Portable Sewing Machines

best portable sewinng machineFollowing is our list of the best portable sewing machines. In determing the following list, we haven't simply put forth all sewing machines that fall into the proper weight category - we've also carefully considered consumer ratings, pros & cons, specifications and features to narrow down the field.  There are some lighter machines on the market but none made the cut.  Our list of the top portable sewing machines is dominated by Brother and also Janome.  Interestingly we didn't find any other brands that met all the criteria - especially when we applied the need for solid consumer ratings. 

We have considered that a sewing machine is portable if it weighs 12 lbs or less (with minor exceptions).  Also, these machines typically have a built-in carry handle (but not always).

You can see our top choices in the table below:


 Model  Approx. Weight (lbs)  Approx. Price (USD)*
 Janome 49018  12  240
 Brother XR3774  12.3**  120
 Janome New Home 720  12  500
 Janome Jem Gold 660  11.6  200
 Brother JX2517  12  88
 Brother XL2600i  11  80
 Janome Hello Kitty 11706  11  110
 Brother XL2610  11  100
 Brother XR9550PRW  10.1  275
 Janome 3128  11  120
*   Prices are approximate and based on March 2016 Amazon prices
** The XR3774 is slightly over 12 lbs but it is such a good machine we added it.


  • Brother CP60X Sewing Machine

    93.5The Brother CP60X is an affordable but fairly basic computerized sewing machine. The LCD screen allows you to select the stitch, stitch width and length, and it will indicate the correct presser foot to use. Consumer ratings for the CP60X are good and owners report that the machine is lightweight, intuitive, and easy-to-use. This is not a heavy-duty machine however, and it will struggle with thicker materials.

  • Brother XR9550PRW Sewing Machine

    93.9The Brother XR9550PRW (the PRW stands for Project Runway – the television show) is a computerized sewing machine that is getting very good ratings from owners. It has many stitches, sews smoothly and comes with a host of accessories. It is also very easy to use and is a good choice for the beginning sewist. It does have some downsides however, and some owners experience thread jamming, tension and bobbin issues, and there are even situations where the machine simply stops working altogether. Fortunately the positive reports far outweigh the negative.

  • Brother GX37 Sewing Machine

    92.0The Brother GX37 is a mechanical sewing machine with 37 stitches. It is generally quite affordable and the owner ratings are very good. This is a lightweight unit and as a result is a good choice for people taking classes or going to sewing gatherings. Owners report that the machine runs smoothly and quietly, and they also like that it feels very sturdy. However, this isn’t the best machine if you are dealing with heavy fabrics.

  • Janome 49018 Computerized Sewing Machine

    92.8 The Janome 49018 is a computerized sewing machine with an aluminum interior frame.  As a result of the frame the machine is very lightweight and is a great choice for taking to classes.  This is also a fairly basic unit that is easy to use and to setup.  It is a good fit for the beginner or novice sewist.  Owners are pleased with the high quality of stitch, the smooth operation (little vibration), and the ability to tackle thicker materials.  On the downside some people have had issues with the machine-winding bobbin and the 49018 does not come with a large number of stitch options

  • Brother XR3774 Sewing Machine

    95.5 It’s hard to find anything particularly negative about this sewing machine. It is a mechanical machine that is easy to setup and operate, and ratings are very good. It is also very reasonably priced. It is suitable for beginners and even those with some experience. However folks looking to do more advanced sewing projects may find it a little limiting as it doesn’t have a large number of stitches or features.

  • Janome New Home 720


    98.0 The New Home 720 is a lightweight, ¾ size sewing machine that is getting excellent consumer ratings.   Many owners like the compact design and find it a great choice for taking to classes.  There is little negative written about this machine aside from the fact that it is a bit expensive.  The name can also be confusing as it is often a combination of several words such as “New Home”, “720”, Jem Platinum”, JNH720” and “JP720”. These generally all refer to the same machine but check the specifications first to be sure.

  • Janome Jem Gold 660 Sewing Machine


    96.4 The Janome Jem Gold 660 is another Janome sewing machine that gets very good consumer ratings.  This unit can be found online for under $200 (at some outlets) and owners really like it for its simple and straightforward design, ease-of-use and very light weight.[REF Janome Sewing Machine Reviews]

  • Brother JX2517 Sewing Machine

    92.9 The Brother JX2517 is a lightweight, affordable sewing machine. It can be found at some online retailers for under $90.00 and it weighs about 12 lbs. It is getting excellent ratings and reviews from owners, and is especially popular with beginners and those who want a portable unit. This is a straightforward, easy-to-use machine with only 17 stitches. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some of the more expensive sewing machines on the market, but for the money most consumers give it high grades.

  • Brother XL2600i Sewing Machine


    86.9 The Brother XL2600i sewing machine is lightweight, versatile and very reasonably priced.   It also comes with 25 built in stitches, a one-step automatic buttonholer and a number of other features.  Consumers like that it is inexpensive and easy for the beginner to use, but several folks have had difficulty in using the automatic needle threader and have also raised concerns about the level of plastic used in the unit's construction. [REF Brother Sewing Machine Ratings]

  • Janome Hello Kitty 11706

    90.8 Compact, durable and cute.  These three words describe the Janome 11706 ¾ Size Hello Kitty Sewing Machine well.  It is a popular choice with parents or grandparents looking for a beginner machine for their children/grandchildren.  It is also well-liked by adults, and some feel it is good for quick fixes and repairs, and also for travel and classes.  It is lightweight, easy to use and it sews smoothly.  It is not particularly feature rich however and it comes with a limited number of stitches.

  • Brother XL2610 Sewing Machine


    85.8 Like many of the best-selling Brother sewing machines, the XL2610 is a very good entry-level machine.  It is a free-arm sewing machine and it comes with 25 built-in stitches and 59 stitch functions.  Consumers give this machine good marks and most feel that it is a great beginner machine that does what it is supposed to do.  It is also lightweight, easily portable and reliable. [REF Brother Sewing Machine Ratings]

  • Janome 3128 Sewing Machine


    85.8 The Janome 3128 is an entry level mechanical sewing machine that gets very good consumer ratings.  Janome sewing machines have a good reputation and are generally not cheap, but the 3128 can sometimes be found for as little as $120.  It is lightweight, quiet and sews a nice stitch.  Most owners report feeling that they got their money’s worth with this machine.  However, it is also limited in terms of features and accessories, so it is important to understand what you are buying. 

See our Sewing Machine Ratings Table!  It provides sewing machine ratings from our reviews all in one place...  

Kick-start your purchase by reading our helpful Guide to Sewing Machine Buying.

About me...
About me - sewing machine ratingsHello!  My name is Alison and I started Sewing Machine Ratings over 10 years ago. Since then I’ve reviewed scores of sewing machines. Sewing has been a hobby for me since I was a young and I love to make my own clothing.
My website should help you find the best machine for your sewing needs. In addition to reviews, I gather owner ratings for each machine and calculate a score. So you can quickly compare one machine to another and also see how others feel about their sewing machine before you buy.
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