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When I first saw the hand sewing works of my little niece, I decided to buy her a real sewing machine for her birthday present. Although I’m a mechanical engineer, I know nothing about sewing machines and didn’t know where to start. I didn’t want to rush into buying a machine that will frustrate her, I needed something that is suitable, easy to use and has quality assurance. So I decided to spend some time on it and choose a right machine.
Since my mind was completely blank, I made myself a strategy of finding the right machine. First I needed to know about the best-selling sewing machines on the market. What specifications do they have? Are these specifications good for my niece? Knowing the right details means I can pick the best sewing machine for her.
After I had come up with my plan, I began searching for sewing machine products on Amazon. I wrote down the features of different machines and how these features affect sewing works before I finally came up with a comparison table and noticed there is no best kids sewing machine. Every machine has different features for kids of varying ages and levels of experience. For example, older kids can work well with their hands and feet together, so can therefore choose machines with a foot controller to turn the machine on and off and control the sewing speed, so they can free their right hand to do some precise sewing or freehand embroidery. For younger kids, I suggest they choose machines with a speed control slider and a button switch to turn on/off the machine.
If you still have no idea what a foot controller or button switch is (like me at first!) follow my steps and I will explain what features we are looking for. First let’s look at the table of details I collected:
|Model Name||Price||Speed Control||Sewing Speed||LCD||Color||Free Arm||Metal Frame||Presser Foot Pres-sure Control||Button Hole||Built in Stit-ches||Built in Light||Feet Attach||Autom-atic Threa-der||Drop Feed Dog||Easy Install Bobbin||Warran-ties||Weight||Finger Guard|
|HAITRAL Sewing Machine Mini||$20.99||Speed Control Slider||-||N||White,|
|FHSM-505||$49.99||Speed Control Slider||-||N||White||Y||-||N||4-step||12||Y||snap-on||N||N||Y||1 year warranty||N|
|Janome Sew Mini Colors||$59||N||-||N||Beach - comber, Honey - comb ,|
|N||-||N||N||4||N||snap-on||N||N||Y||Limited 1 year||5||N|
|Janome Fastlane||$69.99||N||-||N||Fuschia||Y||-||N||N||10||N||s crew||N||N||Y||Limited 25 Year Warranty||5||Y|
|Janome Lady Lilac||$78.3||N||-||N||Lilac||Y||-||N||N||12||N||s crew||N||N O||Y||5||Y|
|Singer 1304||$79.99||Pedal||-||N||White||Y||Y||N||4-Step||6||Y||snap-on||N||*Y||N||LIMITED 25-YEAR WARRANTY||N|
|Singer3232||$108.99||Pedal||750||N||White||Y||Y||N||1-step||32||Y||snap-on||Y||*Y||N||LIMITED 25-YEAR WARRANTY||12.2||N|
|SINGER 4411||$125.35||Pedal||1100||N||White||Y||Y||Y||4-step||11||Y||snap-on||Y||Y||Y||25-Year Limited Warranty*||1 4.5pounds||N|
|Janome Hello Kitty 11706||$133.32||Pedal||-||N||Blue||Y||-||N||4-step||11||Y||snap-on||yes/no||N||N||12||N|
|Brother XL2610||$138.98||Pedal||800||N||White||Y||-||N||4 step||25||Y||snap-on||Y||*Y||Y||25-year limited warranty||11||N|
|Brother CS5055PRW||$144.49||Pedal||850||Y||White||Y||-||N||1-step||87||Y||snap-on||Y||Y||Y||25 year limited warranty||10.65||N|
|Brother CS6000I||$159||Speed Control Slider+ Pedal||850||Y||White||Y||-||N||1-step||60||Y||snap-on||Y||Y||Y||25-year limited warranty||13||N|
|Janome 2206||$169||Pedal||860||N||White||Y||-||N||4 step||6||Y||snap-on||N||Y||N||12.8||N|
|Singer 1507WC||$253.61||Pedal||-||N||White||Y||-||Y||4-step||8||Y||snap-on||N||*Y||N||LIMITED 25-YEAR WARRANTY||N|
|Janome Magnolia 7318||$299||Pedal||-||N||White||Y||-||N||4 step||18||N||snap-on||N||Y||Y||Limited 1 year||17.6||N|
|Janome DC5100||$649||Speed Control Slider+ Pedal||-||Y||White||Y||-||N||1-step||167||Y||snap-on||Y||Y||Y||20 years||18.7||N|
Note: 1. The prices show in the above table were collected from Amazon when I wrote this article, I just want to show you the price range of the products according to their built-in features. Some may have been changed or are no longer available , I will correct any inaccuracies but cannot guarantee all the prices are accurate.
