Do you consider your current sewing machine to be wimpy or inadequate for the amount or type of sewing you do? Do you find yourself frustrated by machine errors or too much time being used to complete a project?
Whether you are a quilter, dressmaker, tailor, or enthusiast, investing in a heavy duty sewing machine can be advantageous to anyone who does a lot of sewing.
More and more people are working from home and want a reliable, sturdy, quality machine that they can use often without worrying about breakdowns or failures. They want something that can handle a variety of tasks with ease.
|Juki TL-2000Qi||Check Price on Amazon||$$$$$||1500 SPM|
|Janome HD3000||Check Price on Amazon||$$$||860 SPM|
|Singer 4432||Check Price on Amazon||$$||1,100 SPM|
|Brother ST371HD||Check Price on Amazon||$$||800 SPM|
|Janome HD1000||Check Price on Amazon||$$$||840 SPM|
How do you know whether you might benefit from owning a heavy duty sewing machine? Consider the following list of a few desirable features that are generally found on a heavy duty machine:
- Faster sewing speed helps projects get done more quickly
- Sturdy metal framework and parts ensure stability and endurance
- More powerful motor provides sustained quality of performance
- Thicker fabrics or multiple layers of fabric are easily handled
- Consistent high-quality results
- Time-saving features such as automatic needle threaders and top-loading bobbins
- Portability is still possible, even with added weight from metal construction.
If you feel the factors listed above will contribute to your sewing success, you will want to investigate the possibility of acquiring a heavy duty sewing machine. Also referred to as semi-industrial machines, heavy duty machines are just as easily accessible and affordable to the general public as are the more lightweight, inexpensive, portable units.
There are many factors to consider when you are shopping for a heavy duty sewing machine. The decision will be based on your particular needs.
The price is important, of course. Keep in mind that it is an investment that can pay for itself in time, if you use it for a business, by saving you time and producing quality results consistently over a long period of time. Lesser quality machines that do not meet high standards can cause a lot of down time and headaches.
Another factor to consider would be the number and type of stitch capabilities the machine has. Some people are satisfied with a simple straight stitch machine, while others like to have the option of using decorative or stretch stitches.
Time-saving features such as automatic needle threaders and thread cutters are a must for some. Also important is the quality of customer service and warranties. According to our extensive research of product descriptions and reviews, the five all-around best heavy duty sewing machines are listed below.
Best Heavy Duty Sewing Machines
- Updated with LED lights and one pedal operation
- 1500 SPM for quilting apparel and home décor
- Automatic needle threader
- Aluminum die cast arm and bed for low vibration operation
- Extension table included for wide work area
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This machine is one of the higher priced models available, retailing at nearly $700. The 2000Qi has a limited number of options as compared to its sister, the Juki TL-2010Q. In fact, it doesn’t have any built-in decorative stitches, but for basic sewing needs, it will do the job nicely.
Many reviewers praise its smooth and beautiful performance. It comes with several presser feet especially useful to quilters and is marketed as a sewing and quilting machine. It has an extended 12 x 18 inch bed table to maximize work space and comes equipped with two vertical thread stands.
Its die cast aluminum body reduces movement due to vibrations while sewing. The work area is larger than a standard machine, with a height of ten inches and a mid-length arm nine inches wide. Juki designed this model to be used constantly. It sews beautifully through a variety of fabrics with proper needle and thread configurations. An impressive speed of 1,500 stitches per minute make this machine a racehorse, comparatively. The stitch width can be adjusted up to 6 mm wide. A regular sewing machine usually only goes to 5 mm width.
This model uniquely features an automatic thread cutter which can be controlled from the foot pedal as well. A knee lever is provided that can be used instead of the foot pedal. This machine does have a learning curve, as compared to other simpler machines, but when instructions are followed and it is set up correctly, this machine sews like a dream.
- Automatic Needle Threader - No More Straining Your Eyes! Simply Use the Built-In Automatic Needle Threader and Throw Your Frustrations to the Side! / Jam Proof Top-Loading Bobbin System - It's Easy To Change Your Bobbin and There is No Need to Worry About...
- Easy Stitch Selection - Simply Turn the Stitch Selection Dial to the Desired Stitch and the Chosen Stitch Will Appear in Red / Flip-Up Stitch Panel - Take a Look at All 18 Built-In Stitches at a Glance with the Flip-Up Stitch Panel
- Adjustable Presser Foot Pressure - A Simple Turn of the Dial will Adjust the Presser Foot Pressure Allowing you to Sew a Wide Variety of Fabric Thicknesses / Free Arm Capability - Sew Pants Legs and Shirt Sleeves with Ease Using the Free-Arm
- Comes With an Incredible Amount of Accessories - A Hard Case/Cover, Ultra Glide Foot, 2 Packs of Leather Needles, a Pack of Universal Needles, a Pack of Bobbins, Blind Hem "G" Foot, Overedge "C" Foot, Rolled Hem "D" Foot, Zipper "E" Foot, Buttonhole "B"...
