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: March 05, 2021
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Sewing machines are a handy accessory to have in your home. They allow you to make a variety of items, including clothing, pillows, curtains, and quilts. The fact that you can make these yourself at a fraction of the store cost is a bonus. Of course, sewing machines can be expensive, depending on the brand you buy. If you’re on a budget, though, you can find the best sewing machine under $100, giving you the same ability to create as with a more expensive model, without spending all your savings. These models are great sewing machines for beginners and experts alike.
When looking for a new inexpensive sewing machine, you won’t find as many features as on a high-end model, but there are a few you should check out. The weight of the machine determines how portable it is. The speed, listed as stitches per minute (SPM), tells you how fast the machine runs. How many built-in stitches is also important, so you know the variety of stitches it can perform. You should also check out if the needle has manual or automatic threading. Warranty information covers you in the event of unexpected issues with the sewing machine.
To help you find the right sewing machine under $100, we spent a great deal of time scanning manufacturer’s information, trying out different models, and reading hundreds of customer reviews. Then we chose the top models, created a comparison table, added in-depth reviews, and put in a buyer’s guide to help you pick the right one for you.
The Brother XM2701 is one of the most versatile sewing machines at this price range. It comes with a bunch of great features and accessories that will help beginners learn to sew and allow experienced sewers to create more advanced patterns. It is lightweight, making it portable enough move from a closet to a table for those who only sew occasionally.
This sewing machine comes with 27 built-in stitches, including the basic straight and zigzag, plus a variety of more decorative stitches. The dial on the front of the machine is the stitch selector, which requires only a simple turn to choose the stitch you want.
Rather than trying to thread your bobbin through unseen areas, this machine uses a top drop-in bobbin. As well as making it easier to use, this holds the bobbin in place, reduces jamming, and is even see-through, so you can always see the amount of thread you have left.
The threading system is automatic, with a simple lever on the side that helps thread the needle for you. Though it is tricky for some to learn, once you get the hang of it, this system makes threading much quicker and easier on your eyes.
An auto-sized buttonhole feature allows you to customize the buttonholes. Six sewing feet are also included for added convenience. To keep your work area well lit, this sewing machine has bright LED lights built right in.
The Spiegel SP3201 is a high-quality sewing machine that is easy to use, even for beginners. It comes with a manual that is simple to follow and with a bit of practice, even beginners will be sewing some basic patterns in no time. For experts, there are also great features for more advanced projects.
There are 32 stitch options to choose from, including the utility stitches as well as an abundance of decorative ones to add some stylish embellishments to any project. These stitches are listed on the front, with the dial to change them set on the side.
There are a top drop-in bobbin and an automatic needle threader, so getting your thread and needle ready to sew takes very little time and effort on your part. The tension is also adjustable, as is the length and width of the stitches you’re using. There is an automatic buttonhole, which has only one step to give you the perfect buttonholes on any garment.
Other great features included with this inexpensive sewing machine include an LED light for a bright work area, a thread cutter, and adjustable feed dogs that can be lowered for some quick hand stitches.
This sewing machine also comes with some extras, including bobbins, needles, a few sewing feet, a screwdriver, and a cover. A removable accessories tray holds your accessories when you don’t need them.
For beginners, having a bunch of stitches, dials, and extra accessories can be a bit confusing, so a more basic model is better for learning how to use a sewing machine. The SINGER Start 1304 is one of the simplest sewing machines out there for under $100, with instructions that are easy to follow to help you get started. It is also a great sewing machine for kids to learn with.
This machine has a heavy-duty metal frame, with plastic for the body. This keeps it light and portable while adding durability. The bobbins go on the top, with easy to follow directions for threading printed right on the sewing machine to take the guesswork out of setting it up. There are two vertical spool pins as well, in case you are using a twin needle for hemming or adding some decorative stitching to your projects.
Six built-in stitches include straight, satin, zigzag, scallop, blind hem, and a 4-step buttonhole, all of which are found on an easy to read dial on the front of the machine. Three pressure feet let you choose between the all-purpose, buttonhole, and zipper foot, depending on what you’re working on.
Other features include the preset stitch length and width, an auto-reverse button right on the front, automatic threading, a darning tray, an LED light, and an abundance of accessories found in the removable free arm storage tray.
What we liked:
Simple to use
Bright LED light
What could be better:
Foot pedal, bobbins, and needles may need upgrading
If you don’t sew on a daily basis, you need a sewing machine that can be taken out when needed and packed away again easily until next time. The Brother RLX3817 is a lightweight and compact model, making it portable enough to move around whenever and wherever you need it. It also has an abundance of features that are simple to use, plus it comes with an instructional CD to help you set it up and start sewing.
