Top 9 Best Heavy Duty Sewing Machine 2021 Review

If you’ve just started sewing, the thought of finding the best heavy duty sewing machine might not be on your radar just yet.

But, if you fall in love with sewing, it might not be long before you want to start sewing more hefty fabrics together.

And, whether it’s for sewing, quilting, or embroidery, you’ll need a machine that is both powerful and easy to use.

With the resurgence of sewing from home, more people than ever before are taking up this wonderful hobby.

Popular materials have changed, and people use heavier fabrics such as denim and leather in their sewing projects.

I’ve read hundreds of the best heavy duty sewing machine specs and have come up with my top 8 sewing machines available now.

I hope this will help you choose the best sewing machine that will fulfill your stitching dreams!

What’s the best heavy-duty sewing machine for me?

Heavy-duty sewing machines come with a variety of different features, accessories, and attachments. Below, I’ve given you the top picks of my evaluation:

Top Products

Here are the top products from the lineup sorted by category…

Top Pick

Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine

Suitable for beginners and those who want to venture into the more advanced world of sewing projects.

Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine

My top pick for a heavy-duty sewing machine has to be the Brother ST150HDH. The Brother company is known for its reliable and durable products.

It’s a great unit for those who are seeking a heavy duty option that’s also affordable.

Display

Customers love this product, and I can definitely see why.

The LED screen lights up brightly so you can see the adjustable stitch length and width on this Brother sewing machine.

Power

It will sew easily through thicker denims and leather.

People say it stitches nice and cleanly.

The electric stop/start button means there is no need to use a foot pedal (great if you have an animal – I don’t know about you, but dogs seem to love chewing on the cables!)

Best Value

Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine

It’s a strong, tough, and versatile machine with plenty of power. It’s an easy to use and inexpensive heavy-duty sewing machine overall.

Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine

Brother ST371HD is my best value pick. I think the drop feed option is a brilliant feature of this device.

Function

This is good for embroidery, quilting, and all free motion sewing.

The jam resistant drop-in top bobbin is really useful for monitoring how much thread you have remaining on your bobbin.

Anti Slip

The rubber base of the unit keeps it from moving while you sew.

As a bonus, the presser foot has an extra highlight adjustment to use when making thicker fabrics.

For smooth sewing, this is the best choice available.

Editor’s Choice

Janome HD 3000 Sewing Machine

A lightweight and durable heavy-duty unit that comes with a plethora of features.

Janome HD 3000 Sewing Machine

The Janome HD3000 is my editor’s choice, as it’s a durable and robust sewing machine thanks to its aluminum construction.

Build

Don’t let the lightness lead you astray, as this unit is tough as nails.

Janome HD3000 has built a unit that can sew thick fabrics like cutting through butter. The stitching will move back forth three times, for those heavy and thick seams. 

The presser foot tension adjusts, so when using the correct needle size, you can also sew lighter fabrics.

In my opinion, it’s a workhorse of a machine.

Alternative

If you want a model like the Janome HD3000, but with less bells and whistles, have a look into its little brother, the Janome HD1000 heavy duty sewing machine.

It’s very similar, but with a smaller stitch width of 5mm and 14 built in stitches.

Best Heavy Duty Sewing Machines

Here is the whole lineup of our heavy duty sewing machines review…

Editor’s Choice

Janome HD 3000

A lightweight and durable heavy-duty sewing machine that comes with a plethora of features.

Janome HD 3000

The Janome HD3000 heavy-duty sewing machine that comes with a plethora of features.

It’s a mechanical sewing machine made from aluminum with all-metal working parts.

This device is surprisingly lightweight (only 2lbs lighter than a plastic bodied machine) and will tuck away easily in a cupboard in between uses.

Build

There is a stitch selection dial in place of an LCD screen on the Janome HD3000.

The 18 possible stitches are well varied, my favorite being the stretch stitch, which will let you sew on stretchy fabrics without popping stitches when stretched over the head.

Janome have given us an overcast stitch to neaten up edges and prevent unraveling during wash and wear.

The movable slides help adjust the width and length to get it just right for use.

Features

It comes with a range of features, such as a drop top bobbin so you can see what’s going on in the bobbin area – and, there’ll be no more painfully trying to thread the needle with the automatic needle threader.

The Janome HD3000 sewing machine comes with a free arm for when you want to hem arm and pant legs.

Feet

The Janome HD3000 heavy duty sewing machine also comes with a variety of feet, which easily snap on.

It includes an ultra glide foot, perfect for leather.

The automatic leveling foot is a great feature to be used with heavy duty fabrics.

And, the adjustable pressure on the HD3000 fabric foot is useful for applique and knit fabrics.

