The Best Mechanical Sewing Machines Analysis: What’s your best bet?
When you don't need for all the bells and whistles that a computerized sewing machine gives you, you can limit your distractions and look for the best mechanical sewing machine available.
Mechanical machines have come a long way in the recent times, and the lack of stitch options no longer impede your creativity.
Here's what you'll get in this review.
I’ve examined some mechanical machines from Janome, Singer and Brother to help you decide which of these are the best for beginners, the best for quilting, the best for your money, and the best overall.
Further below in this article, you'll find the side-by-side comparison of Janome and Singer mechanical sewing machines.
If you’re in a rush, and would rather check the pricing and availability of the following machines at Amazon, you can click the links in the list below.
- Janome HD3000: Best overall.
- Janome Magnolia 7318: If you can't afford HD3000, than it's also good for beginners. Update: 7318 has been discontinued by Janome.
- Singer Heavy Duty 4432: Best singer machine on this list.
- Singer Heavy Duty 4423: The best value for your money.
- Brother XM2701: It's the cheapest option here.
Note: There are the best options if your allocated budget max out around $450.
What Is a Mechanical Sewing Machine?
In case you are unfamiliar with the mechanical sewing machine, here's a brief description of what it's and how it differs from other sewing machines.
As I hinted at above, there are two main classes of sewing machines these days - mechanical and computerized.
A mechanical model still uses electricity, but it has no computer chips and programming inside.
Much of what you do find inside is very similar to machines made before electricity was added, back when you had to move the wheel to make the needle go up and down and the spools spin.
A computerized sewing machine, on the other hand, often has an LCD that lets you make selections for the settings of your machine.
In general, the computerized machine gives you choices that a purely mechanical device cannot.
Still, mechanical machines are the way to go for many beginners, often comes with the lesser price tag, and these are workhorse due to their better motors than some of the computerized counterparts.
However, it depends on the particular model you are considering to buy.
Let's analyze some of the top mechanical sewing machines options for you.
Comparing the Janome HD3000 and Janome Magnolia 7318
Where the HD3000 and Magnolia 7318 differ is mainly in this handful of areas that follow.
The HD3000 has a one-step buttonhole feature, whereas the Magnolia only has a four-step buttonhole. If you do a lot of buttonholes, the HD3000 could save you a lot of time.
With the HD3000, you can go a little wider with your stitches - as much as 6.5 millimeters. The Magnolia only widens to 5 millimeters.
It’s not a big difference, but sometimes that extra millimeter or so is what you want.
You get an automatic needle threader on the HD3000, but not with the Magnolia. This is another time saver that favors the HD3000. It could also be a frustration saver as well.
These two machines use different methods for winding the bobbin.
The HD3000 uses an automatic de-clutch system in which the needle disengages while you’re winding the bobbin.
The Magnolia has a push-pull system where you push the bobbin to the right before starting to wind and then pull it to the left when you’re done.
The benefit of the de-clutch method is that the winding is not tied to the maximum speed of the machine and so should go much faster.
Presser Foot Pressure:
You can adjust the pressure on the foot presser with the HD3000 but not with the Magnolia 7318.
Especially experienced sewists realize how vital this adjustment can be when working with many different types and weights of fabrics.
The HD3000 comes with a hardcover, but the Magnolia has none. If you need to protect your machine or carry it around a lot, a hardcover is handy.
Of these two Janome mechanical sewing machines, the HD3000 is pretty much a clear winner, (link via Amazon). However, HD3000 generally costs more than the 7318.
Singer Manual Machines 4423 and 4432:
Trying to find the differences between the Singer 4423 and 4432 heavy-duty mechanical machines can be tricky.
The significant difference between them is the number of built-in stitches they provide.
You can tell by glancing at the model numbers how many types of stitches you get with each. For 4423, you get 23. For 4432, you get 32.
It’s the last two digits in this 44xx series of mechanical sewing machines that show the stitch count.
You should also note that the “Heavy Duty” phrase in the model name of these machines does not mean that they are true commercial-grade, heavy-duty machines.
The singer here uses this phrase only to indicate that they each have a larger motor and faster speed than others in their class.
As you might expect, the Singer 4423 is just a tad cheaper than the 4432, and the main reason is it has nine lesser stitches than 4432 model.
Because there is only a tiny price differential on these two Singer mechanical machines, the winner here has to be the 4432 model because of those extra stitches that you might want someday. However, the Singer 4423 is not far behind.
Where Does the Brother XM2701 Fit into the Picture?
In many ways, the Brother XM2701 falls into the middle of the pack relative to the Janome and Singer machines.
It does have an automatic needle threader and a quick set bobbin. With 27 stitches, it has only a few short of the Singer 4432. (The Janome machines each have 18.)
You'll not have the control to adjust the presser foot pressure.
It maxes out at 800 stitches per minute. (The Singer machines go to 1100.) The Brother also has a maximum stitch width of only 5 millimeters.
And yet, the XM2701 only costs a fraction of the price of these other machines.
If you’re on a constrained budget, this is the mechanical model you want to get - the Brother XM2701.
Which Is the Top Mechanical Sewing Machine for Beginners?
As we compared above, HD3000 is much better than 7318.
If you can't afford the HD3000, the next best option for those just getting into sewing is likely the Janome Magnolia 7318.
It has the right combination of features that won’t overwhelm a beginner, nor will it frustrate him or her easily.
While it’s too not the cheapest machine on this list, it won’t break your bank either. If it turns out that sewing isn’t your thing, after all, you won’t feel like you’ve wasted a lot of money.
Which Is the Best Mechanical Sewing Machine for Quilting?
This is a tough call, but the winner is probably the Janome HD3000 because of those extra features mentioned earlier. It just makes it stand out in this crowd.
All the Janome and Singer machines mentioned here have both free arm and drop feed capabilities, so there’s no distinguishing one from another there.
Even though the HD3000 is probably going to cost you more than the others, it’s worth it for a machine that is going to see a lot of use as a quilting machine.
If you want to immerse yourself in the quilting experience, then even forget about HD3000. You need to spend a little more and get one of the following machines:
- JUKI TL-2000Qi Quilting Machine.
- Brother PQ1500SL Quilting machine
Both of these are excellent machines. If I have to choose, I'll go with the 2000Qi.
We have examined these and other quilting machines in another article.
Which Is the Best Manual Sewing Machine for My Money?
While the 4432 costs just a little more and gives you nine extra stitches to work with, can be a better choice; however, as the price is the prime factor here, I'll go with the 4423.
Singer’s Online Owner’s Class and Sewing Assistant App make the choice over the Janome models a little easier too.
Which Is the Best Overall?
The winner here is the Janome HD3000, assuming that you don't want to spend more than $450.
If you don't mind paying more, you can get even better machines like Sailrite walking foot Ultrafeed for heavy duty work and 2000Qi for quilting.
HD3000 sits between the top of the line machines and the starter machines.
If you are not into the full-fledged specialized heavy-duty or quilting jobs, you will appreciate the Janome HD3000 when you want an excellent mechanical sewing machine.