Which is the Best Sewing Machine Brand?

A Guide to the Best Sewing Machine Brands

by Alexandra F | popular guides

So, you want to know which sewing machine brand is the best? This is a question I am often asked, and one which can spark fierce debate amongst sewing machine enthusiasts. It is a very subjective question, and so when it comes to deciding which brand is best, in reality you have to consider that each is good at different things, and that certain brands will be better for different types of sewers.

Most of the major brands do differentiate themselves from others in certain ways (be it by their build quality, innovation, research and development, or their unique style, for example). In this article I take a look at the reputations of the different major household sewing machine brands.

The reputation of a brand is closely tied to its history, and so I cover a little bit of the history behind some of these brands as well. And I also will take a look at the different links which exist between the different brands themselves (you may be surprised by how many of them are owned by the same companies!).

Hopefully by the end of it, you should have a better idea of which sewing machine brand is the best for you. This is a rather long article, so feel free to jump around using the table of contents below!

I have covered the following brands: Bernina, Singer, Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff, Brother Janome, and Elna. Juki machines tend to be aimed at the industrial market rather than the household market, and so I have not included them here. I have also tried to focus on the brands which are most popular on the UK market, and so haven’t included Babylock for example.

The Big Brands

From my own experiences using sewing machines from different brands, but also based on the many discussions I have had with other sewing machine enthusiasts, I have built up over the years a sense of what each of the big sewing machine brands has to offer – a feel for what they are good at, and areas where they are slacking. Some brands also have unique features which you can’t find on other machines, which it is good to know about when shopping around.

Many of the big sewing machine brands have rich histories stretching back over a century. This history also plays a large role in defining the brand’s identity.

I’ll start with Bernina.


Bernina B350 Photo
The Bernina B350 Patchwork Edition

One of the four big sewing machine companies who have roots dating back to the 19th century, Bernina was founded in 1893 in Switzerland. The brand name Bernina takes its name from the Piz Bernina, a mountain in the Alps.

These days Bernina definitely has a reputation for high quality machines. In fact I would say it is the most respected brand in terms of quality. The company is one of few to still manufacture products in its country of origin. It has a factory in Switzerland, and since 1990 one in Thailand as well. The top range machines are manufactured in Switzerland, and unsurprisingly the entry level to mid-range machines are manufactured in Thailand.

The downside of Bernina sewing machines is that they tend to be a fair bit pricier than other brands. You get what you pay for, as they say!

Bernina has been an innovative company for much of its history. In 1963 it patented the first knee activated presser foot lifter. That innovative streak has carried through to the present day to some extent. The Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR) is an example of this. BSR adjusts the machine’s stitching speed when doing free hand embroidery based on how fast you are moving the fabric, which gives you very consistent stitches. This feature is not available with any other brand, and is a good selling point for Bernina.
Surprisingly though, Bernina released their first embroidery only machine quite recently, in 2016, so BSR aside they might be a little behind the curve with embroidery machines compared to some other brands.

Read my reviews of Bernina sewing machines!


Singer 4411 Top
The Singer Heavy Duty 4411

Singer is the only one of the big brands which started in the United States. It was a key player in the early development of the sewing machine in the 1850s. Singer is now owned by SVP Worldwide, which also owns the Husqvarna Viking and the Pfaff brands. SVP stands for Singer-Viking-Pfaff.

Older singer machines have a reputation for excellent build and quality. In fact vintage machines are still very much sought after these days. Singer had a factory in Clydebank, near Glasgow between 1882 and 1980. It was for a time the largest sewing machine factory in the world. Unfortunately it closed in 1980 due to financial difficulties. There is still a train station there called Singer though, which used to serve the factory!

These days I believe most Singer machines are manufactured in China, in some cases subcontracted to third party manufacturers.

The quality of Singer machines is not what it used to be. Singer has a reputation that newer machines tend to be of lower quality, and it hasn’t been able to shake it. Some people think the quality started to go downhill as early as the late 70s. I wonder if it started with the company’s financial difficulties in the 80s and 90s. Other people I have spoken to seem to think this may have begun when Singer factories moved over to China.

You may find that modern Singer machines need to be serviced and possibly even repaired more often than the equivalent machines from other brands.

