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What Are Some Good Small Sewing Machines? 4 Reviews

Updated on November 26, 2014
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Portable Machines: Sewing Convenience To Go!

Those who sew can attest to the fact that sewing machines are generally not the most conveniently sized things, nor are they the easiest to pack around. Yet there are times when you’d like to take your sewing projects out on the town - to sewing class, to sewing circle, to the summer house. A small, portable sewing machine is the perfect solution. Like a regular machine, it sits on a tabletop, and is designed to do all the basics - only it is smaller, lighter, and simpler. In this article, I’ve gathered and reviewed four great options - let’s take a look.

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What Are Small Sewing Machines Good For Anyway?

There are many advantages to a compact sewing machine.

Portability

You can take it with you easily, giving you freedom to sew in a different room in your house, or at a sewing class, or even in your RV or camper.

Affordability

Small sewing machines are easily sourced well under $100, making them a great budget-friendly option - and a logical choice for a beginner sewer or as a backup to your regular machine.

Simplicity

A beginner sewer - whether adult or a child - will be well served by these easy-to-navigate machines.

Size

If you live in a small space, or have to store your sewing supplies when they aren’t in use, a compact sewing machine will take up a lot less space.

Beware Of Extremely Cheap Machines

Some very tiny, handheld sewing machines exist but they are not necessarily user-friendly. Especially if you are choosing one for a beginner, you want one that is basic and easy to use. Stick to a quality name brand and don’t expect to get a decent machine for less than the $50 range. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Lightweight sewing machines do have some drawbacks as well. They are made for portable use, and not meant for heavy or continual sewing. They may have fewer options for stitch styles, stitch lengths, and needle placement - and may not have a light. They tend to operate more slowly than a full-sized machine - so your sewing may take longer. And though they are great for learning on, a person who becomes serious about sewing may find themselves outgrowing the machine in a year or two.

Of course, a portable sewing machine makes a great backup to your regular model, so even if you outgrow it, a machine like this will still come in handy. And, many now offer a full range of services, in which case they might be all you’d ever need. Let’s compare a few different models to see what they have to offer.

Michley Lil’ Sew & Sew: Best Value Sewing Machine For Compact Budgets

If you’re looking to try out a small sewing machine but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Michley Lil’ Sew & Sew LSS 505 is a good option. Weighing in at just four pounds, it is a highly portable machine that offers all the basic sewing functions.

Lil' Sew & Sew Threading Tutorial

The Sew & Sew has eight stitches to choose from and will run in forward and reverse - and features an LED light above the needle, which turns on at the press of a button. This is a great machine to use on paper, if scrapbooking is one of your hobbies.

Although it doesn’t offer free-arm sewing, this lightweight workhorse does offer the convenience of running on batteries or AC - which is really convenient for situations such as RV travel. Though the Sew & Sew comes with a foot pedal, you can also control it using buttons on the front of the machine. A handle on the top makes it super-portable, and with dimensions of roughly ten inches tall by ten inches wide by four inches deep, this really is a small sewing machine - yet one that reviews well. Users do note that the machine can be a bit finicky when it comes to threading - so you’ll want to make sure to read the directions thoroughly and watch the attached video. All in all, it is a very good, small sewing machine to have on hand for occasional use, learning, or travel... and it’s definitely budget-friendly yet still a decent quality.

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Sewing Machines For Good Portable Fun: Janome’s Derby Line

If you’re searching for a less conventional, portable sewing machine for yourself or a young girl you know, Janome’s Derby Line has a perfect machine for you. In colors such as Fastland Fuschia, Turbo Teal, and Purple Thunder, this sewing machine is bright and fun to look at.

It’s the perfect machine for a teen or child to learn with, or to take along to sewing classes or groups, for a colorful addition to your sewing world - and it weighs only five pounds. This sewing machine is small, at nine inches long, five inches wide, and eleven inches tall; yet it offers ten different stitch options, plus two choices of needle position. The bobbin is user-friendly with a drop-in loading style and a clear cover, so you can easily see when the thread is running low. This compact sewing machine is designed with a slim profile, making free-arm sewing possible - and features a built-in finger guard over the presser foot, making it absolutely safe for small or inexperienced fingers.

What this machine doesn’t offer is a carry handle, nor a light, and it has only one speed. Those aren’t necessarily large issues for a beginner or for occasional portable use - and with great reviews and a unique aesthetic, this small sewing machine is an awesome lightweight option.

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Best Full-Sized, Lightweight Sewing Machine Under $100: Brother LS2125i

If you’re a confident sewer but need a portable sewing machine, consider the Brother LS2125i. This is the heaviest of the group, weighing in at 15 pounds, and the largest - fifteen inches by six inches by eleven - but it offers a wide variety of functions and will likely not be outgrown as quickly as some of the others.

This smaller sewing machine offers a comprehensive range of ten stitch options - and even a four-step buttonhole setting. It also features a light, free arm or flat bed sewing capabilities, three presser feet, a storage drawer, and a carrying handle for easy toting. Brother’s product support is impressive - with a 25 year limited warranty and free phone support for the life of the machine, you are not likely to be disappointed in any way.

One thing to note: this machine only ships within the US, and is not recommended for use in countries without 120V AC, even with an adapter - so keep that in mind before you order. Otherwise, it’s a good, versatile sewing machine, yet compact and lightweight enough to easily take with you, wherever you sew.

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Best Small Sewing Machine For Serious Sewers: Janome Jem Gold $199

If you’re into serious sewing and looking for a portable machine that can keep up with you in classes, at quilting gatherings, or on vacation, look no further than the Janome Jem Gold.

This lightweight sewing machine is a bit more of an investment, but it will not disappoint. And at only 11 pounds, it is easy to tote anywhere you go. The Jem Gold has a fairly petite footprint - thirteen inches long, eleven inches high, six inches deep - and falls into the ‘compact’ sewing machine category, as it is considered a ‘three-quarter’ sized machine. The features on the Janome Jem are all things you’d hope to find in a standard machine - eight stitches, a buttonhole setting, free arm sewing, and even an automatic needle threader. It gets rave reviews from home sewers - quilters and novices alike - and is easy to operate and sturdy enough for everyday use.

The Jem doesn’t have a handle but it weighs only eleven pounds, so it is easy to tuck into a carry bag and be on your way. If what you need is a ‘serious’ sewing machine that is small enough to easily take with you, the Jem will serve you well.

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Enjoy The Convenience Of A Tote Bag


Don’t forget - if you want to travel with your portable sewing machine, a carry case will make life much easier. For these lightweight machines, you can easily use a handled tote bag to transport them, such as this one by Distinctive. Look for a bag that can accommodate the other things you might need, such as fabric, sewing books, and tools - so you can fit it all in one place and be on your way.

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A Poll To Take With You

What appeals most to you about a compact sewing machine?

See results

Sewing Machines That Are Lightweight, Compact & Functional: What’s Not To Love?

I hope this has been helpful in comparing and contrasting some of the best small sewing machines. Whether you need a portable machine for classes, travel, or simply for use in a small space, one of these machines will suit your needs. I’d love to hear from you - what is important to you in a small sewing machine? Would you use one for travel or just to save space? Out of this list, I’d have to say my pick would be the Janome Jem. What would yours be? I’d love to chat in the comments. Thanks for reading, and happy sewing-on-the-go!

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