First, there are 17 stitches to choose from, including the normal straight and zigzag, as well as a four-step auto-size buttonhole, couching stitches, and a variety of decorative stitches. These stitches are easy to switch, using the handy dial on the front of the machine. Right below this dial is the reverse button, well within reach while you sew.
Since it has a drop-in top bobbin, you don’t need to struggle with threading it. It has a tension dial on the top that you can adjust accordingly for specific fabrics or patterns. The thread is also jam-resistant to keep you sewing smoothly all day long.
Other features include the free arm you can use for sewing sleeves and cuffs, a bright LED light, and 4 sewing feet, including zigzag, zipper, button, and buttonhole feet. This model also comes with a soft, protective dust cover to keep it clean and ready to go.
To get a decent sewing machine, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars, as the DONYER POWER Sewing Machine proves. It is smaller than a full-sized model, but still packs a bunch of great features in its compact size. This also makes it more portable, so you can pack it up and store it or take it to some beginner classes to learn all the tricks of sewing.
This model comes with twelve different built-in stitch options, with a handy dial to make choosing the right one easy. The stitch length and width can both be adjusted. You can use either the hand switch or the foot pedal, depending on your comfort level with the machine and the complexity of the project you’re working on. There are also two speeds and a thread tension dial that you can adjust for different patterns and materials.
The built-in needle threader makes it easy to get it ready to go, plus this machine has a drop in bobbin beneath the foot that gives you the ability to use dual threading. There is also a free arm for hemming or sewing sleeves, a reverse sewing function, a measuring tape right on the front, and a small storage area for extra thread and other little items on the side of the sewing machine.
What we liked:
Compact and portable
Easy to use
What could be better:
Very small size, which is awkward for some
Can’t leave batteries in when using wall plug
No company support
Things to Consider
Sewing machines are handy for creating stylish patterns in your own home, either for clothing, decorative pillows, quilts, or even for doing some quick adjustments on items you’ve bought. Some models can be quite expensive, though not everyone can afford these high-end machines. For those on a budget, it is easier than you may think to find a cheaper model, without sacrificing too many of the features you need.
What to expect from a cheap sewing machine?
When you begin your search for a new sewing machine, you may notice the huge price range between models. The ones that cost less than $100 are quite cheap, especially when you see price tags of up to $800 on other sewing machines.
Of course, you can still get a good one at a much lower price. Just make sure it has features like an automatic needle threader, numerous built-in stitches, a top load bobbin, a free arm, and an adjustable foot pedal. If it comes with a few extras for more detailed work that still save time, even better.
The cheaper sewing machines may not be as durable, so likely won’t last as long, but if it comes with a good warranty, you’ll be covered for any unexpected issues. Yet they still have all the functions neccessary for projects finishing, and can be more convenient than, for example, handheld sewing machines.
Let your sewing machine live longer – maintenance tips
Since the cheaper sewing machines don’t last as long, you need to be extra careful with them. The following tips can help keep it working for as long as possible:
Cover or pack it in its case when not using it. This will keep it clean and dust-free.
Unplug and clean it after each project or after 8 hours of continuous work. This includes lint from the fabric or thread from the internal parts. Remove the bobbin, pressure foot, and needle, as well.
Dust the outside of the sewing machine with a soft cloth, using a damp cloth to remove any stains. Brushes or cotton swabs are best for thread guides and any areas the cloth can’t reach. Do not spray liquid right onto the machine.
Raise the pressure foot to loosen tension spring, then use a cloth to clean between the tension disks. Use compressed air to blow out any lint and a small vacuum to suck out any trapped lint.
Remove the needle plate and clean the bobbin area and feed dogs underneath using a small brush. Compressed air or a vacuum can also be used for this, or use tweezers for any stuck pieces. Clean the lint from the bobbin case as well.
Check the needle plate for damage and smooth out any nicks with emery cloth before replacing it.
Check the manual to see if sewing machine oil is necessary for the internal parts. If oiling is needed, check the manual for the frequency and only use a drop on each part. Use fabric scraps to clean away any excess oil.
Have the machine professionally serviced every two years to keep the machine clean and oiled and to balance the tension.
Get a special sewing table to secure a space for your sewing machine.
Features to consider while buying the best sewing machine under $100
When looking for the best sewing machine under $100, there are a few features you should look for, to ensure you are getting a quality model.
