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The Best Heavy Duty Sewing Machines
Sailrite Heavy-Duty Ultrafeed LS-1 BASIC Walking Foot Sewing Machine
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
Singer 4432 Heavy Duty Extra-High Speed Sewing Machine
Singer S18 Studio Computerized High-Performance Sewing Machine
Tips on Buying a Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
Helpful features on a heavy duty sewing machine
Types of heavy duty sewing machines
When it comes to sewing heavy duty materials or multiple layers of fabrics, you need the best heavy duty sewing machines to get the job done. These machines are made to handle large sewing projects without the limitations of a regular machine. When you try to sew these kinds of projects with a regular machine, they can stall, make irregular stitches and even tip over. You will most likely end up with a broken machine. Fabrics such as leather, upholstery, denim and multiple layers require a machine capable of handling the extra workload with ease.
When buying a heavy duty sewing machine, one of the most important features to look out for is the machine weight. We want to choose a model that weighs a minimum of 10 lbs. The heavier, the better. This will make them less portable but heavy enough to handle tough materials without tipping, stalling or moving all over the place during sewing.
A heavy duty sewing machine will receive a lot of abuse in the course of usage. Because of this, there are other important factors to consider such as the usability, durability, and versatility to ensure that the machine can stand the test of time. You never know how your present needs will change in the coming years. I consider all these factors when I review the best heavy duty sewing machines below.
My suggestion is that if you know what your needs are (be it making items to sell on sites like Etsy, Shopify or eBay), write them down and compare to see if any of the machines I review below meets those needs. I have chosen the machines to meet most people’s needs and budget. If you sew as a commercial venture, you might have to invest in a more expensive machine. Some of the best heavy duty machines can cost more than $4,000 up to $25,000 depending on your needs. I’ll add a list of the best machines over $2,000 below this review for those interested in the more expensive units.
I want you to relax and go through the machines I have reviewed below, and select the best for your heavy duty sewing needs. Although a machine might not be labeled as heavy duty, it sometimes fits all the requirements and will be able to handle such sewing tasks with ease.
And if you want more tips on buying a heavy duty machine, click here to be taken directly to my tips section of this page.
The machines listed below are essentially the same machines I reviewed for the best leather sewing machines. You will agree with me that any machine that can sew leather is capable of sewing through pretty much any tough material.
|Photo||Name||Weight||Number of Stitches||Speed|
| Sailrite Heavy-Duty |
|55 lbs shipping weight||Straight stitch only||500 stitches per minute|
|Janome HD3000 Heavy |
Duty Sewing Machine
|18.7 lbs||21 stitches||unspecified|
|Singer 4432 Heavy |
Duty Extra-High Speed
|14.5 lbs||23 stitches||1,100 stitches per minute|
|Singer S18 Studio Computerized High-Performance |
|26 lbs||400 stitches||1000 stitches per minute|
If you want to sew heavy duty materials with a machine comfortably, this is the perfect sewing machine for you. It is a semi-industrial sewing machine that can comfortably handle thick materials such as leather, heavy canvas, denim and upholstery fabrics. This machine managed to sew quickly through 10 layers of heavy canvas comfortably.
The LS-1 is a straight-stitch-only machine with walking foot which is perfect for tough materials. The walking foot means the material will not stick to the presser foot during sewing. For stronger and more secure seams, the machine offers stitch lengths of up to 6 mm.
You can pretty much feed any material under the 3.5-inch foot lift, and this machine will sew through it like bread through butter. It handles the toughest materials (you can even sew toys out of old fire hoses) with ease and control. You won’t experience any jerking or uneven stitches.
The large wooden base provides a stable base for sewing heavy duty materials. The carrying weight of the machine is 47 lbs which make a gentle and sturdy machine during sewing.
It comes with the right needles for sewing tough materials, 4 bobbins, a thread stand, electronic foot control and even samples of the materials they’ve tested the machine on.
It is built with the toughest, most durable parts which ensure the machine will last for many years to come. The included guidebook and DVD will tell you everything you need to know about the machine and how to use it.
The Ultrafeed LS-1 is the perfect machine for beginners or experienced sewers looking for a good sewing machine for heavy materials such as leather. If you want to make beautiful professional grade projects, this is the machine to get.
