When looking to start sewing, one of the first things that you need to have in your arsenal is a sewing machine. Sewing machines make stitching easier, quicker and usually produce stronger stitches that last longer than any hand sewing technique.
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What is a Handheld Sewing Machine?
Handheld machines are compact, easy to carry around and make ripped clothes a thing of the past. They usually come with battery packs to make them easy to transport and can do almost everything that a normal machine can do. They often work best on lighter fabrics such as cottons and polyester but can also be used on denim and leather depending on the machine that you choose.
Here I will tell you the tip ten handheld sewing machines for beginners, ranging to seasoned professionals. The majority of these are traditional handheld machines, others are alternative compact machines that are in between the handheld machines and the more traditional ones.
Reasonably priced and easy to use, this machine is perfect for beginners or those who aren’t sure whether they want to make clothes of their own or just adapt the ones they have now.
Can be used on denim, silk and leather
Easy to use – simply put the cloth under the pressure plate and press a button, the thread knotted by hand after you finish
Comes pre-threaded and ready to use
No complicated settings, just a simple stitch with automatic movements meaning you don’t have to worry about sewing speed, stitch type or threading a complicated machine
It’s lightweight, weighing less than 10 ounces
Comes with an extra needle and needle threader as well as extra bobbins for when the threads need changing
It is a single thread sewing machine so you need to make sure to knot it after use or you risk the sewing coming undone. It is only battery powered and the batteries are not included so you’ll need to buy those with the product as well as pre-threaded bobbins as this machine doesn’t use traditional spools.
Available in 3 different colours, they are randomised when you order and you get a surprise when it arrives. This is a mini sewing machine that’s roughly the size of your average stapler and can be used anywhere, indoors or outside.
Works on all fabrics
Comes with a needle threader and mini metal sheet
Can be used for a variety of needs such as fixing hems or tailoring clothing
Very easy to transport and use
Fits snugly into the palm of your hand
Can sew torn pockets without you taking your jeans off
It will need to be knotted after use due to the single thread fabric. It is also not stated as to what powers this but it is most likely to be either batteries or is powered by hand motions (i.e. squeezing the machine closed). This machine would be more suited to people who want to have quick fixes rather than making their own clothes due to the design of the machine so it would not be recommended for larger-scale projects.
3. Singer 01633 Stitch Sew Quick Portable Mending Machine
SINGER is easily one of the most recognisable brands of sewing machine and are renowned for their quality within sewing circles. It’s lightweight at less than 15 ounces and so can easily be carried in a handbag.
Battery operated, using 4 AA batteries (batteries not included)
Can be used on a variety of household materials such as curtains and bedding
Built in power switch for safety
Bobbins, needles and threads are included along with a thread spindle and needle threader
Instructional videos before you buy to know if you’d be comfortable with the product
Is a well known brand with a good customer service team
Similar to the other products on this list, there is only a single thread so it will need to be secured or you risk the thread coming undone. Whilst it is advertised as small and easy to pack away, the product is the machine on its own and a travel bag will need to be bought separately, or it can fit into most handbags. Additionally, it doesn’t have a great customer rating but it does have the most reviews out of anything on this list.
A similar design to the first product, this machine is slightly heavier but also comes with a lot more for your money.
Can be used on a variety of materials such as wool, denim, silk and leather
Home repairs such as curtain shortening and repairing bedding can be made easier with a thin sewing stitch (1.8mm)
Battery powered (4 AA batteries) and will fit in a handbag or can be carried in a separate case
Product includes: 1 extension spindle, 2 sewing needles, 1 measuring tape, 1 needle threader, 1 pair of scissors, 2 bobbin threads, 10 safety pins and 12 bobbins that can be threaded.
You are also given a small piece of fabric that can be used for testing before you start
Features a 180 day product exchange and money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied
Much like the others, you will need to make sure to secure the thread when finished and it can be carried in either a handbag or a case of its own. Another thing is to make sure that you carry spare batteries with you until you are fully aware of the limits of its battery life.
