Has long been a teacher of English Literature, after the retirement focused on freelance copywriting. She’s now our full-time writer since our website allows her to know more about the hobby of her lifetime – sewing.
A professional fashion designer and seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step instructions on how to sew a summer skirt.
Last updated: June 20, 2021
At its simplest, portable sewing machines are smaller versions of the regular sized sewing machine. But if you look carefully, they do cater to a specific audience. For instance, if you are an ardent sewer and like to have your sewing machine on hand at all times, then you should opt for a portable version to accompany your regular sewing machine. Or, if you are just starting out, you may wish to do so with a smaller and more compact model, like a mini sewing machine.
The best portable sewing machines all come with a smaller, lighter weight frame and are easy to carry around wherever you go. You can easily set one up instantly for minor repairs instead of having to set up a large sewing machine. However, smaller doesn’t mean missing out on any essential components or features. If anything, the best portable sewing machines will include many of the same features as a regular machine. That is why we have looked at the weight, speed, number of stitches and stitch width for every model that we recommend here.
To take the guesswork out of making a somewhat confounding choice, we have assembled 5 of the best portable sewing machines available. Take a look at our experts’ selection in the comparison table given below, followed by an in-depth review of each product. If you still have more questions after that, then go through our comprehensive buying guide to make sure that you get a machine that is right for you.
Top 5 Portable Sewing Machines Review 2021
EverSewn Charlotte – Editor's Choice
Weight: 13 lbs
Speed: 850 spm
Number of stitches: 70
Stitch width: 7 mm
Warranty: 10-year limited
More features: automatic needle threader, drop-in bobbin with clear cover plate, 7 standard presser feet, LED stitch panel
Eversewn Charlotte is the best small portable sewing machine for any beginner since it is an electrical machine. This offers greater control over the functions promoted in this model such as the varying 70 stitches you can choose from. For those a little unsure about controlling the machine with a foot pedal, this model has a start/stop button located on the side of the machine. It also comes with a controlled speed dial so your machine can work at your pace.
Eversewn Charlotte takes convenience to another level, including an automatic threading option as well as a pop-in bobbin. It allows for easier threading for those who don’t wield the skill and lets you see in advance if your bobbin is running out. To shift and modify your stitches, look only to the electric LED panel on the machine for all the options you need to navigate through the library and set your machine to your preference.
This sewing machine can also convert into an embroidery or quilting machine, simply by lowering the feed dog on the unit. You can do so much more with this machine than with others, which is why it is the Editor’s Choice on this list.
One noticeable flaw about Eversewn though is the electric pad with your mode options, and the LED screen can be confusing to navigate over especially if you’re new to sewing machines.
What are its best features?
Electrical machine with LED control panel
Start/stop button with speed dial inclusive
Pop-in bobbin and automatic threading option
Comes with embroidery and quilting options
What could be improved?
Confusing control panel with limited push button options
Brother CS6000i – Best Portable Sewing Machine For Quilting
Weight: 13 lbs
Speed: 850 spm
Number of stitches: 60
Stitch width: 7
Warranty: 25-year limited
More features: automatic needle threader, built-in free arm, oversized table, hard protective case included
A trustworthy name in multiple markets, Brother impacts the sewing machine industry with the CS6000i model. It has 60 in-built stitches to use for your greater convenience. It also provides you with the option of automatic threading, just in case that isn’t your area of expertise.
To keep all of your items together, it has built in storage and a wide table inclusive for greater control of all your stitching needs and work. A great factor of this machine is the various included feet you receive upon purchase. With the offered walking foot option, it is one the best portable walking foot sewing machines available. It is a relatively small sewing machine with a miniscule LED display screen. All of the stitch options are printed onto the side of the machine, so you’ll never miss out on all the creative choices to choose from.
This machine can also perform as a quilting machine, with an automatic drop-feed option as well as a free motion quilting foot. With these two additional options, the Brother CS6000i earns the title of best portable sewing machine for quilting on this list. For further variety, you can manually control the speed of the machine for greater personalization and precision within each project.
This machine does tend to create an issue when it comes to the tension between fabrics and pressure you apply. There are given solutions though, and within a comparison, this machine is slightly more pressure sensitive than others, which is a main contributing factor to the issued tension.