Specs

  • Stitches per minute: 860
  • Weight: 21lbs
  • Unit dimensions: 19” x 10” x 14.7” (L x W x H)
  • Built in stitches: 18
  • Maximum stitch length: 4mm

Pros

  • Lightweight, easily moveable
  • Extra high foot lift for thicker fabrics
  • Long cord 50” from the device to the foot pedal
  • Good for heavy fabrics

Cons

  • Thread cutters are positioned on the side of the Janome machine, wasting thread.
  • Not that many different stitch features.

Singer 4423 Sewing Machine

Performs well with customers admiring its tight and consistent stitching. A suitable unit for both beginner and professional sewing projects

Singer 4423 Sewing Machine

The Singer 4423 is a suitable unit for both beginner and professional sewing projects.

Quality

The commercial grade, heavy duty machines can handle different thickness changes without manual assistance.

It performs well with customers admiring its tight and consistent stitching. If you’re in the sewing business, you will know that Singer consistently makes good quality sewing machines.

LED

Its bright LED light illuminates the workspace.

It also comes with a top drop in the bobbin holder so you won’t run out of thread while finishing your seams. Slide off the removable storage to have full access to the free arm, making it easier to sew pants, cuffs and hems on this Singer.

Stitch Speed

The 1 100 stitches per minute help bring your creative ideas to life quickly.

The adjustable stitch length and built in stitches are easily accessible by turning the stitch selection dial.

It even features a Singer serger stitch that encases the raw edge of fabric while giving an attractive seam. It also offers built in stretch stitches and will sew two stitches forward and one back, adding elasticity and reinforcement.

Learning Resource

This unit comes with Singer owners online classes, which are available whenever you are to learn.

The team classes teach you how to sew a buttonhole, thread your machine correctly, choose the right stitch, and more.

Singer has created a Singer Sewing Assistant app to help you set up the unit and select the right stitch for various techniques.

Specs

  • Built in stitches: 97
  • Stitches per minute: 1100
  • Weight: 14.6lbs
  • Unit dimensions: 15.5 x 6.25 x 12 (L x W x H)
  • Maximum stitch length: 4mm

Pros

  • Sturdy sewing machine while being lightweight
  • Auto-buttonhole function
  • Automatic tension control – good for changing weights of fabrics

Cons

  • Mostly made from plastic
  • Have to regulate the foot pedal when you first use it as it’s very powerful.

Best Value

Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine

It’s a strong, tough, and versatile unit with plenty of power. It’s an easy to use and inexpensive heavy-duty sewing machine overall.

Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine

The Brother ST371HD is one the best sewing machines out there, and it has a ton of very happy customers.

Build

It’s a strong, tough, and versatile unit with plenty of power.

It’s an easy to use and inexpensive heavy-duty sewing machine overall.

Although the unit doesn’t have a completely automatic needle threader, the printed graphics on the sewing unit will help you thread the unit.

From sewing lots of layers of canvas, from leather to corduroy, the 37 inbuilt stitches provide strength while adding a decorative touch.

Features

Like most Brother sewing machines, this also comes with a generous offering of accessories, including heavyweight needles in 3 different sizes.

The features on the unit include a stitch selection dial, drop feed dog feature, presser foot lift, buttonhole foot, and a free arm.

The top drop in bobbin and the automatic bobbin winding system are my favorite features of this machine.

Manual Dial

The manual dials have a fine ratchet on them to prevent them from sliding out when using it at high production rate.

Customers say the LED light is good enough to light up the workspace without the glare.

Additionally, the clear instruction manual with pictures, a table of contents and DVD ensure you have an easy and quick setup.

The built in handle helps move the Brother ST371HD sewing machine from the cupboard to sewing area effortlessly.

Specs

  • Built in stitches: 37
  • Stitches per minute: 800
  • Weight: 14.5lbs
  • Unit dimensions: 8 x 16 x 12 (L x W x H)
  • Maximum stitch length: 5mm

Pros

  • Drop feed dog feature.
  • Easy set up
  • Consistent high quality stitching
  • Easily cuts through heavy material

Cons

  • No up / down needle button for pivoting fabrics.
  • Not made of the best material, mostly plastic
  • No automatic needle threader

Top Pick

Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine

Suitable for beginners and those who want to venture into the more advanced world of sewing projects.

Brother ST150HDH Sewing Machine

The Brother ST150HDH is suitable for beginners and those who want to venture into the more advanced world of sewing projects.

Build

It is the first Brother sewing machine that has been made with a heavy duty metal frame. Although it’s a computerized machine, it still functions like a basic sewing machine.

At a touch of a lever, the needle gets threaded.

The top drop-in bobbin cover is clear, so you can see when your bobbin thread is low without having to stop sewing and check.

Features

The automatic bobbin winder has a thread cutter for the bobbin spool, meant so you don’t waste any precious thread.

It comes with an automatic presser foot lift too.