Note: The LS-1 can only do straight stitches (which is enough for most leather projects). If you want a machine that can do zig zag stitches, then get the Ultrafeed LSZ-1, which costs $100 more than the LS-1.
Weight: 18.7 lbs
My next choice is the Janome HD3000. This machine is perfect for your heavy-duty sewing projects. It is not computerized nor does it have hundreds of in-built stitches (it comes with 18 built-in stitches), however, it is a great machine for beginners and experienced sewers alike. You should be able to use it sew through multiple layers of fabric with ease. I used it to sew through leather, and 8 layers of upholstery and the machine managed it without any issues. You’d think it was sewing through just a single layer of fabric.
The performance of this machine is A++, and it is very durable ensuring that it will last for many years. The Janome HD3000 is probably going to be the last sewing machine you’ll ever purchase unless you just have money and want to upgrade to a fancier machine.
It produces high-quality stitches and beautifully finished projects.
The 4432 is the only machine under $200 to make it onto my list of the best sewing machines for heavy duty materials. Despite its low price tag, it does an excellent job of sewing through leather and other heavy-duty materials.
The combination of the heavy duty metal frame and powerful and high-speed motor makes it a capable machine for lightweight leather projects.
The use of a box feed and feed pressure adjuster allows it to sew thick materials without skipping stitches. The machine comes with snap-on feet so you can easily add your own presser foot for better control.
The machine has automatic threading feature which makes the task of threading the needles a breeze. Creating buttonholes for your projects is quick and easy with the one-step buttonhole.
Overall, this little machine is a good machine for sewing heavy fabric projects and makes beautiful and durable stitches. It is however not a workhorse and should not be used by someone who sews leather on a daily basis. It is a great machine for beginners and those with very low budgets.
The S18 is not a specialty heavy duty sewing machine but an all-around high-performance sewing and quilting machine that is also great for sewing tough fabrics. This mid-priced Singer machine packs a ton of features for those looking for a computerized sewing machine that is good at sewing heavy materials like upholstery, denim, and leather.
It comes with an LCD screen that helps you select from over 400 in-built stitches and also comes with a lot of button controlled functions. The automatic needle threader, automatic thread cutter, and the knee presser foot lifter all add time-saving functionality to this machine.
The quick drop-in bobbin loading technology makes it very easy load the bobbin. The bobbin cover is transparent so you can easily tell when you are running out of bobbin thread. The generous workspace can be increased with the use of the extension table when working on large quilting projects. The free arm allows you to make excellent free motion quilting.
But you want to know how it performs when sewing heavy-duty fabrics right? The truth is this sewing machine does an excellent job with leather and other thick fabrics. You can comfortably sew through several layers of some of the toughest fabrics out there. The walking foot, thread tension adjuster, presser foot pressure adjuster and speed adjuster all combine to make it an excellent choice for sewing thick fabrics and leather. This machine comes with a ton of features.
The S18 has the same performance and features of the much more expensive Janome memory craft 6500P. It is about half the price of the Janome, which is frankly a steal. This is the perfect machine for you if you are serious about sewing or only want to sew as a hobby. The design and construction are of the highest quality and the performance is top notch.
When you buy this machine, we promise you will never have any complaints about it and it, will last a very long time with simple, regular maintenance.
Buying a sewing machine capable of sewing heavier fabrics is a bit different to buying a machine for regular home use. Machines that are specifically built to handle these types of materials are built differently from a standard sewing machine.
Machines built to handle heavier materials often have HD in their names, and sometimes they merely have “heavy duty” in their names. However, not all machines capable of handling such tough materials are labeled this way. Some machines do not have these labels but can sew through layers of heavy duty materials. So, in order to identify machines capable of handling such projects, it is important to know what features to look out for:
- Weight: It is important that the machine weighs at least 10 lbs to be considered a heavy duty sewing machine. Some can weigh more than 20 pounds. Light machines will tip over, move around and produce uneven stitches when a heavy fabric is fed through it. Most retailers will quote a shipping weight instead of the actual machine weight. Make sure that the shipping weight of the machine you want to purchase is at least 20 lbs.