One of the more expensive ones on this list, it’s also not a traditional handheld sewing machine. It is also one of the heavier models at nearly 30 ounces but can also do a larger variety than the other, more common machines.
Can sew a variety of fabrics including cotton, linen, silk, wool, polyester and elastic.
This product includes: a power adapter, a foot pedal, 1 needle, 1 needle threader and 4 bobbins
2 speed machine
Double thread sewing so it is secured through both the bobbin and the thread at the top
Can be used for quilting, creating clothing, home décor and craft work
Is the closest to the traditional sewing machine but without the added weight
This machine is the most complicated to use on the list so far but is easily the most secure stitching and most like a normal sewing machine. It is also the heaviest and least portable but it advertised the same as the others. It also only features a straight stitch unlike most machines of this size. Whilst not strictly handheld, it is portable and easy to transport but it will need an extra bag for transport.
6. Smartek Cordless Mini Rex Sewing Machine RX-07
Smartek Cordless Mini Rex Sewing Machine RX-07 – Smartek – Call for details
Average customer rating – Unknown
Much like the last machine, whilst this is portable and lightweight, it is not strictly handheld. It is very similar to a conventional sewing machine in that it has a lockstitch (has a bobbin and thread) which makes it stronger and more long-lasting.
Pre-threaded and ready to use
Has a manual on/off switch for safety purposes
Can be used on denim, leather, silk, craft fabrics and paper
Can be used with a standard spool of thread
Contains 4 metal bobbins with thread, 1 needle threader, 1 spindle and an AC adapter
The machine either needs to be plugged in or it needs to be used with 4 AA batteries. The main downsize to this machine is the size. Where it’s not handheld, you would need to buy an additional case for travel purposes but it does provide more options than the traditional handheld.
7. Smartek Mini Sewing Machine RX-05S
Smartek Mini Sewing Machine RX-05S – Smartek – Call for details
Average customer rating – Unknown
This product is the most like a conventional machine on this list, just more compact. It weighs approximately 40 pounds so is also amongst the heaviest on this list but has the most features. Whilst the descriptions doesn’t state the specific fabrics it can be used on, it says that it’s safe for all fabrics and can even be used on zippers and creating firmer seams.
Built in light above the needle
2 different speeds (high and low)
Can be used with a standard spool of thread
Contains a foot pedal, 4 metal bobbins with threads, 3 needles, 1 needle threader, 1 spindle and a UL adapter
It can also be used with batteries if you’re wanting to use it on the go
Unlike other handheld machines, this does require a flat surface to be used on as it has a foot pedal instead of a simple switch. It does require 4 AA batteries to be used which are not provided with the product so it would be recommended to keep spare batteries with you until you’re familiar with the battery life.
8. Feiyue GK26-1A Handheld Bag Closer Industrial Machine
This is the most professional machine on the list and is made for more heavy-duty work. This is used in most industrial settings as small volume bagging applications for the pet, food and agricultural industries. This would be more suited to someone wanting to start their own business rather than someone looking for quick clothes fixes.
Created for small scale industrial sewing at a more reasonable price
Oil pump lubrication system direct to the moving elements of the machine
Plastic handle for insulation
Single thread chain stitch (will need knotting at the end)
Approximately 5-8 seconds to close each bag, closing 10 bags per minute or 1250 stitches per minute
Shell made of an aluminium alloy with the main points being fine alloy steel
This machine is heavy and heavy duty, so whilst it is handheld, it is more suited to being used in a single setting or as part of a production line. Rather than a traditional machine, this is made as a bag closer which is suited to single or multi layered bagging fabrics such as woven and laminated polypropylene. This is not advised for use on commercial fabrics so shouldn’t be used unless expressly stated in the user manual. It can also be easily scuffed during transport and as such, you should make sure that it is seated firmly in a case when transporting it from one place to another.