Customers love the features such as the sewing speed control, starting and stopping, and the needle up-and-down button, useful for if you want to pivot your work.

Power

It sews through thicker materials without slowing down and the buttonholes work flawlessly according to reviewers.

It’s a quiet model, stitching very quickly without jumping off the table.

During this review, I saw a video of 24 (!!!) layers of canvas being sewn on this beast of a model. It came out with beautiful, tight, and straight stitches. Bravo Brother, bravo!

Specs

  • Built in stitches: 50
  • Stitches per minute: 850
  • Weight: 18.7lbs
  • Unit dimensions: 16 x 7 x 12.5
  • Maximum stitch length: 5mm

Pros

  • Great for first-time or new sewers
  • Automatic bobbin winder
  • Great for a high number of fabrics

Cons

  • No automatic needle threader

Singer 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

Designed for heavy duty projects. This model has a powerful motor that has a very high sewing speed.

Singer 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

The Singer Heavy Duty 4411 has been designed for the best heavy duty projects in mind.

Build

This model has a powerful motor that has a very high stitching speed at 1 100 stitches per minute.

You have full speed control with the foot pedal provided.

Aside from the speed control feature, like other Singer products, there is the Singer sewing assistant app as well as the Singer online owners class video, which will help you any time of the day.

It comes with an online stitch applications guide as well, in case you misplace the instruction manual.

Features

The best features on the Singer include the drop feed teeth, which can be lowered for free motion and button sewing.

The stitch selector dial displays the built-in stitches, so you don’t have to keep note of anything.

The adjustable presser foot applies pressure so you can sew on lightweight thinner materials.

Accessories

The Singer heavy duty 4411 comes with an array of easy to use accessories, a dust cover, and smooth foot pedal.

The removable storage unit can be slid off for a free arm.

Customers vary from early beginners to professionals who say this Singer is the best heavy duty sewing machine.

Affordable

It’s sturdy, and works well without the huge price tag.

It’s a very high quality well engineered little machine, offering reliable stitching.

It also comes with an abundance of information about the Singer heavy duty sewing machine and help online to get you started.

Specs

  • Stitches per minute: 1,100
  • Built in stitches: 69
  • Weight: 14.5lbs
  • Unit dimension: 15,5 x 6.3 x 12”
  • Maximum stitch length: 4mm

Pros

  • Built in free arm
  • Clear case for bobbin holder.
  • Comes with imperial and metric measurements written on the sewing plate.

Cons

  • Not good for stitching small seams – material has to cover the feed dogs completely.
  • No automatic needle threader on this Singer heavy duty sewing machine.

Reliable Barracuda 200ZW

A reliable but very simple type of heavy duty machine. This is a workhorse of a machine, and won’t disappoint when heavy duty sewing thick fabrics like leather and denim.

Reliable Barracuda 200ZW

The Reliable Barracuda 200ZW is just that.

It’s a reliable but very simple type of heavy duty machine, and one of the best heavy duty sewing machines at the moment.

Quality

It’s definitely not made for sewing for fun and thinner fabrics. I would say this is at the high end of heavy duty sewing machines.

It’s a heavy machine, so not necessarily a put away in the cupboard.

Not very moveable.

There are only two simple stitches with this machine: a straight stitch and a zig-zag.

Build

This really is a workhorse of a machine, and won’t disappoint when heavy duty stitching thick fabrics like leather and denim.

The model is smooth and easy to use, with power to spare.

The walking foot brings out the bottom thread, so contrasting thread colors look their best, showing off the neat stitching. A good feature for a simple, yet one of the best heavy duty sewing machines.

When you’re moving the fabrics around you must be careful to not snap the needle. 

Learning Curve

Customers report some light issues, but if you take the time to learn about the mechanics behind this machine you might not be disappointed.

For the mechanically inclined, any errors are easily corrected.

Once you’ve got used to the stitch length selector lever you’ll be up and running using one of the best heavy duty sewing machines.

Online Resource

The Reliable corporation has a really useful YouTube channel that helps you with any problems that might occur e.g. tension issues, how to thread the needle.

Customers reported that the company is very quick in fixing a model if any errors during manufacturing have been made, unlike some other top name heavy duty sewing machine brands.

Specs

  • Built in stitches: 2
  • Stitches per minute: 800
  • Weight: 40lb
  • Unit dimensions: 14” x 7” x 12”
  • Maximum stitch length: 6mm

Pros

  • Sews heavy duty fabric really well.
  • Two stitches for simplicity.
  • Helpful and reliable customer service.

Cons

  • No automatic needle threader.
  • Without modern features

Juki TL2000Qi Sewing Machine

For the mid range price, you are getting a top of the line piece of equipment that can really handle some serious use.

Juki TL2000Qi Sewing Machine

The Juki TL 2000QI is a lightweight yet heavy duty unit.