2. Most of the data in the table came from official manuals and dealers, others are collected from customer reviews or other resources. If you noticed there is anything wrong up there, please let me know by email or leave a comment.
The table was sorted by price and I just want you to know the two poles of this table. When I started searching products on Amazon, I compared every product I saw until I came across these two products: the Janome DC5100 and the JIAYI-203. The Janome DC5100 is equipped with a LCD touch screen, 167 built in stitches, 5 styles, one step buttonholes… the computerized control system provides hundreds of functions. It has a speed control slider and a foot controller to control sewing speed. I think the price of $649 is too expensive for a kid beginner, and most of the functions will be useless. So I narrowed down my target products to fewer functions than this one, and the price is lower of course.
JIAYI-202 is another pole product. It has plastic gears and can run with 4 AA batteries. It doesn’t even have the reverse sewing function. More over, it can only sew on thin fabric and due to its light weight, it will move around when in use. I think it’s more of a toy than what I want, I need something better. All the products I compared in my table are better than a toy but are not actually professional machines – and they all have a good review record on Amazon.
Now let’s get to the table and see how these features value in your choice.
For a kid beginner, we are not focussing on efficiency. High sewing speeds may be threatening for children as they are hard to handle and sometimes may cause dangers. So I don’t need something that is high speed which is a good feature for a professional seamstressand I hope the machines can control their speed in a convenient way to suit a kid.
There are two speed control methods in the sewing machines market: a foot control or a speed control slider.
In a foot control method, when the foot controller is depressed lightly, the machine will run at a low speed. When the pressure on the foot controller is increased, the machine’s speed will increase. When pressure on the foot controller is released, the machine will stop. With this method, kids do not need to push the on/off button with their right hand so they can do some freehand embroidery, or may be able to sew more precisely.
But for younger kids, their hands may not be able to work effectively with their foot (multi-tasking doesn’t come naturally!). They would prefer machines with a speed control slider, along with a push button to turn on/off the machine. Before you start sewing, you can set the speed control slider in a low speed position, then when you press the button, the machine will start sewing. When you press the button again, the machine will stop.
Some models are equipped with both foot control and a speed control slider, like the Brother CS6000i. Both the foot pedal and slider reach the same speed. According to the comparison table, most of the models can reach a top speed approaching 1000 stitches per minute, so I highly recommend a machine with a speed control slider to limit the top speed to a low level. This is essential for kids so they will not accidently reach a high speed and risk hurting themselves or ruining their sewing creation.
Beware that some models do not have a speed control function even if they have a pedal – in this case, the pedal will only turn the machine on/off. The Janome Sew Mini Colors machines are an example of this.
Models like Brother CS6000i that are equipped with a LCD screen can give you a convenient display of the machine status including selected stitches, stitch width, stitch length and advice on the correct foot presser according to the stitch you selected. There is no doubt a kid can learn easily with a screen flash error messages when they make mistakes.
A cute color will make kids feel like they are not handling a cold, professional machine. Maybe they would enjoy paint the machine themselves if you buy them a white one. So why not buy them a machine with a color they like? Apparently Janome has a focus on the kids sewing machine market and they have designed a serious of colorful beginner models like Janome Hello Kitty 11706, Janome Sew Mini colors, Janome Lady Lilac…
Machines with free arm are convenient for sewing tubular and hard-to-reach areas, like sleeves, waistbands, pant legs… As you can see in the comparison table, most models have a free arm style by lifting out a flat bed attachment, although it’s not so hard to decide because it’s a common feature in the market.
