Best Sewing Machines Review

best embroidery machine

Specialized Sewing And Quilting Machine Types

  • Chain stitch machines – Chain stitch machines are used for sewing items like jeans and other clothing. The chain stitch is used for decoration with thick thread sizes and for high strength stitching. Chain stitch machines have lower loopers instead of a bobbin so they do not have to periodically stop to change bobbins. Most chain stitch machines are a flatbed, but they also come in cylinder bed models. Most chain stitch machines look similar to a lockstitch machine unless you look closely and notice that there is a looper instead of a bobbin.
  • Cylinder bed machines – Cylinder bed machines and post bed machines are used when sewing shoes, handbags and leather work that cannot be sewn on a flatbed machine. Cylinder bed machines come from the same manufacturers that make flatbed machines and come in many types including drop feed, walking-foot, heavy-duty and ultra heavy-duty.
  • Tacking machines – Bar-tack machines look similar to buttonhole machine and make a precision bar-tack at high speeds. Some machines have fixturing hardware to position and hold the item being sewn in the exact location that the bar tack is required. Most machines will automatically sew the bar-tack with the push of a single button. Similar to the bar-tack machine is the line-tack machine, this machine makes a straight stitch tack. Another type of machine is the shape-tack machine that is programmable and can make tacks of many shapes, heavy-duty versions of the shape-tack machine are used to secure the ends of webbing.

  • Buttonhole machine– These machines make button holes at high speed and with greater precision than with a buttonhole attachment on a sewing machine. Some machines can run at 4000 SPM or greater. Most models have built-in knifes for cutting the buttonhole after it is sewn. Newer electronic models have many styles of buttonholes preprogrammed and can micro-adjust every parameter of the buttonhole to suit different fabrics and thicknesses.
  • Blind hem machines  Blind hem machines have curved needles to sew a hem with little or no seam visibility on the right side (outer surface) of the fabric.
  • Cover stitch machines – These machines have multiple needles and make the coverstitch used in all types of clothing construction. Flatbed and cylinder bed versions are available. Coverstitch machines are used for pants cuffs, shirt cuffs, elastic band attachment, hemming of t-shirts and undergarments, sportswear, etc.
  • Pattern sewing and CNC machines – These machines are completely controlled by programmable computers (CNC means computer numeric control). The item being sewn is typically inserted into some type of fixture that is mounted to a moving assembly (called an X-Y table) in the base of the machine. Complex patterns can then be sewn under computer control. Some machines have multiple needles and built-in cutters so that the item can be sewn and cut in a single operation. There are some types of off the shelf CNC machines, but most CNC machines are custom built or at least custom programmed for a particular application.

  • Crochet machines – These machines are similar to an overlock machine and make various types of crochet stitches used mainly for decorative edge finishing of blankets, carpeting, hats, and jackets.

  • Very heavy machines – These machines are used for sewing large tents, book bindings and other large and thick objects. Singer Class 7 machines are an example of vintage very heavy duty machines that are still in widespread use. Highlead, Consew and other manufacturers make modern versions of very heavy duty machines that will sew materials with thicknesses of over 25mm.

Heavy Duty Walking Foot Machines

For leather, thick fabrics or multiple layers you should consider a walking foot machine or compound feed machine. These types of machines will handle thicker and more challenging materials but they are slower, more expensive, more complicated and have a smaller selection of feet and accessories available.

Juki DU-1181N
Juki DU-1181N
The Juki DU-1181N sells for about $1160 on Amazon. This walking foot straight stitch machine has great bang for the buck. Uses a larger M-style bobbin. Takes needle sizes from 14 to 23 and has a max speed of 2000 SPM. Max presser foot lift is 15mm, max stitch length is 9mm. Check Price
Consew 206RB-5Consew 206RB-5The Consew 206RB-5 sells for about $1400 on Amazon. Walking foot compound feed Sewing Machine for heavy materials with a maximum speed of 3300 SPM. 10mm maximum stitch length. Built in safety clutch. Needle sizes from 18 to 23. Large M style bobbin and vertical hook. They also make long arm versions of this machine. Check Price
Highlead GC0618-1SC
Highlead GC0618-1SC
The Highlead GC0618-1SC is sold for about $1300 online. Heavy-duty compound feed machine with large M-style bobbin, Needle 16 to 24, max foot lift is 14mm, safety clutch, max stitch length is 10mm, max speed 2000 SPM. Check Price
Juki DNU-1541S
Juki DNU-1541S
he Juki DNU 1541S sells for about $1900 on Amazon. Walking foot compound feed Sewing Machine for heavy materials with a maximum speed of 2500 SPM. Takes needle sizes from 20 to 24. Check Price

Portable Walking Foot Sewing Machines

These machines are half way between a home heavy-duty machine and an industrial machine. They are heavier duty than a home heavy-duty machine and weigh more (about 35 pounds), but do not have forced oil lubrication like an industrial machine. They do have a walking foot type of feed so they will handle much heavier materials than a home heavy-duty machine. As for speed, they are about the same as a home heavy-duty machine at 800 SPM. They have built-in motors with good low-speed controllability. These models are available in the US market, in other countries the similar machines are available under other brands.

