COMPACT SEWING MACHINE
Compact sewing machine models are a middle ground between a lightweight mini sewing machine and a full-size desktop model. But don’t let their size fool you. Many compact machines offer enough power to handle almost any sewing need. There are compact machines that can easily handle heavy fabrics like denim.
Expect the compact model to be lighter and smaller in all dimensions than the large standard models, but how much smaller depends on the manufacturer. There can even be significant size differences between different compact models of the same brand. But a good rule of thumb is that the more features, the heavier and bigger the machine will be.
Compact machines range from simple and very simple to models with a surprising range of functions and conveniences. Many manufacturers offer compact models that include a free arm option, recessed bobbins, adjustable stitch length and even different stitches. Some manufacturers even offer fully functional machines in a very small package, and a few compact models even include a buttonhole.
BIG POWER IN A SMALL PACKAGE – COMPACT SEWING MACHINES
Compact sewing machines are the perfect compromise between performance and price. When portability, convenience and price are important, but you also need a lot of options, a compact model can be the perfect choice. But even though they are small in size, they are big in ability. Most compact sewing machines can handle almost any sewing project with ease and are powerful enough to handle heavy and demanding fabrics like canvas and denim.
Almost all compact sewing machines run on electricity and are controlled by a foot pedal. If you need wireless connectivity, a mini-machine might be a better choice. But since most compact machines are powered by electricity, they can handle much larger sewing projects than cordless mini machines. Compact machines are generally significantly lighter and smaller than standard sewing machines, with a small footprint and ultra-lightweight construction that offers maximum portability.
Almost every leading sewing machine manufacturer offers several compact models, so no matter what sewing needs you need, you can find the one that’s right for you. The most basic and inexpensive models are suitable for simple construction with medium-weight fabrics, related to sewing crafts and repairs. But for a little more investment, you can get compact machines that easily complete complex projects or constructions with super heavy fabric.
COMPACT SEWING MACHINE BUYING GUIDE
If you have limited space or just want an extra sewing machine for your RV or vacation home, a compact sewing machine can be a great addition. While smaller sewing machines may not have the power or capabilities of a full size machine, advances in technology have allowed these machines to perform a wide variety of tasks.
Many of us love our sewing machines. We love how strong and powerful they are and how quickly they can help us mend our jeans, hem a dress, or create any project we can think of for our grandkids. You should also note that these later machines are designed to work with lighter materials and are not intended for upholstery or heavy denim.
Most of these machines are available for less than $500, and since you want this machine to be portable, weight should be one of your primary purchasing factors. While you want a machine that’s light enough to carry around easily, you also want a machine that’s heavy enough that it won’t drag easily when stretching the fabric.
Energy resources are also a big problem. If possible, avoid battery powered compact sewing machines as these often lack the power needed for even the most basic sewing jobs. Look for one that has a long cord to reach almost any outlet. If you take your time when shopping for a new compact sewing machine, you should be able to find one that fits your needs. But don’t expect a member to do the work of your full-size sewing machine.
THE BEST MODELS OF THE THREE CAMPACT SEWING MACHINES
Janome Arctic Crystal
Janome makes a lot of sewing machines for beginners, and the Janome Arctic Crystal is no exception. It is a cute compact sewing machine. In addition to Crystal, which is a fun vintage mint green color, you can also choose from Sorbet and Couture, which are all visually appealing sewing machines that will make a statement in your sewing workshop. With its 15 built-in stitches, it’s a good basic choice for beginner to intermediate seamstresses and seamstresses.
- This is an affordable sewing machine that anyone looking for a basic machine can afford.
- Comes with an impressive 24-year limited warranty, longer than many warranties offered on the market today.
- It may look like a toy, but it is actually hard. It is made of metal internals that will last a long time.
- It has a good weight. It seems to be more expensive and has a solid bottom to make sure it doesn’t wobble or move while sewing.
- You can easily use its 4-step buttonhole system.
- The presser foot lever is located in an area that is difficult for lefties to operate.
- There have been occasional issues with bobbin jamming, but these should be easy to fix.
- The needle can only be placed on the left and in the middle. If you have projects that require the needle to be positioned to the right, this may not be a good choice for you.
