It was a good number of years after I took up sewing before I plucked up the courage to tackle my first upholstery project. Since then I have adorned many pieces of old furniture with lavish fabrics as well as making many pairs of curtains from scratch. The first thing to know about taking up an upholstery project is that you have to have the right tools to do the job properly. This means investing in a heavy duty sewing machine and if you are to get the best results, a good one at that.
With one of the best heavy duty sewing sewing machines upholstery and dressmaking projects become a lot less intimidating. In addition owning one opens up new sewing doors, allowing for many new sewing adventures. Curtains, chairs, sofas and footstools are just a few projects of the projects you can tackle with a good sewing machine for upholstery.
In this article I will be guiding you through the process of choosing a heavy-duty sewing machine. Along the way I will also be explaining what it is you should be looking for and helping you avoid any pitfalls associated with buying.
Finally, I will be giving you my top 5 recommendations and reviews of the best models available.
Best Heavy Duty Sewing Machine Buyers Guide
Does It Have A Powerful Motor?
The first and most important feature to have in a sewing machine for upholstery is a powerful motor. You will probably have noticed that a standard sewing machine struggles to get through multiple layers of heavier fabrics. Even if you have a very good sewing machine, i would not recommend taking up a upholstery project with it. If you do you are at risk of causing permanent damage. This will only cost you money in repairs or even worse you may have to buy a new sewing machine altogether.
The powerful motor that comes with a heavy duty model is designed to handle the workload that comes with working with heavier and thicker upholstery fabrics. In addition they also have the benefit of been far less prone to overheating, which is again thanks to the increased motor power.
The importance of a powerful motor can’t be stressed enough! It will make your project easier and more enjoyable. Try using a standard sewing machine for upholstery and see how much fun you have when you have broke a needle for the umpteenth time, not much at all.
Is It Sturdy & Robust?
When working with heavier fabrics having a sewing machine with a solid design and a good bit of weight to it helps a lot. With the added weight that comes with heavy duty machines it makes it much easier to feed the fabric through the machine without worrying that the increased weight of the fabric will shift your sewing machine about. This is a common problem associated with usina an ordinary sewing machine for upholstery.
Generally speaking a sewing machine will weigh around 5Kg. A good heavy duty sewing machine for upholstery will weigh anything between 6Kg and 8Kg. Remember to check the weight when buying! A lightweight plastic sewing machine should be avoided for upholstery sewing.
What Is The Stitch Quality Like?
Due to the cost of the fabrics used in upholstery projects undertaking one can be quite expensive. With that been said, it makes sense to ensure that your finished project looks as good as it possibly can. This means buying a machine that can provide consistent top quality stitching.
Another very useful feature in a upholstery sewing machine is an adjustable stitch length and width. Over the years from working with all different types of fabrics with varied thickness has taught me that different fabrics require different stitch lengths for achieving the best and most durable results. Consequently an adjustable stitch length and width is desireable.
Extra High Lift Presser Foot
Another essential feature of a sewing machine for upholstery is a presser foot with an extra high lift. This basically means you can adjust the height of the presser foot which allows thicker materials to be fed through. Due to upholstery fabrics been typically a lot thicker than most other fabrics, you will more than likely struggle if you buy a machine that lacks this feature.
What Accessories Will You Need?
Upholstery projects can vary in terms of the accessories needed to complete them and by accessories I mean presser feet. There are two presser feet that are used for most upholstery projects these are the cording foot and the walking foot.
Cording Foot – a large proportion of upholstery projects involve the process called welting. If you are not familiar with welting it is the process of making decorative cord that is commonly found on sofas, chairs or cushions. You may know welting by one of its other names, which are cording and piping, either way they are one in the same.
Walking Foot – another common occurence of working with upholstery fabrics is that at times you will be stitching multiple layers. This can lead to the machine struggling to feed the fabric through. The answer to this problem is a walking foot which is designed to make the process of working with many layers muc easier.
Take Your Time!
One of the most important things to remember when taking on a upholstery project is to take your time and always plan ahead. As already mentioned upholstery fabrics can get very expensive and mistakes can be very costly. We all get excited when starting a new sewing project and most of us just can’t wait to crack on, however, rushing is not the way to go.
It is worth mentioning that heavy-duty sewing machines can sew at an incredibly fast pace with many reaching speeds of 1000+ stitches a minute. When sewing machines are sewing that fast it only takes a little pressure on the foot pedal to increase speed dramatically, which in turn can be very costly if you are not careful.
Top 7 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine Recommendations
Now that you are prepared with all the information you need to know for when choosing a heavy duty sewing machine it is time to take a look at my top recommendations.
Singer 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
The Singer 4411 is one of the most popular heavy duty models in the UK. It represents excellent value for money comes with very good customer feedback and has just been given a big discount on Amazon.
It comes with a powerful 105W motor, which is more than capable of tackling almost anything you can chuck at it. In addition it can manage a very impressive 1100 stitches per minute.
