Finding the right sewing machine for you can be rather complicated. It’s important to research the different types of machines, the fabric they sew, and the top brands in the industry. You need to know features that you’ll definitely need for your sewing projects and then maybe some features that are no use to you. Needless to say, researching sewing machines can take you hours on end.
To save you a bit of time and money, we’ve gone through hundreds of sewing machines and narrowed it down to the best of the best for different requirements.
Sewing machines all fairly look pretty similar, but you may be surprised to know that hardly any sewing machines are exactly the same. There are sewing machines specifically designed for quilting but are pretty useless when it comes to embroidery. This is a common trend with a lot of sewing machines, great for its intended purpose, but not great for other uses. This is why it’s essential to make sure you’re getting a sewing machine that will work specifically for you and your sewing project needs.
Below we’ve created a list of different sewing machine categories to hopefully help you narrow down to what you’re looking for.
- Electronic Sewing Machines
- Computerized Sewing Machines
- Serger Machines
- Heavy Duty Sewing Machines
- Overlocker Sewing Machines
- Mechanical Sewing Machines
- Beginner Sewing Machines
- Affordable Sewing Machines
- Leather Sewing Machines
- Quilting Sewing Machines
- Embroidery Machines
- Sewing Machines for Denim
- Sewing Machines for Canvas
- Kids Sewing Machines
- Sewing Machines for Zigzag Stitch
- Sewing Machines for Coverstitch
- Sewing Machines for Overlock Stitch
- Sewing Machines for Lockstitch
- Sewing Machines for Chainstitch
When it comes to the type of sewing machine, it’s not only about the number of stitches or the readymade designs that the machine comes with, but there’s a lot more to it to determining the right sewing machine for you.
If you’re on our website, chances are you’re trying to learn a thing or two about sewing, and may even be a beginner sewer. In that case, it’s smart to not bite off more than you can chew. That’s why sewing machines that are easier to use are more ideal for beginner users and should be taken into consideration when looking at our sewing machines in different categories.
We have a specific list of sewing machines for beginners that we highly recommend checking out.
There’s still a lot to consider when we go into choosing the best sewing machines in each category. There’s a lot more that goes into our process of researching and rating sewing machines and going through our elaborate process would be never-ending. We encourage you to do your own research, but we’re confident that our reviews and guides will give you a much better understanding and aid in the search of finding the right machine for you.
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There are two “umbrella” categories of sewing machines:
- Industrial Equipment
- Domestic/Home Equipment
Over 95% of all sewing machines you will ever use will either be in the industrial or domestic category. The complicated part is understanding the 8 essential ways that the two categories compare.
The basic idea is the following:
- Industrial machines specialize in one stitch and produce a cleaner and more professional-looking stitch.
- Domestic machines can do a variety of stitches and therefore usually require a bit more work or adjusting to make sure you get the stitch just right.
- Domestic sewing machines operate at a much slower pace which allows you to more easily control the machine and avoid possible errors.
- Industrial machines are much faster than domestic machines which is one of the perks of it. If it specializes in one stitch then you don’t have to spend time fussing around and can quickly sew with that one stitch.
- Domestic sewing machines have smaller motors that are unable to handle all types of cloth or fabric. Typically a sewing machine in a home cannot handle larger cloth and thicker fabric and is made for smaller sewing projects.
- Industrial machines can handle larger cloth and thicker fabric.
- Domestic machines are not intended to operate for more than 5 hours at a time. If you go over this 5-hour limit, you risk burning out the motor.
- Industrial machines are meant to last a lot longer than domestic machines and can operate for much longer.
- Since domestic machines can only handle fabric and material so thick, you would assume that it can only handle thread so thick as well. This is true, domestic sewing machines need to use a lighter thread with smaller cones.
- Since industrial machines can handle thicker fabric, they can also handle a thicker thread to compliment the material. Industrial machines can easily handle both thicker thread and larger cones.
- With domestic machines, you can only do smaller sewing projects and therefore the machine is only required to be clean and maintained every few months for most people. The more you clean, the better, but it’s not as necessary with domestic machines.
- Since industrial machines are doing more heavy-duty projects and for longer periods of time, they do require a bit more maintenance. Parts may need to be replaced as time goes on and most sewing machine companies have excellent customer service to help you navigate any repairs or maintenance.
As you would expect, the price between domestic and industrial sewing machines are quite different.
- Domestic machines range anywhere from $400-500.
- Industrial machines range from $2,000-5,000 or more.
Although there’s a common misconception that industrial sewing machines are the better sewing machine. The truth is that neither industrial or domestic sewing machines are better than each other. Sure, one machine is better at doing some things than the other, but no machine is absolutely perfect doing everything.
That’s why it’s important to look at a wide range of criteria when determining what type of sewing machine you’re looking for.
There are a lot of popular sewing machine brands, many you have probably heard before. The more invested you get into sewing, you will probably realize that there is about 5-6 major brands out there. From sewing machine cases to needles, these brands are well-known for all things sewing.