Build

While it only boasts one simple stitch, customers love this product, and it has one of the highest ratings online.

While being super moveable, the aluminum die cast arm makes the model sturdy enough to use at full speed without any wobbling.

Features

The range of features includes a knee lifter for hands on work, a bright LED light that illuminates the huge workspace, and an extension table.

There’s the important thread cutter that can be employed by using the foot pedal, saving you from grabbing the scissors.

The fast and responsive heavy duty sewing machine stitches at a speed of 1500spm.

The tension control on this model is automatically controlled with the top thread.

Easy access oil ports make for an easier squeaky clean.

Warranty

You can add a protection plan warranty with this model, depending on which supplier you buy from.

Customers have compared it to the Rolls Royce in the heavy duty sewing world. For the mid range price tag, you are getting a top of the line piece of equipment that can really handle some serious use.

Specs

  • Built in stitches: 60
  • Stitches per minute: 1500
  • Unit dimensions: 17.8” x 8.6” x 13.8”
  • Weight: 37.8 lbs
  • Maximum stitch length: 6mm

Pros

  • Powerful LED light so you can see what you’re doing
  • Extension cable for larger work
  • Knee lift-lever

Cons

  • Customers have reported issues with the feed dogs.
  • Can be time consuming to source repair parts if required.

Singer Heavy Duty 4432

Made with a powerful motor and a heavy-duty metal frame. Comes with an automatic needle threader and a drop feed feature.

Singer Heavy Duty 4432

Build

The Singer 4432 has been made with a powerful motor and a heavy-duty metal frame.

There are bundles that you can buy with the Singer online that include extension ables and accessory kits.

The adjustable presser foot tension and the stainless steel bed plate allows the fabric to glide through the machine.

Features

My top features of the machine are an automatic needle threader and a drop feed – a must for free motion heavy duty sewers and quilters.

It also comes with an extra high presser foot lifter to accommodate thicker fabrics.

The free arm on this model makes it easy to sew trouser hems and sleeve cuffs on thick denim trousers.

It comes with a dust cover so you can keep your machine dust free when not in use.

Buttonhole Foot

The buttonhole making foot on this machine is a breeze.

Customers say it’s the best heavy duty machine for a beginner and intermediate to advanced sewers as it’s easy to use.

Again, there are free owners class videos and lessons via the singer app and they have a good customer support team.

Specs

  • Built in stitches: 32
  • Stitches per minute: 1100
  • Weight: 14.6lbs
  • Unit dimensions: 15.5 x 6.3 x 12
  • Maximum stitch length: 4mm

Pros

  • The model arrives pre-threaded (bonus!)
  • Easy to set up.
  • Good seam allowance stamps on the plate

Cons

  • The automatic needle threader can be hit or miss.
  • Tricky to oil

Handheld Sewing Machine

SINGER 01663 Stitch Sew Quick

Sewing machines that are good for quick fixes or doing repairs on the fly.

SINGER 01663 Stitch Sew Quick

Handheld sewing machines, commonly called mending machines, are convenient and portable ways to sew without investing in a more expensive sewing machine.

Maybe you need to repair something, and a hand stitch with a needle and thread is time consuming (and can look haphazard).

Well, a handheld machine would fix that easily, and is useful to repair a hem or clothes without taking them off.

Function

Generally, handheld sewing machines are great for sewing soft materials like cotton or silk.

Most handheld sewing machines are operated with batteries, too.

While a sewing machine has feed dogs to guide the material through along with measurements on the plates, a handheld sewing machine relies on your steady hand for that straight seam.

Power

Despite the perks of having such a neat, portable machine, a handheld sewing machine doesn’t sew through lots of different fabrics nor layers of thick fabrics.

Many users say as they are made of plastic, they are often not very durable.

Despite being known as user friendly, often handheld sewing machines can be a little confusing to navigate, and regular jamming.

Quick Fix

If you don’t need a complicated machine with lots of features, and it will primarily be for the occasional fixing job, a handheld sewing machine could be good for you.

However, while a handheld sewing machine is good for a quick fix, users say the stitching quality isn’t very good, and they aren’t a long lasting solution to heavy duty stitching.

Specs

  • Material: Metal
  • Item Weight: 13.28 Ounces
  • Item Dimensions: 9 x 2.25 x 7.5 inches
  • Power Source: Battery Powered

Pros

  • Economical
  • Compact
  • Transportable

Cons

  • Low quality stitching
  • Not durable
  • Not user friendly

What’s the difference between a sewing machine and a heavy-duty sewing machine?

Singer Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
Singer Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

The best heavy-duty sewing machines are real workhorses.

They’re engineered for durable, high intensity work.

The inertia and strength of the motors have been designed to sew faster through thicker materials.

They will perform tasks that you simply cannot with a domestic sewing machine.