In terms of stitches there are 11 in total these are 6 basic, 4 decorative and one buttonhole.
It features adjustable stitch length and width as well as extra high lift for when working with multiple layers.
A solid and very robust machine ideal for home decor upholstery projects and much more! For a more detailed analysis check out my singer 4411 review.
- 11 stitch patterns with 4-step buttonhole and 3 needle positions, Long lasting LED...
- Easy to use drop in bobbin, drop feed for free hand embroidery and darning
- Adjustable stitch lenth and width, adjustable preser foot pressure and extra high lift
- Built in accessory storage, 4 presser feet, guide, needles, bobbins, seam ripper and dust...
- Heavy duty metal frame with stainless steel bed-plate, high speed sewing 1100 stitches per...
Janome HD2200 Sewing Machine
The Janome HD2200 is another top contender for the best heavy duty sewing machine and is definitely worth considering. The machine features 23 stitches has a fully automatic one-step buttonhole and an auto-needle threader.
What I really like about this model is the built-in information window which guides you on which presser foot to use and correct stitch length and width for the pattern you are working with. This is a great feature for those that are new to dressmaking and upholstery projects.
Another positive feature is the jam proof top loading bobbin which also has a see through panel, allowing you to see if you are running low on thread.
With an overall weight of 10.8Kg you can be certain that the Janome HD2200 is very well made. With a heavy base, there is no jumping around like you get with less well made and lighter heavy duty sewing machines.
- 23 Stitch selections
- 1 Step auto sizing buttonhole
- Adjustable foot pressure
- Built-in needle threader
- Horizontal Full Rotary Hook
Singer 4423 Heavy Duty Model Sewing Machine
The Singer 4423 is a very well designed and versatile sewing machine. In many ways it is very similar to its sister model the Singer 4411, only the 4423 is even better!
Where as the 4411 only has 11 stitches this model comes with 23 stitches. These include 6 basic, 12 decorative, 4 stretch and 1 buttonhole. In addition the buttonhole is a 1 step buttonhole compared to the 4 step buttonhole of the 4411 model.
Another positive feature is the addition of an auto needle threader for convenience. With excellent customer feedback and reviews the Singer 4423 is definitely worth considering.
For more information on this model check out my full review of the Singer 4423 sewing machine.
- SINGER HEAVY DUTY SEWING MACHINE: The 23 built-in stitches including basic, stretch,...
- AUTOMATIC NEEDLE THREADER SEWING MACHINE: After following the threading path printed right...
- HIGH-SPEED SEWING MACHINE:The Singer 4423 Sewing Machine has a maximum sewing speed of 1,...
- HEAVY DUTY METAL FRAME: The Singer 4423 heavy duty sewing machine is a true workhorse....
- SEWING MACHINE ACCESSORIES: A variety of accessories are included with All-purpose foot,...
Singer Heavy Duty 5523 Sewing Machine
A true workhorse This SINGER HEAVY DUTY sewing machine is a true workhorse. With a heavy duty metal interior frame, stainless steel bedplate, extra-high sewing speed and a powerful motor. Convenience features including practical, stretch and decorative stitches, an automatic needle threader, top drop-in bobbin, fully automatic 1-step buttonhole and drop feed for free motion sewing add a new dimension of ease to heavier sewing. General Features 23 Built-in Stitches 6 Basic Stitches, 4 Stretch Stitches, 12 Decorative Stitches, 1 Buttonhole—perfect for crafts, home décor, clothing construction and much more! Automatic Needle Threader After effortlessly threading the machine, this feature automatically threads the eye of the needle without eye strain or frustration. 1,100 Stitches per Minute Sews faster than a standard sewing machine 60% Stronger Motor A stronger motor than standard sewing machines allows it to sew through heavyweight fabrics with ease Stainless Steel Bed Plate Fabric slides easily across the machine arm. Top Drop-in Bobbin Convenient drop-in bobbin is easy to insert, remove and monitor thread supply. Fully Automatic 1-step Buttonhole Make beautiful buttonholes automatically in 1 easy step Snap-on Presser Feet Quick release for easy on and off—change presser feet in a snap! Heavy Duty Metal Frame Rigid support holds all the mechanisms in perfect alignment for skip-free sewing. On Board Storage Storage of accessories in the removable sewing bed means accessories are always handy Free Arm Provides professional results by offering easy access to cuffs, collars, trouser hems and other difficult-to-reach areas Extra-High Presser Foot Lifter Offers more clearance for multiple layers of bulky fabric under the presser foot Adjustable Presser Foot Pressure Control Sew lightweight to heavy fabric with ease by adjusting the presser foot pressure.
- 23 Built-in Stitches
- 1,100 Stitches per Minute
- Stainless Steel Bed Plate
- Heavy Duty Metal Frame
Brother HF27 Strong & Tough, Heavy Duty Electronic Sewing Machine
Bernette B35 Sewing Machine