Last update on 2021-05-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you are particularly crafty and creative, but just don’t have a lot of space to work with, the best portable sewing machine can change the way you go about bringing your designs to life.

Perfect for those that are in the beginning stages of crafting and sewing, as well as those that are little more advanced and further down the line from inexperience standpoint, picking the right machine becomes a whole lot easier when you know what to look for.

That’s why we created this detailed guide!

Below we run through (almost) everything you need to know about finding the best portable sewing machine for your needs and budget – all while highlighting five of our favorite choices along the way, too.

Let’s get into it!

Best Choice

Varmax Mini Sewing Machine with Extension Table (Purple)

Last update on 2021-05-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1. Varmax Mini Sewing Machine

Really easy to use (and super compact), this miniaturized sewing station is going to make life as a creator much easier.

Portable, compact, but still heavy duty and quite capable, the oversized extension table gives you extra room to work on larger projects – with the option to fall things away when you are working in tighter confines.

Special slots, sleeves, and foot arms as well as other accessories allow you to really make this sewing station your own. The stretch stitch library on board is pretty robust, with double thread stitching possible across two different speeds as well.

Combine that all with a one year warranty and it’s not hard to see why this is such a popular choice.

  • Very compact but well-made
  • Oversized extension table creates more workspace when needed
  • Stitch library is very comprehensive
  • Double threading and two speed controls give you more creative freedom
  • Some aren’t wild about the build quality
  • The needle threader leaves a little bit to be desired
  • Struggles with heavy materials

Budget

Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine, Lightweight, Full Featured, 27 Stitches, 6 Included Feet

Last update on 2021-05-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine

With 27 built in stitches to pick and choose from (and a heavy duty metal frame construction), this Brother machine is a little bit easier and a bit more robust than other options – making it a real fan favorite.

Easy use with automatic needle threader and drop-in bobbin (top loading) features, you definitely won’t have to worry about finding this Brother sewing machine when you want to create. It makes life a whole lot easier, especially with the dedicated free arm set up, too.

Multiple accessories are included with this Brother sewing machine, all of them designed to unleash your creativity even more so. The presser feet, free arm, and picks are all easy to use and configure.

  • Legendary Brother sewing machine build quality
  • Customizable stitch length
  • 27 stitches included in the onboard library
  • A very heavy duty machine
  • Significantly heavier than other portable options
  • Takes some time to set up right out-of-the-box
  • Pretty expensive for the features that you get
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-in Stitches, 2.0

Last update on 2021-05-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Brother CS6000i Sewing and Quilting Machine

Those on the hunt for a really easy to use hand sewing machine will want to take a very close look at the Brother CS6000i.

With 60 stitches on board (almost double the other Brother we highlighted earlier), you’ll have even more choices to run through when checking out the features on this embroidery machine.

You’ll also be able to work through seven different styles of automatic size buttonholes, configure the stitch width and stitch length that you are working with, and can dial in tension settings to make sure that you aren’t over exerting the kind of thread you’re using, too.

And LCD screen helps you make the most of this computerized machine, simplifying an already impressive piece of equipment that is built with ease of use in mind.

The free arm system, picks, and presser feet are all well implemented and smartly designed to maximize your output, even as a beginner.

  • 25 year warranty with legendary Brother reputation for durability and longevity
  • 60 different stitches to pick and choose from
  • Customizable tension settings and step buttonhole options
  • Gorgeous LCD screen
  • Pretty large for a portable system
  • Kind of loud and noisy
  • Takes some time to get used to, especially with the non-customizable pressure settings on the footpad
SINGER Mechanical MX60 Sewing Machine, 12.42 pounds, White

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4. Singer Mechanical MX60 Sewing Machine

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Singer (one of the biggest names in sewing equipment) makes a world-class portable sewing system.

You get 57 built in stitches to work with, all totally customizable thanks to the easy stitch selection mechanism attached to the dial on the side of the unit itself. You can preset different stitch length and width configurations, but also have control over stitch tension as well.

Buttonhole designs are easy to work with here as well. It’s a little four step process (almost completely automated) to knock out different buttonholes for you, streamlining things considerably.

The full metal frame does make this a little heavy, but it adds durability and a bit of refinements compared to cheap plastic shell options.

Throw in LED workspace lighting and it’s not hard to see why people go crazy for this Singer model.

  • Fantastic reputation for durability and longevity
  • 57 different stitches to pick and choose from, with multiple stitch configuration options
  • Four step, mostly automated buttonhole process
  • LED lighting on the workspace is really useful
  • Doesn’t include an owners manual, which is a hindrance for beginners
  • Bobbin winder is a little bit difficult to use
  • Auto threading system can get tangled quickly

Popular

Brother CS5055PRW Sewing Machine, Project Runway, 50 Built-in Stitches, LCD Display, 7 Included Feet

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5. Brother CS5055PRW Sewing Machine

Rounding out our list of portable machines is this offering from Brother, another solid contender with 50 unique stitches to pick and choose from.