- Long arm or table: Sewing heavy duty projects with a machine without long arms or accompanying table can lead to fatigue. Your arms will become tired if you hold heavier fabrics for an extended period during sewing. It is easier to let the fabric rest on the machine’s long arm or table. Some machines come with an extension table, and this will work just fine. A long arm machine also increases your chances of producing smooth, even stitches. Because the fabric is heavy, it falls away when being fed through the machine. This will result in uneven and crooked stitches which will just look ugly. This can be prevented by laying the fabric on a flat surface such as the long arm or table of the machine. If you sew a lot of heavy fabric projects such as upholstery and curtains, you’ll need a heavy-duty machine with a long arm or extension table. The machines I’ve reviewed above meets this criterium.
- Presser foot: Ideally, a heavy duty sewing machine should have an adjustable presser foot. Heavier fabrics are much thicker than regular fabrics and, therefore, you need a machine with a presser foot that has ample space for such fabrics to pass underneath it with ease. You need a machine with a presser foot that allows at least a quarter-inch thick material to pass under it and still perform well. Some heavy duty sewing machines come with extra presser feet for completing various kinds of projects while others come with one adjustable presser foot.
- Stitch Options: A heavy duty sewing machine should come with different stitch settings and multiple stitch lengths. The length of the stitch is very important when working on thick, heavy fabrics. Longer length stitches are ideal for sewing heavy fabrics such as leather and upholstery. The stitch length options on a standard home machine will not be enough to handle these kinds of fabrics. When buying a heavy duty sewing machine, get one that has at least 3 stitch length options. The machines I’ve reviewed above meet this requirement.
Not all of a machine’s extensive list of features is necessary, but there are a few that are helpful when sewing heavy duty fabrics.
- Adjustable feed dogs: machines with this type of feed dog allows thick fabrics to move through the machine easily
- Automatic thread cutter: After spending hours working on a project, it will be nice not to have to bring the fabric out and cut the thread with a pair of scissors each time you reach the end of a stitch.
- Stitch Styles: If you are going to be working on a specialized project, you need the right types of stitches to complete the project. Make sure that the machine you want to buy has the types of stitches you require for the completion of the project.
- Presser foot knee-lift: A knee lift provides a way for you to lift and lower the presser foot with your knees. You won’t have to let go of the material to do this.
- Automatic threader: If we’ll all be honest, most of us do not like having to thread the machine manually. A machine with an automatic needle threader accomplishes this task with the touch of a button.
There are three broad types of heavy duty sewing machines. These are mechanical, mid-range electric, and computerized sewing machines.
- Mechanical heavy duty sewing machine: If you are just starting out in sewing and want to learn just the basics of sewing, a mechanical machine might be right for you. But in general, this type of machine is more suitable for those with plenty of experience and know what they are doing. Mechanical machines provide very little help with your project. You’ll have to place fabrics precisely, manually adjust settings by turning knobs, etc. Most modern mechanical machines are not good for sewing heavy duty fabrics.
- Mid-Range Electric Heavy Duty Machine: This type of machine is more user-friendly than a mechanical machine. It does not have the most of the features of a computerized machine, which makes it the ideal machine for those who do not need those features. This type of machine is ideal for beginners and come with many features that prevent you from carrying out some manual tasks. This type of machine also gives you better feed dog pressure control and comes with several stitch and tension settings.
- Computerized Heavy Duty Sewing Machines: This type of machine comes with a whole bunch of features. It comes pre-loaded with hundreds of stitches, and you have the ability to download stitches from the internet and load them onto your machine. Some come with a touchscreen display that allows you to manipulate designs right on the machine. The touchscreen can also have tutorials that guide you through various tasks. This type of machine is very easy to use once you get used to you. Computerized machines generally have the most powerful feed mechanisms of all three types. Most computerized sewing machines are very powerful and make sewing heavy-duty fabrics easy, but they are usually more expensive.
If you have a bit more money and want to buy a very good heavy duty sewing machine with loads of features, then go through the list of machines below. These are outstanding sewing machines you’ll not regret buying.
Conclusion: Heavy fabric projects require a heavy duty sewing machine. I’ve done my best only to list the best heavy duty machines capable of handling any projects you may have. If you have any questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.