As people who love to sew, we don’t always want to be pulling out our regular home sewing machine just to sew a quick stitch, and this is why it can be handy to have a handheld sewing machine amongst our collection.
Today we’ll cover why you might want to buy one, some handy tips like changing the needle and thread on this mini sewing machine and of course the best handheld sewing machine on the market – and believe me, there are very FEW worth spending your money on!
If you’re thinking of buying a home sewing machine rather than a handheld one, then my guide to buying a sewing machine will help!
Reasons For Using A Handheld Machine
Handheld sewing machines are only good for portable sewing, allowing us to work on any sewing project that needs our quick attention. A great example that springs to mind is fixing a hem on a skirt or pair of pants.
They also come with different power inputs, from an AC adapter to being operated with aa batteries, making them a truly portable handheld sewing machine that you can use at home, out and about or even when travelling!
Many of these little sewing gadgets struggle to sew through thick fabric or thin fabric, making them suitable only for those emergency sewing situations – and you may decide that a hand sewing needle and thread is a better solution!
But, not everyone can sew with a needle and thread, and not everyone wants to learn how to use a regular sized sewing machine, and so a handheld machine can be a better option for many who are curious enough about sewing but not yet ready to invest in the cost or space of owning a full sized sewing machine.
An important question I think we need to ask though is, are there actually any good handheld sewing machines out there?
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a fee at no extra cost to you if you purchase a recommended product. I only recommend items I have had experience with.
What Stitch Does A Hand Held Sewing Machine Make?
A handheld sewing machine is only be capable of sewing a straight stitch chain stitch! The stitch is created with just one single thread, loaded in a bobbin to the side of the sewing machine, and you will need to tie a knot in both ends of the thread once your line of stitching is sewn – otherwise it will quickly unravel!
How To Thread A Handheld Sewing Machine
All the sewing machines listed here will come with instructions on how to sew them, but here are the steps:
- Load the bobbin on the side of the machine
- Pull the thread across to the thread hole, usually a few centimetres from the bobbin holder
- Run the thread through the tension control
- If there is one, the thread will need to be guided through a second thread hole
- Guide the thread through the eye of the needle use a needle threader, with the thread running from the back to the front
- Finally, pull the thread through the hole, and under the presser foot. (It isn’t really a presser foot, but it’s the closest description I could think of.)
How To Use A Handheld Sewing Machine
Using a handheld sewing machine takes some getting used to. In fact many people complain that you need three hands rather than two to get them to work well.
You have two options with these mini machines.
- Place the machine on a flat surface, turn on the power and feed the fabric from left to right.
- Hold the fabric in your left hand, the sewing machine in your right and close to your body and then guide the machine away from you and along the fabric edge.
If you want a longer stitch length, you will guide the fabric faster, and for a shorter stitch length, guide it through more slowly. It’s a bit of trial and error to get the hang of sewing with a mini hand held machine.
How To Change The Needle In Mini Hand Sewing Machine
Changing the needle on this type of sewing machine is not only tricky, but also very fiddly with each one having their own set of instructions.
Do review the instructions that come with the machine, but as with a regular machine, you’ll need a screwdriver to loosen the original needle, and replace with a new one.
Ok, let’s move onto the ONLY machines you should consider!
The best handheld sewing machine is – in my opinion after lots of research! – the version Volcanoes Club has created! (I know, I’ve never heard of them before either!)
So, this stunned me as I was expecting a well known sewing machine brand to take the top spot but I wonder whether the big brands see that these portable machines are very limiting and so decided not to invest time or money in a product with limited potential sales?
The manufacturer of the Volcanoes Club handheld sewing machine does state in the product description that it should not be used for fabrics greater than 0.07 inches thick – which does limit the the types of fabric that you can use!
This mini handheld sewing machine comes with some essential accessories:
- 8 bobbin threads
- Needle threader
- Spare needle
- Measuring tape
It is powered either by 4 aa battery or the included USB cable – there is no standard power adaptor included.