What makes it stand out?
Automatic threading included
Built in storage and widened table installed in sewing machine
Variety of feet included
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Inconsistent tension and pressure while using this machine
Janome Arctic Crystal – Best Portable Sewing Machine For Beginners
Weight: 12 lbs
Speed: 800 spm
Number of stitches: 15
Stitch width: 5 mm
Warranty: 25-year limited
More features: 4-step buttonhole, front-loading bobbin system, removable free arm
The Arctic Crystal is without a doubt, the best portable sewing machine for beginners and the proof isn’t hard to find. All of its modes and options, speeds and controls are placed upon the machine in the form of dials. It has 15 built-in stitch options for better faster work, and less time consumed trying to select one stitch.
This model has a hidden compartment as well as a free arm to ease the control you have over directing your fabric. Keep all of your stitching items together while making way for your arm space. The bobbin is loaded in the front for easy access and the Janome Arctic Crystal even has instructions for the bobbin assembly included! Four pressure feet are included with the purchase of this model; general purpose, zipper, blind hemming and buttonhole foot.
With an enlarged throat space on this model, you can commit to all kinds of projects ranging from clothing to even quilting! To easier see what you are doing, there is an LED light located under the workspace piece. You can adjust the stitch length for greater fun when personalizing all of your projects.
With 3 piece dog feeds, every stitch comes out smoothly and swiftly. There are two vertical spool pins located on the top for an easier flow of thread. The spools are capable of holding larger thread cones.
Though the loading in the front is for easy access, some people do find it inconvenient when in the midst of working. Just as well, there is no cutter for string on this machine which isn’t convenient while threading your bobbin.
What makes it stand out?
All controls are in the form of dials
Hidden compartment as well as free arm option
Added throat space for larger projects
LED light to see better when working
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Front access bobbin load is an inconvenient spot
No automatic thread cutter installed on the machine
SINGER Simple 3232 – Best Heavy Duty Portable Sewing Machine
Weight: 12.5 lbs
Speed: 750 spm
Number of stitches: 32
Stitch width: 5 mm
Warranty: 24-year limited
More features: built-in needle threader, front loading bobbin, soft cover included
This Singer sewing machine makes each work of art more personalized with modifiable stitch widths and lengths. There is also a hidden compartment for all of your stitching items which comes off to create a free arm work space. It comes packed with additional accessories so you have all you need when working.
This Singer model has 32 stitches built into the machine for unique designs on each of your projects. It also has a built in needle threader to ease the load of preparing yourself before each job. The dial on the machine controls all the stitch options you have to select from, so switching from styles during jobs is a cinch.
You can reverse your stitches to securely fasten areas on your work. The machine comes with a cover to keep dust from layering and ruining your machine when not in use. This model can handle thicker fabrics to cover more project types you may have in mind with an extra high position for the foot presser.
Singer prides themselves in their heavy duty metal frame to ensure your machine is durable, long lasting and powerful. It is for this very reason, Singer Simple 3232 receives the title of best heavy duty portable sewing machine on this list.
One repeated complaint though was about the automatic threader, and how it didn’t seem to work. For some, it was too confusing to understand while others found it didn’t work as efficiently as expected to.
More features: manual needle threading, 4 sewing feet, 3-piece needle set
Another comeback from Brother, this model XM1010 is the lightweight sewing machine that earns the Budget Pick on this list.
Coming in this affordable deal are some fancy features including 10 stitch options to choose from. All of these can be chosen with the dial located on the side of the machine. All needed accessories are included when you buy the machine so you can get started as soon as you purchase from Brother.
This model has a free arm/flatbed build so you can freely work on sleeves and cuffs while still getting the table space you need to handle your fabrics.
There are diagrams to explain how to thread with this machine, so you never forget and always have a reference right on you before you get to work. You can adjust the thread tension with each project for tighter, stronger stitches suitable for separate fabrics. This machine can also handle hemming, quilting and more so the projects you can commit to are not limited.