- Other accessories may be slightly more expensive.
Janome Hello Kitty
The Janome Hello Kitty is technically a full-fledged sewing machine. It’s so compact and capable that we couldn’t leave it out in our miniature guide! Hello Kitty is only slightly larger than our other two recommendations, and while it looks like a toy, it’s anything but. Hello Kitty is a basic, fully manual sewing machine. But it is much more durable. This one has a metal frame, multiple metal internals and high reliability.
- It is as robust as arctic crystal. Hello Kitty may look more like a toy than an Arctic Crystal, but it actually has metal parts throughout the design, just like the first sewing machine.
- It also has an internal aluminum frame! This makes a big difference in the stiffness of the whole machine. It feels much firmer and has less chance of the insides coming loose.
- It is also more powerful. This one sews up to 800 stitches per minute. While most people wouldn’t buy something as simple as a draft horse, Hello Kitty would!
- It also has multiple stitches built in. There are 12 on the Hello Kitty and they are all displayed on the front of the unit. As with the Arctic Crystal, you can use the dial to select different options.
- Has a fixed coil space just like the Arctic Crystal. Hello Kitty’s is a traditional sidebar format. It’s perfectly fine, but not as easy as a more modern top-loading compartment.
- It is fully manual and although it has a bit more features than other compact sewing machines, you will have to do the threading and winding by hand.
- Technically, this is not a mini sewing machine. It’s full size, but we think its compact enough to deserve a place in this guide. The downside is that it may be too big for small children. If you know you want a 3/4 model rather than something that’s simply compact, check out our other tips.
Janome Jem Gold 660
The Janome Jem Gold 660 is our absolute favorite mini sewing machine. It’s just a joy to use and by far the most capable model we’ve found in a 3/4 size package. We recommend this machine to experienced and advanced sewists who want a secondary machine for travel or group sewing. It’s also a good choice for beginners who know they’ll stick to sewing and want a compact machine.
- Has the best coil setup of the three! The Jem has a slide-out, jam-proof spool compartment. There is a transparent window at the top, so you can see how much thread you have left as you work. It’s by far the friendliest setup we’ve seen on a 3/4 machine.
- It has a built-in needle threader, making it the easiest of the three to operate. It’s a convenience that you won’t get either of our cheaper recommendations.
- There is also a built-in thread trimmer and is the only one of the three to have this feature.
- 12 stitches on board includes 2 stretch options and buttonhole function. You choose the stitch using the dial, just like with the other models we’ve included here. All stitches are marked along the machine arm.
- It actually has the same stitch count as Hello Kitty, even though it costs 2-3x more. This isn’t a complete surprise, given that Jem is a smaller machine. Still, it’s disappointing.
- While the automatic needle threader is nice, it is still pretty basic. This is true of every 3/4 machine we’ve come across.
- There is no feed function.
- The best of our options is not good for thick layered pieces. This goes for any mini sewing machine. So make sure you know what to expect from one of them.
WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A COMPACT SEWING MACHINE
With that in mind, you should consider that while a few of the best compact sewing machines are capable of quilting denim and layered pieces, most of them aren’t really meant for tough tasks.
Compact sewing machines are a somewhat specialized product. They are super compact which makes them portable and easy to pack. That’s why we love them so much for travel and group sewing events. Some people also choose a mini machine for their primary workstation at home.
Once you start envisioning exactly what you want to do with your mini sewing machine, it’s important to be realistic about what the machines are. They are small so they tend to be less powerful than full size sewing machines. They’re also lighter, which inevitably means they’re less robust than their big siblings.
In most cases, compact sewing machines are not intended as primary workstations. If you are a beginner or buying for a child, a mini sewing machine can certainly serve as a primary work station. This is true even if you are a very light, occasional home user. However, for the vast majority of us, the mini sewing machine is only a secondary workplace.
The compact sewing machine version has a slightly larger area to work with the fabric than the mini machine. It will depend on how you want the petite sewing version to work in terms of fabric, which will help you decide on the best type of petite sewing pattern for you. There are two types of small sewing models, compact and mini. The mini sewing model is the smallest and therefore the most portable type. Often runs on batteries.