Recommended Sewing Machines

While teaching and servicing machines, I get to try out a LOT of different machines, and am frequently asked for recommendations. Ronkita receives absolutely no financial benefit from recommending specific models, and this is just my assessment based on personal experience, in order to help others avoid common struggles and get as much enjoyment out of sewing as I do.

The recommendations below are a few of my favorite machines based on my experience with how well they function, reliability, features or ease of maintaining. I've also noted which I think are good for kids, and a few economy-class machines if you need an inexpensive machine to get started with sewing.

Please remember to test drive any machine, research, and compare prices before you buy.

If you're looking for a new machine because yours is broken or not performing as well as it used to, Ronkita offers diagnostic and full-service repairs for most makes and models of sewing machines and sergers. I also refurbish and sell machines when a good one comes along. Contact me to learn more about machine cleaning/repair or if I have any for sale.

Request custom projects, or contact Ronkita Design with any questions, comments or custom orders at: 512-630-2115 /

Good for Kids
These machines are usually simpler to operate, lighter/easier to carry, have fewer functions, and are easy to learn on. Plus, they have the one feature I always recommend for kids who are learning to sew - speed control.


These are a few of my favorite machines, both new and vintage, based on my needs and preferences. Again, be sure to research and test any machine you're looking at to make sure it will work for you.

All of the favorite machines listed below have these features/benefits:

  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Simple functionality that's easy to use
  • Reputation for reliability
  • Parts can be found online or at most sewing repair shops
  • Well constructed and can last a long time when properly maintained

Bernina Record 830
Notable Features
  • Almost all metal construction
  • An all around great machine
Janome Magnolia 7330
Notable Features
  • Speed control
  • Free arm capable
  • One-step buttonhole
  • Memorized needle up/down

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Singer Featherweight 221
Notable Features
  • Very small, light weight and portable
  • Only straight stitch but does this extremely well
Singer 301
Notable Features
  • Nice motor for a domestic machine that's good at handling heavier fabrics
Many Kenmore sewing machines are known for their reliability, construction and performance. If it has been well maintained, you often can't go wrong with a Kenmore machine, especially vintage models.


New, bargain machines made today, usually about $150 or less, rarely make recommended lists because of their cheap construction and tendancy for problems. This can easily frustrate and turn people off to sewing if they're constantly struggling with their machine. I see this all the time with students who take lessons with economy-class machines and spend more time trying to get their machine to work correctly than on the actual lesson. If you can afford to spend more then you can get a more reliable and longer-lasting machine.

However, if you are looking at this class of machine for you or your child because of the price range, then these are the machines I would point you towards. They are affordable, sew well for this class, are user friendly and easy to learn on, and they include a few essential features. This doesn't mean you can expect them to be problem free — and you certainly can't expect them to be something you pass down through generations like the vintage machines above — but within this class of machines, these tend to be the ones I see perform better than others.

All of the machines listed below in this class include these pros and cons:

  • Small, easily transportable, light weight
  • Essential stitches of zig zag and straight stitch with even tension
  • All mechanical components
  • Relatively easy to clean/maintain
  • Free arm capable
  • Many plastic parts that often wear out faster than metal parts

If you're new to sewing and want to get a feel for it before investing a lot of money, particularly if you or your child are taking lessons, another option is to rent one of the machines. This way you can experience sewing on a higher-quality machine and avoid many of the problems people commonly have when trying to learn on economy-class machines. Contact me to learn more.

Singer Prelude 8280
Notable Features
  • Accessories, like presser feet and replacement cord/foot pedal, can be found at many retailers
Brother XL2600
Notable Features
  • Speed control
  • Ability for twin needle
Brother SM2700
Notable Features
  • Speed control
  • Ability for twin needle

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