- Also Comes With - Automatic Buttonhole "R" Foot, a Pack of Needles, Screwdriver, Small Screwdriver, Spool Holder (Large), Spool Holder (Small), Lint Brush, Seam Ripper, Additional Spool Pin, Bobbin, Quilter Bar, Felt, Foot Control/Power Cord, Warranty...
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The Janome HD3000 packs the best basic features for an affordable price of $400 to $430. These features include an automatic needle threader, top loading bobbin, 18 built-in stitches, adjustable presser foot for varying fabric thicknesses, and a good supply of accessories, including a variety of presser feet:
- Ultra-glide foot
- Blind hem foot
- Over-edge foot
- Rolled hem foot
- Zipper foot
- Automatic buttonhole foot
It should be noted here that the HD3000 is also available in a BE, or Black Edition, which currently comes with bonus pack of accessories. The cost of this model is approximately $350. Although this price is lower than the standard model HD3000, it has the same features. Accessories included in the bonus bundle are a five piece quilting kit, 1/4″ seam foot, craft foot, cloth guide, darning foot, even-feed foot, a quilt guide, and a 5-year extended warranty.
As with most of these machines, the speed can be controlled with the foot pedal and you can use the free arm for sleeves and other narrow items. The HD3000 models also have a one-step buttonhole feature, a hinged faceplate, extra presser foot lift, bright LED light, drop feed control, a hard case, extra needles for leather and other types of fabric, extra bobbins and spool pins, and tools for maintaining the machine.
Some parts of this machine and some of the presser feet have plastic parts, which is not desirable to some customers. The Janome HD3000 can stitch at a top speed of 860 stitches per minute. It is durable and sturdy and its performance is outstanding, even with multiple layers of heavy fabrics.
Overall, its quiet, smooth operation, in addition to the features and accessories, provide quite a value for the price.
- HEAVY DUTY METAL FRAME: Adds stability and provides long lasting durability
- SEWING MACHINE ACCESSORIES: A variety of accessories are included: all-purpose foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, seam ripper/lint brush, edge/quilting guide, needles, bobbins, screwdriver, auxiliary spool pin, and spool pin felt are...
- REVERSE STITCH SEWING MACHINE: The SINGER 4432 heavy duty sewing machine has a built-in reverse lever so you can sew in reverse and reinforce stitches
- Limited 90-DAY for Adjustments, Belts, Rings, Bulbs, Attachments; Limited 2-Year for Motors, Light assembly, Wiring, Switches, Speed control and Electronic Components; Limited 25-Year for Sewing Machine Head
- Included Components: Includes: All-Purpose, Zipper, Buttonhole, & Button Sewing Feet, Seam Ripper/Lint Brush, Quilting Guide, Needles, Bobbins, Screwdriver, Auxiliary Spool Pin, Spool Pin Felt, Soft-Sided Dust Cover, Manual, Power Cord, Foot Controller,...
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Singer manufactures several heavy duty machines that are quite similar; namely, the 4432, the 4423, 4452, and 4411. Although the price of these models differs–the price ranges from $120 to $175–they seem to have many of the same features and appearance. The models come with 32 built-in stitches; six basic and seven stretch stitches, as well as 18 decorative stitches and one automatic one-step buttonhole stitch.
More options means more possibilities as you design and construct garments, home decor, and other creations. This machine boasts a maximum speed of 1,100 stitches per minute. With a motor that is reportedly 60% stronger than most standard machines, it can handle tough jobs with ease.
The accessories that accompany the purchase of one of these models include the standard items, such as a seam ripper, instruction manual, presser feet, lint brush, and so on, all kept in a convenient and accessible tray attached to the machine. In addition, there are bonus presser feet included: a button foot for installing buttons, an even-feed/walking foot to sew through multiple layers of fabric, plus a non-stick foot for vinyl and leather.
Its affordability and excellent performance make this machine a popular seller. However, if you need a machine that can handle heavy fabrics or thick layers or if you use your machine constantly, you may want to consider a slightly heavier duty machine. The Singer models are good for everyday use, but aren’t quite as strong as the others listed here.