- Brother Sewing Machines
- Singer Sewing Machines
- Janome Sewing Machines
- Juki Sewing Machines
- Consew Sewing Machines
- Bernette Sewing Machines
You can explore the top sewing machines for each of the major brands by clicking the links above.
After exploring the different sewing machines and learning the basics, you’ll be more confident in your decision with finding the right sewing machine for you.
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Although it seems like no two sewing machines are the same, the majority of them have very similar fundamental features. That being said, using a sewing machine isn’t as simple as it may seem and can take some time to learn the ropes of your sewing machine.
However, below, we put together a general guide to get your familiar with the basics of all sewing machines.
Bobbin and Bobbin Case
The bobbin is what holds the tread for the machine and also makes up the bottom part of the machine stitch. As you would guess, the bobbin case is what the bobbin is actually placed in. Both the bobbin and the bobbin case can’t be shared with different sewing machines because they are both specific to the particular brand and model of that sewing machine. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you’re only using bobbins and bobbin cases that are designed for your specific machine.
Not every machine has a bobbin cover. Depending on your machine, your sewing machine may either have a slide plate or a bobbin cover. This allows you to manage the bobbins.
The pressure foot is a removable part that is in charge of ensuring that your fabric stays in place when working. The type of pressure foot required may be tailored to the type of sewing job at hand. For example, a non-stick pressure foot would be best when working with oilcloth.
Needles and Needle Clamps
The needles are removable from the sewing machine as well and available in all different sizes. The needle clamp is a part of the sewing machine that holds the needle in place.
The throat plate is located below the needle and pressure foot and is an important part of your sewing machine. Sometimes known as the needle plate, it has a small opening that allows both the needle and thread to properly stitch the fabric.
A throat plate is also removable and should be removed when cleaning your machine. Throat plates normally come with small notches that are important in sewing including sewing in straight lines.
Feed dogs are small-teeth like metal objects that aid you in sewing a better stitch. These ‘teeth’ move and pull the bottom fabric as you sew and make it pass through the machine evenly.
We definitely recommend using feed dogs instead of trying to pull the fabric manually, which can cause the fabric to be uneven as well as sometimes lead to damage to your machine.
Tension Regulating Thumb Nut
This is a small dial that helps to ensure that the top thread has the correct amount of tension when sewing. It’s so important to have the right balance between the top thread and the bobbin to create uniform stitching. When the tension is too high, the more likely you’ll end up with broken stitches. On the other end of the spectrum, if the tension is too low, you are going to have very loose stitches.
Thread Take-Up Lever
The take-up level is located in various places depending on your type of sewing machine. The purpose of the take-up lever is to have the top thread pass through while moving it in sync with the needle in the sewing process.
It’s important before you start sewing to make sure the take-up level is pulled up to the highest position, along with the needle. Doing this will help make sure the fabric won’t get caught in the handle.
The bobbin winder thread tension disk and is external to your sewing machine. If your machine has this, it will help allow the thread to pass from the spool to the winder.
The bobbin winder itself holds the spool when you’re filling the bobbin. It’s important to make sure the bobbin is empty prior to working to make sure you evenly wind your thread.
There are two different thread guides, an upper and a lower. The thread passes through them both in a way that helps it move with just the right amount of tension needed to properly sew.
The spool pin is a slightly thicker looking needle that holds the thread while the machine is running. It’s normally in a vertical position, but can also be horizontal as well. The number of spool pins in your machine depends on your model of the sewing machine and for different intended results.
Also known as a handwheel is in charge of lowering and raising the take-up lever. The flywheel should always be facing towards you when operating your sewing machine.
The stitch selector simply selects the stitch for the sewing machine. Older machines have a dial that you can turn to select different stitches, while newer models tend to have buttons to select the stitch.
Similar to the stitch selector, machines allow you to select the stitch length as well. This is normally in the form of a dial and is turned to determine the length of the stitch. Some machines are in inches, some in metric, and others are on a length scale of 0 to 9.
The length of the stitch can be determined by the sewing project you’re working on but also the fabric you’re using as well. For everyday sewing projects, a medium length is common. When working with thinner fabrics, you would want to keep the stitch short and the opposite by keeping the stitch longer in length for heavier fabrics.
A lot of electronic and newer sewing machines come with menu options that allow you to manage many functions and select your stitches. For older machines, this is normally replaced with some sort of dial.
The reverse button does a backstitch on an area you’ve already sewn. It simply allows you to switch the direction of the stitch from beginning to end and vice versa.
The Foot Controller is used in conjunction with other parts, to control the speed of the stitching.
It’s important to make sure there’s a safe distance between your fingers and the pressure foot when feeding the fabric through the throat plate. When you pause, don’t forget to keep your foot on the footplate in order to avoid accidentally starting the stitching up again.
If you want to pause your project for a decent amount of time, it’s best to just unplug your machine to ensure that it won’t start sewing again.