Marilyn knows how to present the dullest topic in an interesting and easy-to-read way. When she’s not teaching English Literature at a local school or writing for our site, Marylin loves to knit and bake for her two grandchildren.
Julie owns a shop specializing in sewing equipment and accessories. No wonder she knows everything when it comes to technical specifications of practically anything we review. In her free time, Julie loves quilting and scrapbooking.
Last updated: March 06, 2021
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You might think that a small, lightweight sewing machine doesn’t offer the benefits of their more heavy-duty counterparts. This is true unless you buy the best portable sewing machine possible. Luckily, there are no other models in the reviews you’re about to read.
During your search, the first thing that you need to look for are models that are compact and lightweight since that will make them much easier to pack up and carry. The speed settings are another important consideration, as faster models are better suited for more experienced users, while slower models will work better for beginners. Of course, just because these machines are smaller, that doesn’t mean you need to settle for a limited number of stitches. To find out which models have the right kind of inbuilt stitches and other useful features to help you create any project you have in mind, read on.
If you are in the market for the best overall portable sewing machine, then this is the model that we would recommend that you check out. It is surprisingly light and compact, despite the fact that it is still quite powerful. In fact, it is capable of providing you with up to 800 stitches in one minute. This makes it just as fast as any larger machine, which will allow you to make pretty much whatever you desire.
You can also rest easy if you choose to buy this machine, thanks to the company’s longer than average warranty. Brother is a well-known company in the sewing community that has been making awesome products for a long time. It should not come as a big surprise that they would stand behind their product as they do with this machine.
Not only is this a fast machine, but it is also quite versatile. With the turn of a switch, you can use 27 different varieties of stitches, which is perfect for a more advanced user. This machine also comes with everything you need to get started right away, like extra needles and bobbins. The drop-in bobbin is also a nice touch to speed up setup.
The only thing that you need to keep in mind with this machine is that the foot controller is a bit touchy. It is very easy to send the needle zipping along faster than you wanted if you are not careful, so bear that in mind before you start sewing.
If you are someone that is a master sewer that is looking for a more portable option, then this might be the right machine for you. For starters, it has an extremely high-speed rate for a portable machine. It can produce up to 850 stitches a minute, which is the fastest of any of the models that we looked into. This makes it a great option for anyone that wants to produce a lot of projects quickly and has the background knowledge and experience to use it properly.
This machine also will allow you to try out 70 different types of stitches. This versatility makes it a great companion for anyone that is an adventurous sewer who likes to try new things out all of the time.
As you would expect from an advanced sewing machine, this model also comes with everything that you need to get sewing right away. This includes seven different feet that you can switch out to make sure that your stitching is spaced apart properly. This, when coupled with a very wide stitching space for a portable machine, make this an exceptional option for an array of projects. The auto needle threader is another nice touch to make the work go even faster.
The only thing that you need to worry about with this otherwise wonderful machine is that it is on the heavy side for a portable sewing machine. It weighs in at around 16 pounds, which certainly isn’t all that heavy, but it is heavier than most other portable models.
Every seamstress or tailor needs to start somewhere, and there is no better portable sewing machine for a beginner than this model. First of all, even at its top speed, it is not going to overwhelm someone new to sewing. It can put out a respectable 400 stitches per minute, which makes it perfect for anyone that is just getting started. It also has a long warranty, which will protect its user against any unfortunate mishaps while they are learning the ropes.
This is also one of the easiest to set up machines on the market. The bobbin and top thread are simple to switch out when necessary, and the 3 feet provided are more than enough for someone that is just getting started. This machine also comes with a built-in reverse, which makes fixing minor mistakes a whole lot easier.
The basic design of this machine is also perfect for beginners. With this machine, you can only use up to six different stitches altogether. While this does put a bit of a limit on what can be made, it still provides enough variety for a learning sewer to try out when they feel that they are ready.
This machine is quite easy to pick up and travel with, thanks to its lightweight and compact design. Even if you want to try and take it in a backpack or similar sized bag, you shouldn’t have too much trouble toting it to wherever you, or your child, want to sew.
