Welcome to my review of the best heavy duty sewing machines money can buy.
So many sewing machine brands claim to have made a heavy duty model only to discover that the machine is lightweight, unstable and breaks easily. Over the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to test hundreds of machines and I can tell you exactly which machines are truly heavy duty.
You’ve come to right place if you’re looking for a sewing machine that is:
- Sturdy and Stable
- Able to Sew Thicker Fabric like Denim Jeans
- Faster (Stitches-per-Minute) and More Powerful
- Helps You to Comfortably Sew for Longer Periods
- Equipped with Automatic Push-Button Controls
- and more…
Don’t forget to read all the way down to learn what I think are the most underrated features that you absolutely must consider when buying a heavy duty machine. (See our other best sewing machine articles.)
Best Heavy Duty Sewing Machines with Some Industrial Features
1. Best Singer Heavy Duty Sewing Machine – Singer Heavy Duty 4423
The very popular Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine, is an excellent option for people who don’t want to be limited by their machine in the future. It’s extremely well priced for the quality and built-in functionality you’ll be getting.
The high powered motor and the strong internal mechanism ensure that you can sew thicker materials like Demin and even some leathers.
- 23 Built In stitches
- Automatic Needle Threading
- Fast and Powerful
- Sews Thicker Fabric Easily
- Tough Quality
- 4 Presser Feet Included
- 1 Step Button Hole
- Upgraded Models Also Available
- Nothing Negative
2. Best Heavy Duty Computerized Sewing Machine – Brother CS7000X
The Brother CS7000x is a fantastic beginner sewing machine for people who do not want to be limited in the future. It’s easy master but it will also serve as a highly functional sewing machine for many years to come. You may never need anything more.
It’s by far the best value, even though it’s a little pricey, since replacing it won’t be necessary for a very long time. It has computerized functionality and LCD Display, and Quilting work is made easier thanks to the wide table attachment included.
- Excellent Quality
- Push Button Controls
- 70 Stitches
- Computerized / LCD Screen
- Auto Needle Threader
- 10 Sewing Feet Included
- Pricier but Absolutely Worth It
What Makes a Sewing Machine “Heavy Duty”?
The term is obviously relative. That means that anyone can call their sewing machine “heavy duty” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. In fact. most who claim to be, simply aren’t. It’s just another way of marketing their product to a wider range of unsuspecting buyers.
Let’s look at some of the things that actually makes a sewing machine “heavy duty”…
- It’s a machine that can sew through thick fabric for long hours without breaking.
- It’s ergonomic enough that you can sew for hours without getting tired or your hands cramping.
- It has more features that come standard in industrial machines like pushbutton controls
- It works well at high speeds with 1500 to 2000 stiches per minute.
- and more…
Now let’s see why these are actually important for you…
Larger Working Surface and Throat Size
It’s safe to assume that someone seeking a heavier duty sewing machine wants to use it for larger items like curtains, upholstery and bedding or quilting as well as the smaller items regular sewers need. For this reason, a larger working surface will make sewing bigger items much easier.
We’re talking here about the table attachment (the part that sticks out past the needle) as well as the through size (the space between the frame and the needle) a.k.a arm-length. Either way, you won’t need to move your fabric around as much of you have a bigger working area and there will be significantly less chance of sewing accidental pleats into fabric as you crumple and twist the material to try and work inside a limited space.
Heavier duty sewing machines have larger motors which help it sew through thicker materials. (Of course, you’ll need the metal workings behind it to handle that extra power too). Too many of the products I’ve tested simply seem to run out of steam on thicker quilts or other fabric like a Minky. Materials like leather are simply out of the question unless you have some power to drive the needle through it. Even though you don’t see yourself working on anything as thick as leather, the extra power comes in very handy on lighter fabrics too and you start to really notice it over long periods of use.
It’s not that a weaker motor will burn out, or even that it won’t get through the fabric. It’s just so much easier when you have higher watts of power behind every stitch as well as the strong architecture to back it up.
