The Ultimate Guide to Post-Bed Sewing Machines

Discover the world of post-bed sewing machines, how they differ from domestic sewing machines, and what to look for when buying one.

The sewing machine industry is vast and diverse, offering a range of machines for different purposes. One particular type that may not be familiar to many is the post-bed sewing machine. In this guide, we’ll explore what post-bed sewing machines are, what they’re used for, and how they compare to domestic sewing machines. We’ll also discuss key features to consider when purchasing one and top brands to choose from.

What is a Post-Bed Sewing Machine?

A post-bed sewing machine is a specialized type of industrial sewing machine designed to handle intricate stitching tasks and sewing three-dimensional objects. Its most distinguishing feature is the raised sewing surface or “post,” which allows the operator to sew curved and contoured items more easily.

Common Uses for Post-Bed Sewing Machines

Post-bed sewing machines are particularly useful for:

  1. Footwear: Sewing shoe uppers, attaching soles, and assembling other shoe components.
  2. Leather goods: Crafting handbags, belts, and wallets.
  3. Upholstery: Stitching car seats, furniture, and other padded items.
  4. Garment manufacturing: Sewing collars, cuffs, and other challenging areas on clothing.

Post-Bed vs. Domestic Sewing Machines: Key Differences

While both post-bed and domestic sewing machines serve the purpose of sewing, they have some important differences:

  • Sewing Surface: Domestic sewing machines typically have a flat sewing surface, while post-bed sewing machines have a raised post for greater maneuverability around curved or bulky items.
  • Speed: Post-bed sewing machines are generally faster, allowing for greater efficiency and productivity in an industrial setting.
  • Durability: Post-bed sewing machines are built to withstand heavy-duty use, making them more robust and reliable than domestic machines.
  • Versatility: Domestic sewing machines are geared towards general-purpose sewing tasks, whereas post-bed machines are better suited for specialized tasks and materials.
Post Bed Sewing Machine - Shoemaker
A post-bed sewing machine being used by a shoemaker.

Post-Bed Sewing Machine Components

A post-bed sewing machine comprises several key components that work together to facilitate precise and efficient sewing on curved or bulky items. Here are the main parts of a post-bed sewing machine:

  1. Post: The post is the distinguishing feature of a post-bed sewing machine. It’s a raised, cylindrical sewing surface that allows the operator to maneuver around curved or bulky items more easily than with a flat sewing surface.
  2. Needle: The needle is the sharp, slender tool that pierces the fabric, carrying the thread through it to form stitches. Post-bed sewing machines may use various types of needles depending on the material being sewn and the desired stitch.
  3. Presser Foot: The presser foot holds the fabric in place against the post as the needle stitches through it. It can be raised or lowered to accommodate different fabric thicknesses and may be specialized for specific tasks, such as attaching zippers or piping.
  4. Feed Mechanism: The feed mechanism moves the fabric through the machine as it’s being sewn. Post-bed sewing machines may have different feed mechanisms, such as drop feed, needle feed, or compound feed, depending on the model and its intended use.
  5. Bobbin and Bobbin Case: The bobbin is a small spool that holds the lower thread, while the bobbin case encloses the bobbin and maintains the thread tension. The upper and lower threads are intertwined to form the stitches.
  6. Stitch Selector: The stitch selector allows the operator to choose from various stitch options, such as straight, zigzag, or decorative stitches. Some post-bed sewing machines may also have additional stitch settings, like stitch length and width adjustments.
  7. Tension Control: Tension control regulates the tightness of the upper thread, ensuring consistent and even stitches. Proper tension is crucial for achieving a professional finish and preventing puckering or loose stitches.
  8. Motor: The motor powers the sewing machine, driving the needle and feed mechanism. In post-bed sewing machines, a servo motor is preferred for its superior speed control and energy efficiency.
  9. Handwheel: The handwheel manually controls the movement of the needle and feed mechanism, allowing the operator to make fine adjustments or reposition the fabric as needed.
  10. Thread Cutter: Some post-bed sewing machines may feature a built-in thread cutter for trimming excess thread after sewing, providing a clean finish and streamlining the sewing process.

These main parts work in tandem to create a specialized sewing experience tailored to the needs of sewing curved or bulky items.

TechSew 810 Post-Bed Sewing Machine
TechSew 810 Post-Bed Sewing Machine. View on Sewing Machines Plus.