9. Eselltotal Mini Portable Handheld Sewing Machine
Similar to number 5 on this list, one of the advantages this machine has is the addition of an extended table, making it easy to sew even in the most difficult places. It is recommended for smaller sewing projects so should be used on more lightweight fabric.
Features double threads so has more secure stitching
Compact and lightweight
Easy to use features suitable for beginners
2 Speed settings which can be adjusted based on what you are more comfortable with
Contains a lighting lamp, thread cutter and extended table
Features a external power source as well as a battery pack which uses 4 AA batteries
Whilst it comes with less than a lot of the other machines on this list, it is easy to thread, easy to use and comes with a high customer satisfaction rating. It’s quite heavy compared to others on this list at approximately 60 ounces and so you should be careful when carrying.
10. Yogaxn Mini Portable Multi-function Sewing Machine
Weighing less than 40 ounces, this is a compact portable machine that is small enough to take anywhere with you.
Contains a lighting lamp, thread cutter, a foot pedal, an external power source, 2 bobbins, 1 needle threader, 1 spare needle and the user manual
For when you’re travelling, you use 4 AA batteries (not included)
Double stitch and two-wire design – there are two threads you can use and you can either use the foot pedal or a hand wheel
Two speed settings dependant on your comfort with the machine
Foot pedal operation allowing for both hands to be guiding the material allowing for a higher accuracy
Can be used on a variety of fabrics including bedding, curtains and quilts
This machine has a high customer satisfaction rating and, whilst more expensive than others on this list, is just as good value for money along with the things that are delivered with you. Along with the others, you may need to purchase a carry case as it’s one of the larger machines and won’t fit in a bag that you need for other things as well. It is also advised to keep spare batteries with the machine until you are more comfortable with it’s battery life. I would also be careful when using metal bobbins as sometimes they are more difficult to use than plastic bobbins.
Handheld Sewing Machine FAQs
All portable sewing machines should come with a user manual and that should be referred to for machine specifics.
Are these items able to be used by children?
Definitely! The only one that shouldn’t be used by children is the industrial one but the rest are user friendly. Of course, make sure that children are supervised around any of these machines.
How are they powered?
The majority of them are powered by 4 AA batteries, others may have a power cord in the box and some of them may be compatible with both.
What fabrics would you recommend?
For beginners, I would recommend cotton, linen or polyester as they’re thinner, easy to sew and can often hide mistakes easily. Some of these products recommend that you use denim or leather to test the material but I wouldn’t recommend constant use as you risk breaking the needle.
Would it hold up when sewing multiple layers of material together?
Depending on the fabric, of course! I wouldn’t recommend sewing two layers of leather together but if it’s cotton etc. go for it!
Is this a good compromise for a traditional sewing machine?
In most cases, yes. If you want to try different stitches or thickness of threads, it may be recommended to get a larger machine. But, if you want quick fixes and simple stitching, handheld machines are perfect for you.
What thread can be used on these handheld machines?
For the majority, cotton thread bobbins are used but a small amount use cotton spools instead. Check with the specific machine and user guide for the ones you’re interested in as to which one you need.
Can these be used on paper?
Craft paper, it’s possible. If you want to sew together thicker paper used in packaging, I would recommend looking at number 8 or a similar machine.
What kind of stitches can these do?
The majority of these machines are only suitable for a straight stitch, the larger machines more likely to provide straight stitch. Check the user manual for each machine for certainty.
How do I secure the sewing?
Since most of these machines only have a single thread, you will need to tie as tight a knot as possible with that thread when you are finished sewing. I would personally recommend at least a double knot and making sure that you trim any excess to prevent it from getting caught on anything.
Can you use a handheld sewing machine to wind a bobbin?
Unfortunately not, but you can find reasonably priced bobbins on a wide range of websites such as Amazon or wherever you purchase fabrics.