Versatility

Compared to a regular machine, a heavy-duty sewing machine is more versatile.

It can sew any projects such as quilting, buttonholes, and blind hems.

Depending on the built in stitches, they can even be used for embroidery.

Jobs that can’t be handled well on a regular sewing machine due to jamming can be handled easily on a heavy-duty sewing machine.

Features

There are a few features that the best heavy-duty sewing machine would have: a high lift foot, walking feet, space for heavy threads, metal engineering.

Some companies will claim their machine is heavy duty, like vintage sewing machine dealers, but it can mean they are simply heavier than a regular sewing machine.

TIP

A good way to check is to find out the size of the fattest needle the machine can accept—1.1mm diameter and up is within the range of heavy duty.

How much should I spend on a sewing machine?

This will be different for everybody, and only you can make the decision based on your sewing needs and budget.

It can be a big purchase, and I understand that spending even $100 on a machine you’re not sure will be utilized can seem pricey.

You can find high-production heavy-duty sewing machines with reasonable price tags.

If you want an entry-level computerized sewing machine that will fly through thicker fabrics, Brother machines have a good reputation without breaking the bank.

However, more expensive machines might sew faster and offer more decorative in-built stitches.

NOTE

If you’re curious about sewing but don’t want to buy a machine, it is possible to rent a machine or find a local sewing class. You might be able to find a sewing machine dealer who will let you go for a test drive on the best heavy duty sewing machine before you make the purchase.

Is a machine worth it?

The only correct answer, I think, is that it depends. In my opinion, yes, but I am a frequent sewer.

It depends what sewing you want to do and the features you need.

Some of the very expensive heavy duty sewing machines offer all sorts of embroidery special effects, but if you’re using the matching to make something plain like cushion covers, the extras you get would be wasted.

Machines at a lower price range will sew forward and backward and possess a zig zag. Match the price with what you want the machine to do.

Types of heavy-duty sewing machines:

There are different types of heavy-duty machines that you can choose from.

As always, it’s important to know what type of machine might suit your needs before making an expensive purchase.

Mechanical vs Computerized

Old Brother Heavy Duty Sewing Machine Model
Old Brother Heavy Duty Sewing Machine Model

Once upon a time, only mechanical sewing machines existed.

Nowadays, major brands are bringing out computerized machines—you’ll see them everywhere! So, what’s the difference?

Build

A mechanical sewing machine is a device that typically has knobs to adjust the settings. They will usually have simple stitches and lack the ability to perform decorative ones.

They come with a foot pedal that has to be manually pressed to stitch and feed material through.

Price

Mechanical sewing machines can be cheaper than computerized machines and are easier to maintain, as they don’t have electric motherboards and parts that computerized machines do.

If you buy a seriously heavy-duty sewing mechanical machine it will probably sew through anything you chuck at it.

They are some of the best heavy duty sewing machines around.

Stitches

There are, however, less stitch options.

Some computerized machines offer 10 times the amount that you get with a mechanical sewing machine.

They can also be more complicated for a beginner. If you’re used to having everything at the touch of a button, a mechanical sewing machine can seem complex in terms of threading and tension.

How are computerized machines different?

Woman Sewing White Fabric

Computerized sewing machines are popular choices for sewists at all levels.

They have many automatic features such as an automatic needle threader, auto bobbin wind, auto thread cutter, and auto tension.

Often, the machine will even tell you which foot to use depending on the stitch.

Stitches

Computerized sewing machines like the Janome HD3000 usually have an extensive catalog of stitch options, which can really open up the possibilities for sewing projects.

These come with a selection of automatic buttonhole stitches that will give you a perfect buttonhole each time.

A computerized sewing machine has much better speed control, as it usually comes with a stop start button rather than a foot pedal.

Usage

A computerized machine can, however, be complicated. Many of them now have so many features it can be intimidating, and those features that bumped up the price may never even be used.

Each computerized machine is technological, which means they’re always advancing. You can find mechanical sewing machines that will last over 100 years, but with a computerized sewing machine it’s unlikely you will use that machine for the rest of your life.

TIP

Remember, only you can decide which one is the best heavy duty sewing machine for your sewing projects.

Embroidery

Sewing a Truck Pattern on Red Cloth
Sewing a Truck Pattern on Red Cloth

Most sewing machines will only accommodate construction sewing (when two pieces of fabric are sewn together).

An embroidery machine allows for embroidery stitching.

Embroidery stitching entails decoratively stitching on fabric to make beautiful works of art. Embroidery is a repetitive texture-building stitching technique to either outline patterns or fill them with color.

They’re generally used in commercial settings, as a sewing machine can’t handle the same complexity and demand.

Software

Embroidery software provides a pre-programmed embroidery design on a computer that will link to a computerized embroidery machine.