That being said I am you will find many very happy owners of Singer models out there. These days Singer has quite a few low cost models aimed at beginners, with slightly less focus on the top-of-the-range machines.

Read my reviews of Singer sewing machines!

Husqvarna Viking

Known more commonly as Viking in the USA and as Husqvarna elsewhere, Husqvarna started manufacturing sewing machines in 1872. The Husqvarna company was originally a manufacturer of Swedish armaments, and branches of the original company are still associated with heavy machinery, like motorbikes and chainsaws!

This knowledge may have carried over into the sewing machine business, as their machines do tend to be highly rated for quality and build. I have also heard that their machines tend to be slightly quieter, although haven’t noticed this myself.

Since 2006 Husqvarna Viking brand, along with Pfaff and Singer, has been owned by the company SVP Worldwide.


Pfaff Performance 2058 Photo
The Pfaff Performance 2058

Pfaff was founded in Germany in 1862, and like Singer and Husqvarna Viking, is now owned by SVP Worldwide.

Like Bernina, Pffaff has some unique innovations. The most sought after is the IDT Integrated Dual Feed Technology system. IDT is basically a walking foot integrated into your machine. Unlike a walking presser foot, the IDT system has the advantage that it can be used with other types of presser feet, and so can be used when you are sewing on a zip, for example.

As a result of this IDT technology, Pfaff is a brand often favoured by quilters, who deal with many layers of thick materials. Many people think that the IDT system is the main reason to learn towards Pfaff over other brands. However I have read that Pfaff’s patent for IDT has expired, and so other companies have launched similar technologies. An example is Janome’s AcuFeed system.

Pfaff sewing machines have a bit of a reputation for being complex, and are unlikely to be the best fit for beginners.

Read my reviews of Pfaff sewing machines!


Photo of a Brother Sewing Machine
The Brother LS14

Brother these days is an enormous Japanese electronics company, but it started as a sewing machine company back in 1908. It has had a presence in the UK since 1968, when it bought the Jones sewing machine factory in Manchester. I believe this is still a Brother site to this day.

Most of the company’s sewing machines are manufactured in China, Taiwan and Vietnam these days though, sometimes by third party manufacturers.

Although Brother offers some very high end machine, the company has put in my opinion particular effort into conquering the entry-level consumers. Many different low cost models are available for purchase online, like the Brother LS14 and they tend to have more features than you would expect for similarly priced machines from other brands. As I discussed on this page about Brother machines, many different Brother models are very similar, and just have slight design changes.

I have the impression that Brother tend to use more plastic parts in their machines, which makes them more portable, but probably slightly less robust and durable.

Read my reviews of Brother sewing machines!


Janome (pronounced Ja-NO-me with the emphasis on the NO) started as the Pine sewing machine factory in 1921, and was rebranded as Janome in 1954. The word Janome means snake’s eye in Japanese. The company was given this name based on its innovative design for a new round bobbin. These days Janome manufactures sewing machines in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand. It even makes machines for other brands! Bear in mind that John Lewis sewing machines are made by Janome, and are generally of good quality (see the John Lewis JL110 and John Lewis Mini machines).

Janome has an excellent reputation, and is highly rated for quality. Their machines tend to be cheaper than Bernina’s as well, so they can be a good option for those after top quality but with a more limited budget.

Although a little late to the party, Janome also offers its AcuFeed technology system. It is similar to Pfaff’s IDT system, and which I believe was only launched after the Pfaff patent expired.

Read my reviews of Janome sewing machines!


Elna 6003 Q Photo
The Elna 6003 Q

Elna was founded in Switzerland in 1934. It went through financial difficulties in the 1990’s, much like Singer did. In 2006 the company was bought by Janome.

Much like Janome, Elna machines tend to be of good quality.


Just in case you didn’t manage to read all of that, here are some cliff notes!

  • Bernina and Janome are generally rated very highly for quality, Bernina in particular! They do tend to be more expensive though.
  • Singer and Brother seem to target the entry-level sewer more these days. Some say that the quality of Singer machines has dropped in recent years.
  • These are all generalisations of course! Each brand offers good and bad models. As such it makes sense to check out the reviews for different machines before buying!