You also get five automatically sized buttonholes and an automatic needle threading system that “just works” right out-of-the-box. The drop-in top loading bobbin platform is easy to leverage, too.

Seven individual sewing feet, a three-piece needle set, a twin needle option, and a couple of other accessories are thrown in the box as well. This makes this Brother ready to rock ‘n’ roll straightaway.

The LCD screen is a little bit on the small side of things (sometimes difficult to read), but it opens up a whole lot more customization and extra settings then simple knobs, dials, and physical buttons could have.

  • 50 stitch library is pretty comprehensive
  • Needle threading system and drop-in bobbin loader is well-designed
  • Multitude of accessories lets you customize this small sewing machine pretty easily
  • Maintenance is a little involved
  • The LED work light isn’t that bright
  • The needle configuration is originally very far back, making it difficult to reposition at first

How to Buy the Best Portable Sewing Machine

Not all portable sewing machines are created equally.

Some (like the five we highlight in this breakdown of the best portable sewing options on the market today) are light years above other options, and they include a handful of key features that most of the “also-rans” never really focus on.

Below we breakdown the kinds of features you want to make sure your new portable sewing machine includes for sure.

Be sure that it has as many of these features as possible and you’ll be guaranteed a portable sewing machine you’ll be happy with for years and years to come!

Lightweight Form Factor

The whole point of investing in the best portable sewing machine is finding a sewing machine that is portable in the first place!

A lot of options are going to promise portability, compact form factors, and lightweight construction materials – but not all of them are going to live up to your expectations.

Worse, some of them may end up being incredibly portable – but are anything but heavy duty and up for the task of sewing (sewing enthusiast) anything more robust than tissue paper!

Look for portable sewing machines that are lightweight, durable, and made to handle the kind of sewing projects you expect to tackle on a regular basis. That’s the only way to be sure that you’ll be happy with your purchase!

Built-In Stich Library

Something else that all of the best portable sewing machines have in common (aside from being beginner and experienced crafter friendly) is having an in-depth Stich Library to work with.

The amount of built in stitches the top portable sewing machines include can vary from one machine to another, but you’ll want something that offers at least 30 different stitch patterns – if not considerably more than that.

Some of the most popular portable sewing machines have stitch libraries that are 100 or more options deep while still remaining relatively simple machines to use.

At the end of the day, it’s always that are to have more options for stitch length and width (and overall pattern) than too few – especially if you’re going to be doing a lot of sewing and quilting moving forward.

Controllable Speeds

Controllable speeds should also be a high priority, coming in just behind the stich selector options that your new sewing mini machine includes.

You don’t necessarily need a sewing machine that runs like a racecar (pumping out 900 stitches per minute, or somewhere thereabouts) but it’s good to have the ability to really kick your stitch patterns into high gear and pumpout a lot of work with a little bit of effort.

Look for something that offers at least 600 stitches per minute (and ideally closer to 800 stitches per minute or more) with the ability to run at high speeds with different needle positions, different armor option settings, and different features engaged.

Automatic Buttonholer

One of the really cool features you should be sure that your new sewing machine includes is an automatic buttonhole system.

Learning how to pull off these kinds of stitch patterns while also learning how to manipulate a beginner machine can prove to be a lot of work for folks not used to using this sort of equipment – or sewing in general.

Luckily, with a heavy duty sewing machine that includes automatic buttonhole systems you don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting to knock out these kind of built in stitches.

Instead you simply flip a switch (or adjust a setting) and let your computerized machine handle the rest of the work for you!

It doesn’t get much better than that for the end user, now does it?

Automatic Needle Threader and Thread Cutter

Well, actually it does!

The best portable machine for sewing is always going to include automatic needle threader and thread cutting options as well.

Automatic needle threader systems are going to make your life so much easier, and it’s something that all of the top machines have in common with one another.

In fact, the overwhelming majority of regular sewing machine reviews out there usually don’t even take the time to mention automatic needle threader systems anymore – just because they become so commonplace.

Automatic thread cutters are another big bonus, helping to keep things simple and straightforward on lightweight portable machines.

You’ll be able to snip your thread in the right spot every time (cleanly and consistently) just by flipping a switch or pressing a button.

Comfortable Foot Pedal

Foot pedals that you can manipulate without a lot of extra pressure are a dream to use, and something that the best machine options in the sewing world always include.

It does take a little bit of time to get used to using foot pedals in conjunction with your hands when working a sewing machine (and all the other bells and whistles top options include). But with a little bit of practice you’ll be rocking and rolling in no time!

It’s not like you’ll need sewing lessons just to use comfortable foot pedal configurations.

Do try to get your hands on customizable foot pedals whenever possible. Having the opportunity to dial in the tension in the feedback on these essential accessories take beginner machine setups to the next level without having to spend any extra money on a new portable sewing machine.