Interior Frame Material
Many models from the Singer company claim to have a metal interior frame, meaning a more stable, more reliable but heavier sewing machine. The machine will not easily lead to deformation when you are sewing on thick fabrics.
Presser Foot Pressure Control
Theoretically you need to adjust the presser foot pressure when you are sewing on different fabric. When sewing thick fabric or multilayer fabric, a high presser foot pressure will be very useful; when sewing thin fabric, you need a light presser foot pressure; when sewing common fabric, the pressure level should be medium. But with a presser, foot pressure control doesn’t mean you can sew on all kinds of fabric, the capability a machine can sew on different fabric depends on many aspects. For example, it needs a solid metal interior frame to make sure it won’t cause deformation when sewing on thick fabric. Presser foot pressure control is a common feature in the olden days sewing machines, because at that time sewing machines were all made from cast iron. But as you can see in the comparison table, many models except Singer 4411 and Singer 1507WC do not have a presser foot pressure control function. Most modern family used sewing machines are made from cast aluminium and engineering plastics, their press-resistance is not good enough to apply high presser foot pressure. Running in a high presser foot pressure for a long time will cause the deformation of material and the feed dog .
There are one-step buttonholes and four-step buttonholes. The one-step buttonholes method is much easier for a kid, you just need to set up the presser foot and the machine will do the rest. The four-step buttonhole method is hard to master as you need to change the stitch pattern every time you finish each step. Some models like Brother CS5055PRW have more than one style of buttonhole, while some models like Janome Sew Mini Colors don’t even have a buttonhole function.
Dropping the Feed Dog
Feed dog can feed the fabric to the needle in a straight line while sewing. When doing something like freehand embroidery, you use your hand to feed the fabric in a curve line and you need to drop down the feed dog. Some models like the Brother LS2125i do not have a button to drop the feed dog but they provide a needle plate to cover it.
There are two types of stitches: basic stitches and decorative stitches. You just need 6 stitches to do most of the sewing work. The more stitches a machine has, the more expensive. As a kid beginner, I think they should start with some basic stitches, and I don’t need to pursue a machine with a large number of built-in stitches.
Some models have a built in light to lit up the sewing area, which I think is a very sweet function, especially when you are sewing black fabric.
Don’t be misled by the word ‘automatic’, this is actually a thread assist tool and you need to thread the needle manually. But this function does save you a lot more time than those machines without this assist tool. I think kids will like this too because it is convenient and saves time (and frustration!).
Easy Install Bobbin
There are two kinds of bobbins: top drop-in bobbins and front load bobbins. Top drop-in bobbins can be easily installed and always come with a clear cover, allowing you to monitor the bobbin supply. With front load bobbins, you need to open the hook cover and follow a few steps to install, and you will not be able to see how many threads are left in the bobbin. Obviously an easy install top drop-in bobbin is more suitable for a kid beginner.
How long will a sewing machine last with a kid beginner’s improper use? Sometimes it may fall down from the desk and may not be maintained on time – was it stable and reliable enough or did it just break down after a few days of use? We can guess from a warranty period how much confidence a company has in their machine. If the machine has a long warranty period, you can assume the sewing machine should be reliable.
If your kid likes to visit her grandma or friends with her machine, you should choose a light one, preferably with a handle. But it’s not necessarily a case of the lighter the better-a lighter machine means more engineering plastics were used during the building process and when sewing on heavy fabric, the machine will cause plastic deformation easily.
Younger sewing beginners may want a finger guard to keep the fingers away from the needle point. Sewing machines such as the Janome Fastlane and Janome Lady Lilac both have a finger guard attached to the presser foot to protect little fingers from being sewn in the fabric.