Some embroidery machines will sew construction and embroidery, whereas others are embroidery-only machines and come with hoops for embroidering. Janome HD3000 has lots of decorative stitches built for this purpose.

Overlocker or Serger

Overlock Machine
Overlock Machine

An overlocker, also known as a serger, is a special type of engineering.

It comes with a blade that trims off the edge of fabric, while the thread neatly knits in the edge of the material to give it a neat and professional finish.

They both usually have a heavy duty metal frame inside the plastic casing for strength, making them some of the best heavy duty sewing machines around.

Loopers

An overlocker has loopers, which loop the thread on the edge to prevent fraying. They can take up to 8 cones of thread at the same time!

They’re faster machines, with a standard speed control of 1700 stitches every minute.

There are overlocker sewing machines that come with an overlocker function to make them work like sergers.

Tips when using an an overlocker

  • The neck of an overlocker is typically smaller than the neck of a sewing machine, as they are designed for hems and quality edges.
  • An overlocker would take a professional a fraction of the time it would take them when using a regular device.
  • An overlocker sewing machine will only let one side be serging (left side), which lets you sew your fabric from either side from your sewing appliance.
  • An overlocker can do simultaneous work by binding your fabric and removing the excess seam, but the best heavy duty sewing machines tend to be more flexible in terms of zipping, topstitching, creative decorative stitches, and making buttonholes.
  • A sewing machine and an overlocker make a good team when used together during your creative process. 

TIP

They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Both Janome and Singer make good overlockers.

Should I buy a heavy-duty sewing machine?

Woman Sewing Red Patterned Fabric
Woman Sewing Red Patterned Fabric

For most sewists, deciding on a sewing device can seem overwhelming at first, and a heavy-duty machine probably hasn’t crossed your mind.

While it’s important to focus on what you need for now, you might want to consider what you’ll want later down the road of your sewing journey.

  • A smaller lightweight appliance will tide you over perfectly if you plan to sew projects like custom clothing, with light fabrics such as cotton or polyester.
  • Heavy duty sewing machines are great for construction work and small homemade projects. They can often come with timesaving features and modest stitch selections.

NOTE

You can embroider on sewing machines too!

Tips to decide on a heavy-duty sewing machine

Fabrics

If you plan to sew with thicker materials like denim and leather, you’ll need a heavy duty machine.

It will save you the wastage and stress of snapping needles and trying to make them pierce through thick layers of fabric.

Knits

For knits, you’ll want a stretchy stitch setting (feature on the Janome HD3000).

If you will be monogramming, you’ll want nice embroidery features..

Workload

I think it also depends on the quantity of the sewing.

If you do needlework furiously each day, a heavy-duty machine could be perfect for you.

As mentioned, they are known as workhorses for a reason.

NOTE

Basically, no matter what kind of sewing you’re planning to do, look for an appliance that will offer those features. You can always add to your collection if needed.

Can I sew light fabric on a heavy-duty machine?

Sewing White Fabric
Sewing White Fabric

Absolutely, a heavy-duty sewing device can sew light and heavy fabrics as long as you have the option to adjust the thread tension.

How do I care for my instrument?

It’s important to take good care of your sewing machine.

By maintaining it regularly you can add years of use onto its life. Here are a few tips:

Using the right needle

Needles typically aren’t given that much thought when sewing, but there can be damage caused by using the wrong one.

Using the wrong needle can damage your machine’s timing, your expensive fabric, and destroy the bobbin hook.

The tip of the needle pierces through the fabric and passes the thread through the bobbin hook, creating the stitch.

Fabric Weight

The weight of the fabric will dictate which size needle to use. The lighter the fabric, the smaller the size of the shaft’s diameter.

On heavy duty machines using weighted material, you’ll want to use a needle with a larger shaft size.

TIP

Make sure you use the right needle, depending on the manufacturer’s advice. Janome also recommends that you replace your sewing needle after 12 hours of active sewing, or every 3 bobbins used. 

Changing your needle regularly is an easy and economical way of making your sewing machine last longer.

Brush the dirt away

A build up of dust and lint from sewing projects can affect the operation of your machine.

To tackle this, a good clean with a lint brush will prevent dirt from accumulating and causing problems.

To fend off dust, keep the dust cover on when the sewing machine is not in use. Don’t blow the dust away, as that could lodge debris inside causing further problems.

Oil up

Sewing Machine Maintenance: How to Oil and Clean (Front Loading Bobbin)

Once you have removed the debris and all is clean, it is time to give it some oil.

Sewing oil is a lubricant formulated for heavy duty sewing machines to keep the parts operating smoothly. Some machines come with oil ports built in.

Applying Oil

Place a scrap of fabric or newspaper under your appliance, then put a couple of drops of oil inside the hook race.

Moving the wheel back and forth a few times will help apply the oil evenly.

