How Much is a Sewing Machine? Cost vs Quality

If you’re new to sewing, you may be thinking to yourself: “how much does a sewing machine cost?” This is very common since it can be a pretty big investment for something you’re not 100% sure you want to do.

I mean, it seems fun right? But you’ve started things before only to have the expensive tools go to waste as you realize its not for you. And you haven’t even considered other furniture like a good sewing machine table or cabinet!

Before we get too deep into this,¬†what’s the average price of a sewing machine…

How much is a sewing machine? Mechanical sewing machines start at around $60 while computerized models start at around $160. A good quality sewing machine will cost you at least $150 while more professional, industrial or specialized quilting and embroidery models can easily reach $1000 to $5000. Children’s sewing machines can be bought for under $60 but don’t offer very high quality or durability.

In this article, we’ll cover:

Why are Sewing Machines so Expensive?

As it turns out, not all sewing machines are expensive, but if you want a machine that will last and has some of the key features you’ll certainly need, you should considering spending a little more money.

The following things can greatly impact the price. If you want to save money, see where you can cut back on the following:

Construction

One of the first things that greatly affects price, is the construction of the machine. Cheaper machines replace durable metal parts with cheaper plastic parts.

You can just feel it when you’re working on the machine.

On a predominantly metal machine, the inner-workings will feel like they’re gliding smoothly along as you sew, even through thicker fabric, while a cheaper plastic model will sound and feel hesitant and shaky. It’s the difference between a quality machine that “sings” along for years and weaker model where you can just feel the strain while you sew.

Weight

The metal machine will also be much heavier and therefor much more stable while working on your sewing projects.

Power

Pricier machines have stronger motors, partly because the mechanics can handle the higher power and partly because bigger motors cost a little more money. If you’re planning on quilting through a three layer “sandwich” or perhaps sometimes working on heavier fabrics like suede or leather, then you should consider a stronger machine starting at around $160.

Speed

Speed is measured in stitches per minute (spm).

Cheaper machines can be as slow as 400 stitches per minute while really high quality machines can easily reach 1200 stiches per minute or more. That’s 3 times faster!

If speed is important to you (and after some time, it will be) then you should aim just a little higher than the entry level machines which will quickly feel slow and frustrating to work on.

800 stitches per minute is more than enough.

Stitch Count

This refers to the amount of stitch patterns that a machine has.

It’s a great place to save a lot of money because even the more advanced seamstresses will tell you, you only really need a couple of stitch patterns. Straight, wave and cross stitch patterns do the job much better than the hundreds of decorative stitches you’ll find in some of the more expensive machines.

They’re a novelty for the most part and, unless you’ll regularly be sewing decorative stitches into the seams of your cushions, you can absolutely do without them.

8 to 12 stitch patterns is all you’ll need. More if just for the fun.

Mechanical vs Computerized

As mentioned earlier, computerized machines can cost quite a bit more. They offer push-button functionality whereas mechanical machines take a little more time to do things manually. That being said, as a beginner, a mechanical sewing machine is not only easier to learn on, but many people will argue that it’s also more fun to sew on!

You can saw a ton of money by not going computerized, or at least not fully. A simple LCD screen with some automatic features might be ice to have and worth upgrading to, but are by no means necessary.

Free-Arm

There are some advanced features you should consider…

Whether the machine has a free-arm is quite important… It refers to a floating sewing surface so you can easily slip a shirt sleeve over the sewing surface without it being “stopped” by the fact that their is no space below the sewing surface.

Accessories

You’ll want to buy a machine that includes a couple of accessories. A couple of needles, different sewing feet for different situations and even an extension table if possible. All these will save you money in the long run as you won’t have to buy them separately.

Brand & Reliability

Lastly, there’s something to be said for going with a well known brand. Not only will there be much more accessories available and many more tutorial videos about it online, but it will also come with a better warrantee.

As a beginner, or even a competent sewer, you should stick with the known brands like Singer, Brother, Juki, Janome, etc.


What Sewing Machines Cost

Look carefully at the list below and consider where you see the most benefit for yourself when buying a machine.

1. Cheaper Entry-Level Sewing Machines for Beginners

$60 -$100

At this level, you run the risk of actually spending more on repairs and replacements in the long run. If you just want to try sewing and really aren’t sure whether it’s for you, you might choose an entry-level machine, but the quality will be low, the motor will be slow, the operation will be flimsy and the functionality will be poor. Not in all cases, but in most. If your interested in this category, see our best cheap sewing machine review.

At this price point, it’s still pricey enough to want to do it right, so why not pay a little extra and get a decent mid-range model instead?

2. Mid-range sewing machines for the Average home user

$100-$300

Here you’ll find the best value and quality for the price.

You’ll get a decent brand with a couple of accessories and a selection of stitch patterns. Your machine will be solid and sturdy and will inevitably last many years if you look after it well. This is the perfect place to look for beginners who don’t want to waste money.

This is why we consider this price range to be the best sewing machines for beginners.

3. Expensive Sewing Machines for Advanced Sewers

$300-$1000

The price range can vary wildly in the category. It doesn’t always mean the machine is necessarily better. You’ll have more computerized functionality and extra features too. This is obviously not for first time sewers and would be wasted on anyone unless you’re absolutely into the hobby of sewing and even making some money on the side with the occasional wedding dress and prom dress or even some upholstery work or curtains. Our best heavy duty sewing machine review, covers some great entry models.

4. Professional Sewing Machines for Business Use

$1000-

Here’s where you get you money back with every stitch. As a business investment, the sky is the limit to how much you can make as a professional seamstress. You’ll need a great machine which will support your endeavors with a fast motor that can cut your working time by half. You need a strong machine that will last the several hours per day of sewing without any downtime for repairs.

6. Specialized Long-Arm Quilting Machines

$600-

Because quilting usually deals with larger projects, a long-arm machine makes moving the fabric around much easier. That being said, you can still quilt on a regular sewing machine and need to strongly way up the price vs worth yourself. See our best sewing machine for quilting review.

7. Embroidery Machines

$350-$2000

Embroidery is usually a business endeavor, which means you need to way up expenses, profit and loss, just like with any other business. If you’re looking to do embroidery on cushions and table cloths, a $350 machine is perfect.

If you want to work on caps or jackets for your local sports team or do some high volume production, you’ll need to be looking at the higher price points.