One of the more innovative designs that some portable sewing machines come equipped with is a removable free arm. A free arm is a great feature to have if you are looking to sew along a curved piece of fabric, such as when you are doing hems or collars. This machine has perhaps the best free arm on the market as far as portable sewing machines are concerned. While the arm is attached, the sewing surface is quite large. Even with the arm removed, it is very easy to sew larger pieces of material.
Something that really helps to keep the fabric moving through this machine, aside from its high sewing speed of 800 stitches per minute, is its 3-piece feed dog system. This system helps to keep the fabric moving through the machine so that your stitches are properly spaced and will have a professional appearance, which will make for a much more durable finished product.
This machine also offers a relatively wide array of stitch styles to choose from. With it, you can easily switch between 12 different stitch settings, which should provide just enough versatility to make a wide array of projects.
The only thing to really keep in mind with this otherwise wonderful machine is that its bobbin is very difficult to load. Since this machine employs a front-loading bobbin system, it can take a couple of tries before you get the thread in correctly. Of course, once you have had a bit of practice with this, you should be able to get the bobbin installed correctly more often than not.
If you want to have the most advanced portable sewing machine on the market, and don’t mind spending a bit more to get it, then this is the model for you. It has an LED display that shows which stitch setting you have the machine programmed to use. This is quite helpful since the machine has 30 different options to choose from. The onboard diagram of what each stitch will look like is also quite handy, as it will allow you to have a better understanding of what you are working with at any given time.
This machine also comes equipped with a removable free arm that will let you sew on a curve, which is perfect for sleeves, cuffs, collars, or hems. When the free arm is not detached, this machine has a very wide work surface, which makes it great for larger projects like quilts.
It should also not be too big of a surprise that such an advanced machine would be one of the fastest and most efficient machines out there. It can produce up to 820 stitches a minute, and the 4-piece feed dog system can really keep the fabric flying. The top-load bobbin system also helps to make setting up the machine quick and easy.
As you might have guessed, since this machine is more advanced than any other you might be used to, it has a pretty steep learning curve. This is not a machine that you can pick up and use with ease if you don’t have a lot of experience, so keep that in mind before you make your final decision.
If you are just getting started in the world of sewing, then your best bet might be to get a very simple machine that won’t break the bank. That is precisely what this machine can offer you. It is extremely lightweight, tipping the scales at a minuscule 4.6 pounds. It is also quite compact, which makes it very easy to travel with if you want to take it along with you so you can sew on the go.
Even though this machine is budget-friendly in its production, it is quite effective in its execution. It comes equipped with a removable free arm and will allow you to utilize 12 different stitches. This makes it a great option for beginners that are looking for a sewing machine that will provide them a bit of room to grow without overwhelming them.
Something else that is really nice with this machine is the LED light that it has near the needle. This light helps to illuminate the work surface, which will allow you to get a much better view of what you are working on, which should make getting better stitching a bit easier. The integrated thread cutter is also a time-saver since you don’t need to have scissors with you to finish your line of stitches.
One thing to bear in mind with this machine is that it has very short cords for both its plug and its foot pedal. You need to make sure that you use it on a low surface so the pedal reaches the floor and also close enough to a plug so that you can use it.
What we liked:
Removable free arm
What could be better:
Things to Consider
In this section, we will go through all of the important information you need to know to find the best portable sewing machine for your needs. We have also taken the time to answer several frequently asked questions, so be sure to read through these as well if you need any further information.
Features to consider when choosing a portable sewing machine
Dimensions and weight
The first thing that you need to look into when you are searching for a good portable sewing machine is, as you might have guessed, the size and weight of the device. Since you are probably going to be toting this machine around with you, you certainly don’t want to get one that is too bulky or too heavy to carry around. Of course, the lighter and more compact a sewing machine is, the fewer features it will probably have for you to utilize.
If, however, you are looking for the smallest and lightest sewing machine, you can get your hands on, then the Luby Sewing Machine is going to be your best bet. This machine weighs in at a minuscule 4.5 pounds, which makes it the lightest on our list by quite a bit. It is also quite compact, making it very easy to carry from place to place. It is, however, much slower than other portable machines, so if you are looking for a model with more speed, you should go for the EverSewn Charlotte. It will allow you to sew up to 850 stitches a minute, although it does weigh 16 pounds.
