop or a table, too. Other high-spec features include telescopic thread paths, bright LED lights, and a sensor system to automatically sense what you’re stitching and adjust accordingly. The price for this advanced kit? £8,999.
Janome UK was established in 1969 as the New Home Sewing Machine Co Ltd – it changed its name to Janome in the mid-1990s. It also manufactures own-brand sewing machines for John Lewis. Janome offers an extensive range of sewing machines, overlockers and software for all sewing, quilting and embroidery projects.
The Janome Training Centre in Stockport offers a wide range of sewing courses that are run by industry experts.
You can buy a Janome sewing machine in stores such as John Lewis and Hobbycraft or from online shops such as Sewing Machine direct, Amazon and Tysew.
Janome offers more than 30 sewing machines, ranging from standard models for beginners to fully computerised machines that you can use for embroidery.
Click through our photo gallery to see a selection of Janome sewing machines, from standard models to machines that are suitable for more advanced projects.
The most basic models are in Janome's Standard range. These are also the cheapest models, with prices starting at starting at around £169 for the 2200XT and going up to roughly £399 for the HD2200.
Fully computerised sewing machines are also available – including the models in Janome's long-arm range, which provide extra space if you're working on a bigger project. Prices start at around £279 for Janome's fully computerised CXL301.
Some of the sewing machines in Janome's Memory Craft range are also suitable for embroidery. Prices start at around £1,499 for the MC500E, and go up to an eye-watering £7,999 for the Memory Craft 15000 – one of Janome's flagship model.
John Lewis sewing machines: ranges and prices
John Lewis began trading in 1864 in London’s Oxford Street and is now one of the biggest retailers in the UK, offering customers everything from homewares and fashion to flowers and sewing machines.
As with all other areas of the store, John Lewis offers a variety of sewing machines from a variety of brands, plus the John Lewis collection. Its own-brand range consists of two basic machines suitable for beginners but in a selection of different designs.
There are three models in the John Lewis range; the JL110 and the JL111, both available in different colours and designs. Both machines are suitable for beginners and machinists that intend to use them for light repairs or alterations. And the JL220.
Click through our photo gallery below to see a selection of John Lewis sewing machines, from basic white designs to a machine covered in daisies.
All five machines in the John Lewis range have the same technical abilities but with different colours or patterns.
The original JL110 costa £109 and comes in white, peppermint, steel blue and rose. While the JL11 costs £119 and comes in blue ditsy and daisy chain prints.
Both machines are suitable for beginners and can tackle alterations, hobby sewing and repairs on light and medium fabrics.
They both have 14 stitch options with a drop-in bobbin and a free arm. They also come with an LED light function and an automatic 4-step buttonhole function.
The models are sold with a variety of accessories such as a dust jacket and spare needles.
Pfaff sewing machines: ranges and prices
This company has come a long way since Mr Pfaff made his first sewing machine in 1862. The first factory was founded in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and since then Pfaff has gone on to create industrial and domestic sewing machines that are exported all over the world.
Pfaff manufactures sewing machines that are capable of crafting everything from car upholstery and leather shoes to home projects.
Pfaff has a range of 24 sewing sewing machines, including compact models, that cater for beginners, pros and those in between. There are also specialised machines for embroidery and quilting.
Click through our gallery to see a selection of Pfaff sewing machines, from standard models to machines that are suitable for more advanced projects.
Pfaff's Smarter 140s (£219) and Smarter 160s (£229) are both suitable for beginners, and have more than 20 stitches to experiment with. The width and length of stitches can be altered, and both sewing machines have an LED light to help with precision.
The Pfaff Passport 3.0 (£579) is one step up, and has 100 different stitches to choose from. It's a feature-packed model that is also compact enough to carry to a sewing class or take away on holiday.
If you're looking for a truly advanced model, the Pfaff Creative 4.5 (£3,059) is an embroidery and sewing machine with a large embroidery area to accommodate large projects. Up to 480 stitches are available but if that's not enough, you can create your own stitches and shapes, such as circles, stars and flowers, from a built-in selection.
The newest machine in the Pfaff range is the Creative Icon. It's the brand's most advanced machine and is described as being able to 'exceed the aspirations of today’s sewing, quilting and embroidery artisans'. It includes more than 800 embroidery designs, a larger workspace, a customisable tablet, integrated apps, increased needle pressure and enhanced dual-feed technology – all for an eye-watering £8,499.
Singer sewing machines: ranges and prices
The American brand Singer has been synonymous with sewing since 1851. It introduced the world's first zig-zag machine and the first electronic machines. It provides a wide range of domestic and commercial sewing machines.
Singer machines are widely available, especially through well-known stores such as Amazon, Currys, Hobbycraft and John Lewis. The company also has its own online store, Singer Direct.
Its been creating models that encourage people who are new to sewing, such as the models in its Standard and Tradition ranges, as well as launching a 'sewing assistant' app.
Singer offers more than 20 sewing machines. Click through our gallery to see a selection, from compact beginners' models to heavy-duty sewing machines and models suitable for embroidery.
The most compact models are in Singer's Standard and Tradition ranges. These are also the cheapest models, starting at a very reasonable £106 for the Standard 1507, which you'll find in retailers such as Currys.
Singer's Simple, Talent and Heavy Duty ranges are all standard mechanical sewing machines, which are medium size and have extra features, such as one-step and four-step buttonhole functions. The stitching speed is also faster. These machines cost more than the compact models, and can cost up to £600.
If you're looking for a sewing machine that will also be able to handle embroidery, you'll need to look at Singer's XL range. However, for premium features you should expect to pay a premium price: the Singer Futura XL400 is £749, 0hile the newest and most advanced machine, the Singer XL 420 Futura costs £1,099.
In September 2020, we asked more than 900 Which? members about the sewing machine they own and their experience of owning and using it. This covered areas from durability
The scores exclude responses from those who have owned their sewing machine for more than 10 years. The overall customer satisfaction scores are based on how satisfied customers of each brand are and whether they'd recommend the brand to a friend.
Prices correct as at November 2020