A Top Loading Bobbin

Top loading bobbins may cruising through even the most complex sewing projects a whole lot more enjoyable.

One of the biggest knocks against some of the early portable sewing systems is that they didn’t use top loading bobbin configurations at all.

They had a lot of other bells and whistles and special features, but because they didn’t make it easy to load your bobbins on-the-fly (with a top loading system that makes it easy to swap things out as you go along, even) they just weren’t seen as all that useful.

Today though, this kind of feature is almost standard across the board – just as important as needle threader systems, really – and it’s almost impossible to find one of the best portable sewing machines without this feature on board.

Plenty of Fabric Feed Space

You don’t have to be a professional seamstress working on a portable sewing machine with a full-blown extension table to make the most of extra fabric feed space.

In fact, you can be a total newbie to the world of sewing (never having taken any sewing lessons before) and still want to be able to utilize the extra space and leverage larger fabric feed areas have to offer.

This is another one of those bells and whistles that almost all of the top sewing machines have in common with one another.

The extra feed space isn’t even always going to be used (especially if you are generally working with smaller fabrics, lighter weight fabrics, or smaller projects) – but it’s nice to have that extra overflow on a simple machine when you do need it.

Quiet Operation

Last but not least, if at all possible look for a sewing machine that isn’t going to sound like a freight train every time you fire it up.

Far too many compact sewing machine options are really loud (REALLY loud) is because they don’t have a lot of housing to insulate the motor system.

Some manufacturers (including some of the ones in this guide) have found a way to quiet things down time. Not only will that make your time spent creating a lot more enjoyable, but it also guarantee that these kind of machines don’t bother anyone else in the home or space when you are using them.

This isn’t necessarily a must have kind of feature, but it does help to separate the best machine choices the rest of the pack.

Final Verdict

Though it’s tough to go wrong with any of these machines, the best of the bunch has to be the Brother CS 6000i.

Very well-made (like every other Brother), the thing a lot of people really like with this unit is the inclusion of 60 unique stitches to pick and choose from.

Combine that with a 25 year warranty, a totally customizable tension and automatic buttonhole system, and a LCD screen that looks great – with all the other extra bells and whistles this handheld sewing machine review – and it’s a bit of a no-brainer.

FAQs

With so many options out there, you probably have a few questions concerning portable sewing machines. I do my best to answer your most pressing concerns:

Handheld sewing machine options are really easy to use, actually!

A lot of people like to have them as a “backup” to their main portable sewing machine, a handheld system that makes getting into tighter spaces or odd corners a lot easier – but also gives you the ability to knock out projects on the go, too.

Even the best handheld sewing machine isn’t going to be anywhere near as powerful or as capable as the worst traditional sewing machine, though.

Recognize the limitations of the form factor, use them when applicable, and use a traditional sewing machine when necessary and you’ll be all set.

Mini sewing machines and quilting machine options are great choices, especially if you don’t have a tremendous amount of space to work with but still want to craft and create.

It’s important that you find miniature machines that can handle heavy fabrics, though – and that can be a bit of a challenge at times.

Truth be told, though, a lot of the miniature versions of traditional sewing machines are not just super portable but are also a lot more convenient and easy to use than their bigger brethren.

Sometimes miniature machines are the way to go!

The best handheld or portable sewing machine is always going to be the one that suits your needs best, giving you the flexibility and freedom to create without restricting you all that much.

You’ll want something well-made, something with a fantastic warranty, and something that offers plenty of built in stitches and other “special features” like a needle threader, for example.

Luckily, none of that is hard to find on today’s market!

The thing that makes a traditional sewing machine a portable sewing machine is the fact that your back won’t go out every time you lifted up, move into another space, or load it in your vehicle and head out to a crafting get together with your friends or family.

As long as you can comfortably manipulate and maneuver a beginner sewing machine the odds are pretty good that it can be described as “portable” – even if the people responsible for making machine don’t necessarily consider it a portable unit themselves.

Obviously, lightweight quilting machine choices and sewing systems are going to be far more portable than heavy duty metal frame options that are big and bulky. But as long as you can move it around with ease it’s technically portable!

Truth be told, you use a portable sewing machine that the exact same way you would use any other sewing machine – and that’s by popping open the owner’s manual and following its instructions to the letter.

Depending on the machine go with you might be looking at a miniaturized version of a traditional computerized sewing machine, a big beast of a thing compared to a handheld or “portable” option.

Traditional portable options are always going to be a little more complex to use than a handheld sewing machine, but they offer more flexibility and versatility as well.

Most of your handheld sewing machine choices are pretty heavy duty (for what they are, anyway) and operate similar to a stapler.

Still, you’ll want to pop open that owners manual (rather than take a sewing class) to figure out the ins and outs of the machine you decided to go with.

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