Brother XM1010 also has a drop in bobbin for easier use and a smoother feed to the needle for straighter and better stitches during your work. Four feet are included in this purchase, those being zipper, buttonhole, zig-zag and button sewing foot otherwise known as ‘M’ foot.
The only problematic factor to this machine would be that there is no control over the thread tension which can make for sloppy work over some types of fabric.
What do we love it for?
Free arm and flatbed build for better navigation
Capable of handling hemming, stitching, quilting, mending and more
Drop in bobbin for convenient loading and feeding
What were we disappointed with?
Thread tension does not properly control the thread when stitching
A portable sewing machine is one of many conveniences developed overtime. It is great for those people who travel and still prefer their own craftsmanship in their needle and thread. That is why, when you look for one, you need to keep your eye out for the best of its kind. Here we have provided you with a detailed buying guide to help to educate your future choice.
Portable sewing machine – what can you do with it?
A portable sewing machine can perform just like its larger counterpart, only it has a more versatile portability than larger models. You can carry it during travel for any on-the-go projects you may have in mind. It is smaller and can therefore commit to smaller jobs better than a normal heavy duty machine.
If you’re new to the whole sewing machine process, then having a smaller, less expensive tool is a better start than commencing with the large bulky and frustrating one.
Regular vs portable – is there a difference?
For starters, there is the difference in size. With this size difference comes the convenience of storing, packing and using it unlike heaving your larger alternative. Although the size difference does bring versatility with carriage, it does mean that your portable sewing machine is going to be weaker than your normal one. It is not as fast of a performer as bigger ones, which in varying cases may or may not be an issue.
A portable machine also does not have all the conveniences as a larger modern one. The light, dials and automatic options on a large model won’t be present on your portable one. Of course, you can purchase them additionally and install them yourself, but don’t be disheartened when they aren’t available on purchase. So you should always consider your sewing needs and purposes to choose and buy the best sewing machine that fits you.
Maintenance tips – take care of your sewing machine
Threads can always prove tricky. They can easily slip during use and create knots that will harm the machinery. Thin, glazed threads in particular are what you should avoid when using any sewing machine.
Change the needle often. After every few projects, get yourself a new, sharp needle so that you don’t create any dull unqualified works while using your machine. For the best stitches, always have a sharp needle ready.
With all the rapid movement occuring with each passing project, there is always space for a little oiling. Keep your machine properly oiled and occasionally turn it on to keep it from stiffening.
Consider the following features to choose the best portable sewing machine
When it comes to the final decision, each machine has something different to offer. That is why it is best to know the exact features you are looking for in your machine to perfectly suit your needs. Listed below are some aspects that you can take a more in depth look at for a better idea of what there is on offer.
The size is already a benefit, but the weight is another story. Depending on how you plan to use this machine, the weight is a game changer. If you are staring off with it and cannot see it moving around much in the near future, then weight may not be that relevant an issue. If you plan on travelling with the machine, then weight is a feature to consider. A relatively lighter machine would be 12 lbs. Everything we have on our list today weighs up to a maximum of 14 lbs and nothing more, making them suitable options for portability. Just remember, weight of a machine comes with a frame and a motor. The more complicated project you get, the heavier you sewing machine is going to be. Just to be sure to have the most portable option possible, consider simplest handheld sewing machine to make quick one-minute adjustments.
Number of stitches
When referring to the number of stitches the machine makes, it means the number of stitches made every minute. When it comes to portable machines, they can almost never compare to the rate of larger machines. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a fast paced portable sewing machine. Try looking at our Editor’s Choice of Eversewn Charlotte, or the Brother CS6000i with an impressive rate of 850 stitches per minute. Another close contender is the Janome Arctic Crystal with 800 stitches per minute.
Know the needle
When sewing, your needle is your pen on paper. Without the right one, nothing will ever get done. There are many needles to address for the right job, so briefly here is a summary of options to choose from.
Ball point needles are used more on knitted projects, with a generally rounded tip to not puncture, but simply pass through fabrics. Embroidery needles have larger eyes for easier threading and a designed scarf to prevent cutting the thread. Sharp needles are ideally sharp and have an enhanced scarf to allow closer contact with the bobbin hook.