Some other notable features with the Singer HD sewing machines include the following:
- Needle position can be set to one of three settings to accommodate topstitching and installation of zippers or cording
- Stitch width up to 6 mm wide–for a bold line
- Free arm available for smaller items such as cuffs and pant legs
- Clearance plate, also called a “Hump Jumper” for extra-thick seams
- High presser foot lifter to aid with bulky fabric
- Drop feed for darning, stippling, and free-motion embroidery
- Extra large work area–6.25 inches wide x 4.5 inches high
- 37 unique built-in stitches: The Brother ST371HD features 37 built-in stitches including an auto-size buttonhole
- Automatic needle threader and drop-in top bobbin: This sewing machine includes an automatic needle threader that perfectly pushes the thread through the needle and a convenient, jam resistant drop-in top bobbin
- Included accessories: The ST371HD heavy duty sewing machine includes 6 sewing feet, instructional DVD, manual and more
- Versatile free arm: This free arm sewing machine is perfect for a wide range of everyday sewing projects, and users from beginning to advanced
- At your side support: The ST371HD sewing machine comes with Brother at your side support offering free technical support via online, live chat or phone for the life of your machine
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The Brother ST371HD “Strong & Tough” model can be purchased for about $170. It is a workhorse that can handle anything from delicate fabrics to sturdy outdoor fabrics. Whether you are just beginning to learn to sew, or are a seasoned professional, this machine will serve you well. Some of its qualities of note are listed below:
- Six presser feet including a spring-action zigzag foot, non-stick, zipper, blind stitch, buttonhole and button feet
- A 25-year limited warranty is provided with free technical support for the life of the machine
- Jam resistant top-loading bobbin and automatic bobbin winding system
- 37 utility and decorative stitches built in
- Maximum sewing speed of 800 stitches per minute
- Instructional DVD along with the user’s manual
The ST371HD has extra high presser foot lift capability for thick layered seams. It comes with a twin needle that can create beautiful double topstitching. Operation of the machine is controlled by a foot pedal, not a knee lever or push button.
The reviews on this machine are overwhelmingly positive. In fact, it is the recipient of the 2018 Women’s Choice Award, 9 out of 10 customer recommended sewing machine.
- 14 Built-In Stitches including Utility Stitches, Stretch Stitches and a Simple to Use 4 Step Buttonhole | The Janome HD1000 Even Has a Built-In Automatic Needle Threader - Thread Your Needle with Ease and Without Eye-Strain
- The Janome HD1000's Body is Made of Cast Aluminum and Like the Metal Machines of Years Ago the Janome HD1000 is Made To Last
- Comes with A Bunch of Different Accessories Including - Bobbins, Felt, Extra Needles, Two Screwdrivers, Seam Ripper/Buttonhole Ripper, Zipper Foot, Hemmer Foot, Buttonhole Foot, a Hem Guide and a Soft Cover
- The HD1000 Has A Free Arm For Sewing Pants, Cuffs and Collars and Drop Feed for Darning, Stippling, Attaching Buttons and Other Free Motion Applications
- Bonus Package Includes: Janome Ultra Glide Foot, 10 Bobbins, Schmetz 80/12 Universal Needles (5pk), Klasse 90/14 Needles for leather (5pk). *Items may be substituted and are subject to stock on hand. Packaging might vary
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This Janome machine comes at a mid-range price of about $330. It has 14 built-in stitches, including a four-step buttonhole. Its top sewing speed is 840 stitches per minute. Its aluminum body is made to last for many years of use.
Like the other machines in this list, it features an automatic needle threader, an accessory kit and storage tray, free arm and drop feed capabilities, and a well-written, easy to understand instruction manual. Customers say that it is easy to use right out of the box.
Some users comment on the ability of this model to handle multiple layers of denim easily and on its quiet and reliable performance. Other users are not so impressed and have had some problems with this model, such as not being able to sew through thicknesses, tension issues, or slow response time.
One reviewer noted that those who are reporting problems might have a better experience if they read the manual and followed the instructions carefully. The majority of reviews were positive and customers were satisfied with the performance and quality of the Janome HD1000. The 25-year limited warranty Janome offers with its products is definitely a plus.
5 Things to Look for in a Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
Does your sewing machine have problems stitching heavy or multiple layers of fabric? Does it skip stitches, break needles or jam up when attempting to sew through thick layers?
If you regularly have these sorts of problems, it might be time to invest in a heavy duty sewing machine.
There are lots of machines that have the phrase ‘heavy-duty’ in their description, but whether they are truly heavy-duty depends on several factors. Let’s look at what goes into making a machine that can conquer heavy, thick and dense fabrics successfully.
Important Features Found In A Heavy Duty Machine
If you work with fabrics such as denim, canvas, upholstery material or leather, you need a machine that can handle not only thick layers of fabric but also densely woven or rubber-backed material. Machines built to handle these types of fabrics require special consideration in the following areas:
• Metal Frame And Components
• Ability To Work With Dense Or Thick Fabrics
• Stability And Weight
• Optimal Design
• Conveniences And Features
1 – Metal Frame And Components
A truly heavy-duty sewing machine must be constructed with a metal interior framework. Sewing with heavy fabrics or multiple layers can put a lot of stress on many machine parts. In order to minimize cost, many companies make components from plastic. Everyday sewing projects may be fine for lightweight parts, but hard use will wear or break delicate plastic.