Feeding Mechanisms in Post-Bed Sewing Machines

A crucial component of any sewing machine is the feed mechanism, responsible for moving the fabric through the machine as it’s being sewn. Post-bed sewing machines can be equipped with different types of feeding mechanisms, each offering distinct advantages depending on the application. Here are some common feeding mechanisms found in post-bed sewing machines:

1. Drop Feed

The drop feed mechanism is the most common type of feed system in sewing machines. It uses feed dogs, which are toothed metal bars situated beneath the needle and presser foot. As the needle moves up and down, the feed dogs move back and forth in a reciprocating motion, gripping and advancing the fabric through the machine. Drop feed is suitable for a wide range of fabrics and straightforward sewing tasks.

2. Needle Feed

In a needle feed system, the needle itself plays a role in feeding the fabric. The needle moves in coordination with the feed dogs, moving the fabric as it penetrates and retracts from it. This synchronized motion provides better control and reduces the risk of fabric slippage or misalignment, making it suitable for sewing slippery materials, multiple layers, or pattern matching.

3. Compound Feed (Walking Foot)

The compound feed, also known as a walking foot mechanism, is a combination of needle feed and drop feed systems. In addition to the feed dogs and the needle, the compound feed features a walking foot that moves in unison with them. This coordinated motion provides even greater control and grip on the fabric, making it ideal for heavy-duty sewing tasks, such as upholstery, leatherwork, and sewing multiple layers of thick material.

4. Puller Feed

Puller feed systems use a set of rollers situated behind the presser foot to pull the fabric through the machine. These rollers are driven by a separate motor and can be adjusted to provide varying levels of grip and tension on the fabric. Puller feed mechanisms are particularly useful for sewing long, straight seams on heavy or difficult-to-handle materials, as they provide consistent, even feeding without distortion or slippage.

5. Unison Feed

Unison feed combines the benefits of drop feed, needle feed, and puller feed systems. In this mechanism, the feed dogs, needle, and puller rollers work together to provide exceptional control and precision. Unison feed is suitable for sewing complex or challenging materials, such as heavy-duty fabrics, multi-layered materials, or fabrics prone to slippage.

What to Look for When Purchasing a Post-Bed Sewing Machine

When shopping for a post-bed sewing machine, consider the following factors:

  1. Post Height and Shape: The post height and shape directly impact the types of projects you can work on. Choose a post-bed sewing machine with an appropriate height and shape for your specific needs, such as one with a slim or tapered post for tight spaces or a taller post for larger items.
  2. Speed Control: A machine with adjustable speed settings allows you to work with various materials and sewing requirements more effectively. Look for a post-bed sewing machine with easy-to-use speed control options, so you can seamlessly transition between different sewing speeds for optimal results.
  3. Stitch Options: A wide variety of stitch options provides flexibility in your sewing projects and ensures that you can tackle any task. Choose a post-bed sewing machine that offers a comprehensive range of stitches, including straight, zigzag, and decorative stitches, to suit all your sewing needs.
  4. Servo Motor: The type of motor used in your post-bed sewing machine plays a crucial role in performance and energy efficiency. Opt for a machine with a servo motor, which not only offers better speed control but also consumes less energy compared to a traditional clutch motor. This will result in more precise stitching and reduced operational costs.
  5. Brand Reputation: Selecting a post-bed sewing machine from a reputable brand ensures that you’re investing in a high-quality, reliable product. Look for brands with a proven track record of producing durable machines and offering excellent customer support. This way, you can be confident in your purchase and have access to assistance if any issues arise.

Top Brands Manufacturing Post-Bed Sewing Machines

Some of the top brands offering post-bed sewing machines include:

  • Juki: A leading Japanese manufacturer of industrial sewing machines, Juki is known for its high-quality, reliable machines.
  • Pfaff: A German brand with a long history in the sewing industry, Pfaff offers a range of post-bed sewing machines to suit various needs.
  • Consew: A well-respected American brand, Consew specializes in industrial sewing machines and offers a selection of post-bed models.
  • Durkopp Adler: Another German brand, Durkopp Adler is known for its precision-engineered machines and a focus on innovation.
  • TechSew – Family-owned TechSew is a manufacturer and distributor of industrial sewing machines, equipment and supplies.

In conclusion, a post-bed sewing machine is an essential tool for those working with curved or bulky items, particularly in the footwear, leather goods, upholstery, and garment manufacturing industries. By understanding the key differences between post-bed and domestic sewing machines, as well as the important factors to consider when purchasing one, you can make an informed decision and choose the right machine for your needs. 

Remember to research reputable brands like Juki, Pfaff, Consew, and Durkopp Adler to ensure you invest in a high-quality, durable machine that will serve you well for years to come.