Reliable 2000U-33 Barracuda Portable
Reliable 2000U-33 Barracuda Portable
The Reliable 2000U-33 Barracuda sells for about $600 on Amazon. Basic zigzag machine. Takes needle sizes from 14 to 23. Check Price
Sailrite Heavy-Duty Ultrafeed® LSZ-1
Sailrite Heavy-Duty Ultrafeed® LSZ-1
The Sailrite LSZ1 sells for about $800 on Amazon. This machine has a larger handwheel/flywheel and some other improvements but is similar to the Reliable machine otherwise. Check them both out and decide if the improvements verses the added cost make sense for your application. Takes needle sizes from 10 to 22. Sailrite also makes a lower cost straight stitch only version of this machine. Check Price

Industrial Sewing Machines: Electronic Zigzag Type

Industrial electronic zigzag machines models are available from Juki, Durkopp Adler and Brother that will sew basic zigzag stitches and decorative stitches, these models start at about $3000. Also, these brands offer high-end electronic machines with every feature you could imagine including CNC models that sew completely under computer control, but they are very expensive.

Yamata FY8700
Yamata FY8700
Yamata (China Feiyue) has many models of electronic machines with very good prices - Yamata FY8700, FY5318, FY2100 Check Price
Brother Z-8560A
Brother Z-8560A
The Brother Z-8560A has a dry lubrication system, direct drive, rotary take-up lever, thread cutter, programmable decorative stitch patterns, Compact Flash memory card slot, 4000 SPM, programmable stitch terminations. Check Price
Juki LZ-2290A
LZ-2290A
The Juki LZ2290A comes in versions with a minimum quantity lubrication system or a dry system, direct drive, rotary take-up lever, thread cutter, programmable decorative stitch patterns, Compact Flash memory card slot, 4000 SPM, programmable stitch terminations. This machine has many types of needle plates and feed dogs that can be ordered to change the feed characteristics. Check Price

Straight Stitch Sewing Machines

Mechanical straight stitch drop feed sewing machines are the least expensive and most common type of industrial sewing machines. For most materials and applications a drop feed machine is preferred. Drop feed machines are faster, less expensive, less complicated and have a larger selection of feet and accessories available than any other type of industrial machine. Most machines of this type use high shank feet that are heavy-duty versions of the high shank feet used in home machines. Large assortments of feet are available for these machines on eBay and through industrial dealers at very low prices.

The standard arm length (the harp space) for these machines is 12 inches (303mm). Long arm versions are available. There are many variations available including models with double needles, large bobbins, heavy-duty models that will take large size needles, etc. As an example, the Juki DDL-8700 comes in 3 versions the 8700 for medium weight fabrics, the 8700A for lightweight fabrics and the 8700H for heavyweight fabrics that will take up to a size 23 needle.

Juki DDL-9000B
juki DDL-9000B
The Juki DDL-9000B sells for about $2200 on Amazon and is a direct drive electronic machine with drop feed, thread cutter, needle position control, etc. The maximum speed of 5000 SPM. There are sub-models that are optimized for different needle sizes such as model DDL-9000B-SS takes needle size 9 to 18 and model DDL-9000B-SH takes needle size 10 to 23. Check Price
Juki DDL-5550
JUKI DDL-5550N
The Juki DDL-5550N sells for about $950 on Amazon for the head only. This straight stitch machine is for lightweight to medium weight materials using a size 14 needle and can run at up to 5500 SPM. For needles up to size 21 get the heavier duty model DDL-5550NH. Uses L-type bobbins. Check Price
SINGER 191D-30
The Singer 191D-30 sells for about $699 on Amazon. This machine is for medium to heavy materials. 4000 SPM. This machine also comes light/medium version (191D-20). Uses L-type bobbins. Check Price
Juki DDL-8700H
The Juki DDL-8700H sells for about $800 on eBay with motor and table. This straight stitch machine is for medium to heavy weight materials and can run at up to 4000 SPM. It can sew soft leather and many layers of fabrics and has a maximum stitch length of 7mm. For hard leather get a heavy-duty walking foot machine. Takes needle sizes from 14 to 23. Uses L-type bobbins. Check Price

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