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What Is a Mini Sewing Machine?

By Page Coleman
Updated Jan 28, 2024
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A mini sewing machine is a piece of equipment used for joining fabrics or attaching buttons using thread. It is smaller, lighter, less expensive, and may have fewer features than a conventional home sewing machine. These machines come in table top, handheld, or combination styles. Although they are useful for quick repairs and crafts, they may not offer the full range of sewing functionalities that a conventional machine might.

This portable sewing machine may be battery-operated, and may also a cordless sewing machine. The handheld style is particularly convenient to travel with. They also may be handy for use in offices.

Mini sewing machines can be used to repair hems, tears, and reattaching buttons. Some repairs can be made while the garment is being worn. This equipment can also be used to repair furnishings. With the machine's small size and light weight, it may be possible to repair drapes and other items while they are still hung.

Other uses include scrap booking, quilting, and home decor. Children may enjoy learning to sew and making doll clothes. The smaller size of a mini sewing machine can be more comfortable for them to work with. Parents won’t worry about the child damaging a more expensive machine.

The small size is an advantage for people who live in smaller apartments, move frequently, or find a conventional sewing machine too large, heavy, and cumbersome. These machines are inexpensive and can be a good choice for someone who is on a limited budget and does not sew very much. For people who sew a lot, a miniature sewing machine can be helpful for fast and small sewing tasks.

Someone who enjoys sewing and does it often will probably not be happy with this as her only sewing machine. Most mini sewing machines will not offer the same range of features as a conventional machine. The number of types of stitches, such as zig-zag, chain stitches, and decorative stitches will be limited on a mini sewing machine. These smaller machines may not be powerful enough to sew through heavier materials, such as denims.

Those who are accustomed to a high quality conventional machine may find that minis do not function as smoothly. Working with them may feel awkward and clumsy. The conventional machines may also last longer. Many conventional machines offer automatic threading, embroidery patters, and other advanced features that aren’t found on a mini sewing machine.

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Discussion Comments
By myharley — On Feb 18, 2012

The mini sewing machine in our house gets used a lot. I bought this for my girls to use, but have found that I use it as much as they do.

I thought this would be a good way to teach them how to sew. The have enjoyed sewing some clothes and blankets for their dolls.

For me, this has come in handy for all kinds of quick projects. It comes in really handy when you are sewing on any kind of embellishment on a garment or piece of material.

I added a decorative trim to a thin curtain panel and was able to do this with my mini sewing machine. I still use my regular sewing machine for a big project or for thick material, but the mini sewing machine gets used much more than I ever dreamed it would.

By bagley79 — On Feb 18, 2012

I have two mini sewing machines. One of them I keep at home and often take with me when I travel. The other one I keep in my desk drawer at work for emergencies.

Many of my co-workers know I have this mini sewing machine and have used it when they needed something like a button sewn on.

This is the most frequent thing my machine gets used for, but one day it really came in handy. The whole hem of one of my pant legs began to unravel.

I was able to use my mini sewing machine and sew it right up in no time. If I hadn't had this sewing machine handy, I would have looked for some safety pins until I had a chance to sew it up.

By SarahSon — On Feb 17, 2012

I understand the reasons people like having a mini sewing machine, but mine gets very little use.

I have sewn for most of my life and one of the most relaxing things I can do is sit down at my sewing machine.

I bought a mini sewing machine years ago thinking I would use it for quick projects. For some reason it always felt awkward in my hand and it was just easier and quicker for me to use my regular machine.

There was nothing mechanically wrong with it, but I just never felt very comfortable using it. It has been years since I have gotten it out of the drawer. I really should donate it to someone who would get some use out of it.

By julies — On Feb 16, 2012

I have never had much interest in sewing, and have never had a desire to have a large, heavy sewing machine around.

This is the reason I love my mini sewing machine. It really is much easier to use this than to sew on a button by hand or fix the hem in my pants.

I really don't use it for a lot of things, but it sure is handy to have around when I need it. Mine is a hand held, battery operated machine that doesn't take up much room when it is not in use.

This machine is perfect for someone like me who doesn't have much interest in knowing how to sew, but needs something around once in awhile that is easy to use.

By JaneAir — On Feb 16, 2012

@strawCake - Hand held sewing machines are by definition smaller than regular sewing machines. However, not all of them are flimsy. I have a handheld sewing machine that I like a lot, and it's lasted quite a few years now.

There are a lot of reasons someone might prefer a mini sewing machine over a full sized one. Some people just aren't that interested in taking up sewing. If you don't want to pursue sewing as a hobby, then it doesn't make sense to buy an expensive sewing machine. I think mini sewing machines are great if you just want to hem pants or repair your clothes.

By strawCake — On Feb 15, 2012

@SZapper - I agree with you that most mini sewing machines are flimsy and not worth it. I've seen a few at the sewing machine store that are meant for children, and those are even more flimsy than the regular ones.

Honestly, the only time I think buying one of these would be worth it is if you're on a budget. If you really want to sew on a sewing machine, but don't have the money for one, a mini sewing machine might be the next best thing. However, if you have the money, I too would recommend just getting a full size sewing machine.

By SZapper — On Feb 15, 2012

@miriam98 - I don't see any reason why you couldn't get a handheld sewing machine for a male child. Sewing doesn't really seem like it needs to be a "gendered" activity to me.

In fact, I actually think children are the only people that mini sewing machines are really fit for. As the article said, they are fairly small and flimsy. Also, most of the functionality of a mini sewing machine can be accomplished with hand sewing. The whole point of getting a sewing machine is so you can do more things than you can with hand sewing.

Also, I've had a few friends purchase mini sewing machines, and usually they break fairly quickly. I wouldn't really recommend them.

By Charred — On Feb 14, 2012

@nony - I’d say start small, unless you have ambitious sewing projects in mind as part of the training period. For example, if you need to do a lot of zigzagging or anything else not easily accomplished by a small sewing machine, then in that case you can start with the standard model. You can buy refurbished sewing machines to start in that case.

By nony — On Feb 13, 2012

@miriam98 - If you’re introducing someone to sewing for the first time, is it better to train them using a handheld sewing machine first and then have them use a larger simple sewing machine later?

I ask because the article says that if you start out with the standard sewing machine you may not want to mess with the smaller units.

By miriam98 — On Feb 13, 2012

@everetra - You can also get a child sized version of a handheld sewing machine for your child too (assuming it’s a girl of course). I’ve seen these units sold in stores and they are a great way to introduce young girls to sewing.

Obviously they are more scaled down and safer versions of the regular mini sewing machine, but they still do the job quite well. Little girls can learn how to do things like sew their stuffed dolls or even some light hem work on their pants.

After they get good at it, you can graduate them to a real handheld sewing machine. It should be an easy transition at that point.

By everetra — On Feb 12, 2012

I had a button come off my coat once and was able to use my hand sewing machine to stitch it back on. It was a breeze.

I didn’t realize that you could use it for other things like creating scrap books and stuff like that, but it’s been handy for small sewing jobs.

I do have a large, standard sewing machine but for small jobs I stick with the handheld unit. It’s also battery powered, which makes it even more convenient. I take it with me when I travel in case I experience a “wardrobe malfunction” while I’m away and a seamstress is not nearby. I can just do the quick fixes myself.

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