That’s why it’s so important that moving components, as well as the framework, are made of metal. Stress fractures can form over time on plastic components, caused by heavy, demanding stitching and vibrations from extended stitching at high speed.
2 – Ability To Work With Dense Or Thick Fabrics
Other parts of a sewing machine need modification for the machine to work well with multiple layers or heavy fabrics. Depending on the features, this may render the machine unable to work with fine, thin fabrics or delicate material.
The feed dogs need the ability to move thick or heavy fabric under the needle. Some machines feature feed dogs that have multiple up and down settings.
A few machines have a pin feed mechanism for pulling all layers of a seam together. This ensures that every stitch is consistent and uniform, which can be problematic with a lighter-duty machine.
The presser foot should be able to rise high enough for working with many layers of fabrics, and a walking foot also helps with maintaining even uniform stitching. Some machines have a mechanical dial or computerized settings to allow for higher or lower presser foot elevation.
3 – Stability And Weight
Weight is important in the stability of a heavy-duty sewing machine. If the machine vibrates when running at a fast speed or when stitching for prolonged periods, it may ‘walk’ across the table.
Lightweight machines are great for portability, but a heavy machine will stay in place without shuddering or vibrating. A machine that’s built into a sturdy cabinet also reduces the risk of walking or vibrating.
Prolonged shuddering or vibrating can cause damage to your machine over long periods and can loosen screws. The presser foot screw and the screw that hold your needle in place often loosen with excessive vibration
4 – Optimal Design
A powerful motor is imperative for a heavy-duty sewing machine. Occasionally hemming a pair of jeans is one thing, but constant heavy-duty sewing is hard on a machine’s motor. Over-use can burn out the motor and damage other components if the machine isn’t built for heavy-duty use.
Some machines are built to be self-lubricating and don’t need oiling. Other models require oiling on a regular schedule to ensure smooth performance.
The throat or harp space is important when sewing large projects. A large throat allows the sewist to work with bulky, outsized pieces of material easily.
An extension table is a great way to use a machine for larger projects if it’s not built into a table. The additional space allows for better positioning of a larger project under the needle.
A free-arm option is a necessity for sewing small cylindrical items like pants legs or cuffs. If your sewing needs include garments or smaller items like bags or accessories, this should be on the ‘must-have’ list.
Computerized sewing machines are the only machines that have thread tensioning that’s truly automatic. Sensors measure fabric thickness while electronic tension motors set the correct by stitch type.
Mechanical machines usually have a universal or auto setting on the dial for selecting the top thread tension. A numbered tension dial allows you to manually adjust tension based on your fabric, needle and thread choices.
5 – Conveniences And Features
In addition to the basic components of a heavy-duty machine, there are lots of features available on machines to make your sewing projects easier, faster and generally unproblematic.
An automatic needle threader is a nice feature. It’s certainly not mandatory, but it’s a design element that’s very popular. The steadiness of your hand and the clearness of your eyesight may be a factor in the importance of this feature.
A drop-in bobbin is so convenient and far easier to access than side-mounted bobbin placement. Some machines use a larger size, so you don’t have to stop to change the bobbin as frequently. Folks with very large or unsteady hands may find side-mounted bobbins a challenge.
Machine speed is touted as being very important. There may be some folks who are stitching large swathes of fabrics and want to sew at the maximum speed their machine will produce. However, the vast majority of folks are sewing at a much more sedate speed.
If you go to a store to test drive machines, try running one at full speed. Many home machines have speeds of between 1500 and 2000 stitches per minute, and a few are much faster. Sewing at that speed doesn’t give you much control in the quality of your stitching, so judge for yourself how important ultra-high speed is in selecting your machine.
The machines listed in this article are all mechanical as opposed to digital machines, although some may have some computerized parts. As you get to know your machine, remember these helpful tips:
Regular cleaning and oiling will be needed to help maintain optimal performance, whether by yourself or by a service professional. Consult owner’s manuals and technical advisors as needed.
When working with different fabrics; the tension, presser foot settings, and needles must be correctly adjusted to ensure success. There are specific needles to use for leather, woven fabrics, or sheer fabrics, for example.
Practice and experiment on scraps of fabric to get the desired result before tackling your project. Enjoy the process of learning. You will gain expertise and skills as you go.
Hopefully these summaries and reviews have been helpful to you in your search for the best heavy duty sewing machine. If you would like to learn more specifics, the Internet makes it easier to find information about particular models or parameters or anything else you may need to find. You can search for a particular model or find comparisons and read customer reviews. You now have an idea of the basic features and capabilities of a heavy duty machine so you can shop more smartly.