Clutch motors are stronger but noisier while servo motors are lighter, use less power and quieter. It might be worth looking for a clutch motor for the extra power.
Higher Stitch Speed
With higher power comes higher speeds. In this category, you’re looking for 1500 to 2000 spm (stitches per minute). This will make larger projects go much faster and you can save time and energy on a lot of back-breaking work with a little extra speed.
This is often the second thing you notice when you first start using a real heavy duty sewing machine. The first being that it’s much more stable due to it’s weight…
Heavier and More Stable
Aah… the joy of working on a solid, heavy machine that sits as solid as a rick on the sturdy sewing table while you get on with your work. This is why we love older machines so much. You can feel the metal gliding along with every stitch in absolute certainty. Contrast this with a lightweight or portable sewing machine that feels wobbly and unsure. There is a place for lightweight, but it’s not here. Here we want to trust every stitch with solid, unwavering stability. Especially when we have real work ahead of us.
A starting point is around 15 pounds but can be much heavier for larger machines. Anything lighter and you’re going to get frustrated at the instability.
Also, don’t forget to get a heavy duty sewing table while you’re at it. There’s nothing worse than a heavy machine on a lightweight sewing table!
Higher Quality Parts
All brands like Singer, Brother, Janome etc. have a selection of sewing machines which range from cheaper, entry-level machines, all the way to industrial sewing machines. It’s not just the casing itself that is upgraded. The parts inside, like the sewing mechanism, dials, buttons and motor are all higher quality as you move up the line.
If you’re planning on using your machine for longer periods of time, and especially if you’re making money with sewing, you want a reliable sewing machine which will need fewer repairs over the coming years. Not only because repairs are expensive but also because time is money and you may be without a machine for weeks as the repairs are often backed up at the manufacturer. Private or third-party repair companies can also help, but you may not be getting the same quality of work, or even genuine parts.
The best way to avoid breaking is to start with higher quality in the beginning. Cheaper machines are just going to break sooner. At least, that’s what I’ve found.
Tension adjustment, stitch selection and automatic thread cutting are all examples of features which are done automatically (with the push of some buttons) on these machines as opposed to manually having to turn dials and knobs or take the extra time to cut remaining thread with sewing scissors. Each control makes a slight difference but, when considered as a whole, the entire operation of the machine becomes easier and more enjoyable. See which featured are manual and which are automatic before you make your final decision. You may prefer some over others and different brands will accommodate you in different ways.
Snap-on Presser Feet
Higher quality and pricier machines will allow you to “snap on” different presser feet without having to detach them tediously. This seems like a small benefit at first, but after several hours of working, it becomes a life saver.
The feed dogs stick out of the throat plate and pull the underside of the fabric along with every stich.
Now, a walking foot ALSO has feed dogs inside the foot mechanism which pulls the top of the fabric along too. By using a walking foot, the fabric is pulled along from both the bottom AND the top.
This is very useful when quilting a ‘sandwich” of layers together that include batting in between of when working on several layers at once like in a rolled seam. You can usually buy this attachment separately but some heavy duty machine will come with one included.
Even though this feature is found in lighter machines too, it’s something I would absolutely try to consider when buying a heavy duty sewing machine. Very simply, a “free-arm sewing machine” refers to the bottom section of the sewing machine (where there bed plate is housed). If this is separated from the base of the sewing machine, it allows you to pull a shirt sleeve over the “arm” and your can sew things like cuffs much easier.
Larger Range of Accessories
In general, more advanced sewing machines have a larger range of additional accessories you can buy. This makes it much easier to keep using the machine for years as oppose to “outgrowing” it too soon. You may not even need everything at the moment, but knowing that you can attach it if you need to, just feels like the studious thing to do.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved sewing. From large, heavy, vintage machines with all metal parts to the more modern sewing machines with loads of built in features. I’ve always preferred a solid machine over one with too many bells and whistles. Now I can have both. A solid, heavy duty machine with the stability of a vintage one as well as the modern features that come in the newer, lighter machines.
I hope you found some of this information useful and hope you find exactly what you’re looking for in a sewing machine.