People who have used this portable handheld sewing machine say that it can be tricky getting used to how it sews, because you need to manage the fabric and the machine – it’s a different sewing technique to using a regular sewing machine with a foot pedal and both hands free to manage the fabric.
Finally, because this small machine can only sew a chain stitch, it is likely that any stitching you do will easily unravel in future, as it doesn’t lock stitch like a regular sewing machine does – make sure to tie knots when removing any fabric!
Other Handheld Sewing Machines To Consider
I took the time to scour the main sites where you might buy a handheld machine, and let me tell you that nearly every handheld sewing machine review I read was SHOCKING!
Beware any website reviewing these gadgets and telling you to buy them!
I’ve included two of the other ‘popular’ recommendations below, but outside of the three I’ve listed here in this article, you really shouldn’t waste your money!
I picked up the above handheld sewing machine from a charity shop while in the UK. It really was awful. This is how the wrong side of the stitching looked when sewn. Just a very simple chain stitch, which when caught, will unravel.
iRuntek Handheld Sewing Machine
The iRuntek handheld sewing machine is a close second to the Volcanoes Club one reviewed above. It is a two speed mini sewing machine, and can be powered with either 4 aa batteries or a USB cable.
It’s also a different shape – the handle is solid plastic with the needle mecahnism tucked inside where it moves, while the other two discussed here are ‘open’ with the upper part visibly moving with each stitch that is sewn.
The reviews for this machine are few – and generally state that it meets expectations.
It is in the same price range as the Volcanoes and Singer sewing machines.
Singer Stitch Sew Portable Sewing Machine
This handheld machine is from Singer, a well know sewing machine brand, who state that it is not intended to be used as a main machine. Bravo for that!
This machine works best with lightweight fabrics, and it uses batteries rather than a power adaptor.
The reviews for this are quite scattered. Some people think it is ok as portable sewing machines go, while others are deeply critical – and I can understand why! If you’re a well known brand like Singer, you’d expect that this machine would at least do a decent sewing job, but the reviews say no!
Yes, the kit includes spare:
But, it is only operated by 4 aa batteries with no option to use an AC adapter making it a bit of a battery drain.
Some say that if you buy this with your eyes open – being aware that it is very basic, that you need three hands to operate it, and that getting the fabric under the plate is tricky – then with time and patience, you’ll be able to master it and use it for those projects needing a quick fix.
All three handheld machines reviewed hare are available around teh same price of under $20 so the price isn’t necessarily a factor when considering which one to buy.
Both the Volcanoes and Singer machines have a single sewing speed while the iRuntek is able to sew at two speeds.
All three of these mini sewing machine have:
- Chain stitch requiring you to knot both the start and the end of your thread
- Tension control
- Bobbin holder
- Rotary wheel adjustment
- Battery compartment (taking 4 aa batteries)
Are they the best handheld sewing machines out there? Yes – some I saw with 3000+ reviews were in fact shady reviews for other products and you should steer well clear!
Would I use one of these to sew anything serious? Absolutely not.
If you’re determined to buy a handheld sewing machine, then I firmly believe that the Volcanoes Club one is the best bet with many more positive reviews than the Singer or the iRuntek, but all three are viable options.
And if you’re now thinking that a regular sewing machine would better, take a look at my articles on the different types of sewing machines and the best sewing machines for leather.
Eve Tokens (aka The Creative Curator) is a fashion designer, creative pattern cutter and sewing pattern designer.
Eve graduated with a 2:1 in Fashion Design from the University of The Creative Arts in the UK, has a BTEC diploma in Creative Pattern Cutting, a Foundation Degree in Art & Design from Wimbledon College of Art and gained extensive experience in the fashion industry by interning and freelancing for London based fashion brands – Hardy Amies, Roland Mouret, Peter Pilotto and others.
As well as running her own small sustainable fashion brand, Eve has more than 25 years experience sewing and making clothes for herself and family members.