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Children’s Lightweight Machines

emicon | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I am looking for a machine for my daughter (7 years old) and was impressed to see so many options available to order, but without being able to test drive them I’m not sure which one to get.

From “Barbie” & “Hello Kitty” themes to traditional Singer Featherweight, there are many different models.

Ideally I am looking for something with
VERY good speed control,
easy threading,
and nice size.

Chain stitch is not my first preference, as I think it will serve her better in the long run to learn to sew with a bobbin.

Anyone tried this type of machine?



  1. GailAnn | | #1

    If you can afford it, go ahead and try to find an original Singer Featherweight 221 for her.  It will serve her well for her entire life!  When she is older, she may choose to make it her "travel" machine.  It will give her an appreciation of quality, and serviceability.  It will probably save you money in the long run, as it will never need to be replaced.  Possibly added to, but never replaced.

    I learned to sew on a 'real' machine, although it was an old Kenmore.  Gail

  2. starzoe | | #2

    I would agree with GailAnn on this. A real machine is the answer. The ones you mentioned are really toys and frustrating for anyone to sew on. A seven year old can even use an ordinary machine, my grandgirls sew on my Husqvarna without tears or frustration.

  3. solosmocker | | #3

    I second the Featherweight idea. I have one from 1952 that sews wonderfully today. She will always remember how you set her up to sew if you get her a Featherweight. They are timeless.

  4. Lilith1951 | | #4

    Hi, I'm new here and this is my first posting.  I agree with the others that your best bet is a real machine--chain stitch is not worth bothering with.  I love my old Featherweights, too, but they are very particular about threading and tension, and can jamb up easily if you sew off the edge just a stitch or two, which would frustrate a child terribly.  It is a great machine and they would treasure it in the future, but I have found some great older straight stitch machines (and some with zig-zag features) at our local flea market in the $15-25 range.  It's another option.  The 50's & 60's machines (before they started using plastic housings) were mostly very well built, especially Singers in that time period and I've even found some in pretty colors that would appeal to a young girl, like aqua, blue, and rose pink.  I don't recommend buying one of the "new" Singer Featherweights.  They are not the same thing as the old 221's at all.

    Whatever you do, you'll enjoy teaching your daughter!  It's a fun adventure to begin.

  5. mygaley | | #5

    One of the great pleasures of my life has been teaching DD and DGDs to sew. You have gotten good advice to get her a real machine. Will she be too frustrated if it does not do a few simple zigzag stitches? Mentioning frustrated, that's what I am when I see a child given inferior tools because of their age. They deserve sharp scissors, fabric they love, seam rippers, thread clips, etc, as much as we do. My granddaughter age 10 told me "these scissors won't even cut paper" and we went right out and bought some sharp Fiskars. God bless you Galey

  6. Betakin | | #6

    A little girl would probably love the Hello Kitty type machine but I can recommend a couple of other small machines. The Janome Jem gold and Jem silver have the see through top loading jam proof bobbin and slant thread spool.  These little machines also make lovely 4 step button holes and have a few extra stitches like blind hem etc. These machines can be purchased at on line dealers for around $199.  Original dealer prices of these machines were close to $400. My Jem Silver came in a little blue travel bag. Janome made these machines for the ASG to take to quilt classes etc.

    The Janome made Kenmore mini's are very inexpensive and they are much the same as the Janome Jem models but have a vertical bobbin and spool. These are very quiet machines that stitch very smoothly. I didn't feel that the button hole was as good as the Janome Jem's buttonhole. One of the girls in my family uses this machine and it was purchased for $79. Her's is blue. This machine now comes in pearl colors of white, pink and green.

    I hole your DD will love her new machine and will love to sew.

  7. SkiNsew | | #7

    I second the suggestion to get her one of the Kenmore Mini's.  I got one for my granddaughters on sale.  It was $50.  It is a "real" machine, sews at a very manageable speed and has all the basic features that you need----buttonhole, straight stitch, zig zag, 3step zig zag and blind hem.  My 6 & 8 year old grand daughters share it and have successfully made several startup projects.

    Grandma Mary

  8. midnitesewer | | #8

    I also use a Janome made Kenmore mini for quilting classes and guild meetings. I find myself using it when I want to sew somewhere in the house other than the "sewing area" (aka bedroom corner). It's a nice quiet 3/4-size machine. It's a low shank machine with screw-on feet. You can buy an ankle that allows you to use snap on feet. Be sure to only buy feet meant for a vertical (front-loading bobbin) machine. I got my ankle from a Janome dealer. My Pfaff dealer had the same ankle available. There are three lengths of straight stiches preset on the mini. You can choose a  length  between the presets by turning the knob to a position between the presets. I carry my machine in an insulated wheeled soda cooler that I bought at K-mart for $20.00. Good luck with your machine search.

  9. Tatsy | | #9

    Contrary to most of the posters, I can cite a really good experience with the Hello Kitty. My 10-year-old niece saved up her money to buy one on sale ($35) and has been thrilled ever since. I understand that it has straight stitch and several zigzags as well. Also, the ladies in the sewing store were so thrilled that a young girl used her own money that they loaded her up with freebies and called the store owner who told them to add even more. I think it really depends on the girl you're buying for. If she's into brands, Hello Kitty maybe the better choice. It's really just a basic Janome and has that brand behind it.

    1. WandaJ | | #10

      Thanks for telling me about the Hello Kitty Machine. I believe K-Mart has an upcoming toy sale, and a 50% off coupon to boot (i.e., for one toy purchase). If that memory flash is correct then I plan on buying one for one of My Girlz - the 6-yr old, this weekend while the sale is on.........I've enjoyed reading through this post, and it seems that I will never cease to be amazed about what I learn through the Gatherings Discussion Group.

      1. Tatsy | | #11

        If you were on the Lovely Company thread you know what a diverse group we are. Glad I could be of help.

        1. WandaJ | | #12

          Lovely Company thread? Please clue me in. Thanks

          1. Cherrypops | | #13


            Click this: 7367.1

            It should take you to the Lovely Company Thread.

            It got pushed way down the list.

            CherryP - sydney


          2. WandaJ | | #14

            Thank you, I will tune in.

    2. emicon | | #15

      Thank you so much for your very helpful replies!Emily

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