32 thoughts on “Which is the Best Sewing Machine Brand?

  1. Hello I am trying to find the best sewing machine for myself 🙂 I am pretty hard on them as I have a fast pace life and usually and working with thick materials and whip thru my sewing in a quick manner……… My purpose for a sewing machine is costumes, curtains and decor….. periodically I’ll sew together some Easter or Christmas dresses for my daughters and nieces 🙂 So I am looking for a heavy duty simple machine that is hearty:)!!! Any suggestions you have would be super much appreciated;)!!! Thank you

    1. Hi Galilee!
      I would probably recommend the Singer Heavy Duty 4411. You can read my review here:
      I take a more detailed look at different heavy duty machines in this article:
      If you are really going to be giving the machine a hard time (i.e. using it for hours at a time, every day) you may want to consider a second hand industrial machine. For curtains and thick materials though a heavy duty household machine should be more than powerful enough.

    2. Have you look at a older Bernina. I have a 830 and it is a tough cookie. I also have older Necchi machines and I have to say that the stitches are nicer than my Bernina. I own a Husqvarna in plastic that was expensive (it was a gift) and do not use it.
      After trying a vintage metal machine there is no way I am going back to a machine made in China.

      1. Hi Sylvie,
        I would LOVE to take your Husqvarna off your hands if you are not going to use it. If that’s not possible, would you tell me your opinions of Necchi machines please.

      2. Some Husqvarna were made in China and some in Sweden. I have three Husqvarna for different projects and I love them! I’m looking to purchase the new Epic 2 also! You will not go wrong if you already have it.

  2. Hi I’m looking for a machine for my mother here current machine which is Jhon Lewis (JLII0SE) needle keeps breaking plus i think she just doesn’t like it any more. she makes her own Indian suits using cotton and silk fabrics but also uses denim and twil fabric she’s no amateur by any means.pls if you could recommend any ….thanks for you’re time.

  3. Hi. I was thinking of buying a Brother In- ovis F420 and have been offered a Husquvana Opel 690q for the same price. Can you please tell me in your opinion which machine you think is the better. Many thanks Jo.

    1. I own a Husquavarna designer SE1. Loved it but the computer motherboard is broke. I wS told by the repairman that they contract out making of these and will not produce any until they have 100 to produce. So, I have what was a wonderrful, very expensive machine that is 15+ yrs old that I cannot use, The repairman dropped my machine which is why it got cracked. It’s value before being dropped was down to $1000 if that, in good working order. Paid almost 5000 originally. As a result, u will never purchase another Husquavarna machine. Doesn’t do any good if you can’t get the parts replaced! Also, fyi, Singer, Pfaff & Husquavarna are now all owned by the same company so any of those brands will probably run into the same replacement issues from here on.

  4. Hi, I am looking at the Bernette 38. Is there a Janome that is similar? I heard Janome make better machine

  5. Fabulous article! I was looking for this forever as I am looking to buy a better machine for more experience sewer.
    You have, I am subscribing!

  6. I am looking for information on a Calanda -s- 3000 made for Pfaff in Japan sewing machine. I have very little knowledge of this machine as I purchased it from a local second hand store. The owner’s manual of course was not with the machine!

  7. Hi. I am looking into buying a computerised sewing machine because I really like the speed control. Automatic threaders and speed controls are also important. I have been sewing for a couple of years so am out of the absolute beginner category but still need to build more confidence. I’d like to have the option of using heavier materials like tweed and denim or velvet. I demo’d the BROTHER NV 35 machine but then read your article which says it has a lot of plastic components. It also had a lot of decorative stitches I might not use but I did like it.I was put off a little by the £100 service I was told it needed every 2 years. Can i ask your advice on whether I should gofer this or can you recommend a similar Janome machine? Also are machines marketed as suitable for quilters suitable for dressmaking? Thanks. Sorry for long post.