The variety of stitches
Though more expensive sewing machines have numerous stitch settings, some of the cheaper models don’t usually come with as many options. A good one under $100 still should have a few on there, though, so you can do normal stitches and a few decorative ones as well. Five or more should work for most projects, while some budget models, like the Spiegel SP3201 come with 32 stitch options. The adjustment should be easy to do, using a rotating dial or an LCD screen.
Compact or not?
Compact models tend to be lighter, which is a must for those who move theirs back and forth from the closet to the table or take their machine on the road. A handle on top also adds to the portability, making it easier to move it wherever you need it.
Threading and bobbins
One thing you may want to look at is an automatic needle threader. These features are found on even the most basic models for a very good reason. They take the struggle out of threading that needle, saving you time and effort so you can get to work even faster.
You also need to consider the tension of the thread, which is needed for the sewing thread and the bobbin thread. If these two areas are out of sync, you will have issues like puckered seams, random loops, stretched fabric, or broken thread. Tension adjustments help this, allowing you to set the tension for the fabric or project you’re working on.
Drop-in bobbins are the easiest to use, allowing you to stick it in a special spot rather than threading it through the machine manually. Some machines have automatic bobbin winding as well, which adds to the convenience.
The free arm is a protruding piece found on most compact sewing machines that makes it easier to work on specific circular pieces, like hems and sleeves. Some machines, like the SINGER Start 1304, even have removable storage areas for creating the free arm space.
The sewing speed controls how quickly the fabric is pulled through the sewing machine. Most of the cheaper models have just one speed, though options like the DONYER POWER Sewing Machine come with two or more speed levels. Most sewing machines include a foot pedal, so you can control the speed, but some include a slider bar on the machine for this instead.
One thing you may want to have with your sewing machine is a dust cover, to keep it as clean as possible. A case is also handy for storing your machine or taking it out of the house. Extra bobbins and needles are also handy to have. A variety of sewing feet help you work on different projects, like hemming or buttons. Measuring tapes are necessary as well, for precise fabric measurements. Choose the best chair for sewing to let your back rest during long projects, and look at fabric cutting machines to ease up the process.
The warranty on a sewing machine should cover you for any defects in parts or workmanship. While some models have a warranty that lasts for a year or two, four of the products we’ve reviewed here have a 25-year limited warranty, so you won’t have to worry about paying out of pocket for any unexpected issues.
Ideas to sew with a 100-dollar sewing machine
Though you may think the options of what you can sew are limited on a $100 machine, there are actually quite a few small projects you can work on with machines like these.
Baby quilts are great for beginners using their very first inexpensive sewing machine. They are easy to make, plus give you the practice you need to tackle more intricate projects. Throw pillows are also good starter projects for these machines. They have simple patterns with only a few steps and a bit of stuffing thrown in.
If you have some decorative built-in stitches, monogrammed handkerchiefs are the perfect project to try them out on. These little items are easy to make in very little time, but still look great. Tote bags need only four pieces of fabric, so you can make up a few quickly and easily. These are also handy projects for budget-friendly gift ideas.
First, get a padded protective case when traveling by car. Place the case on the floor of the vehicle to keep it from falling over. You may also want to pack some extra cloth around it for thicker padding. For air travel, box it up in its original packaging. When you receive your machine, there will be a fabric piece under the presser foot that keeps it from getting scratched. Leave this on at home or on the road for extra protection. The needle should also be kept up during travel to ensure it isn’t damaged if you go over any bumps.
The cheaper sewing machines have more basic controls that are easier to use, which makes them a great option for beginners. Though some older inexpensive models didn’t produce quality work, the more modern ones can help you create some lovely pieces, plus give you the skills you need to move up to more detailed projects.
Sewing machines have been around for years, allowing us to create wonderful items in our own homes. There are numerous high-end models out there, but as our reviews show, it is quite easy to find a decent model on a budget if needed.
The Brother XM2701 is the top sewing machine on our list, with 800 SPM, 27 built-in stitches, a top drop-in bobbin, and automatic threading. It also includes six sewing feet, an auto-sized buttonhole, and an instructional DVD to help you get started.
Another great choice for the best sewing machine under $100 is the Spiegel SP3201. It has 32 built-in stitches, with adjustable tension, feed dogs, and stitch lengths and widths. It also has automatic threading and buttonholes, a top loading bobbin, a thread cutter, and a removable accessories tray.
The SINGER Start 1304 has a heavy-duty metal frame, 400 SPM, six built-in stitches, and automatic threading. This model also features two vertical spool pins for twin needles, three pressure feet, a darning tray, and a removable free arm storage tray.
Hope these devices fit all your sewing foals, but if you think you can stretch your budget a little bit more, here’s a list of the best sewing machines under 200 dollars.