After you have found the machine that is the right size for your needs, the next thing that you will need to take into account is how fast you need the machine to operate. While portable machines are not quite as fast as larger household models, they can still go quite fast. The amount of speed that you need should be based on your skill level and what you are sewing. If you are working with thicker material, then speed is not too important, while thinner materials will call for faster stitching. Of course, if you are just learning to sew, you will want a much slower model than an experienced user.
For experienced users, the Brother XM2701 is a fantastic option. It can put out 800 stitches per minute, which is more than enough if you are looking to make a lot of projects in a shorter amount of time. Of course, if you are just getting started, then you definitely don’t want anything quite that fast, since you run a much higher risk of messing up your project. The Singer Start is a good option in this regard, as its top speed is only about 400 stitches a minute, which is much more manageable.
Removable free arm
No matter if you are just getting started in sewing or have been using machines for decades, a removable free arm is a wonderful addition that will make sewing a whole lot easier. A free arm is, basically, an attachment on the bottom of a sewing machine that allows you to wrap the fabric around the machine while you are sewing. This makes sewing curved pieces, such as hems or sleeves, a whole lot easier. By getting a sewing machine with a detachable free arm, you also get the benefit of using it as a standard model as well, which is better for stitching straight designs.
Of course, models that have a removable free arm tend to be a bit less durable than models that are not made to come apart. This shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise, since any time that moving parts are introduced, there is a higher chance for something to break down, even if you are careful. If you do want to get a model with a removable free arm, then we recommend you check out the Janome Arctic Crystal, which combines this innovative feature with a high number of stitches per minute.
Number and types of inbuilt stitches
Another consideration that will depend on your skill level is the number and types of inbuilt stitches you should get with your machine. If you are just getting started, then you can probably get by with a machine that has a lower amount of stitches, since you will probably only use the basic ones. Of course, you could buy a machine that has a higher number of stitches built-in, since this will provide you with more room to grow. An experienced user will probably want a machine with lots of inbuilt stitches since this will provide them with the freedom they need to make all sorts of different projects.
As you can imagine, the more stitches that your new machine has, the more expensive it will be. This is why the Singer Start or the Luby Sewing Machine are such attractive options. They are inexpensive and only offer a small number of stitches to choose from, which make them great choices for beginners. On the other hand, if you are looking for lots of different stitches to choose from and don’t mind paying a bit more for a machine, the EverSewn Charlotte is a good choice. It has 70 different stitches to choose from, making it a great model for a more experienced sewer.
Stitch length and width adjustability
Even if a machine comes with tons of built-in stitches to choose from, you still might not be able to create the projects you have in mind if you cannot adjust the stitch length and width. By altering these two factors, you will gain a lot more freedom to use your creativity to make pretty much anything that your mind can dream up. If you get a machine that has tighter limits on the length and width of the stitches you can use, then you will have a much narrower array of projects you can create.
Again, if you are just getting started as a sewer, then you will probably want to stick with a model that limits the length and width of the stitches you can use so that you can gain confidence and skill within very defined parameters. That way, you won’t overwhelm yourself with possibilities. A more experienced sewer will probably do better to get a model that allows for more customization. That way, there will be no limit on what you can create with your mini sewing machine.
Another key piece of any sewing machine is the feet. Feet on a sewing machine refer to the metal piece that holds the fabric in place as you are sewing. Depending on the size, shape, and type of stitch you are using, you will need different feet on your sewing machine. This is because feet are made for certain types of projects. Some feet are made for straight stitches, while others might be for buttonholes or hems. Getting the right feet for your project is essential to getting the job done correctly.
These feet, however, can add a bit of extra expense to the overall purchase price of your new portable sewing machine. By getting one that comes with lots of feet already, you will probably end up saving yourself a good bit of money since you won’t need to buy them separately. The EverSewn Charlotte comes with seven different feet to help you get started, though you will probably still need to purchase more down the road to utilize all of the capabilities of this machine. The same can be said for the Brother XM2701, which comes with six high-quality feet to work with when you buy it.
Whenever you are buying a new machine, be it a washer, drier, or portable sewing machine, it is always a good idea to look for one that comes with a good warranty. That way, you will be covered should anything fail through normal use. After all, when it comes to using a sewing machine, there are a lot of different moving parts that you need to take good care of for it to work correctly. You just have to make sure that you read through the warranty information very carefully.