It’ll ensure that it’s lubricating the smaller parts that work together to prevent wear and tear.

TIP

Use an old cloth or scrap of muslin to absorb any excess oil, as you don’t want to get any oil on your next project.

Overhaul

Just like a car, heavy duty sewing machines also need an MOT annually.

No matter the cost, to keep it performing at it’s best an annual service is recommended

Have a knowledgeable and experienced servicer to take a look at the tension and clean the parts you cannot reach.

Things to consider when buying a heavy-duty sewing machine.

Before investing in a sewing machine there are lots of things to consider, starting with how much experience you’ve had.

You want to have the best heavy duty sewing experience possible, so there are a huge range of complexities when making a choice, even for the more advanced sewists.

Purpose

Sewing Black Strap Material
Sewing Black Strap Material

A sewing machine has to fit its purpose.

You should think about what you want from it now, as well as what you might want in the future.

It would be a waste of money and cause a lot of frustration to buy a lightweight cheap model to double hem and construct a leather jacket—it just wouldn’t work.

Consider how thick the materials are that you will be sewing and what you want to achieve with the sewing machine.

If you want to embroider, make sure you purchase a device with that stitch feature.

Workload

It’s worth assessing how often you will be using the sewing machine truthfully.

If you’re a person who will bring it out infrequently and hem or mend, is it worth buying a top-of-the-range heavy-duty sewing machine?

If you’re planning to use your instrument every day to make clothes, you’ll want a workhorse rather than a cheaper plastic model that is designed for infrequent work.

Price

Most people have a budget when looking to invest in a new appliance. The average cost for the best heavy-duty sewing machine is around $300, but good high quality machines are available for less than that price.

This goes back to the purpose: how often will you be using it? 

If it’s a lot, then a professional heavy duty sewing machine might be a better choice for you.

TIP

Sometimes a heavy-duty vintage machine is better than a cheap plastic model. If you don’t invest and buy the first cheap machine you find, it could break, leaving you with feelings of exasperation.

Warranty

Check the warranty with the company you are buying a sewing machine from.

Most manufacturers will offer a decent and reliable warranty cover, however it could be varied depending on the seller you buy from.

For example, companies like Brother offer a 25-year warranty for the machines chassis unit, a 5-year warranty for the machines printed circuit boards, and a 1-year warranty for the machine.

Even so, if the purchase isn’t made from a specific dealer, the warranty might not be valid.

NOTE

Check if you can get your heavy duty machine serviced locally under the warranty or if you will have to ship it away to get fixed. This should be thoroughly researched, as a good warranty can save you a fortune.

Durability

Man Sewing Leather
Man Sewing Leather

No matter what level of sewist you are, you’ll want your machine to be the best and most durable.

With so many different heavy-duty machine models on the market at the moment, it can be hard to find accurate information about durability.

Examine the best heavy duty sewing machine reviews of products you are considering putting your hard-earned cash into.

Features

You’ll want to learn about the features, build of the machine (plastic or metal), ability to sew thicker fabrics, and the life expectancy of the machine.

You’ll want to find out if your machine can accommodate being used non-stop for 10 hours a day.

There are many groups on social media that will answer questions you have about the durability of sewing machines before you make a purchase.

Quality is king over features because if you buy super cheap, you could end up buying twice.

Size

The weight and size of your machine are major factors in your investment. Smaller machines are the best choice for easier general mobility.

If you plan to keep your machine in a designated place, then a heavier machine might be a better alternative for you.

If you’re buying from a seller in person, pick the machine up and carry it for a moment, just to see how heavy it is.

Each sewing machine is made with a different weight. Only choose one that’s got the best weight for you.

Attachments and accessories

Even the most basic machine will come with some attachments and accessories.

It’s good when a sewing machine comes with an abundance of accessories, as they can end up being costly.

In all, it’s best if you buy with all the accessories.

Feet

Assorted Sewing Feet
Assorted Sewing Feet

There are hundreds of presser feet for all kinds of different fabrics. Find out how many come with the machine.

For basic sewing, a multi-purpose foot will let you do straight and zig-zag stitches. It would also be worth checking out if you have a presser foot lift to go with your feet.

Zipper foot

You might want a zipper foot, which allows you to adjust which side of the sewing machine you want the needle to sit in.

Walking foot

Most machines don’t come with a walking foot, but they are useful for quilting and one of the best feet available.

They help feed the top layer of the fabric through the machine with their teeth while the feed-dogs weave through the bottom layer of fabric.

Blind hem foot

The blind hem foot accompanies the blind hem stitch setting, which is on most sewing machines. During blind hemming, the fabric sits against the guide in the foot.

Button sewing foot

The buttonhole foot attachment is awesome, as it measures the size of the button every time it stitches a buttonhole.

This ensures accuracy and consistent best results.