If you are unsure about what the bobbin is, it is the wheel on the side that helps hold the thread while you are sewing. The bobbin helps you properly feed the needle from below the stitch work. There should be a bobbin spool on top of the machine that holds and unwinds the thread while the machine is in use.
The foot of the sewing machine doesn’t refer to the feet the sewing machine sits on. The foot is the component of the machine that presses on the fabric while the needle is stitching. There are multiple feet you can place on your machine, all with different specialized uses. Try not to get lost in these, because you only need what you will use.
Feet typically compliment the stitching type you are attempting. Some work for single sided stitching, others work to make buttons and zippers on your clothes.
Some machines make way for your arm with a free arm option that may come in the form of a compact hidden compartment or simply be a benefit in the basic design. With the option of free arm comes the benefit of navigating better over tight corners and sharp turns over fabric. Items such as sleeves and cuffs are the hardest to cover, so if you are looking for a machine that will make stitching clothes easier, then look for one that has the option of free arm space. Our list today offers two versions of the free arm. The Brother CS6000i machine comes with a built-in free arm while the Janome Arctic Crystal has a removable free arm.
Rather than having a fixed bobbin, the drop-in bobbin feature is a bobbin with no case. It is installed into the machine so that it can come in and out for use. It is much easier to distinguish whether your thread is finished or not and convenient for quick packing of your machine. The EverSewn Charlotte comes with this feature.
Another promising addition to some sewing machines is an installed threading feature. This feature threads the string for you to skip the frustration and anxiety. For customers with wobbly hands or weak eyesight, this is the right feature to consider when looking for a machine to help you work. I threadin causes you woe, the look at the The EverSewn Charlotte and the Brother CS6000i both of which have automatic needle threaders while the SINGER Simple 3232 comes with a built-in threader.
One of the benefits of a portable sewing machine is that it’s relatively cheaper than larger options. So if you are buying a portable sewing machine for the price of a regular one, you may be cheated. Portable sewing machines should not reach over 200$. Some proper sized machines may reach this price as well, but anything over this price tag is not what you are looking for.
Getting coverage for your machine is extremely important. With a sewing machine, portable or not, the machinery is as delicate as needlepoint. If anything goes wrong or there is a defect in the product, it becomes useless, unless you’re a mechanic. Always get a machine that is backed with at least a one year warranty for better assurance that you are purchasing the right product
Portable sewing machines do have fewer stitch options than regular versions but advanced models can come with as many as 600 or so built in stitches with some basic stitches, some stretch stitches and some decorative stitches. These will take care of your basic as well as some advanced stitching needs. Based on the model of your machine, you may also be able to quilt.
If you have a portable sewing machine, it’s not hard to assume that there may be no case for it. However, there are many sewing machine cases on the market that specially carry portable sewing machines. Carry cases lend durability and safety to your machine by being impact resistant, lightweight and easy to carry. They also provide dust proof storage when your machine is not in use. When it comes to packing your machine, remove all removable components to minimize the risk of them damaging during travel. Sewing machine cases come in different sizes depending on what type of machine you carry.
If you do not have an automatic threading option, then fret not because threading itself is not hard. Primarily, you want to make sure your spool and thread is positioned properly, securely fastened to its position. Then you’ll want to thread the string onto the guide before weaving it into the bobbin. After you have woven and placed the bobbin onto the machine securely, press the speed controller until you have the desired mount wound around your bobbin. Once you have all you need, cut the ends of remaining thread and remove the bobbin.
To sum it all up, the Eversewn Charlotte comfortably proves the easiest-to-use portable machine with its computerized system ready at your fingertips. It comes with great features and a promising amount of stitching options to please your creative mind. Making the Editor’s Pick, Eversewn Charlotte is the best portable unit in this category for any love of sewing art.
A close second best portable sewing machine would be the Brother CS6000i, which also works heavily with contributing electrical parts to make working on the machine easier than with others. It also has a large library of stitches to choose from and a grand variety of feet to specialize your stitching.
Finally, there is the budget pick, the Brother XM1010 which is the lightest and most affordable of all the machines. It has promising spacing for all your separate projects and small conveniences such as printed diagrams and pop in bobbins to make your experience with it all the more lovable.