  8. Hi. My doubt is between the elna 780 excellence and the huskvarna sapphire 965Q. Elna is more expensive but I’ve seen how easy it is to use the husqvarna. I don’t know what to to. And yes I want it for my patchwork quilts. Thanks

    1. Which machine did you get? I have a very old Viking number one plus and am ready for a new machine. I like the Elna and Viking. Which is easier to use? I have been sewing over 40 years.
      Thank you Paula

  9. I am an advanced quilter & textile artist. I spend a lot of time with my machines. My Pfaff 7570 may have just hit a big bump and may not be able to be repaired as pairs are no longer be available. I have a sit down long arm machine for my quilting work and several others for quilt retreat or training. I am soooo used to the IDT on my Pfaff so I can use my 1/4″ foot and have not found anything. I need the new quickness but not a million stitches. Any ideas?

  10. Hello, Hoping someone can come to my rescue. I am sewing clothing for my young grandchildren, and am finding the new machines leaning to quilting, although have some nice features for heirloom sewists as well. I desperately need a machine I can count on for good button holes. Needle down, variable needle positions, and variety of presser feet are a must. All ideas welcome!!

  11. I have an Elna 2007 purchased in 2003. It has had a recurring problem where it won’t stitch in reverse when depressing reverse button. I was considering the Elna Experience 540S which seems liked an improved version of the Elna 2007 and I could get trade-in value. What do you think of the Elna Experience 540S and/or is there another mid-range machine that you might recommend?

  12. I’m not sure when this article was written but it’s a shame that Juki weren’t included as their home machines are making a huge impact on the domestic market in the UK and around the world, if all the clamour in my sewing forums and groups are anything to go by. I have a Juki overlocker myself and it’s a fantastic beast.
    One observation on the Pfaff IDT being out of patent and now appearing on Janome and Bernina models…these brands only include it on their high end machines whereas Pfaff include it with the vast majority of their models (including all but one of their little mechanicals) which is wonderful and to be applauded in my book.

    1. I agree with you. Why hasn’t Juki been mentioned?
      I had a fairly basic one for over 10+ years, used it every day then wanted a few extra stitches. Got a Britannia which my dealer chose for me because I’m pretty much housebound, but I’ve ended up with a Juki again which I love. It’s a little on the chunky side but then Juki are regarded as semi industrial machines, maybe that’s why it’s not been reviewed. There’s only one downside and that’s the weight. To heavy to carry to classes, but I don’t need to do that and also have a cheaper Brother machine, if I did. Juki are really sturdy machines that seem to last, and suits me as I’m a quick (or impatient!) sewer and with the auto tension, threader and thread cutter with a good speed, means I can get things done quicker.

  13. I currently own 2 Berninas, my Artista 170 is 20 years old and the screen is starting to get lines in it. I have to shut it down then it works fine for a year or so and does it again. My other machine is a 580. I love them both, but a local Bernina dealer here in Montana has told me that all Berninas are now being made in China and he is seeing a lot of issues. Mostly motherboard going out. Apparently China is not putting a static protector film over the motherboard and when the machine is opened to be worked on the static in the air fries the motherboard. He has had to create a static free room in his shop to work on them. He said as soon as his contract is up with Bernina he is not going to carry them anymore because of these issues. Anyone else hearing of issues? Which machine brands are not being made in China. I have a friend that is looking for a new machine and not sure if she wants to take a chance on Bernina anymore.

    1. That’s interesting. .I’ve been looking at Bernina machines mainly for the compact size but they’re very expensive and if this us true what you’re saying, I’d be wary of investing in one. Same thing happened with Singer and the one I tried was awful.. I souks if kept my mum’s original machine but if course didn’t realise it’s sewing value then.

  14. I have a Bernina Activa 230 and want to buy a new Bernina. Is the Bernina 480 a better machine, or what is better than my current Activa 230.

  15. I cannot help but disagree with some points made here. Janome are middle range machines and are not at the same quality level as Bernina, Husqvarna, Pfaff or top end Brothers. They are OK though, and I have had a 10000 for years, and loved it until I bought an HV Epic. They are user friendly, and their cost tends to be lower (not higher as stated here), but Janome’s support is appalling once they have a newer model of machine out. They are brilliant for on machine storage.
    VSP openly describe Singers as their more ‘popular’ brand which can be bought from chain stores such as Hobbycraft and sometimes even Aldi or Lidl. VSP reserves its best machines for the Husqvarna and Pfaff brands, which when bought new are usually only available from approved, trained dealers.

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