The Best & Worst Sewing Machine Brands (Ranked by Pros)

The most popular sewing machine brands

Note: I’m only including brands that still exist today, and this post is focused on their home sewing machine ranges only.


Brother

Who are they?

Brother was founded in 1908 by Kanekichi Yasui in Japan (source) under the name Yasui Sewing Machine Co., and it took on the name Yasui Brothers’ Sewing Machine Company in the 1920s. The company started exporting their sewing machines to the United States in the 1950s, and they continued to expand their reach and product range throughout the next couple of decades. In 1979 they released the “Computer-Sew 1000”, which was the first domestic computerized sewing machine. They still operate out of their Nagoya, Japan headquarters. (source)

What kind of sewing machines do they make? 

Brother offers a wide selection of sewing machines, sergers, and cover stitch machines, as well as embroidery machines. 

Their machines are known for their user-friendly designs, build quality, and durability. They also introduced computerized machines at a lower price point than competitors.

They carry a wide selection of beginner-friendly machines that are easy to set up and easy to use, lightweight, compact and inexpensive. For example, their popular Brother CS6000I, Brother XR3774, Brother GX37, or Brother Innov-is A16. The price range for models such as these are $160 – $460, making them quite affordable.

Their mid-range models such as the Brother Innov-is NV1300 are around $1200, and they’re sturdy, heavy, and feature-packed machines. They have a generous work space to the right of the needle, close to 200 stitch types, automatic thread tension, and automatic thread cutters.

Their more advanced machines are usually sewing – embroidery combination machines, such as the Brother Essence Innov-is VM5200 at $5475.

Where are Brother sewing machines made?

Brother’s mechanical sewing machines are manufactured in China, and their computerized sewing and embroidery machines are manufactured in Taiwan. (source)

Is Brother a good brand? 

Brother is a good brand for both beginner and experienced sewists. Their very wide product range caters to both. They create basic mechanical machines for small budgets to advanced computerized machines with lots of features. They’re well known for creating intuitive, user-friendly designs.

Brother machines are also widely available, so they’re easy to buy. And they come with great support coverage across many continents and countries. 

What do industry experts think about Brother?


Singer

Who are they?

Singer has a rich and interesting history, full of firsts for the sewing machine. Isaac Meritt Singer invented the world’s first practical sewing machine in 1850, which also marks the beginning of Singer as a company. They also manufactured the world’s first lightweight sewing machine (1858), the first zig-zag machine (1952), the first electronic sewing machine (1972), and the first computerized sewing machine (1975) (source). The original company was bought by SVP Worldwide in 1999 (source).

What kind of sewing machines do they make? 

Currently, Singer makes a sizable selection of mechanical and computerized sewing machines, as well as select models of embroidery machines and overlockers.

The price range for Singer machines is between $85 to $600, placing them in the low to mid-range market in terms of pricing. Unlike other brands, they don’t carry any advanced machines that feature innovative new technology.

Their Heavy Duty line of sewing machines and overlockers offer some extra strength and speed thanks to their more powerful motors, making them an affordable option if you want more power.

Where are Singer sewing machines made?

Singer is owned by SVP Worldwide, who manufacture their sewing machines in Shanghai, China (source).

Is Singer a good brand? 

Singer sewing machines are perfect for beginners looking to purchase their first sewing machine, primarily due to their easy-to-use designs and low prices. They offer a large number of basic sewing machines which come with all the essential features a beginner or someone interested in basic mending & altering would need. For example, all the basic stitch types, 4 or 1-step buttonholes, and backstitching capability. Their Promise or Tradition models would be good examples of this range of machines.

Singer machines normally come with a 2 year limited warranty (source).

If you’re looking to upgrade to a sturdier, more capable sewing machine with unique features, you might want to consider other brands. 

What do industry experts think about Singer?


Janome

Who are they?

Janome was founded by Yosaku Ose in 1921 in Japan, under the name Pine Sewing Machine Company. He was the inventor of the round bobbins we use today, a shape which reminded people of a snake’s eye, or “Janome” in Japanese. This new bobbin shape gained such popularity and success that the name Janome was established as a trademark in 1935. The company officially changed its name to Janome Sewing Machine Company in 1949. In 1960, the company purchased the American sewing machine brand “New Home” (founded in 1860) in order to expand to the United States (source).

What kind of sewing machines do they make? 

Janome produces a wide array of sewing machines, sergers (aka. overlockers), embroidery machines, and long arm quilters. They carry basic models with just a few stitch types at $120, to computerized, state-of-the-art sewing machines with speed control, automatic thread cutters, stitch locks, and 400 stitch types at $8000. 

The Janome Sewist 725S at $500 is an excellent choice for beginners who want to get a machine that’s easy to set up and use, sturdy, and quiet. They also made the Janome HD3000 at $510, which is their take on a heavy-duty model capable of sewing through thicker materials and multiple layers. 

