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Ultimate Guide to Machines for Sewing: Types, Reviews & Features

I never planned on writing so many articles about sewing machines. I just wanted to share some of our vintage sewing machines from our herd. Paul wanted to share what he learned about repairing those machines. Then we started getting questions and that prompted another article and so on.

Now it seems like I write more about machines for sewing than about actually sewing on them but I want more people sewing and quilting so I will continue to write and answer as many questions as I can about these machines. If I can help one person find the perfect sewing machine all of these articles will have been worth it! So let’s get started!

Learn more about the various types of machines used in sewing, from typical home sewing machines to speciality machines used for sewing leather.

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Types of Machines for Sewing

This is just a quick overview of the most common types of sewing machines available.

Domestic Sewing Machines

These are the machines that we are the most familiar with because our moms and grandmas had them while we were growing up. We also see them in big box stores all of the time. These machines are designed to do typical sewing that a homemaker would do. The machines have changed over time because the type of sewing we do has changed.

I haven’t made any clothing since I was in high school. I only did that because I was in 4-H. I’m not the only one because the financial advantage isn’t there but a lot of people are tailoring their clothes now. You see that reflected in the machines today, they take double needles so you can redo a hem on a t-shirt, they have stretch stitches so you can redo leggings. Lots of machines have a free arm and a blind hem stitch so you can hem pants.

We also have a lot more decorative stitches on our machines today than older machines have. This allows sewists to add a personalized touch to their work. No longer when doing applique do you have to use a boring zig zag or blanket stitch!

Industrial Sewing Machines

Yes these are called industrial but they aren’t just for industry. We have a few industrial machines in our herd and yes they are old but really they haven’t changed much. Industrial sewing machines are purpose built, they do one thing and do it really well.

If you are going to sew leather, heavier than garment leather, you need a leather sewing machine. Let me say that again, if you are going to sew leather you need a leather machine. When I say leather sewing machine I mean something like this (which is what we have) or this.

Vintage domestic sewing machines are not intended to sew leather. There is a person on my local marketplace who sells run of the mill domestic machines as leather machines and it makes my blood boil. While yes they will get through the leather they aren’t going to last as a leather machine. You will break it and you will be sad. Also in the long run you are going to end up spending more money than you would if you bought a machine designed for leather. Read more about vintage domestic vs industrial sewing machines.

If you want to know more about industrial sewing machines I highly suggest this Facebook Group and ISMACS Singer Industrial page. If you just want to see what kind of industrial sewing machines are available checkout these machines.

Overlock – Sergers

These machines are one of those that are found in both domestic and industrial settings. The main difference between the domestic and industrial versions is how much work they are intended to do. Also, the name of the machine tends to be like inches versus meters.

You’ve seen what a serger does. On a piece of clothing look at the seam, see how it has two rows of stitches and then the thread looks like it’s knitted around the fabric? That’s what a serger does. They also have a knife to trim the edge of the fabric. Before sergers became a thing in the domestic world we used pinking shears to keep the fabric from unraveling.

That’s about the end of my expertise in sergers. 😂 The only other thing I know is Baby Lock brought sergers to the US domestic market and we have one of the first ones. Our friends at Sewing Machines Plus are holding a Serger Soriee event on YouTube and it will be loaded with demos.

Embroidery Machines

Like sergers embroidery machines come in both domestic and industrial versions. The lines are blurred a little. A lot of individuals have what would be considered an industrial embroidery machine and unlike the other types of machines we’ve talked about there isn’t a huge price difference between the two.

For example, a sewing and embroidery machine typically runs in the $10,000 range while a multi-needle embroidery machine can be $5,000 – $12,000. Meanwhile, a basic domestic serger is in the $500 range while a basic industrial serger is $2000. So if you have a great sewing machine it might be more economical to get an industrial machine if you want to add an embroidery machine.

If you want to know more about embroidery machines check out Hoop Fest on YouTube.

Sewing Machine Recomendations and Reviews

We have you covered when it comes to guides, reviews, and recommendations for sewing machines!

The Best Sewing Machines For Quilting – This guide focuses on finding a sewing machine to piece your quilt top no matter your budget.

Long Arm Quilting Machines – This guide focuses on the various machines, tables, and frames you use to finish your quilt tops.

Finding The Right Machine For Your Style of Sewing – If you are a beginner you might only know what you want to sew. This guide will help you find the perfect sewing machine based on what you want to sew.

Brother Sewing and Embroidery Company – This is a broad overview of the Brother Sewing Company from the beginning to today. There are some machine recommendations including entry level embroidery machines, cutting machines, and a fabric printer.

Singer Sewing Company – That link will take you to a history lesson on Singer and a complete list of their sewing machines. If you are looking for all of the Singer posts you’ll want to check out Singer sewing machines.

Singer vs Brother – These are probably the two most recognized names today so we compared what they offer.

Oscilating vs Rotary Bobbin – When you start to narrow down your choices you’ll see things like “oscilating bobbin system” or “rotary bobbin”. This article breaks down what those bobbin systems are and how they function.

Other Information

UGH! I struggled so much with what to call this section. I needed a spot to put all the other information we have on sewing machines that doesn’t fit into the other categories. So here we are, other information.

If you are a newer quilter you might be wondering what feet you need. We’ve put together the top six feet we think every quilter should have.

No matter if you end up going vintage, new, or industrial you’ll probably have questions about oiling your machine. We have two articles about oil, the best sewing machine oil and lubricating your machine.

Decoding Types of Sewing Machines: What's Right for You?
Feeling lost in the sea of sewing machine types? Fear not! We have curated a comprehensive guide to help you understand the pros and cons of each type - from domestic to industrial, Serger to embroidery machines. Make an informed purchase and find your perfect match today!

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