Even though all of the companies on our list are very reputable, it is still a good idea to read through the information as closely as possible. Many companies will say that they offer a long warranty, but actually only cover a limited amount of parts. By reading through the warranty info as carefully as possible, you will have a better understanding of exactly what is and what isn’t covered under the terms. That way, you can rest assured that all of the most important parts of your new portable sewing machine are covered should anything fail.
Sewing machines are extremely versatile devices that can be used in a variety of ways. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are lots of innovative features that you might want to consider when you are looking for a new model. The first such feature that you may be interested in is different types of needles. Since the needles are, after all, the part of the machine that actually pushes the thread through the fabric, you probably will want more than one, just in case one fails while you are working.
Something else that you might want to consider is a built-in thread cutter. While you can certainly cut your thread with a scissors, an integrated cutter is much easier to use and will make your work a lot more efficient. Another feature that would make your life a lot easier would be an LED light. This light would illuminate your work area, which will help you to keep better track of your work.
The final extra feature that you might want to consider is getting a machine with a multi-piece feed dog setup. Feed dogs help to move the fabric through the machine while you are sewing, so a unit with a three or four feed dog setup will help to make sure that your material moves through the machine smoothly and quickly so that your stitching doesn’t become entangled in each other.
Since you are going to be getting a sewing machine, you will want to make sure that it lasts you for years and years of projects. As such, you want to make sure that you take good care of your machine. To do this, simply follow these tips:
Keep your machine covered – the inner workings of a sewing machine are susceptible to getting gummed up with dust and dirt, which will eventually cause them to lock up. By covering your machine, you can prevent this from happening.
Change needles regularly – after repeated sewing sessions, your needles are liable to become quite dull, which will limit their effectiveness. By switching them out every 8 hours of use or so, you can help to keep your machine sewing correctly.
Remove lint – since you are constantly pushing fabric through your machine, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that lint will get trapped in different parts. You can remove this lint with compressed air so that all of the different components can work correctly.
Annual service – no matter if you have a cheaper machine or a top of the line model, you should get it serviced once a year. A professional cleaner will be able to make sure that all of the parts are working correctly so that you can just worry about your projects, rather than if your machine will work at all.
Oil regularly – by adding oil according to your user manual, you can help to make sure that your machine is lubricated properly. Just make sure to use sewing machine oil only, as any other type will make your machine break down.
Focused cleanings – If you choose to clean any of the parts of your machine, make sure you only do one at a time. That way, you won’t lose any of the smaller pieces to the machine while you are cleaning.
Wipe down after each use – by wiping down your machine after each use, you will help to limit the amount of dust, dirt, and lint that might get trapped in your device.
Even though leather and other heavy-duty materials might seem like they are too much for a portable model to handle, that is not the case. This is especially true if you get a more powerful model like the EverSewn Charlotte. These machines have plenty of power to get through even the thickest materials without too much trouble.
Since quilting requires a larger workspace, you will need to get a model that is a bit larger. You also don’t need to get one that has a free arm, since quilting requires a straight surface to work correctly. In this case, the Brother XM2701 would work the best.
A bobbin is the part of a sewing machine that holds the thread on the bottom of the machine. This thread intertwines with the thread on the top to put the stitches together while you are sewing. Most bobbins are fed through the front of the machine, which can be quite tricky to do correctly, even if you are an experienced sewer. A drop-in bobbin is much easier to use since you can simply place it down into its position when you are ready to sew, which is a whole lot easier than the standard method.
If you are looking for the best overall portable sewing machine, then the Brother XM2701 is going to be your best bet. This can make 27 different stitches, is lightweight and compact, and has a high stitch rate. We highly recommend that you check this one out!
The EverSewn Charlotte is a great option if you are an experienced sewer. It has the highest sewing rate of all of the different models we looked into and can be used to make 70 different stitches and comes with seven different feet, which makes it perfect for a variety of projects.
The Singer Start is the best portable sewing machine if you are a beginner. It is lightweight, has a slower stitch rate, and is very easy to setup. It also has a built-in reverse, which will allow you to slow down and fix any mistakes you might have made while you were sewing.