Their Skyline series contains 3 mid-range sewing machines and 1 embroidery machine. The Skyline S3 is the most affordable option of the bunch at $1200 and it has glowing reviews praising it for its quiet and smooth operation, as well as numerous features like speed control, needle up / down, automatic thread cutter, start / stop button and more. 

At the top of their range, you can find the Continental M7 Professional at $8000. It can sew up to 1300 stitches per minute, and has all the extra features you might expect to find at a premium sewing machine. 

They also sell a semi-industrial model (the HD9 Professional) which is a straight stitch only machine that can sew up to 1600 stitches per minute. 

Where are Janome sewing machines made?

Janome has production facilities in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand (source 1 and source 2).

Are they a good brand? 

Overall, Janome machines have a good reputation for being quiet, capable, and reliable machines. They’re a great starting point for beginners, and they offer good upgrade options for more experienced sewists looking to purchase a better machine with more features. 

Most Janome sewing machines come with a 25 year limited warranty, with the exception of the electrical and electronic equipment found in the machine, which is under a 2 year warranty. The labor needed for the repair of the machine is covered under the warranty for 1 year (source).

What do industry experts think about Janome?


Babylock

Who are they?

The origins of Babylock date back to 1964, when a Japanese garment factory worker saw a gap in the market for smaller sergers (aka. overlockers) that would be appropriate to use in a home setting. Just 3 years later, they started selling the first domestic serger machines to US customers (source). Since then, they continued to innovate in the field of sewing technology, and in 1993 they introduced the first air-threading technology (source).

What kind of sewing machines do they make?

Babylock makes an array of sewing machines, sergers (aka. overlockers), cover stitch machines, and embroidery machines. They have a few basic machines for beginners, but most of their range is quite expensive and suits intermediate to advanced sewists.

They are especially well known for their sergers and coverstitch machines, all of which include air-threading technology. You simply need to place the threads you wish to use in the relevant areas and the machine will thread itself in seconds! Many of their sergers also feature their ATD system, which stands for Automatic Thread Delivery. This feature automatically changes the tension settings to suit the thread, fabric, and thickness you’re working with (source).

Their Zest, Joy, and Zeal models cost $170 to $250, and these models are perfect for beginners. They’re all mechanical sewing machines that come with the basic set of features and stitches that you would need to complete your first sewing projects and beyond. 

Their mid-range models such as the Brilliant, Accomplish, Soprano, and Lyric cost $1000 to $2500. These machines are all computerized, and they come with a host of additional features like advanced automatic needle threading, automatic thread trimming, needle up / down programming, and hundreds of stitch patterns.

Their top-of-the-line machines like the Aerial or the Altair cost $8000 to $9000, and they’re sewing – embroidery combination machines. They have all the features that come with their mid-range models, but they also have large LCD color touchscreens to aid with your embroidery projects. 

Where are Babylock sewing machines made?

Babylock machines are made in Japan (source). Babylock sewing machines and sergers are produced in Brother’s manufacturing plants according to Babylock’s specifications.

Are they a good brand? 

Babylock has some machines for beginners, but most of their range caters to advanced sewists who want the best-of-the-best. Expect to spend $1000+ for a Babylock machine.

Their sewing machines tend to suit garment sewing, quilting, and embroidery. They carry a number of models that have a large workspace to the right of the needle, the ability to use a knee lift, and a speed of 1000 – 1500 stitches per minute.

Babylock machines are less widely available for purchase than other brands like Brother. They’re normally only sold at registered Babylock dealerships. Their range of products is also smaller than big brands like Singer, Brother, and Janome, especially for basic machines.

What do industry experts think about Babylock?


Juki

Who are they?

Juki was founded in Tokyo, Japan in 1938 by a group of machinery manufacturers (source). They’ve been making domestic sewing machines since 1945, and industrial sewing machines since 1953 (source). They established their presence in the United States in 1974, and they’ve since expanded to the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. 

What kind of sewing machines do they make? 

In addition to their 2000 models of industrial sewing machines, Juki also sells mechanical and computerized domestic sewing machines, sergers (aka. overlockers), coverstitch machines, and quilting machines. 

They have suitable sewing machines for beginners and more advanced sewists alike, and their domestic sewing machines are known to be sturdy, strong and reliable – much like their industrial counterparts. 

Price-wise, the most basic model they carry (the Juki HZL-353ZR-C) costs around $330. Their lower mid-range models (such as the Juki HZL-80HP-A or the Juki HZL-70HW-A) cost around $500 – $600. Their high to mid-range models (like their Exceed series, the HZL-DX5 or HZL-DX7) cost between $1400 and $1750. And their top-of-the-line machine (the Juki Kirei HZL-NX7) costs $4500. 

Where are Juki sewing machines made?

Juki produces their industrial sewing machines in their Ohtawara factory in Japan, and they also have manufacturing facilities in China and Vietnam (source).

Are they a good brand? 

Juki is a great brand for sewists looking for reliable, versatile, and durable domestic sewing machines. 

