With so many different sewing machines on the market, how do you know where to start? First, try narrowing it down to the right brand for you. Most of today's top brands offer high quality machines and accessories, but they tend to specialise in different areas. Here's what you need to know about the best sewing machine brands on the market today.
Probably one of the most familiar names, Singer is an American company that's been around since 1851, when founder Isaac Singer patented one of the first sewing machines. Since then, they've specialised in domestic sewing equipment, offering home sewists all kinds of options from machines specifically built for embroidery to generalist models designed for
Though Singer machines have a good reputation overall, they sometimes lack features that are helpful for specialty or high-end finishes, such as variable presser foot pressure. They are budget friendly, but geared toward home sewists, not professionals, and may not be up to the wear and tear of daily use if you use your machine for a handmade business.
Unlike Singer, which has always catered to the needs of the home sewist, Swiss sewing machine manufacturer Bernina was built with industry in mind. They released their first industrial machine in 1893; home sewing equipment didn't follow for nearly 50 years, until 1932. They stake their reputation on the reliability and functionality of their machines, and on developing features serious sewists rely on, like the knee-activated presser foot lifter.
Bernina machines are not inexpensive, and they typically require specialty maintenance and accessories (where other brands can use some standard, interchangeable equipment), but they have a reputation for high-end quality, both in their construction, and in the results they produce. A Bernina is a serious investment, but for some sewists, it's worth the price.
Juki is a Japanese sewing machine producer that specializes in high-tech, computerized models, though they do offer a range of home sewing machines with fewer bells and whistles. Their lines include straight-line machines designed for fashion production, overlock machines and sergers, and large-scale computerized machines like commercial embroidery machines and computerized quilting machines.
These machines tend to be more specialist than home sewing machines from makers like Brother and Singer, but with comparable price ranges. If you don't need quite the power and durability (or the price tag) of a Bernina, but still want an industrial machine, Juki might be the best option.
Though today they're known as for printers, scanners, and other office equipment, multinational company Brother has its roots as a Japanese sewing machine company. Like their rivals, Juki, Brother's sewing machines straddles the divide between commercial and domestic equipment, with a history of providing equipment for both.
Today, Brother's popularity with the home sewing market might have a bit to do with its front-and-center product placement in the US television series Project Runway, which first aired in 2004 and featured a workroom filled with Brother sewing equipment. The air of "professional finish for the home sewist" the show promoted is a good fit for Brother equipment overall. Like Singer, their home machines are packed with bells and whistles, but they also tend to be highly budget friendly. Even the upper-end domestic machines are reasonably priced, though they also offer semi-professional and professional grade equipment for those ready to transition to a more specialist machine.
The third major sewing machine brand based in Japan, Janome's focus is on integrating computing and sewing technology. Theirs was the first computerized home sewing machine, and they also pioneered the use of industrial style embroidery for home sewists. This dedication to innovation is apparent in the kinds of features offered even on their budget sewing machines. With Janome, you can find machines that are perfect for every level of sewist, though they tend to be geared more toward home use than industrial applications.
In general, Janome is comparable to Singer in the number of features available, though with more options for computer integration. Pricing is budget-friendly, and the machines have a reputation for being reliable and well built. If you're a fan of computer-friendly features, make sure to check out Janome machines!