0.25” foot

A quarter-inch foot is often used to quilt pattern piecing. It’s used with straight stitching and gives an accurate 0.25” seam allowance.

The distance from the center needle opening to the right-hand edge of the needle is a 0.25”.

Presser foot

The presser foot is used to hold fabric flat as it is fed through the machine and stitched. Presser feet have two toes, on either side of the needle to hold the fabric down. All sewing machines usually come with at least one presser foot.

Extension table

Extension tables come in different sizes and are useful when quilting and stitching bulkier fabrics.

Each extension table has been specifically designed for each sewing machine. If you’re buying separately, be sure to check product descriptions to be certain it will fit.

Here is a short clip of an extension table from a Brother sewing machine.

Unboxing Brother WT7 wide extension table for sewing machine

Stitches

Newer machines offer a variety of different stitches that aren’t available on older sewing machines. The same stitch can’t always be used for every project, so you’ll want to adjust the stitch length and width.

Now, most sewing machines are often made with at least one decorative stitch for jazzing up hems of a project.

Aside from the adjustable length and width, some machines offer a plethora of stitches for you to play around with. While I mainly use the same 3 stitches, they are fun to mess around with.

NOTE

Make sure to determine the pace you want to sew at. All machines have a different stitch-per-minute speed. When buying a machine, check the maximum length and width of a stitch.

Features

There are a number of features to consider with your sewing machine.

The controls should be easy to reach and manipulate, with symbols on the machine or an LED screen making it easy to read.

Time savers

A time-saving thread cutter and automatic needle threader are features I’m a fan of, I can’t live without these when stitching anymore.

A needle threader pulls thread through for you to save the squinting, while the automatic thread cutter will neatly cut the thread using built-in blades to save you thread.

See an automatic needle threader in action below…

How To Use The Automatic Needle Threader On A Singer Sewing Machine 4166 Tutorial

Twin needles

Twin needle functions can benefit sewing.

They produce two parallel lines of stitching on the top, handy for stretch fabrics as the bobbin thread zigzags between them in the back. It allows the fabrics to stretch without breaking the threads.

Feed dog adjustments

One of the best features for quilters is on a drop-feed sewing machine, at least when the feed dogs can be adjusted. It will allow you to free-motion sew.

Automatic buttonholer

An automatic buttonholer will help you sew a buttonhole in one step. Some machines have feet where a button can be inserted and the buttonhole will be sewn to that exactly.

Top load bobbins

Most new sewing machines come with a top-load in bobbins with clear covers. Just slide the panel across and drop the bobbin into the compartment, then you can keep an eye on when the thread is running low.

Knee lifter

One of my favorite features of new sewing machines is the knee lifter, which lets you lift the foot of the machine by moving your knee against the lever attached to the right of the machine.

Hands-free easy work if you need both hands when changing direction!

Stop / start button

Stop/start buttons also save time, and they can give you more control over the speed setting instead of using a foot pedal.

Type

Woman Sewing at Home
Woman Sewing at Home

The type of sewing machine you want depends on your taste and experience.

Computerized

A computerized type of sewing machine will make adjustments for you with the touch of a button based on what stitch you have selected.

A typical computerized sewing machine will also have an LED screen and a stop start button.

Mechanical

A mechanical type of sewing machine has dials instead of screens.

These require you to manipulate controls by hand turning the dials to get the selected stitch.

Embroidery

Embroidery machines are only useful for embroidery. If you want to sew normally as well, look for a sewing machine with embroidery features.

Serger

Serger machines will bind and overlock fabric at the same time, but aren’t useful for top stitching, facing, or zippers.

You’ll need a sewing machine for these tasks.

Conclusion

There, now you might have a pretty in-depth idea about how to choose the best heavy duty sewing machines based on your needs.

Next, I’ll summarize the favorites.

Top Pick

The top pick from the products reviewed is the BrotherST150HDH.

This machine has created a good reputation for itself and holds some advanced features for a sewing machine.

It’s a quiet machine that works hard for a pretty reasonable price.

Best Value

If you don’t want to spend a huge amount, the best value for money is the Brother ST371HD.

Editor’s Choice

When it comes to sewing heavy duty, there weren’t many complaints for this little guy.

My editor’s choice is the Janome HD 3000.

It’s capable of delivering 860 stitches every minute of both light and heavy materials.

The aluminum body gives strength for high production, and the extra-high presser foot makes Janome a winner for me!

Happy Stitching

Overall, each of the machines I have covered is excellent, and they can all be used for a variety of projects.

I hope my heavy duty sewing machine reviews have given you some insight into what the best sewing machine is and how it can enhance your creativity!

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Kris Daub
Kris Daub
[email protected] byCurated I'm a maker at heart! I love to create and tech others to create. I particularly sewing and hand crafts like ebroidery. I also love larger home decorating projects. ✂️ 🧵