Some of their machines such as the DX7 come with two-in-one stitch plates, meaning you can switch to a single needle hole, straight-stitch only stitch plate when you’re sewing with thinner, more delicate fabrics; or return to the regular stitch plate when you want to use any of the 287 stitch types the machine comes with. 

Their sewing machines can also handle thicker fabrics or multiple layers, thanks to their experience with making strong industrial sewing machines. These features alone make Juki sewing machines suited for a variety of uses.

Their more advanced models such as the Juki Kirei HZL-NX7 comes with Juki Smart Feed, which is a dual feed function that moves the top layer of fabric in sync with the lower layer of fabric, much like Pfaff’s IDT system or a walking foot. 

Apart from their most basic models, all their domestic sewing machines also come with additional, helpful features such as automatic thread trimming, speed control, lock stitches, one-step automatic buttonholes, free motion, and needle up / down control. 

Some of their models also feature the ability to integrate a knee lift, so you can control the presser foot using your knee, instead of reaching over to lift and drop it by hand. On some models you can also highly customize the foot pedal by setting different functions to the heel section, such as lifting the presser foot, cutting the thread, back stitch, or sew a single stitch. 

Juki domestic sewing machines come with a limited 2 year warranty on the motors, light assembly, wiring, switches, circuit boards and speed control; and a limited 5 year warranty on all the other parts of the machines (source).

What do industry experts think about Juki?


Pfaff

Who are they?

Pfaff was founded in 1862 by Georg Michael Pfaff, who was a craftsman. He made his first sewing machine by hand from scratch, and since then Pfaff has continued to innovate and modernize the sewing machine (source). 1968 saw the release of Pfaff 1222, which was their first machine to include their proprietary IDF (Integrated Dual Feed) system. The original company was bought by SVP Worldwide in 2006 alongside Husqvarna Viking (source).

What kind of sewing machines do they make? 

Today Pfaff makes a range of mostly computerized sewing machines, a few mechanical models, as well as advanced embroidery machines, cover stitch machines, sergers (aka. overlockers), and long arm quilting machines. Pfaff is considered a more expensive and premium brand.

They’re well known for their IDT (previously named IDF) system, which stands for Integrated Dual Transportation. It’s available on most Pfaff sewing machines, and it basically acts like a built-in walking foot, helping the machine feed the fabric more evenly, resulting in beautiful, pucker free seams on delicate fabrics as well as reliable, consistent stitching on thicker materials or multiple layers. The IDT can also be easily disengaged when not needed. 

They carry a smaller number of machines in comparison to other brands, so it’s easier to navigate their selection of machines. 

Price wise, they offer a few models at a lower price point of around $300, but most of their mid-level machines are in the $1000 – $2000 range. Their most advanced sewing and embroidery machines cost up to $20,000. 

Their beginner models like the Pfaff Smarter series are mechanical sewing machines that come with around 20 stitch types, reverse stitching capability, and automatic one-step buttonholes. These are their only machines that don’t have the IDT system built into them.

Their mid-range machines such as their Passport, Ambition, Expression, or Performances lines are all computerized sewing machines with IDT. They have automatic needle threading, automatic thread cutting, hundreds of stitch types, multiple one-step automatic buttonholes, needle up / down programming, and speed control. 

Their most advanced machines like the Performance Icon or the Creative Icon come with massive workspaces and touch screens, and feature a twice as strong needle piercing power than their lower range models, as well as an enhanced IDT system with its own power source and sensors.

They also sell sergers (aka. overlockers), cover stitch machines, and combination machines with air-threading technology, which removes the most finicky and bothersome part of using one of these machines.

Where are Pfaff sewing machines made?

Pfaff is owned by SVP Worldwide, who manufacture their sewing machines in Shanghai, China (source).

Are they a good brand? 

Pfaff is a good brand for intermediate sewists looking for an upgrade. Their machines are known for their precision, strength, and durability. You’ll find advanced features like IDT and air-threading in many of their models, but they do come at a higher price.

Their IDT system is an extremely valuable asset to have, and the majority of their machines come with additional helpful features like automatic needle threading, automatic thread cutting, a wide array of decorative stitches, speed control, needle up / down selection, free motion, one-step automatic buttonholes and more. Pfaff sewing machines are great options for sewists who want to upgrade.

Although they host a number of advanced features, Pfaff machines are set up in an intuitive, easy-to-use way so that even a beginner sewist would be able to find their way around the different functionalities. 

Pfaff offers a 2 year international warranty, as well as an extended 5 year warranty to their UK customers (source).

What do industry experts think about Pfaff?



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This article was written by Nisan Aktürk and edited by Sara Maker.

Nisan Aktürk (author)
Nisan started her sewing journey in December 2019 and already has a fully handmade wardrobe. She’s made 50+ trousers, 20+ buttoned shirts, and a wide array of coats, jackets, t-shirts, and jeans. She’s currently studying for her Sociology Master’s degree and is writing a thesis about sewing. So she spends a lot of her time either sewing or thinking/writing about sewing! Read more…